Jan Stafford Kellis
The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch

The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch

The Highest Tide by Jim LynchMy rating: 5 of 5 stars This is my favorite kind of story: Intriguing character I wish I could meet (13-year-old Miles O’Malley), a healthy dose of information about something I know little about (in this case, the tidal pools near Olympia, Washington) and a…

Extreme Writing

As mentioned in Bookworms Anonymous, extreme reading is a little recognized sport performed by reading outside.  I doubt we’ll ever see it in the Olympics, or witness a district extreme reading tournament. It’s not really a spectator sport; the reader/performer is the team, the audience and the coach.  Extreme reading…

UP Living

UP Living

Some days it’s easier to remember why we live here, and today was one of those days. Autumn is just peeking through, painting random leaves and gracing us with bright sunshine and cool, crisp days. The tourists are gone now so there’s no traffic, no need to lock anything, and…

Ready, Set, Change Career

All my life I’ve worked inside. I’ve been a waitress, a grocery cashier, a credit union teller, accounting clerk, accounting manager, internal auditor, and an electric utility company member service representative. Now I wear work boots (!!) and have a company truck with a tool box to accommodate my sledge hammer and brush axe. I still have a clipboard. It helps me recognize myself when I picture myself in my mind’s eye slogging through the brush, jumping ditches and annihilating small trees and branches that have committed the crime of blocking my vision from one stake to another.

I’m a staking technician: the person (no longer the ‘guy’) who travels to potential job sites, usually alone, sometimes meeting a homeowner or electrician, to design new electric services, service upgrades or power line extensions or rebuilds. Luckily, I do this in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where the most likely potential threats aren’t man or machine, but wolf or bear. Or domestic dogs, unchained and salivating, rushing to defend their patch of crabgrass decorated with their own leavings. This is where my brush axe becomes a multitasking defense implement that so far I haven’t had to utilize beyond brandishing it in a threatening manner. Dogs are easily impressed with long, swinging sticks with gleaming metal ends.

I’m the first woman to hold this position in my 72-year-old company. I don’t feel as if I’m breaking down barriers, just quietly enjoying the challenges of a physically and mentally demanding job. I’m 40, and I’ve convinced myself it’s a good time of life to drastically switch careers and also to do something outside with the hope of  maintaining my slowly ebbing physique. My education is not in engineering but in business management, with very little math, which turns out to be a regrettable disadvantage. But I’m having fun. Each assignment is its own project, much like a puzzle or mind-boggling riddle, and merits its own file filled with color-coded documents and drawings (I’m no artist but my sketches are improving–should have taken drafting as well as trigonometry) with a clear end, when I can close the file and stash it away in the ‘finished’ section of the drawer.

Every day brings a new puzzle requiring a creative solution and I approach it with interest and intensity.