Archive for May 24th, 2007

I Spy, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 
I Spy, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

Job Haiku

sprawling pecan tree
rusty monkey wrench
1 fixed, 1 adjustable

Thursday, May 24th 2007

-from Topic post, Job! What Job?

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What I loved about sharpening dental tools was the pay. What I hated about sharpening dental tools was the pay. The jobs that paid well in a sleepy Western town weren’t necessarily jobs that you could sink a growing brain into. I loved the precision of it. There were certain tools that I was good at sharpening – I can’t even remember their names now.

There was one tool with a scoop neck that was just too hard. I couldn’t get the curve to the grinding wheel at the right angle. I’d grind a little, neck down, eyes penetrating and alert, stop, pull up to the micrometer. Measure. Too little off. Too much off. I blame it on my lack of spatial awareness.

What I loved about picking cherries was the view. What I hated about picking cherries was the pay. Just didn’t pay all the much for the blood, sweat, and tears. We wore these belted buckets around our waists and chatted it up while we stood atop tall ladders between gnarled branches and plucked cherry after cherry after cherry.

Most of my friends smoked back then. We probably spent more time on smoke breaks than we did picking cherries. Not to worry, the owner of the topside grove stood puffing away with us. The view was stunning. Flathead Lake. The drive from Missoula to Flathead through the reservation was peaceful and still. I loved the country there. I ached for the mountains after I moved to the Midwest. Ached.

I settle for the Great Lakes now. And prairie grass. And colder, windier winters. What I loved about pumping diesel for semi’s was the people. The truckers were friendly and well-versed in the gift of gab. The waitresses were hot. The food was cold and greasy. Truck driving food. The lights were bright. And I used to like the smell of gas. Plus at that time I was proud to be able to do physically demanding jobs. They kept me fit and trim and made me feel solid. Grounded.

That’s what I can say about jobs like cherrypicking and pumping diesel and checking oil on big Peterbilt or Mack trucks. Grounded. Step up, pull up the latches on the right side of the hood, or was it the left?

The office I worked in was about 12 x 12 and smelled like Granddaddy’s shop used to smell. A mixture of male sweat, girlie calendars, oil, gas, grit, and grime. That’s exactly what it smelled like. I used to like that smell. And the times we would visit him on Reynolds Street.

About 7 or 8 years ago, I headed Down South with my mother and sister. We went to the old haunts. My granddaddy’s shop was closed up tight. And it looked almost exactly the same as it did in the late 50’s, early 60’s. The Bear alignment sign was still hanging out from a rusty pole. And the auto service sign, we nabbed that one for my brother.

When we got back to the North, I gave the sign to him. And asked him to hold on to mine for me. I don’t know what happened to them. I need to ask. For a long time they were hanging in his barn. They tore the shop building down a few weeks after we left the South and widened the highway. All that remain are my photographs. I think that’s why I love photography.

I have an affinity for signs. I don’t know why. I shoot them all the time with my camera. Maybe it goes back to those hot humid days we’d visit my granddaddy at his shop. And drop salted Planter’s into the frosty, dripping tops of Coke bottles. We’d pull them out from between those machine pinchers hooked to a red metal cooler that went clink and suck down the caramel acid sugar between bits of swollen saltless peanuts.

Maybe that’s why I liked the smell of gas. And working at gas stations. Maybe it’s in my blood.

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

-from Topic post, Job! What Job?

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By Juanita McDermott

Dezy Sugar Monsters
sugar monsters attacking my pancreas, painting on whiteboard by Desmond McDermott, photograph by Juanita McDermott, © 2007, all rights reserved

            Cure Diabetes, all rights reserved, Juanita McDermott, 2007
             Cure Diabetes, photograph by Juanita McDermott,
              with assistance from Dezy McDermott, © 2007,
              all rights reserved

Reflection Of My World, all rights reserved, Juanita McDermott, 2007

 Reflection Of My World, photograph by Juanita McDermott, © 2007,
  all rights reserved


Prickly Little Fingers, all rights reserved, Juanita McDermott, 2007
  Prickly Little Fingers, photograph by Juanita McDermott, © 2007,
      all rights reserved

About Photography: I’ve been taking photographs for about a year. I only recently discovered what a passion I had for it after someone showed me how to use flickr to drag and drop photos into my work blog. flickr is like an adult MySpace; it allows you to share your photos with people all over the globe. Now my work blog is extinct, replaced by my photography and flickr. 

Since my six-year-old son is Type 1 diabetic (he was diagnosed at the age of two), I decided to start shooting photos of diabetes related topics. I formed a group on flickr called Diabetes Art for people to express what it’s like living with Type 1 diabetes and its complications. Type 1 diabetes is serious in and of itself, but it can lead to other serious health issues.

My goal was to create art pieces with used diabetes supplies –syringes, test strips, insulin vials, infusion sets, finger prickers, etc. These supplies were such a part of my son’s life and my life -I wanted to create something out of them other than what they really stood for. I was amazed to see that many people quickly joined the diabetes art group on flickr and began creating art pieces of their own to shoot and post. I was soon interacting with people all over the world and learned how diabetes is treated and managed in developing countries.

My son, Dezy, got very excited about the new group and created a few pieces of his own. He loves helping me when I’m working on my pieces. When I was ready for a new one, I gave Dezy my first digital camera, a Canon Powershot S30. I upgraded to a Sony DSC-H5 camera, which my husband researched and purchased. There’s a lot I don’t yet know about the features on this camera, but that’s OK. I’m having a lot of fun as it is.

Dezy was invited to represent the state of New Mexico in Washington, DC, for Children’s Congress on June 17th-20th. My family and I are completely dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes, and my son dreams of a day when he is free of this disease. We’re looking forward to sharing with all the US senators and congressional representatives what Dezy’s life is like living with Type 1 diabetes. Dezy and I will take plenty of photos and share them with all of you on my flickr account.

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Micrometer, image public domain, Splarka

-micrometer, image public domain

Jobs I’ve had over my entire life, in no particular order? It was hard to remember them all. And it seemed like there were so many more.

Isn’t it strange that we spend most of our lives working jobs in which we wonder what we’re doing there? I’ve always been envious of those who knew at age 6 they wanted to be a lawyer, doctor, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Yes, I know people who are working jobs they knew they wanted to do when they were kids. For me, following my true heart has been a long time coming. Decades have been spanned. But no time wasted.

1. Sharpened dental tools micrometer in the left hand, metal blade in the right, moving with precision and care against the spinning wheel next to a stack of 15 grades of polishing and grinding stones. You need good eyes and coordination and a humongous box of Spiderman Band-Aids for the nicks and cuts. I’ve still got a scar on my hand.

2. Pumped diesel for semi-trailer trucks – heavy, hard work. The truck dip sticks were as long as I was tall. I smelled like grease at the end of the day. I looked like James Dean – T-shirt, tight Levi’s, those tan workman’s boots. I was in shape back then and played tennis every morning that summer at the high school with a friend.

3. Wound huge reels of magnetic tape on to cassettes – 1972 – clip fat reels of magnetic tape on a steel machine that looks like an old reel-to-reel. Push the red button on Led Zeppelin, the reel winds off until a code on the tape tells the sensor to stop. The cassette is full of tape. Quick, razor cut splices tape. Next cassette.

4. Tended snack bar at a local golf course – ate all the hot dogs and slushy iced Cokes I wanted. I actually liked that job. Worked it right before I left for college. The people were nice. They tipped well.

5. Pumped gas and checked oil – at a city Alert station (back when gas stations still did that). I also painted the curbs white every night because the manager was a meticulous perfectionist. I wore an orange jumpsuit with my name over the pocket. I swear.

6. Supervised about 30 people as a middle manager in a national healthcare company – the greatest job when the company was start-up. I worked my way up from data entry. I took the job as a temp after art school (I was up to my eyeballs in student loans), the longest job I ever had – 9 years. Wasn’t so fun later when the company merged with another healthcare giant in San Francisco. Two different cultures that clashed.

7. Worked as a counter clerk at a Husky station – My first job when I moved to Montana in my 20’s. I rode a welded red bicycle that winter (no car) that I’d bought with $20 I’d scraped together. It was dark and cold when I got off at midnight. Soon I would buy a powder blue VW Squareback from a friend. I loved that car.

8. Dusted the furniture, washed the dishes, ironed the family clothes – That was how I earned my weekly allowance. Oh, how I wish I could have earned it mowing the lawn (I love to mow) and taking the garbage out like my brothers. No – check that. No garbage.

9. Hand picked cherries near Flathead Lake in Montana Shortest job. I think it only lasted a month. Breathtaking view. Unsteady ladders. One cherry at a time.

10. Babysat the kids – didn’t every young girl do babysitting?

11. Installed microscopic volume controls into hearing aids – Red Fox road, I always loved that name. I did this 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, with tiny tweezers, peering through a microscope, every minute of every day.

12. Worked as an independent freelance writer & consultant – doesn’t every writer do this?

13. Performed data entry for a local fan company – Yes, fans. This was a temp job. Only lasted a few months.

14. Worked at the on campus library (work-study) while I was in art school – One of the greatest jobs I ever had. What’s not to like about shelving books about art & artists in between printmaking and art history classes.

15. Pumped gas at a Chevron station one summer in Montana – I’m just realizing how much gas I’ve pumped in my life.

16. Coordinated project data entry and filing for an accounting firm – no, I was wrong. THIS was the shortest temp job ever. One day. They thought I knew accounting. Crossed wires between agency and client. They called the next day and said not to come back! One day.

17. Shoveled snow – from the driveway of an 80-year-old woman who no longer wanted to do it herself (although she could have). This woman had spunk.

18. Worked as a clerk for a large bookstore chain – seemed like a good idea at the time, a smooth transition between the corporate world and creative writing. Below zero walks and midnight bus rides with the nightstalkers.

19. Cleaned hotel rooms at a Class B Missoula motel chain – this lasted exactly one week. It was the grossest thing I ever did. I hated it. And have great respect for those who can tolerate other people’s stinky dirt and grime.

20. Dug fence post holes and strung barbed wire fence on a cattle ranch – only a weekend in Billings. But it was so much fun. Fresh, clean air. And those mountains. Thick leather gloves recommended.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

-from Topic post, Job! What Job?

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