D@#n mulch bags

Mulching can be a total bitch. Especially if you have a ton of bags. This is common knowledge.

So when I decided to mulch the entire area of my garden, I knew I would be cussing quite a bit. This is because I despise carrying and shaking the big ass bag.

I always end up with a big pile, then a trail, then another pile, then sprinkles of mulch, and then I have to try and get the rest out of the bottom of the bag.

So I tried something and mulching went so much easier. Now I don’t dread the 12 other bags I have waiting on me.

I’m sure master gardeners and landscapers have plenty of hacks and easier ways to lay mulch. But I’m neither of those.

So this is for those who piddle with gardening, have little to no expertise, and hate laying mulch.

Lay the bag flat. Cut across the top of the bag in the middle.

Make sure and cut the sides too.

Simply put your hands under the bag where you cut it, and lift straight up.

Then just the bottom of the bag.

BOOM! Now you have 2 smaller bags. Easier to move. Easier to spread. Less cursing.

Happy gardening.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mosquitoes

I posted this blog last year and feel that it is one that should be shared every time it gets warm and the flying assholes emerge.

Mosquitoes love me. Especially the pterodactyl kind. Every summer for the past several years has been miserable. I even said “forget it” to gardening, something I love, thanks to those blood suckers.

I’m serious people. The mosquitoes in our yard are like….carry-your-kid-off huge, Pterodactyls…..

#jurassicworld

Around March of this year I decided that I should finally follow my mother’s advice (it’s only taken about 42 years). She’s always said to take B vitamins every day for stress and jaw-clenching… something I was experiencing.

I noticed a difference in the jaw-clenching immediately. Stress is an overwhelming thing if you don’t get it under control. Everyone has different ways of doing that. I added the Stress B Complex to my stress-reducing methods and am thankful I did. Little did I know it had an extra benefit.

That benefit: Being less attractive to mosquitoes. I continued taking Stress B-Complex once a day. When May rolled around and it was gorgeous outside I decided to take a chance and do some yard work. I thought for sure I wouldn’t last 10 minutes.

I spent hours outside and never got a single mosquito bite. None. Zero. I knew those suckers were there. I saw them…. remember, ours are pterodactyl size. They even landed on me!

In the back of my mind I was curious how it was possible I wasn’t getting bitten but at the same time didn’t put much thought into it as long as they weren’t biting the life out of me.

Then one day, scrolling through Facebook, I saw an article about vitamin B-1 and how it deters mosquitoes. You know how you read a gazillion ‘cure’, ‘DIY’, ‘the answer to all your problems’, posts that are garbage? Well this one wasn’t. I had tested out the theory before I even knew about it.

So…. B-Complex is now a daily thing. For me and my kids. I get the kids some multi-vitamin gummies with B vitamin in them. They seem to work so far.

Warning though…..B-Vitamins stink. Like, don’t carry them in your purse even in the bottle because your child might tell you your purse smells like a butt. They should also be taken close to meal or snack time. If not you may get a little burpy.

Here are some links to the products I buy off of Amazon.com. Easy Peasy!

For me:

Nature Made Stress B Complex with Zinc Tablets, 75 Count

For the kids:

Sundown Naturals Kids Star Wars Complete Multivitamin, 60

Cheapest mosquito preventative EVER!!

One more product I will throw in here for pets:

If you are looking for a GREAT flea and tick collar for your dog or cat check out what we use, Seresto, in the link below. 8 months of protection!!

I love the convenience of Amazon, especially Amazon Prime! It is worth not having to go into a stinky pet store.

Seresto Collar Dog Large 70 cm by Seresto

Teamwork 

While I was skimming through Pinterest I saw this quote posted by hhtp://hyplyrikz.com and it immediately jumped out at me. 

Looking back over my years as a middle manager I feel like this quote encompasses the route I tried to take when I made this rank. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel like my team and I have accomplished and continue to “tweak” coming together, keeping together, and working together.

Here some things I found to be helpful when I became a supervisor of a large team  made up of smaller teams that work together in life and death situations. Teams that work, live, eat, and sleep together.

-Take the “we work together” approach. I despise saying my co-workers work under me or for me. I know all to well what it is like to feel insufficient simply because I was a lower rank. So when I took this supervisor position I decided to observe more at first than go in blazing with my shiny extra bugle on display saying “I’m the damn boss!!”

They already know I’m the boss. 

I was fortunate to take a position in a familiar area. I actually became a supervisor of men who had supervised me at one point. Talk about ackward! (That could make a whole separate blog!)

But that ackward was an advantage. I knew how they operated. I knew their triggers. I was ahead of the game coming together with them.

The ones I hadn’t worked with I observed. I let them do their thing. See how they operate. See how they handle their people. See how they handle chaos.

How long did I observe? Long enough to figure out what changes we needed to make for all of us to come together as a cehosive group. That time line could be different in other circumstances.

-Understand different management styles. Understand different methods of conflict resolution. Know when to use ANY of them. 

Policies, procedures, and laws aside, everyone has a different style of management. Your way might not be the right way in certain circumstances. Hell, it might just flat out suck for those you supervisor. Meanwhile your walking around like a cock. 🐓

Do you need to be an expert in all styles? No. You just have to be open to the FACT that there are other styles and that they might just work better than yours.

-Ask what they need in a supervisor. Most of my officers said they just wanted to be able to do their job and not be micromanaged. I completely get that because I don’t want to be micromanaged either. Especially after 20 years at the job.

It’s not hard to let people do their job if you have the mind set that you aren’t the “all knowing”. It’s not hard if you don’t have an ego the size and force of a freight train.

You don’t need to remind them or scold them on EVERY little thing. If all the little things become consistent problems then let them have it. But until then, have some confidence in your people.
-Have over all goals and make them clear to your team.

My goal: We all go home physically and mentally in tact. Instead of using dumb luck, let’s work safer and more efficiently. We need to share the work load.

I cut out some things that were breaking up our numbers and our crew integrity. I simply reiterated that operating safely and efficiently was my main focus. The more working hands, the better. And I kept it as consistent as possible. 
Some people who wanted to operate at the bare minimum just because that’s how it had always been done. But once they saw consistency and they saw the burden lifted off even their own shoulders, they understood and accepted it.

-Be a guide and a sounding board.

 When a crew is having issues amongst itself it is important to listen and guide the officer. Not immediately step in and take over unless it’s a safety issue. 

Don’t take power away from your officers. And don’t step in and do everything for them. Help them figure it out. Be open minded to how they may deal with something or someone. 

Who knows…They may be better at it than you. And you could learn something. 

-Last but not least, keep your mouth shut. Don’t go running your mouth about what someone asked or told you. Don’t share the issues with everyone else. That is the FASTEST way to destroy crew and team intergrity and make you look like nothing but an asshole.

Be aware that when you are constantly talking about things you don’t need to behind people’s backs, they eventually find out. And then all the trust and respect goes out the window.

_____________________________
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Like and share for me if any of it made sense to you. Ha!

Garden Therapy: Peppermint

It’s finally warmed up enough to get outside and garden. Gardening is therapy!

I’ve piddled with gardening for a long time. It’s a constant learning experience. And there is a ton of failure…also known as dead plants and rotten produce.

For the past 2 years I didn’t do much gardening. Depression and apathy are such bitches that can rob you of motivation to do things you love to do.

One season I skipped gardening all together. But not this year! We all need sunshine in our lives….and peppermint!

Through thick, thin, no attention, to much attention, plucking, picking, and cutting, peppermint and strawberries have stuck with me. Recently I decided to share my peppermint. There is no way I can use it all because it gets so abundant.

The picture below doesn’t quite show that abundance because it is early in the season. But don’t have doubt in my peppermint!

This little bit has been split. And now I’m working on getting my transplants to set some decent roots so I can share.

I wanted something other than galvanized tubs to plant my herbs and strawberries in. The tubs have been my best gardening friends for a long time. They were originally tubs used to hold cold beer at our wedding reception. So they have some age! They’ve housed all sorts of different species of plant. But the peppermint and strawberries are the ones who always come back.

So…the decision to transplant them was not easy. I don’t want to kill my faithful plants!! First I had to research other ways to grow each of them.

While skimming through Amazon Prime for different planter options I found this product that looked pretty cool. This Mr Stacky Tower came 2 days after I ordered it through Amazon Prime and out I went with it to dig up my old faithfuls.

This compact garden stand turns into the awesome tower to plant all sorts of goodies in!

Check out www.mrstacky.com for all sorts of awesome ideas on how to utilize their towers. I’ve already found that I’m going to need way more Mr Stacky!
And what’s even better? They are a small business. I always feel more connected to a product when I purchase something from a small, original business.

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So, back to the peppermint….

Peppermint is SO EASY to transplant. As you can see below, the roots are hardy and plentiful. The peppermint spreads because what I call “vines” extend out and the roots grow down into the dirt. The peppermint leaves are attached to the vine, not the roots themselves.

So….follow the easy-to-read Mr Stacky instructions included in the box and get to work!

I don’t like buying new soil so I find as much as I can from other sources. The tub of soil the peppermint was in is seasoned just right. I also keep old pots of soil that once has live plants in them. Yes, I have killed plants too. This year it was a planter that had mums in it once.

So…fill to the line with soil and then….

Transplant. You and cut or just pull apart those “vines” or extenders between the plants. Then set them on the soil.

You don’t have to bury the peppermint very deep. You really only need to lay it on the soil, then cover the vines/roots with more soil. A thin layer is enough. Lightly press the dirt so the plants stays in place.

Stack the next layer, and repeat.

For my peppermint I decided to just use only two layers of the Stacky. Peppermint spreads out, down, up, around…so I want it by itself so that it doesn’t grow into another plant in the stack.

Two days after I transplanted the peppermint it is doing great! Soon I will be transplanting these into individual pots to give to friends and family. I want the small, single plants to establish good roots and start to spread before I do.

When it was all done I had separated my clump of peppermint into at least 30 separate plants!

I had 3 stacks left so I moved and separated my strawberries into two and then planted some herb seeds in the last one.

So…during the process, this happened. I don’t recommend letting your cat fertilize your plants in this fashion. Hahaha!!

Don’t worry. None of your peppermint got transplanted into cat pee. Your welcome!

Go check out www.mrstacky.com.

It can be purchased on www.amazon.com as well.

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Thanks for stopping by!

All the same…change it

Sometimes you have to come to grips with the fact that things aren’t much different than before. It’s just a different version of hell.

“Things will be better”, my ass. All the same old crap with zero actual changes. Stagnant. Repeat. Same old shit.

I would be interested in see the turnover rate of women versus men in male dominated jobs.

Women don’t leave because they couldn’t do the job, they leave because they get sick of putting up with the bullshit.

Singled out. Treated like a child. Taunted. Belittled. Bullied.

Do you stay to prove a point? Or do you go so you can live your life happily?

You owe no one anything. Do what is best for YOU. The rest will fall in place. Stay. Go. It’s your choice.

Choose what makes you happy. Choose what doesn’t drain the life out of you.

No explanation necessary. No justification needed. No cares given about what others think.

Shared from www.tinybuddha.com

THE BAR

https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10155294793981939/

She nails it! Just be prepared, when you speak up not only for yourself but for those around, some of the “fools” might not like it. 

Some find they need to “put you in your place”. They won’t hesitate to use how you are as a woman to humilate you. And they won’t ever see how what they do impacts everyone around them. 

That is on THEM! NOT YOU. Don’t pretend to be anything other than what and who you are. If that is a totally feminine woman, so be it. If that is masculine qualities mixed with some femininity, so be it. If that is all male qualities in a female’s body, so be it. 

Does that mean that your way is always the right way? No. It doesn’t.

Does that mean you shouldn’t find ways to work around differences in a professional manner? No. It doesn’t. 

Does that mean you have no  responsiblity to learn how to work WITH men instead of against them? No it doesn’t. 

Offended as a woman right now? Wondering how I could say such things? Are you reading what I just said as “bowing down” to the man?

Let me set you straight. There is no “bowing down”. There is picking battles and learning when to compromise. There is a huge amount of learning. There is a lot of time focusing on self-awareness. 

It’s give and take, ladies. And your approach is crucial. And timing is everything. If you immediately go at it like “I’m a woman, hear me roar.”, you won’t get far. Trust me. I’ve seen it happen over and over. And I’ve tried it at the wrong time and totally failed. 

The approach that has worked best for me over the years is to be quiet at first. Now let me explain something, I say “over the years” because that’s how long it has taken. I’m now at a point where I’ve been around long enough that in most situations, I don’t give a shit. But I always take the same approach. 

Does that mean allow them to harrass, degrade, or embarrass you? Um, hell no. Stand up for yourself if needed. Being “quiet” doesn’t mean being submissive. 

And I am going to go ahead and throw this out there before you read any further…men are simple. We are complex. Do not expect every man to put forth the mental effort and energy as you do. Like I said before…it’s picking battles and compromising where needed. 

When you enter a new environment filled with men you don’t know well, don’t immediately start spilling  your guts about anything  and everything.

I’m not saying be meek and mild and don’t speak at all or don’t stand up if needed. I just mean be conservative with what you share at first. And in reality, you should be conservative with what you share at all times. Not everyone is your friend or can be trusted. This includes other women (an entirety different topic and blog subject!). 

Join the group. Join the pertinant conversations. Join in the work load. Do your best. Don’t skimp. Accept some help every now and then if you need it. And certainly offer help.

Always remember there will be times when YOU are wrong and YOU are being  a fool. Own it if you mess up. And own it before someone else throws it at you. Stronger people admit they have flaws. They are self-aware and they are always monitoring how the perform. They eventually surround themselves with others  who compliment them and succeed in areas they may be slacking. It’s called ” being a team”.

This doesn’t happen overnight, in the first week, on every project, in every situation. It has taken me years to get comfortable with where I am as a woman among men. And I still have plenty of trials and errors. 

It is in those times of trial and error when you will see who has your back and who doesn’t. There is a very distinct difference in being told you messed up or that you are wrong and being “put in your place” because you are a woman. 

Trust me. I know all too well what that is like. 

There has been a time recently that I almost let it break me. But with the love and support of my rock of a husband, family, friends, counseling, and some awesome guys I work with, I came out stronger than ever.

Life is too short to let “the bar” beat the shit out of you. So stand above the fools and their bar. 

Lenovo Yoga Book

We finally cracked and bought our daughter her first real tablet, a Lenovo Yoga Book. She first had a Leap Pad. Then an Amazon Fire for kids. 

So far we are impressed with it. The keyboard can flip all the way backwards. It is also a touch screen keyboard that can be changed to a blank drawing pad with the touch of an icon. It is lightweight and has great screen quality. It runs on Android which I also love. 

She LOVES to draw. And for some reason she loves to draw anime. Not sure who’s kid she is, but I still love her. Ha! The Yoga Book comes with  what they call a “real pen”. It is used in a variety of ways including draw on a special pad of paper that transfers the image to the tablet screen. 

She has pestered us since she was 8 for a cell phone. What??? Crazy kid! Now that she has her Yoga Book she doesn’t say a word about a cell phone. She is able to use Google Hangouts through her email to talk to her friends….and I can see EVERYTHING. And I don’t have to pay for a phone line or data. WIN!!!

If you have a child who loves to draw or write, check out the link below and give the Lenovo Yoga Book a look. So far my daughter loves it. And Amazon Prime had it at our door in two days! 

Parenting win….so far…..

Cool, calm, and collected

In emergency services it is a gamble whether you get a full meal, a fresh meal, a hot meal, or even a meal at all. Yesterday was no different. Lunch was cut short for a possible apartment fire.

Someone called and said his apartment was on fire when, in fact, it was not on fire. We of course didn’t know that so six firetrucks, myself, a medical unit, and three patrol cars responded with lights and sirens….to open his door.

Yep. He just needed his apartment door open.

I still remember how it is to respond on a firetruck. Adrenaline starts pumping when you hear “apartment fire”. You get your turn-outs on as fast as possible. You strap on an SCBA. You make sure you have your mask, helmet, gloves, radio, flashlight. As the officer who’s truck will arrive first, you begin to formulate a plan of action. Who is going to catch the hydrant? Where is the closest hydrant in the first place!? Is there a possibility of entrapment? What if fire is going through the roof? Where will I tell trucks to stage? Who will be RIC (Rapid Intervention Crew)? What additional resources do I need to request?

Then you pull up to the address and you got NOTHIN’.  No smoke, no fire. Nothin’. Just a guy standing on the sidewalk wanting his apartment door open.

This is actually nothing new for us. It happens often for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is just because someone is lazy or just a total jerk. Other times….a majority of the time…it is someone who is a mental health consumer, has little to no resources for help, and/or they are just clueless to how things work.

 

“Lord Help Me”!!!  That is literally what I have to say when I exit my vehicle and I know I’ve got to keep my composure. It is very easy to lose your cool when your adrenaline is suddenly thrust into overdrive. VERY EASY. Immediate thoughts pop into your head like “What an idiot” or “What a jerk” or “He needs to go to jail”.

But this man was a mental health consumer. Testosterone was high when I walked up. Frustration was clear, not only for responders but for the man as well. I knew overwhelming him with accusations and anger might make things worse.

Not everyone has the mental capacity to understand that what they did was wrong. And people’s perceptions of their situation can be totally different from yours. I’ve learned through trial and alot of error, that your approach makes a huge difference.

A co-worker said something very simple and poignant one day while we talked about how people approach situations. He said “It’s not that hard to be nice for like 5 minutes.” Even if you have to fake it, try “nice” first.

I’ve noticed over the years that if I take a minute to gather myself before I even have a chance to lose my cool, then I myself am less stressed. Not that I’ve never lost my cool. I’m far from perfect. But it really is simple to be calm. I just remember not everyone thinks like I do. Not everyone functions like I do. Some don’t even know right from wrong.

A confident but calm approach doesn’t, by any means, say you are weak. If anything it says you are strong. You can easily manipulate a situation by being confident, controlled, and calm…even if you have to fake it. And others will follow your lead. I’ve seen it. I’ve used it. I’ve had success with it.

So if what you are doing when dealing with people isn’t working, change it up.

Be calm, cool, and collected.

 

Make a decision

This cracks me up every time I read it!

www.powerofpositivity.com

I just got a phone call from one of my officers telling me that they had been dispatched to go sit at a private company and babysit two propane tanks while the fumes were burned off. 8 hours for each tank . 

Um…No. The officer knew he needed to run it by me. I, on the other hand, don’t have to run it by anybody. They pay me to make those type of decisions. So my response was…”Tell them I said “no” and that I said we don’t do that. They can call and hire a private company for that.” I know my officer is tactful and I knew he could handle the situation. But just in case, I added, “If they give you any trouble let me know. I’ll head that way.”

Know your people. Trust them, if they have earned it. Have their backs.  Even when they make a decision that isn’t the best choice. Back them for at least making a decision. Remember it could ALWAYS be YOU making the bad decision.

On with the story….I made a decision. I didn’t call and ask someone above me what I should do. I didn’t run my decision by anyone. I didn’t ask permission to say “no”. I just made a decision. 

It took all of 1 minute to make. We are EMERGENCY responders. Standing by for a burn-off isn’t an emergency. Now if it exploded then we would respond as the emergency responders that we are.

 Plus it is hot as hell outside. How miserable!! And boring!! We have training to do. Calls to run. Equipment to maintain. I can’t make my people sit in a running firetruck for 16 hours. 

Could I justify 16 hours of burning diesel at the taxpayer’s expense? AND at the expense of their safety? What if a house caught on fire and the closest firetruck was sitting there babysitting a tank? Nope. Not gonna happen. 

Unless…that company decides to call my boss. Then things could get flipped on me. You never know who might want to do favors for who. But my decision stands and I won’t back down. Won’t be the first and definitely not the last time. And because I’ve had my co-workers back time and time again, they have had mine. 

That’s how it is supposed to work.

I don’t care if it’s a multi-million dollar company. I don’t care who’s connected to who. My people are worth more to me than that. And so are the citizens of our city. 

Redneck slip-n-slide

Soooo….. I’m somewhat of  a cheap-ass. I rather DIY most of the time. When it comes to entertaining the kids it’s no different. The cheaper the better. One of their favorite “it’s hot as hell outside”entertainments is the redneck slip-n-slide.

To be truly honest I’ve grown somewhat of a social phobia. (Something else I’ll blog about more in the future.) So the more we do at home or somewhere that doesn’t include a crowd of assholes, the better for my sanity.

One day I went and bought some “waterslides” from “Wal-Maddening” to use in our front yard. To say I was disappointed when I got them out and set up is an understatement. Those damn things didn’t look like they were portraited on the stupid box. Reminded me of a nasty McDoo-Doo hamburger. That crap never looks like it does in their commercials!! That day I said “never again”. And that is when the redneck slip-n-slide became a summer staple at our house.

One thing you should always be able to find on any firetruck is a tarp. We use tarps for a variety of things. Mainly for what we call salvaging….where we cover people’s stuff to reduce water and smoke damage. They are also used when we stage important equipment for rescue operations. Sometimes they are used to make water chutes to divert water.

*The following pics show off a damn good water chute put together by one of my crews on a fire scene. Photo credit goes to Capt W.*

Water chute made by one of my crews to divert water and protect property.

Two pike poles with a huge tarp used to divert water leaking from the floor above.

At our home, tarps are basically used for slip-n-slide and grass killing. Tarps, stakes, a water hose, and some dish soap….BOOM! Hours of entertainment for all the neighborhood kids. The type of entertainment where the adults just take about 15 minutes to set it up and then get a few hours of freedom to drink beer or something…more than one, two, or ten days in a row.

This is the first year I went and bought new tarps and a sprinkler. In years past I just used a knozzle on the hose and set it to where there was just enough pressure to whip it back and forth across the tarp.

I got this awesome sprinkler from Home Depot. It is stationary and has a bunch of water spray patterns. 

Do you have some random items that you seem to have an abundance of? Something that you aren’t sure #1 where they came from and #2 what the heck they are for? Well, I have a supply metal stakes that I have no clue where they came from. Somehow I had about 4 different packs. Perfect for the redneck slip-n-slide!
So here you go….the redneck slip-n-slide.

#1 Find a place that has decent padding. Anywhere with rocky terrain,concrete, or some like traffic is probably NOT a good spot.

#2 Somewhere with an incline is preferable. Anywhere with over about an, ehhh, 86° angle would probably be frowned upon. If you aren’t sure..here is a pic of angles as a reference….

#3 Use some stakes to tack down the first tarp that will be the top of the slide. I’ve been told that running space is necessary to obtain maximum speed…so plan accordingly.

#4 Tuck and tack any other tarp under the one before it….meaning overlap them with the one above being on top. If you don’t understand, sorry. I just confused myself. But I have total confidence that you will figure it out.

#5 Hook up a continuous water supply. No water = tarp burn. 

#6 Throw a bottle of soap out there for them to use. Dollar Store stuff works just fine.

#7 Enjoy some free time to drink some beer or take a nap or whatever.

So there you have it. The redneck slip-n-slide. Hours of unmonitored fun. You’re welcome.