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What is a career?

My first job was sweeping up hair at a barber shop when I was 12 or 13. I don’t remember how long it lasted or how much it paid. The second job I had was at a veterinary clinic, don’t remember much about it either. There is one memory from the clinic that stands out; taping a cat’s front paws and back paws together so it could be given a bath.

I’ve had many jobs over the course of these 58 years, but no career. I never gave much thought to one. Considering the circumstances of my upbringing, there was no importance placed on choosing a career, there were too many other choices that took precedence. Choices that a kid shouldn’t have to make, but that’s another story.

There comes a time when we all make certain choices about where we might find meaningful employment. Whether or not this leads to a career is circumstantial I think. Does having the same job over a period of many years equate to a career? It might if that job is something you’ve chosen because you enjoy it.

For those of you like me that have worked many jobs, ones that are enjoyable and some that aren’t, arriving at something called a career is an elusive chase. But I reckon that’s part of the hunt, and I’m thankful I still have a nose for it.

Punctuation pet peeves

TC Conner:

If you’ve ever doubted why I cringe when I see bad punctuation, The Doobster will set you straight!

Originally posted on Mindful Digressions:

punctuation typesToday’s Daily Prompt asks us to fess up about our punctuation quirks.

First, this post is written for an American audience. I preface this post with that caveat because I know that you Brits, Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders follow different punctuation rules.

And that’s fine. That’s the way you were taught. Who am I, just because America is the center of the universe, to suggest that you’re wrong? Even though you clearly are wrong.

Second, I’ve posted about both of these personal punctuation pet peeves previously. (Hey, did you like that little bit of alliteration right there? And if you have no idea what “alliteration” is, Google it you ignoramus.)

These previously posted personal punctuation pet peeves relate to the Oxford — or serial — comma and to the placement of commas and periods with respect to end quotation marks.

So if you’re a regular reader of my blog and you’re…

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The Most Awesome 30 Minute Organic Gardening 101 Talk Ever

TC Conner:

A new follower and a new friend in gardening with great advice on organic gardening.

Originally posted on HonieBriggs:


A friend of mine who teaches high school asked his students what they think when they hear the word philanthropy. One of the clever students said, “I think it’s when rich people have gas” and without missing a beat, my friend said, “Yes! When rich people have so much gas it becomes contagious, that’s philanthropy.”

Of course the student was trying to be funny, but the teacher got the last laugh. The lesson here is that what we think isn’t necessarily wrong; it may just need to be modified.

Oh, and don’t try outsmart a wise teacher.

Before I moved to Texas I thought, dry, dusty, windy, hot like living in a big hair dryer. Dallas, South Fork Ranch, Patrick Duffy, hot, Houston we have a problem, Tom Hanks, hot, cowboys, hot, oil rigs, hot. Now, after living here and becoming part of a community I know that Texas…

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ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent

From time to time I ask for and receive various garden related items to review. I get no monetary compensation for doing the review, but I do get to keep the item I’m reviewing. Sometimes the item is worth keeping and sometimes it isn’t. Either way, I offer an honest review describing what I liked or didn’t like about the item. The item being reviewed for this blog post is a ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Appliance.


I’ve been a mosquito magnet ever since I can remember. I’m not sure if the attraction is my blood, complexion, height, width, or something I’ll never know or understand, but I do know that as soon as warm weather arrives, and I’m out gardening in shorts and sleeveless shirts, skeeters feast on me! Unless I’m protected with something containing at least 20% DEET, I’m sure I’d be sucked dry in less than 24 hours!

Most of the sprays and lotions out there have that “mosquito spray” aroma, masked with some other kind of chemical ingredient that is supposed to make the stuff more bearable to our noses. And there are other things besides the sprays that work well for some folks, including lotions and oils of all kinds.

I remember a “Spyder Rydge” camping expedition many years ago, along “Chigger Lake” somewhere in Jefferson County, Kentucky. My brother-in-law brought some Avon Skin-So-Soft lotion and was using it for protection from skeeters. Unfortunately, it had no effect on the chiggers!

I’ve not made a final decision about ThermaCELL yet. Initial testing isn’t looking too good, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for now. Out of the box prep wasn’t too difficult, instructions were easy to follow and I had the “appliance” (I’m reassessing my idea of what an appliance is) up and running in only a few minutes. I thought about using Deet on one arm and nothing but the appliance placed on a table close to my other arm, but considering the science of this experiment (I’m no scientist) I thought better of it. So, I’m just taking the unit out with me on treks to the garden, and while sitting out by the fire with a beer.

I was intrigued by the technological aspects of ThermaCELL, which prompted me to ask for the product for review. This is the first “appliance” I’ve seen that uses butane as a heat source as part of its repelling abilities. And all the parts are contained within one unit. Gimmicky? Perhaps. My final analysis isn’t quite complete, but so far I’m leaning toward gimmicky.

One initial fireside test has been completed. The unit ignited and began emitting the repellent, however, it had no effect on several mosquitoes that bit my son’s legs.

Dear Corporate Walmart,

I know you probably won’t reply to my letter but that’s not going to prevent me from expressing a few concerns I have about a recent stint I had as a Walmart Lawn & Garden Seasonal Sales Associate. I know that I’m not the only one who has ever experienced concerns, I found that out easily by Googling “working at Walmart,” as you can see by the very first search result.

Firstly, I knew the chance I was taking before being hired, so I wasn’t going into this completely blindfolded. I knew I would probably not be making much over minimum wage ($7.35/hr here in PA), I also knew that as a L&G associate I would be lifting heavy bags of mulch, garden soil, landscaping timbers, etc. I knew there would be times when things would be hectic as early spring is a very busy time for gardeners looking to buy plants and other things needed for gardening.

Secondly, I realize there are some things associated with retail sales that all employees of any particular retail business have no control over, i.e., angry customers, shipments of goods arriving unexpected, cash registers freezing up, etc. Many things can go awry that are not expected. I’ve worked retail before so I know these types of things cannot be controlled by employees, there is no blame here, I’m making a point about working conditions that can or cannot be attributed to employee actions.

Third, and this is probably what you’re not going to like hearing about; low wages for work that one person shouldn’t be doing by themselves. For example, on some occasions during my employment I was the only sales associate in lawn and garden and two surrounding departments. Trying to find assistance for customers I couldn’t help (because I was helping two or more at the same time) was all but impossible. I had difficulty grasping Walmart’s work ethics, be they bad or good, and when I was told by a member of management that this was “the way our generation does things” it made it even more exasperating.

Lastly, I offer a word of thanks to you, Walmart, for hiring me in the first place. I honestly thought that as a lover of plants and people I’d be able to make a difference, and perhaps even change an attitude or two about how you’re viewed by a large majority of your customers. Unfortunately, that view is not a pleasant one. But as I stated earlier, I had an idea of how it might be before I was hired. I chose not to continue as an employee because I felt it was a detriment to my health, both physically and mentally.

On the day I decided to leave you asked if there were anything you could do to change my mind, and when I replied that I would consider staying if my pay were raised to between $10 – $15 an hour, you laughed. For me, and thousands of your employees, that’s not something to laugh about.


TC Conner

Angie has a list, but does she garden?

A close friend of mine sent me a link to an Angie’s list article about what you could have done in the garden for $50, $500, and $5,000. The article says that in some regions of the country you might get a few bags of mulch spread for the first amount (not here); one of the things you might get for $500 is “irrigation troubleshooting, repair services or other miscellaneous landscaping work that takes around eight man hours;” and for $5,000 you can expect a redesigned and landscaped front walkway, or “a complete irrigation system in both the front and back yards, including a new timer, valves, heads and also the installation of 1,000 square feet of sod.” 

Those price quotes were for jobs in California, Texas, and Minnesota. Not a very wide region for comparison, so I decided to contact a few local landscaping companies here in my neck of the woods in western Pennsylvania. One place said they couldn’t offer anything for $50, which doesn’t really surprise me, considering the cost of a tank of gas these days. But $500 would cover the cost of weeding, cleaning and edging flower beds, and some light pruning. For $5,000 you could have a consultation for a new garden design, have it installed with the plants of your choice, and possibly add a water feature. I called three different landscaping companies, all offered the same basic services for those fees, based on what the customer needed to have done in their particular landscape.

I never gave much thought about the cost of gardening. It’s just something I do each spring. I don’t look at the price of a new shovel or plant because I don’t put a price on quality. However, while working as a lawn and garden sales associate at a local box store I discovered that many folks don’t seem to care about quality. And neither did the box store where I worked.  I couldn’t keep selling low quality plants to folks who I knew were on a limited budget, and still have a clear conscious afterwards. That was just too much for me to wrap my head around so I quit.

There are costs involved with most all things we do for recreation. And I expect to pay for quality garden plants, especially perennials, when I need them. But gardening isn’t really about the money, at least not for me. It could never be about that. It would be sacrilegious. Gardening is dirty work, lets keep it that way!

Gardening is dirty work, but the reward is worth it!

Gardening is dirty work, but the reward is worth it!



It’s not my cross to bear, or is it?

The Allman Brothers Band sang about it not being my cross to bear. But if not’s mine to bear, then whose is it?

It’s said that Gregg Allman wrote that song about an old girlfriend, and if you read the lyrics it’s quite evident that someone might have been asking too much of someone else. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a relationship with either of my three wives (I’m twice divorced, just to be sure that none of you think I’m a polygamist). However, there are other relationships that more often than not require us to bear some sort of cross. I’m in one now, and it sucks! 

I posed a question on Facebook: Struggling and happy or miserable and rich? You can probably guess that answers ranged widely. Some folks believe you can be rich and happy, and I’m sure that’s true. But that’s not the point of my question. I’m wanting to know why it seems almost normal for some folks to accept the fact that it’s just the way it was meant to be – for them to struggle all their life, not being truly happy. I think I’ve accepted the cards I’ve been dealt, I’ve never folded, yet. The analogy is that you keep going forward, not backwards, as long as you get a chance to be dealt a new hand every so often. You stay in the game. 

Staying in the game is my plan. And doing so allows me to toss the cards I don’t need. I’m about to toss another one. I’ve been dealt a losing hand, but the luck of the draw keeps me honest. That and writing and music. A full house beats two of a kind, I’m calling that bluff!


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