June 2015: Pests and prospects

God rescued our chickens from a rogue coon. It took that, because I went head-to-head with him for a week, and it was a draw after all that. He snatched cat food for a week, but I put the food in a pet crate, and he was foiled. Then he snatched a chicken two nights running, even going so far as to pull open the metal wall of our chicken’s shed. I proceeded to build a door only I could move, and reinforce the walls with concrete blocks. I set a trap and baited it. For three nights, he set off the trap, but got none of the bait and no chickens. Then, we drove over a dead coon on the one lane bridge one morning…and there were no coon tracks around the shed next day, or the next. Divine intervention! Problem solved.

Today, I was at the Tulsa Zoo, and I saw the raccoons in a display. I thought to myself, “Why do they keep pests at the zoo? Where are the armadillos, opossums, and squirrels?” I hope the coons at the zoo appreciate their lives. I hope they never get a taste for chicken.

The Imaginary Floating Sheep have returned, to bleat randomly in our backyard swamp. The wasps have tried to expand their territory into more eaves, and several snakes have been found under a pile of logs. And the bagworms have invaded several trees, as well as our front cedar bush. One day, I had enough, and I brandished my pole saw, and took out…about half the webby nests. I just couldn’t reach high enough to get the others. I did manage to eliminate nearly all the worms on the cedar bush, though, because I could reach them. I covered the bottom of a bucket with two layers, and several days later, I picked off 16 more. I think I got them. I have semi-traumatic memories of these worms destroying an arbor vitae at our last house. Yechhh. It was disgusting. But it wasn’t repeated, thankfully.

Our neighbors have kept their lawn very well-mowed this summer. I say this because our lawn is not that way. Any rain that lasts more than one afternoon takes up semi-permanent residence in our yard, turning it into a clay-lined swamp for a week. In the meantime, the grass grows ever taller, and it’s anybody’s guess as to whether Frankenstein’s Mower will come alive in time to cut the grass before the next rain. It makes me wonder about the people who cut lawns in the rainforests. Oh, wait…

I also wonder about where my career is headed. I know there are people out there who are aiming for department chair, or supervisor, or expanding their business to new markets, but what if you might end up doing all three accidentally? My career path is not the kind counselors hold up on a card to young students to say “See? It’s easy to get ahead.” They don’t even say “Don’t let this happen to you.” With my career, they’d probably say “What the howling mother of Megazod was this guy thinking?”

I got my bachelors’ degree in Secondary Science Education because I loved to dissect, and I got to dissect several human bodies while in college. Yes, I’m one of those people. So, of course, I got my first job teaching math. Yes, math; I happened to take, and pass, the certification test for math when I got certified for science, and voila! I’m a professional who never took a single class in college for the subject he teaches. (Don’t tell my employer.)

So, after teaching four years in a public middle school, chairing the department for two years, and having nothing to do with science, and while we were expecting our second child and moving into a new house, I decided to take the next logical step in climbing the career ladder: I resigned with no prospects. Yep, genius. Actually, I’ve heard several people tout the value of this seemingly illogical step because it forces you to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and your goals, and gives a reason to look for something better instead just treading water. It certainly did all that for me.

Then I took more steps. I was hired by a private school to teach math and science, and after four years, I took, and passed, the certification test for administration, the subject in which I got my Masters’ degree. I was then hired on to the administration, and for two years, I enjoyed stress and opposition hardly to be imagined from people who claimed to have the same belief system I did. It was sometimes hard to accept.

At this point, the next logical step on the career ladder is…that’s right, get fired and stay with the organization. Really. That’s what happened. They booted me out of administration and asked me to be a teacher instead. With 24 hrs to think it over, I decided to feed my family, and went back to the classroom, which was much less stressful at first. After four years, however, I was fired again, on the same day they gave me a trophy for ten years’ faithful service. I didn’t keep the trophy long.

Thinking logically, I found a job at another public district much closer to home, which was more laid back, but also very comfortable, so change wasn’t usually welcome. After a year of teaching middle school science and coaching two girls’ sports for the first time, I was let go to make room for more AP courses in the high school. Do you see where this is going? No? This doesn’t look like an ideal career? What’s wrong with you?

I spent the next year working four part-time jobs: I taught some courses at the local community college, taught part-time at a private high school, tutored students from all grades and levels, and maintained a large yard for a couple from church who couldn’t keep up due to health issues and aging. It was a chance to re-evaluate, and I came up with…God is God, and I’m not. And I’m fine with that. I am very willing to let God lead me to the next step, because…dadgum. How does anyone plan around getting fired unexpectedly, finding no work unexpectedly, getting called unexpectedly, and seeing a bunch of part-time gigs keep your family afloat while God prepares something special? You don’t. You can’t tell where you will be in 5 years, or even in 5 minutes. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan, but don’t plan on just your plan. Expect life to happen, God to redirect, and the results to be beautiful, messy, a little scary, and perfect.

Even with pests and Imaginary Floating Sheep.




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