Monthly Archives: November 2011

More to be thankful for as time goes on

Brenda and me at a sandwich shop.

Brenda and me at a sandwich shop. (Photo by Keith Michaud)

I know it is a bit late for a “thankful” blog entry, after all, people now are more concerned with camping out at their favorite stores to find the best deals for holiday shopping than they are about contemplating thankfulness.

But I am thankful for a whole lot more than I have been in quite a while.

Actually, I’ve been pretty grateful and thankful for quite a while. Even during my more than two and a half years of unemployment I was hopeful and fairly optimistic that I would eventually find a job, and grateful and thankful for what I did have. Two and a half years is a very long time to be without work and to remain optimistic in that time took considerable effort. But I did not give up. I was able to overcome quite a bit. Two years ago I even wrote that I was thankful for many things, despite my situation.

This year I am thankful for those same things, but also so much more thankful for two things in particular.

One of those things is a new job. I’ve been working now for about three weeks as the editor of the Central Valley Business Journal. It’s working out well, I think. My bosses appreciate my expertise and seem genuinely pleased that I am there. It is not my “dream job,” but does that sort of thing really exist anymore?

There is a chance that I would not have gone after or accepted that job if it was not for my girlfriend, Brenda. She is the one thing for which I most grateful this holiday season. I am very happy that she is in my life. We’ve been dating for a bit more than six months now. In that time she has been consistently encouraging and supportive and far more confident than I that I would find a job eventually. She was very caring in her encouragement. I am not sure I would still be in California if it were not for Brenda. We make each other laugh and it is very easy to be with her.

She is intelligent, bright, pretty, cute, funny, and able to laugh at herself.

She is a former teacher currently working as an aide on buses transporting developmentally disable adults while she earns her master’s degree in education. She longs to be back in the classroom and I hope that happens for her sooner than later.

She and a co-worker go to thrift stores to buy lightly worn jackets to give to people in need who cross their path. She made me tear up with pride when she told me that she could not give me the leftover roast and vegetables she had promised me because on the way to my apartment she spotted a homeless teen in need and gave him the food instead.

She is supporting her very bright, intelligent 18-year-old daughter while she earns her GED. Her son is a police officer and I know Brenda worries about him and his future. She is a caring daughter to her parents, one of whom is in the early stages of fast-acting dementia.

She has so much going on in her life, but she is able to find room in her heart for me. For that I am very thankful.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

Bookmark and Share
Advertisements

Coffeehouse observation No. 350 – Back in the coffeehouse again

Today was the first chance in a couple of weeks to be able to sit and enjoy the coffeehouse. The new job has kept me busy, which is quite the opposite from a complaint. It’s very good to be busy. It’s very good to be employed. … But it has kept me away from what was a haven for two and a half years of unemployment. … I’m comfortable here at Empresso, but I do like the idea that I’m working.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud©

Bookmark and Share

Lunch out in Stockton

Here we are at the Beach Hut in Stockton.

Here we are at the Beach Hut in Stockton.

Went to the coffeehouse to work for a while today with the girl, then for a walk along the waterfront, and then to the Beach Hut in Stockton for a late lunch. Now were sitting back to watch a couple of videos. … She’s pretty cute, isn’t she!

Bookmark and Share

Navigating the poverty line: Pressure on Portland’s social safety net grows as dramatically does ranks of unemployed | Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND – It was about 6 a.m., dark and cold, when Brian Gailliot got on the welfare line Friday.

Portland’s General Assistance office wouldn’t open until 8, but the line was already 30 deep when he arrived. A man and woman at the front had been sitting there in folding chairs since 10 p.m. Thursday.

“There’s just not enough work,” said Gailliot, who currently works part time for a temp agency, eats at the local soup kitchen and sleeps in a friend’s apartment. “I haven’t had my own place for a year and a half.”

One in eight Mainers lived below the poverty line in 2010, according to recently released U.S. census data. Maine’s poverty rate hit 12.5 percent in 2010, up from 11.4 percent the year before.

On the streets, the prolonged economic slump is translating into dramatic increases in the number of unemployed people who have exhausted savings and unemployment benefits and are seeking help for the first time at Portland’s food pantries, soup kitchens and welfare offices.

Click to read more of the story by John Richardson in the Portland Press Herald.

Airman comes home from tour of duty to new Bangor home | Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine — “Welcome home” took on a double meaning Friday for an Air Force command post controller assigned to the Maine Air National Guard Base in Bangor.

Not only did Kyle Eaton finally touch down at Bangor International Airport after his first overseas deployment, he also got his first look at the house he bought — sight unseen — during a six-month stint in an undisclosed location in Southeast Asia.

Eaton, a 2007 Hermon High School graduate who turned 22 last month, bought the tidy white house at 65 Parker St. through the city of Bangor’s recently established Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Though the program, which was funded through a $1,084,873 grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, the city is able to buy foreclosed or vacant homes which it rehabilitates and sells to income-eligible first-time home buyers, according to Rosie Bradley, assistant director of community development for the city of Bangor.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a new program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, requires that participants incorporate green energy standards to make the homes more efficient and therefore affordable, Bradley noted.

The city so far has resold four homes, has another on the market and is overhauling a sixth, she said.

Though he was on the other side of the world, Eaton was able to surmount the hurdles to homeownership with the help of his father, to whom he granted power of attorney so that the real estate closing could take place.

Click to read more of this story by Dawn Gagnon in the Bangor Daily News and to see photos and video.

At long last, I am going back to work

It has been a very long, winding, tumultuous two and a half years of unemployment since March 2009 when I was laid off from The Record in Stockton, Calif. It has been a very difficult time for so many people, including and especially those in the newspaper business.

But I’m starting a new job on Monday Tuesday – a 60-day trial as the editor of the Central Valley Business Journal, a monthly publication with offices in Stockton and Modesto. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and confident that this will be a good fit. I get the feeling that the Central Valley Business Journal hasn’t had true editorial leadership in some time, so even small improvements in the publication will be noticeable.

I have never been a business writer/editor before so the experience will be challenging in that respect. I haven’t been the sole editor of a publication in quite a while, so it will be challenging in that respect, as well. And I haven’t had to get up early for work in quite a while, so that will be pleasantly challenging.

I have written here in the past of the complete emotional toll unemployment takes on a person. You lose your self-worth, self-respect, and sense of self. Friends and family who haven’t been through the situation cannot truly understand what the unemployed go through, but they still offer suggestions – “You know what you really should do is …” – of actions already taken time and time again. They mean so very well and knowing that kept me from screaming just a bit. Prospective employers reject you simply for having been unemployed. And society turns an uncomfortable cold shoulder to those of us who were unemployed for so long.

My girlfriend, Brenda, has been very supportive and encouraging through the past few months. I thank her for helping me maintain my enthusiasm for, well, everything and for encouraging me at every step. She is solidly in my heart.

Long-time friends – especially Teresa, Rick, and Michele – have provided part-time work, room and board, beer and tequila, laughter, and encouragement. I do appreciate everything they have done for me in the past two and a half years. Other friends, those not so “long-time,” also have provided encouragement and even groceries from time to time. For those veggies and peppers, Kathi, I am grateful. And I thank those Facebook friends who over the years have helped me maintain my sense of humor, perspective, and sanity, who have provided encouragement, job leads, and a place to vent. Thank you.

And now a new adventure awaits! I’m excited for it to begin.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

Bookmark and Share

Coffeehouse observation No. 349 – Pavlov would hold back the food on this one

I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure I just overheard a woman in the coffeehouse say: “It’s like Pavlov the Dog.” … No, seriously!

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud©

Bookmark and Share

Photo of moose cow, calf wins Aroostook County Tourism contest | Bangor Daily News

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Paul Pierce of Mars Hill has been chosen as the overall winner of the Aroostook County Tourism summer photo contest for his picture of a moose cow and calf.

Other category winners include Tracey Ackerson of Woodland for the scenic views category, Johnnie Cancelarich of Presque Isle for outdoor recreation, Fred Grant of Houlton for cities and towns and Lori Prosser of Houlton for festivals and events.

All winning entries are available to view on the website at www.visitaroostook.com and the Aroostook County Tourism Facebook page.

Click to read more on the story in the Bangor Daily News on the photo contest.

Bartering lands me some hot peppers

Some of the hot peppers I received from a friend who recieved them in lieu of payment for a graphic design project.

Some of the hot peppers I received from a friend who recieved them in lieu of payment for a graphic design project. (Photo by Keith Michaud)

A friend the other day was paid in vegetables for some graphic design work. Bartering made a comeback during The Great Recession and may be part of the new economy for some time to come.

Fortunately for me, she had too much and I ended up receiving some of the overflow – a paper bag of farm fresh tomatoes, bok choy, squash, green beans, and a lovely bunch of peppers. The tomatoes are part of my lunch, the bok choy is soup now sitting in my freezer, the squash and green beans will go with a roasted chicken this evening, and the peppers are hanging over my kitchen sink drying.

Some of the hot peppers I received from a friend who recieved them in lieu of payment for a graphic design project.

Some of the hot peppers I received from a friend who recieved them in lieu of payment for a graphic design project. (Photos by Keith Michaud)

I’m hoping to dry the peppers enough to chop up and put into a pepper mill to use as seasonings. This is the first time I’ve dried peppers, so it will be interesting to see the outcome. Here’s a bit of information on drying peppers from Scott Roberts, a self-described chilihead.

Some of the hot peppers I received from a friend who recieved them in lieu of payment for a graphic design project.

Some of the hot peppers I received from a friend who recieved them in lieu of payment for a graphic design project.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

Bookmark and Share