Work Can Be Fun?

Sure! Why not? This week I’ve really been enjoying my job. Probably kicking the adenovirus out the door helped me concentrate. The lack of headache was also good.

And this buddy hasn’t sprayed in a day or two. That’s good, because he or she lives under the shipping container, right next to the horses.

But I’m positive that a couple of factors made the week good, even though it’s been a long one.

I’ve learned stuff. I did a workshop by my old company that was on a new topic to me. I had a blast! And today I helped some folks figure out how to support their scrum teams. We were all impressed with ourselves.

I’ve also felt useful. That makes work fun! I helped train people in various software scenarios. It felt good to help. Laughing and supportive comments added to my good feelings.

I had good breaks. Calves make good break buddies.

I was challenged. I was asked to figure some new things out, plus I was asked to contribute ideas for new software features. I’ve missed this from my previous job, so I was probably too excited to make my contributions. On the other hand, I’ve led discussions where I wished people had contributed more. I hope I and the others who had great ideas made the people looking for ideas happy!

I don’t know what makes other people happy at work, but that’s what works for me. Fulfilling work makes life so much better. I’m lucky. Now I’ll try make someone else’s job fun and try to pass it on to others!

Now it’s time to relax, right, Harvey?

A Rusty Tarot Reading

This may or may not surprise you, but those of you who actually know me remember that I have worked with tarot cards for many years. I find them very helpful for clarifying my thinking, figuring out trends, and learning about other people. In fact, this blog and our ranch, The Hermits’ Rest, is a nod to the card Lee most identifies with, the Hermit. It’s about seeking the truth, teaching others, and yes, withdrawal from life.

I wish the card I identified with most was romantic and exciting, but I’m afraid it’s the less intense equivalent of the Hermit, 4 of Swords. It’s a card of calm, peace, meditation, and retreat. It used to come up for me nearly every day when I was drawing a card a day. Now that I’m a lot better at self-care, I don’t think it would do that so much.

Enough of the tarot blathering. I haven’t done many readings lately, except a few for others. The one I did for my sister a month or two ago was really something, and I think that’s the last one I did. But, with yesterday being the traditional new year for earth-centered folks, I decided to do my usual Halloween reading to see where I might be headed in the next year. Here’s what came up.

My reading, October 31, 2021

I was so rusty at reading that at first, I was a bit concerned. There are a lot of stern, mean-looking dudes in that spread. Who or what were they and why were they all over my life for the next year? But, as I looked at the other cards and considered the context of my life right now, it began to make sense. I’ll share with you what I saw. Note that my friends who are good this stuff may see something else. Alternative perspectives are welcome.

I tend to use the cards to draw connections my conscious mind hadn’t seen before and to see relationships emerge that I hadn’t realized where there. I’m not predicting the future.


The card that signified the theme of the reading is the 3 of Pentacles. That’s a card about doing high-quality work and getting recognition for it. That evokes my recent job change that is a new part of my life this year. I realize that a lot of the reading may concern work.

Crossing that card is the Wheel of Fortune, which is not a game show, but represents either luck or a life full of significant ups and downs. I’d say that summarizes both my recent past and my present, and the thing that’s made it hard to do my best work–so many other things going on and demanding attention.

Next, I saw the Empress over there to the left, in the past position. She’s a mom and a nurturer. I have, indeed, spent a lot of my time in the past few months to a year trying to make things better for people and expending a lot of energy in that. That’s the past, though.

Sitting high above me is the Hierophant, who signals institutions, bosses, teachers, and such, which used to be the card I hated. When I was in a bad job, he showed up over and over until I left. I think this time it represents the job I just left, because of feeling oppressed by the demands of out-of-touch higher ups but cautions me to be aware of wanting to conform to make a good impression at the new place, too. Hmm. Lots to think about.

Below, at the root of the issue is the particularly unattractive 4 of Pentacles. This represents someone who wants everything to themselves, can’t let go, or as Robin Wood (who created the deck I read with) said, “an emotional black hole.” This is telling me that the other part of my life that weighed me down for the past year or so (one I don’t talk about here) is still lurking down there, thanks to the Empress being so strong and me wanting to help even when it goes against my best interests. Since it’s tied (in my mind) to the Empress card, I think it’s in the past, too.

That’s confirmed by the future card, which is, hip-hip hooray, the World! That card hints that I may well be right that I’ve figured some things out, am in a better place, and come to the end of a cycle intact and with lots and lots of knowledge. Good, good.

So, what happens next? Well, the card on the bottom of the stack on the right is the 8 of Cups. When I saw that, I said to myself, “Ain’t that the truth?” This card shows someone turning away from all the “stuff” in the past, ready to step forward into whatever is next, without all that emotional baggage (cups are emotions). Right, right! That’s what I want to be doing. Thank you, random tarot cards, for confirming that.

Here’s where more of the “people” cards show up. They always make me think about whether they represent people in my life or traits. With the King of Pentacles in the position of my friends and family, it becomes clear. This is a kind guy who has money, and I would like that to represent the people in my household, who also work in our business. They know what they are doing and will be with me all the way.

Next is the card that represents my hopes and fears/dreams. I chose fears here because it’s the King of Swords. This is a scary guy, to me, often a military man or stern ruler. He’s smart, but not very emotional. You may laugh at me, but I thought of the Governor of Texas, who keeps passing laws that upset me and make me fear for the safety of women, children, immigrants, and other people without much power. Now why is THAT GUY in my reading??? I think I’m more worried that politics is going to mess with my happy 2022 than I let myself realize consciously.

Moving on to the end, things do get better, judging from the cheerful 6 of Cups at the top. It looks like if I do the stuff the other cards are hinting at, like working hard, giving up on nurturing people who don’t want to be nurtured, and learn from the crazy past year or two, I can have the kind of life I’d want, a simple one full of happiness and family. I would not turn that down!

There’s a card to the side. I drew it to see something more long term. It’s the Knight of Swords. That’s my estranged son, the cuttingly intellectual one who is always in my dreams telling me how I failed as a mother and human being. Maybe some resolution to that issue will come in the next year.

My cards, a leaf, pinecones, and a magpie feather.

Well, if you ever wondered how people can read cards, that was an example of one way. It is NOT the only way. I use a lot of intuition. Some people are more literal. Others have different interpretations of cards, based on their own experiences. These things are flexible and can be what you would like them to be. Nothing to be scared of here, just time to ponder possibilities.

Labor Day Musings

Yep, it’s Labor Day here in the good ole USA, where we honor the working people who contribute so much, by giving them a day of rest. Well, we honor SOME of them, anyway. I have the day off at my “white-collar” full-time managerial position in a software company, where I get 3 weeks of vacation and insurance, plus a 401K retirement plan.

That’s today, all right. Photo by @jopanuwatd via Twenty20.

It was NOT always the case, and I will not forget it. Here’s what I said 11 years ago, before I got the job I’m in now:

I love the concept of Labor Day. But today, please remember us contract workers, folks for whom today is a forced day off, with no pay. That does not feel like a reward for our hard work. Independent contractors get no benefits, pay high self-employment taxes, and have no holiday or vacation pay. I have not had a vacation since 2006, except when laid off/between contracts. I am very grateful to have work, though.

Suna on Facebook, September 7, 2009

What that doesn’t tell you is that I hadn’t had a paid vacation in…ever. The work I did from 1995-2006 was a mix of volunteer work, contract work, and stipends for a nonprofit. (Poor pitiful me, not really; I managed to live just fine.)

Every year I make it a point to remind folks who are having parties, cooking out, boating, or relaxing in groups smaller than ten (my peeps) that not everyone has the luxury of time off. My younger son is out there delivering YOUR pizzas (if he can get into your gated community). The folks at Hearts, Homes and Hands are taking care of our clients, whose needs do not stop for holidays. Grocery and convenience stores are open to sell you beer and brats. Retailers are open for Labor Day Sales Extravaganzas.

Enjoy your sausage. Photo by @antonettescott via Twenty20.

So, not everyone gets a paid day of fun for Labor Day. Minimum-wage workers are out there earning their minimum wage, at jobs where their hours are kept just below what would legally require benefits (like paid time off). Contract workers, like me in my previous life, sit at home, hoping that the pay shortage won’t make it hard to pay rent or utility bills.

“That hippie Suna, she crazy with all that fair this and that!” Photo by @debb_a via Twenty20, not of anyone I know.

Sigh. I think something that would actually make America great would be to pay hard, honest workers a livable wage, with time off for holidays (or comp time if they choose to work holidays), and heck, maybe even parental leave when they have babies. Then I’d celebrate Labor Day with a happy heart.

New iNaturalist Project

Yesterday I was thinking about how many observations of plants and birds and such I make around the office park where I work in Austin. I said to myself, “Suna, that would make an interesting iNaturalist collection, and then you could also see observations other people make around there.

This pecan tree was here long before the fake pond and office complex.

Since I’d just taken a nice, long walk where I took many photos of plants, trees, birds, and such, it seemed like good timing.

Of course, nothing is simple, so it took me a long time to find the hidden option for making a project a “collection” with a defined set of boundaries. The nice thing about these is that any observations you make in that area automatically get added to the project, so you don’t forget to add them. I remembered that Linda Jo Conn (the great iNaturalist guru) had showed me how to do it when I made the Hermits’ Rest collection, but I had to re-remember.

Heron on fake pond, which is surrounded by cypress trees and has lots of nice riparian plants

I’m really happy with how it turned out in the end, though, and especially pleased that three other people had made observations there in the past. So, I’m not alone. I’m just the more obsessd person with it.

Why it’s interesting

The area where our relatively new office complex is located interests me, since I’ve actually been observing it since 1997. When we were building our house in Brushy Creek, we’d drive through the complex as a shortcut between Jollyville and Round Rock. Now, of course, there are large zoomy highways to get there. Back then, there were only a few companies with
large buildings there, and we enjoyed seeing many deer in the wide expanses of grass and groupings of trees.

Now, many more buildings are present, but there are still a few relatively natural areas, along with some places that were once landscaped but gone wild. There is an interesting mix of native and introduced plants.

Native plant!

Plus, our office has the courtyard where the hawks live, and it is full of mostly native plants, just groomed to death by landscapers.

I’ve written about this site before, especially one article last June when I did another major sweep of the area. That’s when I first started on iNaturalist and was practicing my identification skills.

I hope any of you on iNaturalist will enjoy what I share there. Of course, I’ll share a lot of the photos here, too!

Yellow iris that was planted by the pond
something poetic

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