Tears

Empathy

You would think that I’ve had enough writing for one day, considering that I just wrote a 6 page resume for Federal employment. Honestly, this is the first resume that I could actually express most of my talents and experience. I’ve been told that normal resumes for private employers need to be only 1 page long. After you finish your address and education, you’re half way down the page! My military experience takes a lot more than 3 bullets to explain.

I’ve never written a federal resume, because I didn’t understand it’s importance. I also never wanted to use my disability to gain employment. Just because my legs are damaged does not mean I need to stand out in front of the rest, at most, in front of more disabled veterans.

After meeting with my EDD rep today, I felt that there was actual hope on getting employment with either the Federal government or State government. By using my disability, will help greatly with employment. This leads me to two thoughts; disability as an employment benefit (or empathy) and having a disability is the only way a veteran can find work.

I’ve been unemployed a few times; the outcome has always been disappointing with the work I was doing. The work I was trying to fit into was something that I wasn’t built for. I would take jobs because I needed to pay my bills. In pursuing these jobs, I never used my disability, only hoping my education and experience would carry over. No other doors really opened up for me. So was that because I wasn’t disabled? No one could understand my profession?

Now that I am actively using my 10 point preference as a disabled vet and the experience may actually will help with the employment process. Is that empathy? Employers want to hire vets who served their time and now have service connected disabilities that will change their lives forever. We’re a tax write-off for crying out loud. I ask again, is the empathy? Or is it the only way employers will notice us from the rest of the world.

Veteran do not need certain specialties or exceptions, we’re human beings with a brain and great knowledge from our experiences. We did our job well, we’ve done things most people won’t even consider. Even when we get out of the service are labeled and segregated because we’ve made certain sacrifices. Do we deserve a different standard in employment? Do we deserve empathy because we are disabled in one way or another? That’s a decision you need to decide. A personal belief and ethic that is becoming the social norm and a stereotype. Think hard before you make this judgment. Veterans’ are human. Treat us as such. We made our sacrifices for ourselves, our nation and our families.

I have hope. Its 2014, we’re not at “war” and the image of a veteran is being cleared up. Laws are being passed that help us with employment and social services are being implemented. Does this solve all of our unemployment woes? No, plenty of us are still unemployed. The future doesn’t look as grim as it did in 2009 and 2011 when I started to apply for a career. The stigma maybe loosening the rope around our necks and hopefully political shortcomings and decisions are being left out of our past (we were only following orders). I started this blog with the feeling that veterans are always the last to receive a fair share. Stereotypes and stigma has left us to be baby killing machines who love war with our PTSD and love to hold secrets. Hopefully now those stereotypes are dissolving and we can finally start to build our lives, disabled or not.

Spark the flame

The Imp on Fire

This Imp has been misbehavin’! Ha! Actually I’ve been keeping myself busy, too busy, haven’t had time to post anything. Did you miss me?

I’ve been working on a few postings at one time (told you I was busy), and have a few more planned. Hopefully I will make time to make the final touches on my postings, especially about being unemployed.

As you know, I’ve created this blog/website to express what I do to keep my sanity as a jobless imp, even though I haven’t posted much on unemployment , I have kept myself busy. This week I’ve created outdoor curtains for my back patio, prepped 7 crock-pot meals, drank a few beers, applied for more jobs and also tested a crock-pot bread recipe. Doesn’t sound like a lot huh? Since there is 8-10 hours a day to do stuff, you may expect more. Well, sadly, I’ve been nursing my much tamed feral cat, Fluff.

Fluff has been in my master bathroom trying to heal from an auto-immune disease that affects her tissue in her paw pads. The poor thing could barely walk and was under nourished because of the lack of mobility getting to her food. I’ve been researching and nursing her back to health. We already have one medically dependent cat, we cannot afford another. You will be seeing another post, hopefully to let you know how adorable she is and how you can add her to your family as adopted pet. She can’t live outside and without medication, unless my second idea works that I’ve started to research, raw diet.

I’ll spare you this time for the raw food diet rant! Honestly, I’m not truly convinced on a pure RAW diet; I am leaning towards a half raw and half cooked diet for my felines and pup. This type of wild eating may cure or help with the conditions my cats have and may get in the near future (Pantera is pushing 12 years old). We have no children, my little terrorist team mean the world to me. I should be feeding them a better diet, like the one I plan to feed a child once we acquire one. Minimal processed food, occasional fast food (some days you just want shit food! And McDonalds French fries), but most importantly, home cooked meals. I’m not going to say, organic, because that is out of my price range. We need a roof over our head and not just organic chicken! From the websites that I am studying, the prices are no different than I what I already spend, it just more of my time. I think one Sunday (or any day for that matter) every few months, I can spend prepping meals for my family, including the fur balls.

This brings up my prepping operation today. I prepped 7 frozen crock-pot meals and enough bread dough to last a week (depending on how much my husband devours). In as little as a hour and a half, I prepped the meals and took my sweat time. I will include a posting of the crock pot meals once I know that these recipes are tasty. You can find plenty of “frozen crock pot recipes” on the all knowing Google machine. If you can’t wait for my review, here is the link for the crock pot bread.

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2012/05/29/crock-pot-bread-baking-fast-bread-in-a-slow-cooker

And for the bread recipe; (once I receive my unemployment benefits, I’ll be buying their cook book)

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2013/10/22/the-new-artisan-bread-in-five-minutes-a-day-is-launched-back-to-basics-updated

(Unlike a few websites I read yesterday, I will not plagiarize!)

Finally, the back yard curtains! That post is nearly done. I’ve been wanting to finish this project for a year now. I have plenty of time now! I added painter’s cloth curtains to my back patio to add some grace and privacy. Once I clean up my backyard (everything is overgrown and sandy), I will post how my brain figured out a way to accomplish the impossible with aluminum patio structures!

I didn’t forget about my blog, I was just busy!  Prepare yourself for some random Impish activities in the weeks to come. I may even sneak in a gold hunting trip since the weather in California is so beautiful! You know I have to say this, at least once and because I love the Hunger Games, “The girl on fire!” Or “The Imp on fire”!

Kauai

The Good- Part I

Becoming unemployed will cause a waterfall of emotions and reactions. Unemployment can be viewed as a good thing, if you’re in an unhealthy environment or it may a chance to look inward and find a career that you enjoy. By using a problem-solving style of approach, may help with coping with this new lifestyle.

This is the healthiest of emotions and actions one can take when they are involuntarily unemployed. Losing a job can be compared to the lost of a loved one, you are grieving. I won’t be discussing the other emotions during this article (there will be plenty of time for that as we move forward); I would just like to focus on the good. There are more damaging sides of unemployment, if you can focus on how to be supportive and enjoy your new found vacation, finding a new job may not look so bleak.

I believe each person goes through different approaches to cope with job loss depending on what stage that they are in. If a person is stuck in a rut, and is depressed over their new position, he/she may sink into a passive problem-solving style. This passive approach is pushed inwards with a separation from social events, self worry about unemployment and blaming oneself or others. This is a downward spiral of coping mechanisms, but is usually an approach that all unemployed persons go through. It just depends on how long it will last, but becoming actively problem solving has more rewards towards your initial goal of finding a job.

Just as the name applies, these mechanisms are problem-solving when approached with a problem. At the moment, you’re unemployed, let’s find a way out of it and solve this dilemma. Depending on the reason you’re unemployed and the goal you are trying to obtain, will help define how to actively solve your current condition. For the sake of writing a 10 page paper, the problem at the moment is just coping. You are doing everything you can; applying for jobs and lowering spending habits but still need to cope with the anxiety and depression.

Use the job loss to your favor and to help solve your problem of being unemployed by trying to better oneself. Not in the context that you are a bad person and need to change, but to better your position. If at all possible (financially), return to school to earn a higher degree or take a few classes. Get out there, be productive and take control. Become socially active, visit old friend or make new ones, don’t just hideaway and let the depression eat you alive. Start your own business, or a large project. All of these ideas have a common suggestion.

If you notice with all of these suggestions, the importance is giving yourself a goal, giving yourself the responsibility of solving a problem and making your day worth waking up for. You had this once, when you were working, try to create the same atmosphere within your own home. You can even do your daily work routine every day (except weekends), only “work” towards your goal between 8-5 and include lunches and breaks. Give yourself your own job as your trying to find a new one.

I’m not suggesting that this is the only solution to the problem, I am a control freak, I believe that I have most of the control over my life and career with only a small percentage of luck. There are other people who solely believe in luck, that they will be in the right place and the right time.  Others unemployed people are ok with their current position of not working. Others will take any job that is presented to them. We are all different; I’m only speaking about how I cope with it and what is working for me. You must decide on how you can use your unemployment to benefit you. Take note, that you may have already gone through this step or have repeated it multiple times like I have. I want to continue this idea and express what I have done to cope. After we’ve finished discussing the good, we’ll move on to the bad and the ugly of being jobless. I’m sure all of us can relate to each phase in our own ways.

I’ll create Part II to explain my position, how I’ve tried to expand myself, including the reason for this website.

Finished off-centered wreath

Off Centered Wreath

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, had some coffee and wanted to try out an idea that popped into my head when I cut up my first tomato cage. After I had detached all of the rings from the cage to make a wreath frame, I liked how an off-centered frame looked. So, today I decided to try it out. There is a little bit of disappointment, but I think with a few more adjustments, I can get what I envisioned.

I placed the rings together in the fashion that I wanted them.

Off set wreath rings

Off set wreath rings

 

I started to wire them together. After I had finished the project, it looks like my rings were moving around a bit. So I recommend, securing your rings more than you would with a normal, even wreath frame. I ended up having to add a few more supports after my project was finished.

The plan for this wreath; was another 4th of July wreath but have the frame off-centered and incorporate the ribbon with the offset. Therefore, the offset wires had a shorter amount of ribbon. The length of the ribbon would increase as I attached it to the larger sides of the rings. The greatest gap in-between ring’s 1 & 2, had a long length of fabric going across the top.  When there was a small gap, between 1 & 2 at the south end of my frame, the length of the ribbon was quite short in comparison to the northern (top) of my wreath. I repeated this sequence, all around my wreath.

This is craptastic picture, you can tell the lengths are different but no clear vision of the off-set to you bottom left.

Off set? Where?

Off set? Where?

Another change I made from my previous wreath, the cloth ties that attach the ribbon to the frame. Of course, I didn’t think of this idea until I was finished, yes, I’m that awesome. But it may have worked out better that way! Maybe. I started to replace all of my cloth ties, with zip ties. In this household, EVERYTHING is fixed with a zip tie. No need for duct tape, nope, just a bag of zip ties and we can fix anything!!  It just makes sense, to fully secure my ribbon to the frame with the most amazing product ever, black zip ties.

The pro’s of the zip ties, nothing is moving, only slightly across the frame. The ribbon is very secured! It also looks a little bit tidier. That’s where the plus side ends. Zip ties are sharp! Once you cut the tails off, the hard plastic is quite harsh to the touch. Also, once you’ve zipped your zip, there is no turning back! You can cut the zip tie if you make a mistake, but then you take a risk at cutting the ribbon. So be careful when cutting and zipping.

The one good thing with my finished the project, once I started to place the zip ties, I knew where to zip. I can image a lot of mistakes being made, if I hadn’t tied the ribbon first with fabric and then went back to use a zip tie. To zip tie first, the ribbon would have been tightly secured, but if I needed to make a slight alteration I would have to cut the zip tie and start over. You cannot undo a zip tie.

In all, I like my wreath that I made for my mother. Because I used deco ribbon, you can’t tell that the frame was off centered, it’s too fluffy. I will try another off centered wreath, but use scrap fabric instead. In the end, I want people to see that it is offset, because that is what makes this project unique. I have yet to see a off-centered frame in the craft stores, just your basic three ring circus. I thought it would be a little avant-garde to hang the wreath with the short ribbon and decorations off centered on the wall. Maybe it’s not avant-garde (stretching the idea a little bit :-)), if I had just picked up this wreath, I would have hung it with the decorations on the bottom.

Maybe there is little visual off-set due to the Fiery Imp’s associate, Shelby. The amount of help she provides is priceless! Of course, she helps with designing my projects; by chewing the ribbon and discarding any flowers directly from the wreath that is unpleasant to the eye. A true artist (and lap warmer, she’s judging this post as I type).

Shelby, all American!

Shelby, all American!

Picture taken by The Fiery Imp

Oh “Marketing” Job postings, how I love thee

I wasn’t planning on writing a post day, honestly, I haven’t felt very good. Today was dark and gloomy, so I curled up to read Primal Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, hoping for some good insight on a up coming column on the Redwood Chronicles. But because I was in a funk, all it did was piss me off and bring back bad memories of employment, so I put it down. Besides some other bumps in the road, today was not my day.

I received a phone call, from a job posting that I applied for yesterday (flag number one). You must realize that I apply for 10-15 jobs a day over the week, for about 3 days (assuming that there is a healthy amount of jobs I’m willing to apply for). I don’t always investigate the company or even solely follow the companies requirements. My chances of getting a job are slim, I’ll be honest about that, solely because there are so many people also applying. If it’s a job posting that is in my field of study and is what I’m looking for, completely different story. I read that posting and all of the details, change my resume and cover letter. You may not approve of my approach, but in this awesome economy we’re in, I have no other choice.

Back to my phone call. I received a call for an Entry-Level Account Manager position in Concord, a great 19 mile 45 minute drive. Fine, I can do that. The lady on the phone was nice but ran through the job details VERY quickly (second red flag). The only question she asked me was if I was willing to make the commute (third flag). I normally receive a lot more questions than just that. I agreed to an interview tomorrow. Something didn’t sit right with me. My inner imp, was not excited about an interview.

I went to their website, looks legit, has some good offers for their employees. They stated things like; training, we care about your personal growth blah blah blah. After starting to read about proper management skills from Goleman, it sounded ok. Then I went to their career page, only one job was posted, the Entry-Level Account Manager which I had applied for (red flag four). So you’re going to tell me that a company that consults for Fortune 500 companies only has one job offer? And it fills the whole page?

Now you’ve made me mad…time to use the all knowing Google.

After about 10 minutes of research, it seems that this company is a door-to-door office supply seller. (Bingo, Inner imp was correct). They share an office with the same type of company. This particular company branched off a year ago from a company in the neighboring city. According to their website, an employ left the wonders of sales to be front desk and help with HR, what? Then I googled the office supply company…and even more blogs and comments came up with door to door sales!  I can’t even remember what number of red flags!

Screw that! I did not waste a 4 year education and military service to sell paper and staplers. Nope, not going to do it, I’ve been fooled before.

I accepted a business to business position before, 100% commission. I quit 3 days later and god knows how many miles I walk in San Francisco. Not saying that I can sell, or even walk down the street, but I will not offer items to business that did not ask for my services first! Some people call this job a scam, I won’t do that. It’s not a scam, it’s still a business and people thrive in that kind of environment. More power to those people who can make a living that way, it’s a job and a career. It’s just not for me. If I want to sell items, it will be larger equipment or technical items, not paper or pizza coupons or magazines! I want to client to want me to be there and help them with their business.

I’ve been offered these positions before, because they HIDE what the position is on the posting. I know I stated above that I don’t read in great detail, but I can understand what “Business to Business” or “Door to Door’ means. Don’t blanket the offer with “marketing”, that’s a whole other position! Just don’t lie to me with a posting and your crappy website. Be honest, don’t wait until the interview. They will take anyone! I’m no special to them, they don’t care about my education and experience. But they are the first ones to offer employment. Grrr.

It just makes me angry, I hate being lied too. I think I’m done with my rant for now, I’m sure I’ll find more important things later about this, now I need to write an email stating that I won’t be present for the awesome opportunity that they have provided me with.

IMG_4678

Tomato Cage Wreath Frame

IMG_4623The first DIY project of the Fiery Imp! A simple yet fun holiday wreath, this will be a Patriotic or 4th of July wreath, using an upcycle Tomato cage. I will be creating a Star shaped Patriotic wreath with red, white and blue Déco mesh ribbon and corresponding fake flowers. Instead of using a bought wire wreath, I will be creating my own.

I’m only going to be explaining how to create the Tomato Cage wreath. There are MANY other blogs that describe how to make a Deco wreath, strip fabric wreath and many other types. Do a little research on what kind of wreath to make. I am no expert at wreaths; I have only made a couple, so I don’t want you to learn bad wreath making habits from me. With this project, I’m teaching myself how to make a Deco wreath while creating the Tomato Cage frame.

Each summer, my family grows a garden with; cucumbers, tomatoes and various other veggies. Every year, a tomato cage gets destroyed. Not sure how this happens but it does. If you notice, the Tomato cage has three outer rings that the tomato bush can use to climb up and around, leaving the tomatoes to hang freely. The three rings go from large, medium and small. So does a store bought wire wreath! Using a Dremel, I take the cage apart then beat it back into submission and turn it into a perfectly good wreath frame.

So let’s get this Imp fired up and start a new project!

As I mentioned above, a decommissioned Tomato cage can create a good sized and stable wreath frame. With this project, I used a 42’ Tomato cage, you may use any size cage just as long as it has 3 rings. I created a similar wreath with a much smaller cage, and it worked out perfectly. The smaller cage was easier to cut with the Dremel and it may have even been cut by tough wire cutters. The 42’ cage, has a much thicker columns holding the rings in place, compared to the smaller one. It’s all up to you, and what you have in your shed.

I find the easiest and quickest way to get the closest cut and separating the rings from the columns is to use a Dremel. I highly recommend it! As always, use safety glasses and common sense when cutting this cage. Sparks will fly and the metal will get hot. Use gloves if you can; eye protection is a MUST, and keep all flammable material at a safe distance away. Once you donned your safety gear, let’s begin to cut.

It’s your choice which ring to cut off first, choose whatever position is the most comfortable for you. You want to cut the main support columns of the cage, closest to where the welds that attach the columns to the rings. You do not want to cut the ring, or damage the stability of the ring with the weld, just get close there will be a small amount the column left attached to the ring.

IMG_4626

I attach a cutting blade to my Dremel, depending on the blade that you use, it will get smaller as it cuts. I only needed to use one, but have a spare just in case. There is nothing worse than half way through a project you need to make a run to the hardware store.

I set my Dremel on high, to be able to cut fast and smoothly. If this feels too fast or makes you feel uncomfortable, lower the speed but I wouldn’t go past half or it will take you forever to cut through the column. With my safety gear on, I place my Dremel on to the column with little minimal space from the ring’s weld mark.

I also found it helpful to set the cage on a brick, and cut the column to the side where nothing can set ablaze, vibrate or get damaged by me cutting. You may also use a vice to stabilize the cage and allow you to work safely and efficiently. Please remember, the steal metal will conduct heat and get warm around the columns but hot where you’re cutting, so please be careful.

I cut every column off of each ring. I save my columns, I might able to use them for plant tie ups for this summer’s garden! Once, I’ve removed the columns, and once the little nubbins cool, I check for the length of each nubbin. The nubbin; is what is left over from cutting off the column, and the weld, remnants of how the columns has held the rings securely together. I check each nubbin for sharpness and length. I don’t want a long nubbin on the ring that may been seen through the wreath, therefore, if the nubbin is too long and I know I can cut close to the ring without breaking the ring, I make it as short as I can. In this case, I cut my nubbins to less than a ½ inch long. I will actually use these nubbins later to attach my rings together.

IMG_4631

Once I know my nubbins are the right size, I bend the rings back to a circle. This cage wasn’t too damaged because it was a created with a thick frame. The prior one, the smaller cage, the wire was thin and easily deformed. In that case, I bent the wire ring back into a circle. It wasn’t a perfect circle, but was close enough because I know my Deco ribbon will hide any deformities.

IMG_4643

I also check for sharpness. The nubbins will be quite rough and sharp. You can do either two things, wrap the nubbins with flower tape (which is what I did for this project) or shave them down with another with the Dremel (which also works, but quite slow). Either choice is up to you. Wreath’s usually stay on the wall, but if you are worried about little hands or pets getting a hold of them, I would shave them down.

Attaching the tomato rings to themselves is not a science, and don’t worry if you wiring abilities lack perfection. As long as your wire secures the rings, the fabric will hold much of this wreath together and hide your wires. You can purchase green wire, in the floral section if you feel it would match or hide your wire better.  I’m using about 12 inches of wire, feel free to use more or less, I’m usually cut off an inch or so of wire after I’m finished with each attachment. You can attach all three rings with one string for one section, or attach them separately by using 2 piece of much shorter wire length.

IMG_4646

What I find the easiest way to wrap the wire, is where the support pillars of the tomato cage attached to the rings. The little nubs that were left after you cut the support off of the cage to remove the rings. Wrap the wire around the ring and use the nubbin as a strong point. Please see below picture, it’s easier to see it than to explain it.  Once I have a secured wrap, I follow the wire down to the next ring and begin to wrap it in the same fashion. Don’t worry if your nubbins don’t match up, you can skip them in the inner rings, but I find it important to use the nubbins on the outer most ring. Repeat the wrapping process on the sides with the nubbins and anywhere else you think the wreath needs support. I would recommend that you make your wiring in a symmetrical to optimize stability. In my case, I wired 4 sides. Feel free to add more, it’s your wreath frame, experiment a little.

IMG_4650

This is optional, but since I had the floral tap, I wrapped a little bit around the nubbins to prevent any sharp edges.

At this point, is where I leave you. Be as creative as you can, Google as much as you can handle and enjoy yourself. I understand it may be cheaper to purchase your own wreath, but sometimes it feels better to upcycle an item you already have!! Personally, I feel better about it. I didn’t trash a slightly damaged item that would have gone to a landfill. Instead, I used some creativity and created a wire frame for a Patriotic 4th of July wreath for a good friend of mine and fellow veteran.  I hope this wreath will help him celebrate this very important day of our independence and give hope for a brighter employment.

 IMG_4679

Quote of the project “Pantera, you may have stolen my warm chair, but you have not stolen my spirit”