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Christine98 Profile
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


Well Tere,

Thank you. Now that it's complete, I'm going to read it again from start to finish. Guess you've heard enough about publishing these well told stories...so I'm just glad to have read them.

Chris
Jun/12/2010, 6:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


Chris, again I am not sure I would have kept to the telling but for your encouragement. Quite serious. I think it is not a shabby story, even if one that could stand to be fleshed out a little.

Tere
Jun/13/2010, 11:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


Here is perhaps a postscript to this chronicle. For the last six weeks or so a word has come frequently to mind for describing the conditions in which I am working. Brutal. As in: this heat is brutal. It has come on earlier in the summer than usual. We figure it is at least 5 degrees hotter than is the average for this time. Temperatures have been in the mid to high 90s, with a triple digit heat index. My established bee yards, yards I've worked for 7 years or so, are mostly, if not entirely, shaded. But I've been given two new yards to work and both are fully exposed to the sun. It doesn't matter how early in the morning I am out in the yards. Within an hour at the most my clothes are drenched with sweat. Shirt, jeans, underwear, socks. And they stay that way through out lunch, into the afternoon, or until I change out of the field clothes, into street wear.

This morning, a Saturday, I stepped out of bed hurting. I was aware of every muscle in my body. It was all I could do not to lie back down. But weekends are short and it is the only time I have for thinking with an alert brain. This last week was particularly grueling and constant. There was not a single easy day. Beyond yesterday, Friday, all I can remember is pulling my back on Wednesday. I think it was Wednesday. Back injuries are the most common occupational injuries for bee keepers. And I've had a muscle strain in my lower lumbar since the fall of '93. Work related. But I knew the schedule for the remainder of the week, knew I couldn't afford the time off. So I went to work every morning, did my best to compensate for the injury, not wanting to aggravate the tear. But there is only so much you can do when working colonies, lifting supers of honey, carrying around equipment, making new colonies, establishing yet another yard. No way around the tasks at hand.

Truth is I could have begged off on Thursday and without reprimand or scorn shown by my boss. But I don't like disappointing him. And I hate the idea of another man doing my work. It is a funny thing a working man's, working woman's, ethos. It is hard to explain. Pride doesn't actually explain it, not essentially. Nor does a sense of satisfaction when a job is well done. And where I work I have two chances for promotion: slim and none. I've decided that this ethos is not rational. I've almost decided it can neither be taught or acquired. You either have it or you don't. You are either born with it or you are not, just like so many other characteristics. I tell myself I got it from my mother. She was hard on me when I was a child. Later in life she would tell me she figured she had to be, had to be both mother and father, since, I did not have the other. By 9 I was mowing neighbor yards in the hot Florida sun. By 11 I was washing dishes in restaurants. I had my first full-time job when 14 working as a custodian, gardener, and maintenance "man" in a beachside motel. There was very little slack time as a child. It didn't seem fair to me then, not in comparison to how my friends got to play around. But my mother was of a much older generation, being born in 1914. By 8th grade she had to quit school in order to work to take care of a number of younger siblings. This was when her mother died and the father of 12 children abandoned them. So for her working was as natural and automatic as breathing. Maybe she did instill the ethic in me. Who's to say? But when you think about it the whole notion of possessing a work ethic is an absurdity. I realized as much in my hippiee commune days. I think this absurdity is what rendered me such an unsuccessful hippie. Someone had to see to commitments. Someone had to keep their word to show up for work. Someone had to weed a garden. That is how it seemed to me, but not to my hippie friends. Now just shy of 60 I sometimes think they were right and I really have been absurd.

The only rational justification I can find for the work ethic, at least in my case, is the purchase of time. Time in which to write, read, and think. Except for books and paper, and at this late date a word processing machine, things I don't need. The acquisitional instinct I am perfectly devoid of. When I was younger and not a bad looking guy my only vanity was nice clothes. I enjoyed wearing suits and knotting a well made silk tie. Now I have lost that too. As long as the apparel is clean, ironed, and functional I am good to go. But the possession of time has always been a different matter. That has been important to own. Selfish too. And maybe also absurd. It may be why the several women who have loved me have ended giving up on me. In three cases it is certainly true. Poetry I could give them and initially it tends to be attractive, even flattering. But then there has always come the moment when the lady has needed more. She has needed things, all the things selfish, time hoarding poets do not give. Yeah. The purchase of time can be pretty damn selfish.

There is a point to these peregrinations. Two points actually. Age 58 and for the first time in my career I have less free time for thinking, reading, and writing. Pretty much for the first time in my adult life I have a full-time, year-round job. It is a good thing I came to bee keeping as late as I did, 8 years ago. Never before was my vocational interest in poetry met by an occupational interest so competitively. I am certain I would not have been as committed to poetry, would not have taken the time to plumb it as thoroughly as I have, had I taken on bee husbandry earlier. But I do miss the time, the brain alert, brain active time in which to intellect. And I figure retirement will never be an option. Recently a friend observed that I seem isolated. It is true that more and more I keep to myself, do not socialize, do not seek out associations. On the one hand the same seems to be true of artists, writers, and thinkers in general. El Greco comes to mind. So do Flaubert, Montaigne, and Tolstoy. But it is less a matter of isolation, I think, than of just letting go of the madding crowd, the vanity fair, the market place, the courthouse square, or whatever you want to call what Balzac called the human comedy, especially when you've seen too much, plumbed the human condition too much. And I have. But on the other hand keeping to myself is purely a function of husbanding what little time I have to think, read, and write. That is the big thing.

Second point. A reflection brought about by waking up this morning aching and by the brutality of this summer's heat. My main asset has always been a strong body. Not manly strong, whatever that means, but resilient strong. This morning I was surprised by the aches. I hurt as much as I would hurt after working 13 hour shifts for 7 straight days on an off-shore oil rig at age 25. But back then I had 7 days in which to recuperate (and think, read, and write.) Not these days. And I am not 25, being just shy of 60. And so I keep wondering lately, for how much longer can I do this? When is the body going to give out? When will the will to do no longer be enough? Bodies, no matter how organic, are still machines, and parts eventually wear down, give out. It all makes for a reckoning. The thought of death doesn't bother me. Every true poet has seen his own oak king, has seen the vision of his own death. I saw him first in '74, in a vacant park, in a Swiss town, in winter, in a gnarled old tree. But a jobber who can't job anymore? That bothers me. That worries the brain. And I think it is what bothers all jobbers getting older the most. What happens when stamina is no longer enough?

I worked overtime yesterday, a Friday, after an already hard week. I could have begged off. By 4:30 my boss said if I needed to go somewhere he could see to what was left. What was left was going out to a bee yard and installing queens in 28 colonies. It involves taking off supers of honey and placing a queen in her cage down in the bottom brood chamber. Temp was still in the mid 90s. The voice that came out of me rather surprised me. It was firm, almost stern: "We do this together." My boss is very particular, which is meant in a good way. I knew he had to place the queen just so. And so I did the lifting. I don't know how it is for other people but I've learned that when the body calls out to stop you turn a deaf ear and just do, almost robotically. It is a trick and it gets you through.

When we got back in the truck I heard the beeps on my cell phone. I decided to wait to retrieve the messages. By 6 PM, back at the lab, I had changed into street clothes and was sitting in my car. I listened to the messages. There were two. One from an older sister and one from my oldest brother. They were calling to give me an update on our little brother. Last summer he threw himself, drunk, down several flights of stairs. The act was suicidal but it only rendered him a vegetable. The messages were to tell me he was taken off life support systems yesterday, Friday. He'll be dead by tomorrow, Sunday. It was a good thing I was as tired as I was yesterday evening. I had a few hours reprieve, a bottle of rum, and a night's sleep before the reckoning set in. I've always said poetry is all that has saved me from too much reckoning. I am forced to admit that jobbing has too.

Now it's really time to let go of this chronicle:

"Though most men suffer dumbly, yet a god
Gave me a tongue to utter all my pain."

Goethe said that.

Tere
Jun/19/2010, 4:48 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


Tere,

I read your last post yesterday--was waiting for some profound or perfect response--I shouldn't have waited. I'm sorry for your loss.

Chris
Jun/21/2010, 1:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Terreson Profile
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Thanks, Chrisfriend. I hesitated to get so personal. But I finally decided the info ties into the theme of jobbing too, or how it is that in any given work place some jobber is performing while balancing one loss or another. I also felt the whining ties in too, or how it is older jobbers must wear down at some point, and how they all must worry, knowing it must happen. I remember the case of my mother, a dinner house waitress most of her working life. She was not only good at it, she was also a handsome woman, styling herself after Joan Crawford. She was diagnosed with cancer in her early to mid-fifties. It took her out of the workforce for maybe five years, damn near killing her. She finally beat the disease but during that time she mounted a considerable debt. When well enough again she returned to the dinner house circuit. She would have been in her sixties, still a saught after waitress and beauty. It took her a long time. But her good name was important to her and she paid off that debt. I think of her and I think of a lot of older jobbers who operate in a similar fashion, especially now in recessionary times when retirement is suddenly out of the question.

As for the loss I went to my boss this morning, explained the situation, told him I might not be as disposed as I usually am to suffer the foolishness of job place politics, and that he might have to slap me upside the head if I get too direct. He is a good boss and his own man. I can talk to him. So he says, smiling, this is what I want you to do today; now get out there and do it. Just what I needed.

Many years ago, by the way, I made a short story incited by my little brother. It isn't a happy story, pretty desperate really, more a cautionary tale. Some weekend I'll type it to the board.

Thanks much, Chris, for following along.

Tere
Jun/21/2010, 6:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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It occurs to me there is only one end to a chronicle of jobbing. It comes the day the body can't stand up in the morning. A close friend of mine and office mate, an exquisite bee keeper who gets the highest praise of that he can think like a bee, one day relayed on a stat that kind of took me by surprise. Well, it took me by surprise, but I can't say I was surprised. His desk, with its PC, is to my back. Between working colonies and yards he'll come in to cool off. Often when he does he internet searches. One day I hear him say: did you know we are in the 2% of the world's wealthiest people? While his pay scale is higher than mine it is still less than $50,000 a year. For America's Deep South ours is a decent wage, affording us disposable income. Rent is cheap. House values not so high. Food is cheap. Goods and services cheap. Winters are mild and I can always cheat the power company's love of my A/C with my affair with strategically placed window fans. Still. Making less than $50,000 a year and I am included in the 2% of the wesalthiest of 7 billion people. What is 98% of 7 billion?

I went down today. I don't know what to call it. Heat exposure? Heat exhaustion? It is the symptoms you need to catch early enough before the stroke. Only problem is that the symptoms are never the same twice over. Read them too late and you are screwed. I was working in a yard alone, an hour from town, off the highway, with a heat index of 107 F. The first symptom was one I have never experienced before. My fingers were trembling uncontrollably as if I was drunk. I was trying to install queens in colonies, needing to take hold of them between my fingertips and place them just so inside cages placed in the colonies. I had already seen to several other colony chores before turning to introduce the queens. With the first queen I noticed the tremble, thinking it was weird. By the third queen I sensed the disorientation. I quickly loaded up in the truck the equipment and materials. I got in the truck's cab, started pounding down the fluids, turned on the A/C as high as it would go. I called my boss back in town, wanting someone to be aware of the situation. I could hear the trembling in my voice and the slurring and I couldn't organize my thoughts well enough to give him the right descriptions. I moved the truck to under the only shade there was. Then I sat and sat and sat. First the trembling, then the disorientation. Then the elevated heart beat. Then worst of all. The muscle cramping in hands, midriff, and calves. I sat there for 30 minutes or so looking to get the body temp down.

Once, almost thirty years ago, I got cold exposure on a late freeze night on a beach. I was walking the beach between nowhere and nowhere. I tried to build a fire but couldn't because the driftwood was too salted. I started to drift off, curled up fetally, having already walked that strand for a good 10 hours. I remember hearing my inside voice say: get the f**k up, man, and right now and get to the highway. I wanted to drift off today and the exact same voice kicked in. Get the f**k up, man. I had to focus on every square foot of pavement and concrete in front of the truck.

Jobbing. It all amounts to jobbing. And I am included in the 2 percentile range of the wealthiest people on the planet.

Tere
Jun/28/2010, 8:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


So Tere,

TAKE A DAY OFF. TAKE A WEEK OFF. Get some lab work to make sure your electrolytes are OK.
Eat chicken soup.

Sigh.

Chris
Jun/28/2010, 9:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


Chris, my friend, I woke up this morning and decided you were right. So I drove to work to make sure there was nothing pressing that had to be done. Boss said there wasn't and that he was going to take the afternoon off himself to watch the football matches in South Africa. Saw to a few errands, came back home, made coffee, and I am now jelling. And I found what to me is a new product yesterday. I can't stand the taste of the ade drinks that are supposed to replinish electrolytes. Somebody is now bottling water with the same. Bought a six pack. Plan not to go into the field anymore without it. Anyway, not to worry too much. As my boss reminded me we are all trained in reading the first symptoms and know how to respond. Also, I usually get into the field early in the morning. But Monday mornings are for staff meetings. I should have waited until today instead of arriving at the yard at noon. That was dumb.

Tere
Jun/29/2010, 11:49 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


I'm glad and relieved to hear it, Tere. Hope you have a lovely day.

Chris
Jun/29/2010, 1:20 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


Chronicle read six months later. Not a dull story. Nor is it elaborated on. All true. As said early on it all amounts to what the ancient Greek poet, Hesiod, Greece's other epic poet, called it, called a yeoman's life. Works and Days. I see the chronicle has had well over a thousand page views. What might this mean? Does the tale speak to a commonality, something every worker knows, man and woman? If so what is it every worker knows? Or does the tale speak to something not so common? Again if so, what might that be? All I can say for sure, and the present economic environment brings this to mind, is that I have been damn lucky. A high school drop out, more or less, and jobbing has afforded me time and safe space for poetry and reading. What a luxury that is. Only a few things as valuable.

Tere
Dec/20/2010, 6:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Terreson,
That description of the near-stroke was priceless. As a written piece, the detail was priceless. As an actual occurrence, well, we are all glad you're still here. There was a gentleman on the other site who died a year or so ago, and fortunately, his ex-girlfriend or somebody was able to tell the rest of us. I'm going to try to look up his name, since he was an excellent poet. Wrote about Whidbey Island in Washington. Like you, he had been in the South and in Washington. Believe he was caught up in the Katrina debacle and somehow moved to the mid-West, maybe to Missouri. My name is on the tip of my tongue. He didn't have the use of his legs. He died in the Midwest somewhere. Anyway, I'm glad you didn't go, as what would happen to the site. When we go, as we all must, what happens to our electronic history? Anyway, great writing, as usual. Zak
Dec/21/2010, 3:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Terreson Profile
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Zak, I too can almost remember the poet's name. His woman friend you mention is Sally Marie. She is a registered member of the board. Possibly you could contact her through Delectable Mnts to get his name. Just so you know she has not been around for well over a year. Also, possibly Kat or Chris can remember.

Their story is kind of interesting. Sally Marie decided to help Katrina's survivors who had been bussed out of New Orleans. They met in a refugee camp of some sort. Maybe in Tennessee or Ohio. I can't remember. I remember she lived in South Carolina. They married, divorced a couple of years later, but remained friends. And, yes, he was quite a good poet. As for the years during which he lived on Whidbey Island, we briefly talked about the place. I knew the island well, having travelled almost every square mile of it when working for WA State's gypsy moth program. My sense is that the poet had first been stationed there while in the Navy. Island has a large naval air station and navy personnel once stationed there tend to hang around for awhile after. I remember the poet spoke of the Island fondly. Sad day when I heard the news of his death. It felt as if I lost an almost-friend.

About board archives and longevity. Were something to happen to me, Kat and Chris have access, full access, to everything I have access to. This means they also have access to Runboard's support staff and could see to the saving of material. For that matter every other member of the board has access to Runboard's support staff. That is as good as it gets I guess.

So long as there is a Runboard, so long as the files do not get contaminated or infected in some way, and so long as Delectable Mnts keeps active, the files stand a good chance of keeping in place. You may recall that what wiped out Lilyboard's archives was when the board was taken down due to lack of traffic. All the same, speaking for myself, I do not rely on any one or anything else to back up material important to me.

As for the heat exposure stuff you comment on I reread it yesterday or the day before. That is exactly how it happens at least once every summer here. And no two such summer experiences are ever the same. I guess in order to keep one step ahead of the stroke itself one's got to listen to the body signals. That's all I know.

Almost forgot. Thanks for commenting.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Dec/21/2010, 7:58 pm
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


 I'll repost later. Zak

Last edited by Zakzzz5, Jan/28/2011, 4:08 pm
Jan/28/2011, 3:51 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: Jobbing: a chronicle


quote:

Zakzzz5 wrote:

 I have not been inspired to write anything here. Terreson, we do appreciate all your postings here. No one that I know can write like this. Zak



Feb/1/2011, 4:02 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Thanks, Zak. Truth is, I am not sure I know how it is I write the way I write. I view the stuff put here as essays, more precisely as lyrical essays. Some decades ago, the better part of three, when first starting in on prose I found the essay most natural, maybe most conducive to how I think. Back then the essays of Montaigne hugely impacted me. Without effort or thought I took to his way of proceeding. It seemed to me then, still does, far superior to the novel or short story. Why it does is a good question. More plastic, more responsive, more engaging, more immediate, less literary. First essay I ever wrote, circa 1980, described a jobbing scene: working as a gas and water meter reader in a VA town. I used the vehicle to describe features of the town, its streets, neighborhoods, residents. It got published and read. One reader said: this reads like a Montaigne essay.

Something else maybe and mentioned elsewhere. For three decades I kept a journal, or until my writing hand gave out. (Not a disability Medicare is likely to cover.) When I write to the board I think I fall back into the journal-way. Journal writing tends to take more chances. Journal writing is not made for an audience. While it can be written to an audience, at least in part, the journal keeper knows the first lie he writes will turn his reader's head away. But the bigger thing is that the journal writer is trying to figure something out. Be it motive, intention, or circumstance. Of course that is what the essayist is trying to do as well.

Zak, I am looking forward to when you feel inspired enough to strut your stuff.

Tere
Feb/1/2011, 8:12 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Yo, Zak. It's been bugging me that I couldn't remember the recently deceased poet's name. Name came today. Bret or perhaps Brett is his name.

Tere
Feb/3/2011, 7:17 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Started this awhile ago but today, home from work and under the weather (what a euphemism that is), I'm reading voraciously. I have gotten through the third "page" of this field note -- ending with Tug's. So far every entry has grabbed me but as the notes go along, the writing seems more and more immediate and, well, just superb.

I was stopped cold by the commuting by water story -- absolute magic. Something a screen writer might invent and millions of viewers sigh over on the screen. Two a.m. water commute under a giant sky, flask in pocket, oars dipping.

The portraits are the yummy, crunchy bits and I look for them, anticipate them.

I'm going to keep reading but had to stop and make contact, say I'm reading and say: thanks.
Apr/24/2012, 9:54 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Okay, back for more commentary, but not a lot because I want to keep reading. Do want to say that the whole gypsy-moth (that I've read so far) narrative blows me away. I cannot fathom doing what you did. Foreign territory and for me, reading about it is pure thrill.

And, as everyone has so far, I love Stella, and more than that I love how you write about her. You honor her beautifully.

Just wanted to comment having just read your reply to Zak, before I forget. You mention that you don't think Japanese Americans served in the Civil War -- probably so. It just makes me think of something. The powerful sense of country that somehow penetrates even to the victims of flagrant racism. The amazing memoir, Farewell to Manzanar, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, tells of a brother in the family serving the US in WWII with pride. He is shipped off from the internment camp to fight on the European front (I believe). That killed me -- I could barely figure it. He wanted to serve, to prove his Americanness. Of course he was American, born and bred, and it was his country to fight for, but he was meanwhile living in a prison camp, having lost all his family's possessions, not to mention honor and so much more. I don't know what I'm getting at here except that the formative history of this nation still in its adolescence seems to capture the hearts of people you'd think would turn their backs on it forever. (Reminds me of the people in Waffle House thread, too....)I get it, but I don't. Anyway, back to reading.
Apr/24/2012, 11:38 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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I get what you mean, vkp. I have a story that explores just that about America and what it means to become an American, which, in my view, is not something any of us are born to, becoming an American. My sense is that America is not a tribe, not a religion, not an ethnic or racial grouping, not even a geographical homeland. She is an idea, historically the first of her kind. One worth fighting for as has been proved again and again. And if really pressed I would maintain that what threatens this idea the most is all of the above: religious conviction, tribal instinct, ethnic identity, etc. I'm certain of it.

Tere
Apr/28/2012, 1:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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quote:

Early in the season of '97 I took the manual and rewrote it, completely revised and revamped it.



Of course you did.
May/4/2012, 5:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Powerful in every way. Finally had the chance to finish it up. Read every word of your chronicle, Tere, as well as all the comments and sharing. I am so hoping this becomes a book one day. I will keep my eye out to appear in a bookstore window one day.

vkp
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Thank you, vkp. That would have been a lot of work on your part. You must be a reader or something equally as foolish. I am trying now to copy and paste the document into Word. Having difficulty freeing the board format from the text. I'll make it happen. But then the real work begins. The editing and amplification(s). It saddens me I'll have to let go of the comments, more than a few of which are quite good. Saddens me because, as a whole, the document is lively in a way I'll lose.

Tere
Jun/2/2012, 12:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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