be grateful for boring / shaking from a lock down / Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for boring.
~ Katherine Bacher

Dear Precious Readers,

Some of you are parents/guardians to children. I am not a parent, nor a guardian to a child. However as of last week, I’m gainfully employed at a school. I’m not a teacher, but I am part of staff that interacts with students frequently throughout the day. Being a staff member, I’m now a part of a team whose responsibility is empowered to protect each person on campus daily. We’ll call this location “Work Base.”

They may have been short weeks, but they were more eventful than most staff members who have been there over 10 years have experienced in their entire careers.

Last week was a 4-day week due to several power outages as a result of major rain and wind storms in the Washington State area. This week was short due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Week 1

Mid-week, Washington State underwent a rain and wind storm so severe, some areas were reporting 119 MPH winds.

I’ll give you a moment to absorb that statement.

We’re not talking just some heavy rain and minor flooding. A girl friend of mine, we’ll call her *Adora, just bought a house with her guy a few months ago. A day after the storms finally cleared, it now featured a 3-foot lake in her basement.

Many areas were without power for several days, some for a full week. This included inability to use landlines, water, etc. If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you’ll know that I have a slightly higher than average level of paranoia, leading me to be a mild Prepper. Believe me, if I had just bought a home like Adora, I’d begin filling every nook and cranny with years’ worth of emergency supplies. I may even create an emergency bunker under my home, financials permitting. With a home, I’d grow from “mild” Prepper to Extreme Prepper.

Yes, I’m that paranoid over emergency planning. I have been First Aid/CPR certified since I was 15 years old (many, many, many years ago), and have worked hard to keep myself ready for any type of emergency without actually being a trained medical or tactical provider.

Work Base was closed for one day. The next day was up and running, although the power did go off temporarily for 10 minutes. Friday, there was a planned evacuation drill. It was then I realized my Staff Emergency Binder was out of date. After the drill was over, I turned in my binder for updating and was assured I’d have it returned on Monday.

The week finished out normally, all was well.

Week 1 concluded.

Week 2

This week was an interesting one. Scheduled for full days Monday and Tuesday, with today being an early release day for the students. In a matter of a few days, students would be released to their homes to celebrate one of Americas finest (and most notorious) holidays of gathering for food witnessing fall. (Or, as Week 1 indicated: FULL WINTER.)

Fresh Monday morning, I went about my business. Life as a newbie employee tends to be riddled with system access issues, phone setup, computer adjustments, meeting your co-workers, learning which coworkers to avoid, menial task-work since you have no understanding of policy and procedure of your position, and training. Lots, and lots of training.

In between trainings, I was handling a quiet task when a signal came over the PA system. The worst possible moment anyone could imagine came through loud and clear.

“May I have your attention please.
Teachers and Staff:
We are in full lock down.
This is not a drill.
We are in full lock down.
This is not a drill.
Please lock and secure all doors, cover windows…”

People flew out of their seats and offices as we instantly began emergency procedures. Blinds were shut. Lights were extinguished. Doors were secured. Any exposure for visibility from our area was covered with black paper and taped tight.

My coworkers and I moved those in our area to secure locations. Not a single word was spoken. The oddest part? The silence. The silence of the common areas. No students talking, no cell phones chiming, no sounds of a backpack shuffling as someone walks by, no sounds of people moving around coming through the ceiling from the floor above our heads, no sounds of movement outside.

We were silent.
The hallway and rooms were silent.
Our world was silent.

The following cycled over and over in my mind:

  • Be silent. Stay calm. Stay alert. Be ready to evacuate.
  • Protect the children.
  • Running through my mental checklist of First Aid/CPR and school policies of handling injuries during an emergency situation.
  • This is actually happening! Dammit! Of all days to not have my emergency binder! [Insert string of expletives of your choice here.]
  • I need to call Pilot when it’s safe.
  • Oh, God! Oh, God! I have to think about “When it’s safe!” When is that going to be?! Please don’t let this be the way I go! Please don’t let this be the way any of us go!
  • Tamping down the panic. Be silent. Stay calm. Stay alert. Be ready to evacuate.
  • Praying for everyone involved.

 

My cycle of thought was forced to continue in this manner for nearly four hours.

Again, I’ll give you a moment to absorb that statement.

Throughout that time, we heard heavy boot falls throughout the halls as police, K9 bomb sniffing dogs, and other task force swept the campus for further unusual activity and further potential dangers. Several times throughout this nearly four-hour period, police would check the doors and shake them. The sharp, sudden attempts easily took 10 years off of the lives of everyone in our space.

After what seemed like an eternity, the lock down was lifted and we resumed our “normal” schedule. A full remainder of 45 minutes of the school day. All faculty, staff, and students were accounted for and safe, able to return home.

There have been an exponentially high increase in school shootings. Pilot stopped working at Marysville the year before the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting. He has experienced lock downs in his career as well.

How do I feel about the experience (and Pilot’s past experiences)?

I am thankful for every boring day that passes in my life. People don’t always understand why I don’t have more adventures, preferring to stay home and read/watch TV/write/play video games. I am grateful for the uneventful. I am grateful that no matter our emotional state, Pilot and I always tell each other that we love each other, even in the middle of fights. Even the big fights. We acknowledge that we love the other person, even though we’re upset with them in that moment. It’s days like Week 2: Monday, that I’m thankful Pilot and I remember we love each other even during anger.

Monday was the second scariest day of my life. My takeaway from the experience is as follows:

  • Acknowledge Love. It’s OK to go to bed angry. Pilot and I do this all of the time. Sometimes a good night’s sleep and a clear head in the morning are easier to utilize and quickly resolve an issue. I say: Never go to bed without internally and verbally acknowledging to that person that you love them. Every day.
  • Be realistic. Know what your skills and limitations are. Your life, or someone else’s may depend your ability to be truthful about yourself.
  • Trust your team. If you can’t trust your team, you need a new team. I am fortunate to have a highly skilled, compassionate and reliable team, both at Home Base and Work Base. If you don’t feel this way, you need to reevaluate your teams.
  • There is no finish line for Preparation. A good plan for as many types of emergency situations that you can think of, including 2 additional back up plans, is key during an emergency. Also, think about your steps and movements post-emergency. Think about what type of long-term physical, environmental, and mental care you might need, and be ready to take those steps after the emergency is over. You can never prepare enough.
  • Be flexible. Be prepared to throw away your plan. You need to be able to adapt. Preparedness is about being ready in any situation, including coming up with a new plan. Emergencies don’t always follow A + B = C. Emergencies do what they like. You need to be able to have the right set of tools and skill sets in case the emergency doesn’t “fall within your plan.”
  • Everybody love everybody. The more we care for our fellow man, the better our world can be. I try to live by these rules (besides God’s law): Do something today your future self will thank you for, and do your best to leave your world better than you found it. This includes people, not just places.

In short? This Thanksgiving:

I am grateful for boring days.
Be grateful for the boring days.

Peace and love to you all.

 

*Name has been changed for privacy.

garbage is easily the bane of my existence

“Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
If you can’t eat it or play with it,
just pee on it and walk away.”
– Anonymous

Long ago, in the same place I live now, my hubby and I adopted a wee little puppy named Handsome. Being the kind of people who find names like that a bit odd, we renamed him Nimitz.

Since Nimitz is a far less odd name, right?

Nimitz was a shy little thing, malnourished, and bald of any form of fur. He was a kind soul, mellow. Although he was a bit timid of the world, he seemed interested in it, and of us.

Nimitz 1

Day 1. This scrawny, bald-patched pup entered our lives.

We brought him home, and began feeding the little fellow. Not used to such a tiny creature, we had, unfortunately, bought food that was too large for his miniscule mouth to grab onto and chew. And so, Pilot and I would spend an extra 20 minutes per pre-meal chopping each individual chunk of food into smaller bites until there was enough to fill his bowl. This included waking up at 5 AM to get ready for the day, and have Nimitz’s food ready by 6 AM, all the way into making sure Nimitz had enough food throughout the day. If only we hadn’t purchased a dog food bag so large that Costco would be proud.

Nimitz 3

We arrive home, with the “far too large morsels” dog food in tow!

Nimitz 2

Settling in.
(Mind the mess, will you? We’ve cleaned since then.)

Over time, he grew to love us, and allow us to pet him. His previous owner had failed to mention that poor Nimitz had consumed 2 condoms that were working through his poor little system before we brought Nimitz to live with us. It took 2 weeks for them both to pass through. Needless to say, we were horrified to learn these had been lurking around his little intestinal tract, and we were grateful he hadn’t gotten sick nor died from them. We did our (albeit reluctant) part of “helping” him remove these from his system.

Now, Pilot and I are not picky about breed. We just looked at this tiny wee pup in our lives and had fun guessing what he might turn out to be once his fur grew in. Much to our surprise, we were greeted with “Full Pom.” Nimitz’s fur began to grow back and we learned that this wonderful pup was not a Chihuahua, nor a Chihuahua/Pomeranian mix. As the fur grew longer and longer, our assurances were made more clear. It became obvious that this furry family member went “Full Pom” on us.

Oh the brushing. The constant, every other day brushing. The brushing doesn’t end. It requires clearing the bristles of his brush at least 4 times per brushing experience. I wish I was kidding. That’s during summer. It will be winter soon, and his winter coat will be arriving shortly. That requires 7 clearings of the bristles of his brush. Haircuts are a must with this little guy.

Nimitz 5

Brush time, you say? I LOVE Brush time!

As we taught little Nimitz to become housebroken and leash trained, we would walk him around and around our place, familiarizing him with the area. Teaching him the do’s/do not’s of areas that are fun and areas that are bad for him to venture into. Teaching him to be aware of cars, pay attention to his surroundings (as long as there wasn’t a squirrel around). We were proud to discover he was a pup who learned quickly and permanently.

This would become a double-edged sword to our lives.

Nimitz 4

Life is peaceful!

Nimitz 8

Life is good!

Nimitz 7Loving life!

I want to say it was around Week 5. Pilot and Nimitz were commencing their midday constitutional, when a thunderous noise was heard across the land. The ground shook beneath his paws. His ears twitched in hyperawareness. Nimitz’s body shook at a rate surely to shred the fur from his body. Pilot and Jason had turned the corner, only to discover IT. The Green Evil Thing. The Garbage Truck!

Nimitz’s eyes widened. He backed up against Pilot’s legs. He hunched his back, trying to make his already mini canine body as small as possible away from the Green Evil Thing. As the mechanisms whirred, the motor churning, and the air brakes releasing a high-pitched whine, poor little Nimitz could only freeze. A little 5 pound puppy against a machine 100 times larger than Pilot!

Then, the Green Evil Thing did something worse. It collected the garbage. It’s giant mutant mechanical arm swung around and grabbed one of Nimitz’s favorite things to sniff: The garbage can. This terrific beast grabbed the garbage can without even blinking, lifting it into the air and dumping the garbage can’s inner workings, consuming it into the Green Evil Thing’s self! What horror beheld the hazel eyes of our wee little one! He had no idea such a monstrosity existed in this world!

Nimitz, shaking like a leaf on a branch, tucked tail and bolted back to our home, dragging Pilot behind him. Pawing at our front door, Pilot opened our place, and Nimitz ducked under our bed and wouldn’t come out for anything. Not toys, not food, not soft calling, or even his beloved doggy treats. Under the dark depths of our bed, Nimitz stayed for a full twenty minutes after the Green Evil Thing was gone, off to digest another poor garbage can down the street. Its contents of wondrous odors that are preferred by the canine species gone forever.

(For a few days, at least.)

Nimitz 9

PILOT! IT’S THE GREEN EVIL THING!

Nimitz 10

PILOT! WAKE UP AND SAVE ME!

Now, to this day, every time the damn Green Evil Thing (aka Garbage Truck), or a UPS truck, or FedEx truck, Groundskeeper vehicle, any large truck, or anything with air brakes is within a 2 block radius; or, if we’re having a family car trip and one of those things goes by, our dog goes full bezerker, barking as wildly as possible before tucking tail and running under the bed, (or in the back seat on the floor). It takes less time for him to recover, only 1-2 minutes. Sometimes Pilot and I can have him “sit” and “stay” early enough in the process that Nimitz won’t duck under the bed right away. But, he eventually does. He’ll cuddle in fear with his Guard Dragon (an orange toy) under the bed for a couple of minutes before rejoining us as if nothing has happened.

So, to the Green Evil Thing – I will never forgive you, but thank you for taking our garbage once a week. We know you’re just doing your job… but try telling my dog that.

Want to see more pictures of Nimitz? Check out my Instagram @katnundum!

What is your pet afraid of?

How have you conquered that fear, if at all?

What was something you or your pet wasn’t fearful of before, but you are now?

Is there an Green Evil Thing in your life?

Leave your comments below.