What We’re Doing this Summer…

What’s Happening with Us…

What on earth have we been doing? We’ve been selling and moving for months already! Aren’t we gone yet? No, we aren’t. Here’s what’s been happening in the past few weeks of relative silence:

  • The husband has been finishing up his last weeks at American Aldes Ventilation. They finally realize he is leaving and are asking him questions and scrambling to learn the things he will not be doing for them anymore
  • About half of our “things” got boxed and put in a container that is stored someplace in Tampa.
  • Packing has continued as I empty out closets, dressers, cupboards and the garage.
  • Keeping the house “showing” ready in case an interested buyer comes our way. We’ve had two open houses, both of which had 0 visitors. Really. Everyone is up north I guess.
  • We have been using up our food supply, giving some things away, sold the freezer. (Now we’ll hopefully leave before we get a hurricane so we don’t have to restock.)
  • Sold my car, and traded our red truck for a newer Chevy Colorado in a sophisticated grey.
  • Ordered a topper to go with the new-to-us truck to give us space for the move. They take weeks to make and getting it put on will probably be the last thing before we leave.
  • Spending lots of time driving around together, since I love to drive the new truck and am not letting the husband get behind the wheel.
  • Doing our last visits to doctors and dentists, compiling our health records to take north with us.
  • Keeping up with summer growth in the yard, mowing, pulling weeds and vines, trimming trees.
  • Visiting with friends we may not see again for quite a while.
  • Last but not least, trying to keep healthy and find our way out of some disturbing health problems.


What we hope to be doing in the next few weeks:

Dennis Retirement  (Click here to see the invitation with a nice picture of the husband. I’m technically challenged to get it to show up, sorry.)

  • Retirement party!!! I am so excited to see the husband getting honored by his co-workers. He has been faithfully on the job for 35 years and has been through a lot with this company. They have been planning a special lunch out at a restaurant and a surprise. I have no idea what it is.
  • Making an appointment at Mayo Clinic. The husband is frustrated and depressed with his erratic blood pressure and extreme mental and physical fatigue. He has had a brain MRI and tests for his heart and circulation but no helpful diagnosis yet. Ever heard of NPH? We hadn’t either but it is one of the possibilities.
  • Emptying out the house. Filling our container and returning it to storage until someday when we have another house to furnish.
  • Buying a small trailer for the things we want to take north.
  • Taking our trip to Wisconsin, via Greensboro to see Julie and possibly Madison, Indiana to check out Ron and Marlene’s project (this is the first they’re hearing about this though, so we will be flexible on that.)
  • We absolutely have to be finished traveling and in Wisconsin by the end of July because the first week in August is the Smith Family Reunion and we are going to be there helping it happen!


So a lot has been happening, even as some important things, like the sale of the house, have not been happening.  We are learning and practicing our waiting skills. And since it doesn’t make much difference where we wait, we will do it with family. We are not discouraged. The house will sell, eventually.

Something I Don’t Get to Do Every Day

Checking out a rubber manufacturing plant in Cambodia (please tell me you haven’t done this…)

On a recent trip to Cambodia, our small group of foreigners got to tour a rubber plant in Kampong Cham province.  Not only was this something one doesn’t get to do every day, but we almost didn’t get to do it that day either.  There were union protests taking place in the capital city of Phnom Penh and the guards at our rubber factory thought we might be coming to incite a riot.  Fortunately our tour organizer was from that province and somehow knew the right things to say. We all paid $1 to get in. This was a very self-guided tour.  This was the full extent of our supervision as we roamed the premises at will.

I'm glad they told us.
I’m glad they told us.

Rubber tree sap is white and really quite beautiful.  It’s collected a little like maple sap used in making maple syrup.  There’s the hole in the tree trunk, a little spigot and a pail.  I’m not sure how they get the sap from the grove to the processing building but once there it’s put in long storage vats and a chemical is added. The sap solidifies. It looks a lot like cheese (mozarella).

the grove in background, (bananas in front)
the grove in background, (bananas in front)
Beautiful, white, rubber sap
Beautiful, white, rubber sap
Sap in vats
Sap in vats
Solidified rubber floats to next step
Solidified rubber floats to next step
Raw, solidified rubber
Raw, solidified rubber

The long flats of raw rubber go into a drying machine where they are chopped up and dried.  I’m actually making this all up because there was no one to tell us what was really happening but we got a pretty good idea just by the looks of things. These are the drying machines.

the dryers
the dryers

The rubber is not as attractive when it is dried – yellow/brown and dense.  It comes from the dryers, still on it’s conveyor belt and drops into a compressor where it’s made into blocks.

into the compressor
into the compressor
compressed block
compressed block
block of rubber on its way to....
block of rubber on its way to….
this guy with the knife who was very busy. I have no idea why he was doing this.
…this guy with the knife who was very busy. I have no idea why he was doing this.
we got samples of rubber to take home
we got samples of rubber to take home

The blocks of rubber are trucked out to other factories where they are made into various rubber things.  Rubber bands?  I don’t know.  This is where our tour ended.  There were about eight of these long open buildings but this was the only one that was in operation at the time.  It appeared to be off-season for rubber.  This is a very warm climate and the buildings are open, as I said, and didn’t have fans – only natural ventilation.  The workers were often shirtless, shoeless and definitely were not wearing hard hats or protective anything around the machinery.  Evidently there aren’t a lot of lawsuits in Cambodia.  We were free to walk around the machinery, through the plant, touching, poking and asking questions without interference.  It was really quite interesting.

What things are still made with real rubber? Do you know?

Is It Time?

That’s what I’m wondering – is it time to make a change? I’m talking about jobs, not necessarily professions, and there is a difference.  This is always one of my hardest decisions and I have to be more than a little bit unhappy to take the plunge.  In my career I’ve had jobs that I knew I needed to leave and could hardly wait to do so, jobs that I left because of other changing circumstances (like a move away from the area), jobs that just ended and I didn’t have to decide.  The one thing that’s always been missing is the “perfect job” that I never wanted to leave.  Do people have jobs like this?

I can vaguely remember writing a post similar to this at least once in the last two years of working. It’s always been provoked by the job I have now, so maybe this at least strike two for this place of employment.  I think the reason it’s so hard to leave is that I’ve devoted a lot of effort into becoming good at what I do in this position.  I love being good at something and in fact, that’s part of what makes a job fun for me. 

It becomes “not fun” when my physical well being is threatened, when I’m not trusted and when the assumption is made that I have wrong motives for actions I’ve taken.  Do you ever remember having a fight with your brother or sister when you were a kid? How the accusations became heated and a bit ridiculous because you really didn’t know how to disagree and discuss an issue? You were only a kid, right?  I don’t expect that kind of thing to happen as an adult in the workplace.

When it does, I really don’t like it.  When it happens regularly I begin to question whether I want to be subjected to it again and again.  Even in this economy, is it worth the money to have the mental and emotional stress? Work should be challenging me to think, grow, and problem solve but some environments make that very hard to happen.  Problems remain unresolved. I’m getting a headache thinking about it.

So, if it is time, the next question is how?  How to leave in a God honoring manner, with kindness, with clarity.  Do I want this door to be permanently closed?  Is there still something left to be accomplished relationally?  I am done in this place, but is God done with me in this place?

I have always felt that God gave me this job, as an answer to my request for provision for a specific financial need.  But even God’s assignments can be for a time, a season, and then be over. I’m just sayin’ I think this time is over.