Sunday, September 6, 2009
This particular store is the largest volume Wal-Mart in the whole state of Texas (and that's a pretty big state full of Wal-Mart shoppers). She had to decide which food stuffs to inspect and which to accept "as is," like those wrapped, those wrapped but processed (having at any time come into contact with human hands), what about open produce, unrefrigerated but were they exposed to smoke or toxic fumes, and then all the refrigerated or frozen foods. Then she and the store management team went through each section of food types to be inspected, meats, milks and eggs and dairy products, all sorts of frozen and refrigerated foods, the bakery and the in-store Subway shop, etc. She inspected all the refrigerated trailers in the parking lot, where the store had hurried frozen/refrigerated foods out to save them, and go through all the cooler and freezers in the store to see if they were keeping acceptably low temps with the electricity out. This DWB went with her and she was awesome to watch. Attagirl, Carol!
We went to see the Illinois Branch, and left with Hannah and Austin in tow. They enjoyed me bringing along some old car toys we had when their Dad used to be a young boy and go on car trips with us. I think we ate at half the Cracker Barrels in the area. We went to the Birthplace of Lincoln, Mammoth Cave, the Smokey Mountains (hiked to a waterfall), and played in Lake Cherokee, near where Grammy and Gramps live, with Grammy and Gramps watching from the hill. We took a tour of Grandpa's old college campus, the University of Tennessee, and, after a quick stop in which they had one last visit with their Great-Grandma Bennett, hurried on back to Bedford, Texas, where the Pait Grandparents took over and enjoyed a few days with them until connecting with the rest of the Bennett Bunch in Oklahoma for some family time. I heartily recommend grandparent trips...the kids were well-behaved, enthusiastic, and enjoyed everything we did with cheerful and loving hearts.
Eating at Cracker Barrel...everyone's favorite on the trip.
Cheerful...and I didn't have to bribe them with candy the way I used to bribe my kids....
Striving to conquer the same games his Dad used to play in the car on trips...
Good hikers! After the fun at the waterfall
Austin wanted to climb this rock on the way up, but was patient, and got to climb it on the way down the mountain.
Grandpa the work horse....made sure we didn't leave anything behind.
Wearing the new hats Grandpa got them to keep the sun off their heads...and Austin wearing his souvenir shirt...which he wore the rest of the trip, between washings.
Some pics from the Illinois part of the trip...
Ellie and Noah at the Children's Museum we took them to while we were in Illinois. Ellie never got bored of getting the small balls to "suck" up the pipes. Noah was proud of the lego structure he built.
Some snuggle time with Grandpa. I'm not sure who was asleep first, Grandpa or Ellie, but I don't think it was Noah! He looks pretty perky!
Friday, June 12, 2009
You kids know your Grandma Young….she’s going to have fun anywhere. Today, she REALLY needed her hair washed. Since she did tandem surgeries (they even used the cut from the first surgery for the second one!), it has been about 2 weeks since her hair had been washed. She still had to be careful of the staples from surgery, and an IV line in her clavicle. Today, Harland, the CP (Care Provider) gave her a really wonderful shampoo.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Here’s Grandma, at the hospital. I’m here in Tennessee, enjoying time with Grandma. She had gall bladder surgery Tuesday (didn’t get to do the easy laproscopic route), and is recuperating nicely. Except for one tiny detail…seems to have a blocked bile duct. Tomorrow morning, they do a procedure to check on exactly what is going on, put in a stent, and hopefully, after they take out the stent in 4 weeks, that is that. Notice that except for the slightly yellow tint to her skin (I’m refraining from calling her “Old Yeller”) she looks really good, and is currently sitting in that same chair, reading a book. Vintage Grandma! Prayerfully, all will go well tomorrow, and I’ll be home Wednesday night, and my Aunt Imazo will take over the care of Mom and Dub in New Market for me.
They have these things they put on your legs to keep the blood from clotting…designed for those who stay in bed several days. Mom obediently used them this afternoon, but the nurse, as she put them on, quipped something along the lines of, “These are really for people who stay in bed. You don’t stay in bed. That, though, is a good thing!” She’s doing a good job of moving, and walking, and exercising. I get her outside for 30 minutes each day for some good ole’ Vitamin D. Except for being a fussy eater, she’s a really good patient, and I attribute her improvements to not laying around in some old hospital bed. Viva la improvements!
Beautiful Sunset….for real! Charlie Yates
Diane Yates Linda Chandler
Some friends (Charlie and Diane Yates and Brian and Linda Chandler) invited us to join them on their boat for Memorial Day. (See Daryl’s blog for more pics…these are the ones I had on my camera, minus the one of Angela that she will thank me for NOT putting on my blog….) It was a refreshing evening.
I had been missing my uncles, to whom I was always grateful on Memorial Day for their part in World War II. This year, I felt a bit of a gap, since my last two uncles passed away this year.
To my joy, we got to celebrate with a vet, Charlie Yates. He fought in the Vietnam War, and flew airplanes. (Again, see Daryl’s blog for more accurate detail) Thanks, Charlie. It meant a lot to me.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
My boss signed us newbies up for a class to become Certified Pool Operators. We have to inspect pools (twice each between Memorial Day and Labor Day), and I guess he figured this was the best way to get us ready.
I just spent 2 gruelling days learning about Flow Meters, Pool Volumes, Titration, Sludge Diatomaceous Filters, dosing the pool with chlorine and bromine and sodium whatevers, and Pool Illnesses, just to list a FEW of the things we covered. We had our final test this afternoon, which I am relieved to report that I made 55/60, which Daryl says is a good solid 92% right.
I can now put the official initials, CPO, after my name.
The irony is, I don't swim.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Grandpa came up with a brilliant idea! I run errands every Saturday morning. Grocery store, Walmart run, etc. We’ve been lacking with time with Alyssa, through no fault of her parents! Just busy schedules, cancer, exhaustion! Sooooo…..Daryl suggested I see if Andrew and Julia would think it was okay to snag Alyssa on Saturday mornings to go to run errands.
They decided that probably every other Saturday would be fine…she is, after all, only six months old, and they don’t want her to be running too busy a schedule. There are a couple of other things Julia does during the week, so they figured they’d try it out and see how she does.
Well, it’s a blast! The first week, we met Grandpa at Lowe’s and picked out some fence panels for the fence between us and Miss Mae, next door. This Saturday, we went to Target, and to Calloway’s, back to our house to do some swingin’ with Grandpa, and on to a quick Kroger stop. Above is a picture where we paused to talk to a friend we ran into…Alyssa LOVED the pink and purple of the Easter aisle!
She laughs and smiles easily…you’ll have to check out Daryl’s blog for swing pictures.
Looks like we have a fun tradition now. Thanks, Andrew and Julia, for indulging us. What a joy that little girl is!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
I was thinking about my job the other day in the car, and burst out laughing. This job is SOooo me!
1. I get to boss people around.
2. I get to snoop into every nook, cranny, and drawer.
3. I get to tell people they have to conform to health rules.
4. I get to work at destroying germ populations.
5. I get paid for this!
6. I get to boss people around.
7. I get to choose my schedule.
8. I get to drive a county car.
9. I get to meet all sorts of people.
10. I have interesting things happen to me during inspections.
What do you think…is this job a fit, or what!!!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Above are four of the young grandsons who carried Hugh’s casket today. In addition to Thomas, Steven, Joshua, and Andrew, was Mike (one of my cousins) and Mike’s son, Joshua. With the exception of Mike, who is a bit younger than me, they were all young men.
As I watched them carry the casket, I realized it’s a very good thing to have young men carry caskets. Young men feel so invincible. They think, as Daryl sometimes says, that the laws of physics (gravity, etc) don’t apply to them. They think life stretches outward, and sometimes fail to see the more important concept of eternity. The very act of carrying a casket has to bring you face to face with mortality.
To those young men, I write this blog. I loved meeting you. I loved watching how you loved your Papaw and love your Nana. I wish my kids had known you better, and known you as cousins. I want to set forth the challenge to you to give thought of eternity. Think of your Papaw’s life, and what it stood for. I don’t know where any of you stand in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, but take time to find out. It’s the single most important direction you will take in life. Talk to Nana. Talk to Mae. Talk to Ruby or Dub. Talk to your Dads. They know. Love you, guys!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Customs are interesting to me. Today, (Sunday) I was privileged to get to attend my Uncle Hugh’s funeral. In Texas, we receive friends the first night, then do service and burial on the next day. In Tennessee, they do the receiving of friends and the service the same day, then the graveside service the next day.
I wasn’t going to get to go to the funeral at first. Daryl and I had tickets reserved, but my blood pressure was doing some loopy things, so he asked me to stay home. By Sunday morning, it seemed to settle down, and he agreed that it would be a good idea for me to be there. (Me, at 6:30 am this morning…”Honey, I’m feeling better. Do you think I could go on to Tennessee? There’s a flight that leaves at 10:30…I bet I could get a bereavement fare and go on to Tennessee?)(Daryl, shaking his head as he says “Sure.” Probably thinking he will NEVER know what I’ll come up with next, and that his life will never be boring!) It will be a 24 hour turnaround, more or less, but is well worth it. (Thanks for letting me use the vouchers I salvaged, Mom.)
I wanted to be here for my Mom…she’s lost 3 siblings in 13 months. That leaves her the last of the siblings. I wanted to be here for Imazo…she and Hugh were always so good to us girls. I wanted to be here for my cousins….who are more like brothers after the summers we used to spend together at Grandma’s. I wanted to be there for me, because I love my family, and need them. I miss Daryl being here with me, but am grateful he sent me on, even though he couldn’t drop obligations at the last minute like I did.
My Uncle Hugh was a wonderful man. He was kind, loving, and a Godly man. The lines of people who came to console the family began at 4 pm, and the funeral wasn’t able to start until 6:15pm instead of 6 because folks were still in line to talk to the family, especially to Imazo, my aunt. Hugh was loved deeply by all who knew him. He had the gift of caring, of making you feel important, and you loved him for it. Daryl told me that at our wedding, Hugh took him aside and said, “Now, you take good care of Carol. She’s a special girl.”
An interesting phenomenon occurred in the course of that 2 hours of guests arriving. When I first went to “see” my Uncle’s body, it was SO obvious, as it always is, that he wasn’t there. It was still a bit uncomfortable to “look” at him. The way these lines work, the family stands near the casket, lined up, with the One who is nearest and dearest to the deceased at the head of the casket. The rest of us spread out. Since my mom was his sister, she was to Imazo’s right, past the casket. As we stood there, we became comfortable with death. It ceased to be Hugh, it ceased to be eerie. It just became fact. It was clear and undeniable. I wish I had the eloquence to communicate the shift of emotion.
When I was a little girl, my Grandpa Gray passed away. My Aunt Imazo coerced me into “viewing” his body. I remember her telling me that it’s something I just needed to do, so I could understand it better. She was right. I needed to, and it was a clear lesson that death separates the spirit from the body.
Having that time to be near the casket, that time being comforted for our loss, gives the emotions time to become accustomed to reality.
Tomorrow, when we have to bury Hugh’s remains, we will have been through today, and that separation of events, I think, will have better prepared us for tomorrow. It certainly does not ease the pain of loss, it just prepares the heart to view life and death more like God does. Hugh isn’t there. He’s Home, with his Lord, whom he loved even more than this life. Love you, Hugh.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Yep, that's me in front of my county car. I had just finished a day of inspections.
I figured I'd answer all those questions about "What do you actually DO in your job?"
It started off with roughly 3 months of training. We had to read all of the Texas Regulations for Food Establishments (TFER). In tandem, we had to go online and do some FDA modules that were much like a refresher college course.
Then, we started working alongside other inspectors. At first, all we did was observe. Then, bit by bit, we went from observing, to listing the violations we saw and comparing them to the other inspectors' list. The next step was to start entering those violations in the fellow-inspector's computer. Last, we were allowed to do an inspection and write the report ourselves, with the experienced inspector watching us.
I owe a great debt to those co-workers who gave of their time and schedules to do our training. We slowed them down, we asked tons of questions, and they never let on how hard it was on them to add us to their schedules!
On January 2nd, we were turned loose on our new territories. I say "we" because there were 3 of us who were new hires. Three inspectors had retired within the last year, leaving 3 spots unfilled. It's extremely hard to get jobs in this field...folks tend to stay in these jobs for years! Getting this job was DEFINITELY a God-thing. No other way would I have been hired 33 years after getting my degree!
My territory is Burleson, Benbrook, and Crowley, Texas. I teased my boss that if the took a string and tried to find the place on the map furthest from Bedford, he was successful. The good news is that it is a DELIGHTFUL territory. The people are warm and friendly, and the inspector before me was a well-loved gentleman. He also hardly gave demerits, so a few folks are kind of surprised that I do such a thorough inspection. Once I let them know that I'm a nice person, and that we've just been through a standardization process so I have to be more thorough, they relax a bit, and all is well.
An inspection is a long process. At my stage of experience, I probably can do 3-4 inspections per day, depending on whether it's a hard place to inspect, or a simple convenience store.
I'm looking for any sort of health violation. Just as as Christians are to live by God's Word, and try not to either add or detract from what the Word says, as inspectors, we live by the TFER, and try not to add or take away from any regulations.
Violations are things like food workers not washing their hands, not keeping foods cold nor hot according to regulations (Foods have to stay below 41 degrees F and above 135 degrees F to be in the "safe range".) or doing things that would contaminate foods being served. There's lots more, but I could get boring here!
I probably ought to write down some of the funny things that happen some day. Like, the lady who has a cake business that isn't making cakes, and doesn't even have a refrigerator. Needless to say, I had to close her until her place is in order. She, thankfully, agreed and was delightful to deal with.
Today, one of my inspections was a Foodborne Illness inspection. People can call in reports of suspected illness, and we do an inspection to investigate the possible problems that might lead to foodborne illness.
Well, that's the basics of the job. In one family member's words, after we were talking about the fact that I was probably going to be a little over the top for a while on germs, "Yeah, I noticed you were even a little weirder than usual!" :-)