professional trials…

Dear friends

Fairly dramatic skies this morning which goes with my mood this morning.   A site meeting looms in a few hours, which I could really do without.  Attending with a structural engineer I’ve never worked with and a contractor who has missed their fabrication slot because our structural engineers didn’t give a response to the fabrication drawings sent last week, owing to lack of action from a possibly alcoholic structural technician 😦 

Situations like this exist in the real world and it’s oddly humbling to draw on all those Christ-like attributes (Galatians 5) to be professional and deliver a successful project.  Have a great day 🙂

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the small car, the smaller phone

Dear friends

So our small car broke down a couple of days ago.  It’s legally my car but my dear husband uses it to get to work – I use it when I’m chauffeur (for the children) and to get to/from church on Sundays (or another day if necessary).  Last weekend, when I noticed something electrical not quite work … maybe the interior lights – and I said to the children – I hope this doesn’t break down on my shift!  Fortunately it wasn’t.

My dear husband drove to work in small car, dropping off in town myself and our daughters for work and school respectively, and all seemed well.  The day before I had noticed the car not start first time when I was driving back from early morning seminary with Daur1 who mentioned, “sometimes it does that with Dad.” [Me] – ” Really?  He’s not said anything to me.”

However, after the design team meeting I returned to my desk and almost immediately my private mobile rang – it was my dear husband.  Since I was still speaking with a colleague I picked up the phone, ready to go out to call back, and he rang back again, and again.  Sensing some urgency, I headed out to the main stair and called back.  (I really need a new phone since the person at the end can’t hear me unless I put it on loud speaker and I’m not doing that in an open plan office!)

Did you get my messages?  The car won’t start – I’m getting a taxi to the [girls’] school, the girls [our daughters] are still there!

My response (as I notice 3 or 4 text message notifications…)

Oh, sorry, no.  I’ve been in a meeting all afternoon.  My phone was on my desk.

There was some discontented words about how I can never be reached via my MOBILE phone in an emergency.  I felt that was a little unfair since if I were a surgeon, in an operation, I would not be expected to pick up a call.  Also, what could I actually do, except maybe, go to the school now and pick up the girls.  My dear husband’s feeling of being unable to communicate with the women in his life at such a crucial moment was further compounded by the fact that Daur1 has mislaid her (well, my husband’s) old mobile phone.  So, they were also incontactable!!  (is that a word?)

“I’m sure they’ll wait for you,” was all I could say and he rung off.  I called Son1 at home to let him know why they all weren’t home, in case as a 17 year old boy he was concerned for the whereabouts of his sisters (!) – [Son1] “Oh yeah, Dad called.”  {As it was, a neighbour friend whose daughter attends the same school saw them waiting and brought them home – and contacted their Dad to let him know, that must have been after we spoke, but I didn’t know that until I reached home}.

You might be beginning to get the sense of how laid back the rest of us are, compared to my dear husband, about the need (or not) to have a mobile phone permanently fixed to our bodies so we can be contacted every minute of the day.  This is one of the areas of opinion that my dear husband and I do differ on – why not keep it in a pocket?  I don’t really have pockets in my skirts/ dresses/ trousers!  I thought it was a generational thing but we’re both of a generation to remember when mobile technology of any sort was not ubiquitous… after all, we both pay phones during our university days.  Maybe it’s actually a gender thing… mmm… in which case, there’s little hope for me!

The small car is still sat in a school car park on the other side of town. 😦  It’ll be safe, I’m sure.  Fortunately, I did renew the corporate car recovery service at the start of the year and I’ve emailed the number to my dear husband since he will take charge of its recovery!  I was told they tried to jump start the car, but nothing.  We’ll see if the school has activities on Saturday morning so we can call the RAC out – what fun! – that’s probably a new battery or some other part to be bought.

We’ve begun making contingency plans for Sunday – I should check the weather, maybe we can walk home from (my dear husband always has to stay later than us at church for commitments after the meetings and lessons finish), it’s less than an hour and downhill all the way – we’ve done it a few times before when we were not fortunate to have a car, let alone two cars – the children are much bigger and it’s not fast Sunday!  Time for me and the children to bond!

time for posts

Dear friends

This is a little unusual.  The house, apart from me, is empty.  My dear husband and dear children all have some activity at church this evening and since our small car broke down today (I’ll explain in another post but I don’t want to complain… let’s simply say, I’m glad it didn’t happen on my shift!), they’ve all headed out in the big 7-seater – and I’m home alone!  This is a rare thing.  I also, do not have any paid work to do – I worked a full day in the office (being dropped off by dear husband with our dear daughters at about 0815h – Son1 did the school run for Son2 today) and I finished assessing last Saturday all the log books which I’ve received to date (that’s my second home work job for a local university).

So, I can indulge myself in Wordpress, blogging, reading posts, you and me, at least for another hour or so until Son2 is dropped back home.  Rice is steaming, ready to accompany wonderful African sauces, including egusi prepared by my dear husband yesterday evening – yummy!  This moment is bliss.  I’m even on the laptop which means I can type faster than when I post from my tablet.  🙂  I’ve prepared a quick list of topics in my hard journal which have been mulling around my head the last few days – storm naming (Storm Imogen reached us Sunday night – what a noise!!), US presidential election (I’m fascinated with watching this from over here but I’m guessing for my US readers it’s either starting to get tiresome or interesting?), LDS women (there’s a few conferences and things that we’ve been invited to, I won’t go to all of them but I’ve some thoughts about being a (?an) LDS woman, a 2.3 mile run yesterday morning (yes, 2.3 miles, rather than 2.3km!), but I’m going to start with a work related topic, a design team meeting…

a thought on work

Dear friends

The scaffolding has been coming down on one of my projects, we’ve been on site about 18 months, with another 3 months or so left, and finally we can appreciate what legacy we will leave for the city. It’s quite exciting – I’ll post photos in a different post.

Leaving site last week I felt a renewed excitement, for my current job. And for projects I’m currently working on, at design stage.  I also began thinking on why I initially wanted to work on public sector projects, like schools.  Because with public projects, I feel a responsibility to design and deliver the best for the whole community. The challenge is its funded by the community, by government funding, from our taxes.

Meanwhile, I submitted the planning application for a new school building on the east side of town.  This is a little controversial with locals since it’s proposed on a disused playing field used, by some locals, as a dog toilet and bus shortcut through the broken fence.  I feel we’ve given some valid reasons why it should be developed for the school, which is expanding.  We’ll see if the planning authority agrees in a few months. 

We’re having an architectural team management meeting in Starbucks or Costa, or similar!  Three of us 🙂  it’ll be a welcome respite with my two senior colleagues that I’ve been with for over 8 years…  (Later…) we had our meeting (Costa) and I felt decidedly guilty as our team leader said he saw the team moving forward with us three… that was not the time to reveal I’d updated my CV and am looking for a new job…

changes…

Dear friends

It has been a really long time since writing.  I am sorry – I hope you can forgive me.  It has been a very busy time with changes for the family, and at work.

New term, new schools, new journeys, new friends for the children.  Within the visual changes outside with Autumn we often see changes in our lives too, particularly here where the academic year runs from September to July.  They are all settling well and its strange to think their combined age is 50 years!  Time keeps ticking.  I had a friend that once told me that a friend of hers had given her the advice to see difficult times in our growing children’s lives as phases – I’ve done that and this present phase is great.  I am grateful that they are healthy, I am grateful that, generally, they are good friends to each other.  I am grateful that each of them has chosen to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and I pray for each of them that they may stay close to Him, through all the good and bad times to come.

At work, we continue to hemorrhage good staff = 😦  When we work on projects together, I feel like we’re another big family – and as architect, I’m that mother hen who gathers the consultants together and lets them know it’s going to be OK – or I make a terrible mess and forget something crucial – I really should have got that quote for a habitat/ ecology survey back in the summer when they could look for invertebrates (slow worms!!).  It’s hard to explain about how I feel about the other consultants – they are like brothers, big brothers, little brothers, chatty brothers, quiet moody brothers, best friend brothers.  The best way to describe it when you work on a project together, and you stand as lead consultant, as project architect, is that you’re not really any better than anyone else, you’re simply ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ and that’s what helps you to see further, to see more.  For me, the consultants are the giants.  I could never be, and have never wanted to be, a structural engineer, a mechanical engineer, a civil engineer, an electrical engineer, but I have the greatest respect for them because without them the thoughts in my head would not stand up, be lit, be warm, or be safe!

I submitted an application to be registered as a conservation architect.  I may have mentioned before that this is something that I’ve been working towards and the current application round closes on Monday.  I started it a while back but to collate the dossiers, on four projects, well, lets simply say I was up until 0100h this morning.  The assistant was off and I had cleared my diary to get it done and in the post by 2pm.  Unfortunately, the printers thought otherwise, and after a couple of trials with the nice paper – the ink not fixing, changing settings, annoying colleagues (oops, a brother 🙂 )who also wanted to print urgent documents (I deleted my 60 page document from the printer queues… I’d selfishly sent it to the three printers not realising it was going to take so long…), learning how to use the binder – I printed on ordinary paper, bound three copies, and met my dear husband after school’s were out and posted it special delivery, to arrive by Monday.  I’m very excited about it and really hope, and pray, that I’m accepted.  There is one other conservation architect in the entire UK business and he’s nearing retirement.  My conservation engineer brother, who sits behind me, is often traveling out of town to far flung corners of the UK, so I’m hoping it will bring some interesting opportunities. I’ve desperately been trying to remember and find a talk which touched me about continually improving and being prepared for work but I can’t find it – sorry, I think it’s by Dieter F Uchtdorf.

And today (Saturday), my dear husband and I spent nearly 10 hours (so Son1 informed me!) away from the children; road trip to the London temple 🙂

And I’ll finish with a scripture a great, thought provoking scripture:

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
2 Nephi 2 v25

road trip…

Dear friends

I’m in the back of a hire car, travelling back to the office with two (male) colleagues, having visited a school site some miles away. 

Starting to feel a little travel sick – 70+ miles per hour for much of the last hour on UK roads (bumpy) – I think my stomach is in resonance! 

Work road trips are always a  welcome break from the routine of the office but are always exhausting even though I’m not driving. 

I find it fascinating that ‘cars’ have featured much in the front conversation… and that’s why I’m writing this!!

Oh, I’m developing a headache… 

time for yourself – a poem

Dear friends,

I mentioned how a few weeks ago we cleared out the garage.  Well, I came across one of my old sketchbooks from university days, 1990-1991 and in the back was a poem I wrote for a project.  I think every RIBA School of Architecture does a ‘design a retreat’ project – no-one can claim that RIBA validated architecture courses are anything other than creative – I sketched the section of an onion, wrote poems and drew an androgynous figure!  Anyhow, I thought you might enjoy reading the poem – I’m not a poet, I’m an architect, so I’m sure the more literary among you will see room for improvement 🙂

time for myself

Time for myself and not for the world

of strife & malice …

and competition

to succeed, to win.

Why never to be yourself?

But here’s the chance

with a time of its own,

and still enough time for me.

So that I can grow,

in the world

but not of it.

A chance to dream, or rather ponder

without worry of waking,

work, food, work.

Here, at one with nature –

for are we not nature ourselves? –

we can be honest,

with nature,

with ourselves.

Having honesty enough not to hide

– we can hide but a short time in our dreams

from the world –

but if we are true to ourselves,

we need no dreams to hide in,

for we have nothing to fear.

The world can not harm us,

it can not touch us if we are honest,

showing integrity

being ourselves.

and then we can go back,

knowing that we’ve lived,

to our fullest potential,

And,

knowing that we had time for ourselves & not for the world,

living for that one dream, above all,

To return.

 

Wednesday calm…

Dear friends

You might notice a trend with my posts – I tend to write more on a Wednesday because all are out (youth activities), except our youngest and I can spend time cooking dinner.  Why is Wednesdays child full of woe? I love Wednesdays!!

I’ve spent some time checking the latest blogs from those I follow – there are some great thoughts, images, buildings and blogs out there. Thank you all for sharing a piece of yourself.

I’m feeling more miserable about work than usual; I checked out some job adverts and saw a part time one (in academia) and thought how that would give me the chance to explore some things that I want to.  Although my dear husband sees my misery it’s hard for him to encourage me to change the status quo.  Something is going to have to change!!  I’m not going into detail now but it’s not a happy place to work = 😦

Thankfully back home is a refuge, a busy one, but a refuge. We’ve all got new passports now – that’s an investment in itself – and making plans for our holiday on the continent at the end of July.  A dear neighbour has said we can stay in their second house for a week. We’re all excited – the two youngest have not left these shores!

I feel blessed to find calm and solace in troubled times.  I know work will still be there tomorrow but sometimes you’ve got to let tomorrow take care of itself. Today is now and I want to enjoy the rest of today. The past is done. All I can change is the future and that hasn’t yet happened 🙂

work – an American and engineers…

Dear friends

We’re on project manager number 5 on a new school project in about 3 months and we’re only at feasibility stage!! Don’t ask!  I feel the project is already doomed  – it doesn’t help that the client has not confirmed adequate funding. This PM is new to the business and is American – his Mum is British. I asked what brought him to the UK – I think it’s not impolite enough to ask when someone says they’re from Manhattan!!  His accent is slight, in a Davy Jones of The Monkees sort of way, so I didn’t ask straight away.  And he’s had some architectural training and seemed familiar with a traditional building procurement process 🙂 that’s refreshing because he may have some appreciation for our discipline rather than tip toeing around us like we’re going to get upset and all passionate about our designs!! Like that ever happens…

I was getting exasperated with the structural engineers.  When I arrived into work yesterday (after outnumbered day 10), I found 4 or 5 drawings for a reinforced concrete foundation and a steel frame for me with a note from the technician – for coordination and comment.  Today, they (their team leader) were already (email) chasing me because the contract administrator was chasing them – the drawings were due to be issued 2 days ago.  So, I red penned their drawings, signed and dated, and emailed their leader back stating – the columns clash with manholes.  Fortunately the technician still speaks with me and came over to discuss the red pen notes, finally saying, oh [leader] said it was much worse!!  Red pen, gets them every time!!! 😉

Give me building services engineers any time 🙂 – that’s the mechanical, drainage and electrical engineers – always so accommodating – of course, Mrs Architect, you can have a large, circular hole in the middle of that floor if you want it, simply give me a decent sized plant room!!  I know structures are keeping the building standing up but they’re always so inflexible – Mrs Architect, allow for 205mm columns on a 4m perpendicular grid with a structural roof zone of 500mm and you should be OK. You mean, you should be OK! And then, they have notes on drawings – like waterproofing to architect’s details – without telling you! So, I guess on the positive side, it’s good that I’ve been given the chance to review their drawings before they’re issued to the contractor.

As for our new PM, I simply hope he lasts longer than the other PMs and he’s met the client now, so if he departs questions will be asked.

outnumbered: days 1 to 5

Dear friends

No, I haven’t abandoned you all.  I’m on my own. My husband has left for an overseas trip to visit family – my mother in law is well into her 90’s – so I’m alone with our four dear children, aged 7 to 16.  And, I’m weakening… It’s day 5 of 10 in my minority position…

Day 1 – dear husband had not even reached the airport, I’m persuaded to purchase not 1, not 2, but 3 DVDs.

Days 1-5 – with permission from his father, our youngest son has decided to sleep in our bed. I’ve been kicked in the night, moves constantly (OK, that’s an exaggeration) and I think he’s fallen out of bed twice; he constantly pushes the covers off, and I’m a covers woman; I’ve left the windows open in the (vain) hope that he finds it cold; it’s ridiculous how uncomfortable it is sleeping next to a 7 year old boy! And it’s a king size bed!!

Day 2 – a quiet one, the Sabbath; home made pizza & ice cream sundaes!

Day 3 – a bank holiday, so I was home; we began clearing out the garage. Why!? I hear you cry. Because these last 10 years in this house I’ve got the blame for the state of the garage – it being (apparently) full of my journals and memorabilia… And I’d promised my husband earlier this year. I can work better on my own. I made 3 trips to the city recycling centre/ household waste.  I’m determined to finish it on day 7 when I’m next off work. And our eldest daughter repainted the front fence – our side and our neighbour! Her next goal is the front porch – I need to buy her paint!

Day 4 – had to go round to Mum’s to help with shopping… via the ‘self absolutely everything’ store to pick up some paints for our youngest’s Titanic model project. Did I mention it’s school half term break?  We ate takeaway chicken and chips (fries to my US readers) and I was persuaded to watch ‘Inception’ – bought alongside the paints… – fourth DVD bought in as many days!

Day 5 – I took up the hall carpet. We’ve spoken about it many times so despite the dismay of our dear children, I feel I’m doing my husband a favour and speeding up the redecoration programme!  I cooked tonight – chicken and rice – in between ordering the children to clean up paint pots, the Titanic model is in an embryonic stage – painted pieces hung to dry, the four red and black funnels identifiable.  Our eldest son cooked lunch today – (chewy) burgers and chips was the description I received on arriving back from work. I learnt a DIY fact – stick a match into a hole where the screw has worked loose… Yeah! Our dining room door is back on it’s hinges!!!
I’m exhausted and ready for a run tomorrow morning. Bring on day 6!  This is a very apt verse – Alma 58 verses 10 to 11 – not that our children are my enemies but I am outnumbered!!

Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength…
Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls