September Swan Song of Sorts

September means big changes.

When you’re a kid, or parenting kids, the hazy lazy days are gone in favor of new folders and new clothes and new routines. When you’re old like me and living in sweltering southern Texas, it means that for the first time since April, you can look forward to the weather improving! We’ve broken 100 degrees 40+ times this summer and we’ll continue to (according to Channel 4) for another week or so, but the 90’s are beckoning and there’s even a distant promise of 80’s in the long-range forecast.

September also means other changes here at Fork. When I began writing 3 years ago, I felt as if I’d traveled through some weird worm hole and landed on an entirely different planet. I knew nothing about Texas, nothing about the oil field, and not as much about myself as I’d thought. Every day was well … weird, so I had a lot to write about.

We worked with a lot of Cajun speakin’ Louisiana boys for the first year and a half and I couldn’t understand about half of what they said in the beginning. When I did get it right, it didn’t really matter because I didn’t know anything about the oil business so I had no idea what they were talking about anyway.

I didn’t like getting dirty. I hated hot weather and I was jumpy about things like spiders and javelinas and coyotes and scorpions and rattlesnakes and wild hogs.

Three years later, I’m not at all surprised when someone wants to show me their pot-bellied pig or pet tarantula.

I’m not even surprised when, like yesterday, I wake up to find a rattlesnake adorning our gate.

It’s just another day in the oil field.

I can not only talk the talk. I can even code it with a flash light…

to our derrikman through the tiny kitchen window!

We follow a rig so apart from an occasional ornamental snake and Coyote Catering, one day is very much like another. That doesn’t leave me replete with fascinating material (clearly, as I’ve now written about tearing my meniscus 3 times).

I’ve made multiple mistakes as a blogger.

I didn’t know anything about blogging so I let other bloggers tell me how to write:

  • If it isn’t 1000 words long, it isn’t worth writing about. Now that was BAD advice. I read a fair number of blogs, and unless the writer is a professional blogger or exceptionally gifted, when I see 1000 words, I move on down the road. That’s just way to long for me.
  • Never write about politics or religion (or anything controversial). I’ve followed that principle for all this time. Things are changing. My blog – my topics.
  • Stay true to your readers. People started reading Fork because it was about Gate Guarding so you have to stick with that. Well, as a general rule, that’s probably true. You build a readership that’s content based so if you change your content, you alter your readership.

However, here’s my problem. I set out to write about my experiences but after 3 years (and the NDA) it’s become more of a blog about me than a blog by me. As a result, I rarely write because I’ve lost interest in it and I can’t imagine it’s interesting to anyone else either. Some of you are just in too deep to quit I guess!

It’s September and it’s time for a change. I love my job – weird, I know, but I do love it – however I’m tired of reading and writing about it.

You know that Yogi Berra quote:

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

I’m at a fork. I’m not sure where this Fork will lead but I have to either put the blog to bed or take a different path. So I plan on trying another path for a while. If it leads us somewhere, I’ll keep going and if not, then it’s been a fun ride!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Some folks have written and asked if my vacation was also top-secret since I didn’t say where we went (y’all are quick). I was just about to tell you a few stories from my not top-secret vacation when I got waylaid by the Emmys, an internet crash and a move to a new Top Secret Location.

Stories to come. Here’s a quick outline. The trip was just like Planes, Trains and Automobiles minus John Candy and Steve Martin, and the trains and automobiles. 😀

It was Trucks
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Heidi saw this and said: “Is that supposed to be our truck? Yes. It looks just like it except I left off the back door, the tires aren’t really flat etc…

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Planes

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We flew Southwest where “luggage is free”, there are no assigned seats and they still give you tiny pretzels and peanuts.

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and Cruise Ships

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The squiggles above the ship could be smoke or waves. I couldn’t decide which to draw so you can take your pick.

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Time for an aside here:

I have no idea why I decided to illustrate this post myself. Just so you know, I know that I can’t draw and I’m perfectly fine with that. I have no aspirations so you don’t need to send me kind, encouraging comments about how I’ll get better with practice. Y’all are so sweet but I won’t get better and I won’t practice. This was a one time thing.

Back to the story:

We drove from our TSL in Texas to Tucson,where Henry VIII vacationed for 2 weeks with a good friend and we visited my Sis (Hi Sis, it was grand!). Then we flew from Tucson to San Diego to fly to Seattle to take a boat to Alaska. We sailed away on an all expense paid cruise (which I won by virtue of being related to a very generous cousin – thank you T!) from Seattle to Kodiak. Then, we flew from Seattle to Albuquerque to fly back to Tucson to reunite with Henry (thank you, Gene!) and pick up the pickup to drive back to our TSL. 😀

Just before we left, I sprained my wrist doing something SO top-secret on my TSJ that I can’t even remember what it was which I couldn’t tell you anyway. So when I say we drove, really just Heidi drove. Henry and I sang to keep her awake. When Henry and I sing, it’s very hard to sleep. (If I’m going to be truly forthcoming, Henry just lip-syncs.)

*Henry wasn’t harmed in the making of this trip. He’s in his kennel which took up a full 1/2 of the back seat. Despite appearances, he wasn’t covered in luggage.

At least H says that’s why she drove – all the way to Arizona – and all the way back again. Maybe… It could also be because I’m still on tiny palm tree probation from last fall. It was quite a trip. Non-illustrated stories to follow.

You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. ~ Yogi Berra

Another Fork In The Road

It turns out that the poem by Robert Frost that was the original inspiration for the name of this blog is a bit of a mystery.

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The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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The only reference that I could find directly attributed to Robert Frost about the poem comes from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference where is it quoted that he said:

One stanza of ‘The Road Not Taken’ was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England: Was found three or four years later, and I couldn’t bear not to finish it. I wasn’t thinking about myself there, but about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn’t go the other. He was hard on himself that way.

Frost’s biographer, Laurence Thompson says that, in the end, he finished the poem to poke a bit of fun at his friend, Edward Thomas’ tendency to second guess himself and inability to make up his mind about things.

You’ve likely heard The Road Not Taken, or parts of it, quoted often with many grand themes and schemes attributed to Mr Frost. That’s the funny thing about this little poem. People have taken it so terribly seriously.

That’s just what happened to me this past week. When the edict came down to all those who work for my employer (sorry that I didn’t make that clear before) to adhere to a new NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement), I took myself way too seriously.

Laugh at yourself and at life. Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity, but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain, cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective that seemingly terrible defeat and worry with laughter at your predicaments, thus freeing your mind to think clearly toward the solution that is certain to come. Never take yourself too seriously. ~ Og Mandino

I was in a two-day funk. I’m rarely in a funk at all and never in more than just a momentary funk. It’s been years since I’ve been really funky! I was feeling a lot of something: mad or sad. I’m terrible with negative emotions so I couldn’t decide which, I just knew I felt bad. 😉

I had a true bout of tunnel vision. I think I’m over myself now.

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I have pages of comments that you’ve written regarding my last two posts which I deeply appreciate. In the spirit of the NDA, I can’t publish anything relating to the company I work for or the industry I work in, so I can’t make those public – but thank you!

There are still many blogs relating to Level II Security Jobs on ranches in Texas written by those working for other companies. If that’s why you read Fork, take a look around. Don’t limit yourself to just one. As I’ve said all along, we all have different styles and experiences and no one has a corner on the truth about the job.

To once again quote the great philosopher, Yogi Berra:

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

I have and I will. I’m going to take a breather and then come back here and take another Fork in the Road and see where it leads.

If you read Fork for reasons other than my job, then let me know where you’d like to go and I’ll see what I can do. The gate is wide open!

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It’s a Man’s World

If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.    ~ Yogi Berra

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To quote the late James Brown, it’s a man’s world, at least it is in the oil/natural gas industry.

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According to Catalyst it looked something like this in 2011:

Male-Dominated Industries in Canada and the U.S.

Industry

Women’s Share in Canada, 201110

Women’s Share in U.S., 201111

Agriculture

29.5%

N/A

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

N/A

24.7%

Construction

11.2%

9.2%

Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping

16.0%

13.7%

Forestry and Logging with Support Activities

14.8%

N/A

Mining (including oil and gas extraction)

19.0%

12.1%

Utilities

24.7%

22.2%

Women in Management in Male-Dominated Industries

Those stats are just management. By the time you get to a drilling rig, or FRAC or production or completion, the percentage of female employees is next to nil.

I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.     ~ Yogi Berra

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We have deep depth.  ~ Yogi Berra

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Gate guards, which are made up of about 55% men and 45% women, don’t count since we’re Security not Mining. There are still several men who work gates solo but only a couple of women. We’ve met  two other women teams –  a mother and daughter and two that are good friends. Needless to say, in this man’s world, men do not work in teams at a gate. Can you imagine 2 men living in an RV? They can’t even sit next to each other at the movies! 😀

If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. ~ Yogi Berra

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So yes, it’s a man’s world.

He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.             ~ Yogi Berra

In a year and a half, we’ve worked with 1 woman who was our geologist, 1 woman who was a safety trainer and maybe 2 or 3 female semi drivers.

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Other than the women in sales, we live in a man’s world, deep in the heart of very macho Texas!

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It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility. ~ Yogi Berra

Heidi and I spoke to groups of health care professionals for nearly 25 years,  90% of whom were women.  Yogi got this one right – at least partially. 😀

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It isn’t the heat (or the gender), it’s the humility, the attitude, that makes the difference between people who are good to work for and with, and those who can make the day really unpleasant.

These guys get a lot of credit. I know it was a shock when their gate guards arrived in this man’s world and we were both women! We’ve gotten used to each other over the last 7 weeks. They’ve decided we’re “family”.  It’s mostly a man’s world, but it’s our world, too. 😀

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Cabbages and Kings

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? She asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don’t know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.  ~ Lewis Carroll

It’s time for me to take a different fork with Fork. I think the time really came months ago, but I’ve put off making the change. Over the past 16 months, according to Word Press, I’ve written 277 posts and I’ve made 471 comments.

You’ve graced me with almost 73,000 views and have left an astounding 2,348 comments! Thank you!

I’ve loved writing The Fork in the Road, but I find I’m loving it less as times goes on. I think this is mostly because I’ve tried to relate almost all of my posts to Gate Guarding. When I started Fork, gate guarding, blogging, and Texas were all new to me so I had a bit of that wide-eyed wonder going on.

Almost a year and a half  later, I struggle to find interesting new things to say about caliche and gate guarding and RV living, so I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to quit.

The time has come, my little friends
To talk of other things
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings, ha ha
Callo-Callay
Come, run away
With cabbages and kings! ~ Lewis Carroll (Disneyfied)

For some time now, I’ve been planning on putting Fork to rest. I’ve decided, instead, to experiment a little and try to expand it into other realms – mostly likely whatever odd thing that snags my attention.

I expect to be a full-time RVer indefinitely and a full-time gate guard for years to come, so I’m sure both will be topics from time to time. I just don’t plan on trying to anchor all my posts to oil rigs and mud trucks.

There are so many gate guard blogs and RVing blogs that those of you who’ve been reading here just for that will have no trouble finding many others to take my place.

For those of you who stick around, we’ll just take it a post at a time and see where the path leads. I’m not informed enough to write political posts and I already have  Two Minutes of Grace that addresses my spiritual interests, so those two topics won’t be my focus.

If this is the last post you read here, I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to have had your time and your advice and your comments. Thank you, thank you!

I expect to write shorter posts with a little more frequency. I think my next post will be about why I’m upset that they’re messing with Larry, I’m not sure yet. In any case, it’s been fun – mostly because of you! Thank you! As the ever quotable Yogi Berra said:

When you come to a fork in the road, take it!