Confirmation, Finally!

Enjoy the photograph of me and Mary Nell Baird on our Hawaiian vacation a few summers back.  Mary Nell will make the housing search with me in Victoria the first week of June to be my second opinion on all things housing.

NEWSFLASH! Thursday, May 17, Ms. Anabelle, Agent 4036, of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada in Sydney, Nova, Scotia, sent me an email to confirm that they have in fact received my paper inch-thick application for a Right of Permanent Residence in Canada Visa Card.  Finally!  Confirmation that they do in fact have my application, which they have had since March 13 per my USPS tracking message.  Took them long enough.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley concludes today wrapping up direct instruction for my Educational career.  Next week Final Examinations begin and conclude by the following mid-week.  English IV seniors are given four class meetings (180 minutes) to use the writing process to create an outline, write a rough draft, revise and edit the draft, and make a fair copy of an examination essay written to one of three possible prompts.  And then they are done with their final high school English class.

We stop one day next week to hold a school-wide assembly to recognize our seniors for the scholarships they have been awarded, where they will attend university, what military service they are joining, or what trade-school program they will start post-graduation.  Then we send the underclassmen back to class and hold a “Senior Field Day” for the seniors (passing all their core classes) just like those Field Days they experienced on their elementary campuses.  An experiment, this Senior Field Day.  If it goes well, it will become a new annual tradition.  I shall be in the large gymnasium “supervising” the volleyball tournament.  Seniors only attend their three classes after lunch that day.  Why? I wonder.  Why not Field Day all day?

We have experienced a series of triple-digit heat days already.  My rental car tells me its interior temperature when I open the car door.  I have seen 119 °F more than once this past week.  I need to remember to crack open at least one window to let the heat escape, but then that invites car thieves does it not?  Once resettled in Victoria, BC, I shall not miss these blisteringly hot days in Texas, ever.

Not much left to do to prepare for the relocation.  I do need to be sure that both Mary Nell and I both have separate flash drives with all our photographs these past thirteen years.  Once I am done with posting and verifying my grades for this spring term including printing a hardcopy of everything, I can disconnect and take home to pack my Canon printer that I purchased last August for this school year.  When returned from the housing search week on June 10 there will come a June day to pack up my desktop computer and monitor at the last minute before the moving van arrives.  When that happens my posts here will take a break until the computer and accessories are unpacked and operational in Victoria.  A week-long break at least due to the distance the moving van must traverse.

I spent some time checking into private resale prices for preowned Lincoln MKZs and Lincoln Town Cars.  Likely I can find what I am looking for in my price range for model years between 2008 and 2013.  That is, if the pricing north in Canada is comparable to the pricing here in West Texas.  My plan is to allow the local Victoria Ford-Lincoln dealership find the car for me once in Victoria.  I suspect that could go to auction and find me one, if they don’t get one in trade for sale of a new car.  Plus, I am sure they would like to acquire me for a returning customer.

Otherwise, this waiting for this school year to end and the first week in June in Victoria sojourn has become like sitting in the reception area at the Dentist.  Just call me in and get the teeth cleaned, I mean, the housing lease signed.

In the meantime my students truck on listening to the classroom music I play in the background, usually YES, Todd Rundgren, Fleetwood Mac, or the Beatles.  Mostly YES.

 

 

 

Educator/Accountant Years Fade to Black Poet/ Writer Takes Center Stage . . .

My professional career winds down to its finish.

And I am so ready to be fully retired with two pension annuities wiring me funds monthly till my last breath, one from the Texas Teachers Retirement System and the other from the United States Social Security Administration.

December 1973 I finished my undergraduate degree at Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas, earning a Bachelor of Science in Education with two secondary teaching fields, one in Chemistry and the other in English.  I had a minor in Mathematics to support the Chemistry studies.  My goal was to teach English after graduation.

The Chemistry teaching field was an accident resulting from having begun university with medical school in mind and taking Chemistry to support that goal.  The epiphany came when in a local Abilene clinic near Thanksgiving the third year into university studies.  Looking around me I came to the sudden stark realization that I did not like hospitals and I did not like being around sick people.  So, no medical studies for me, not ever.  Being the avid reader and lover of literature that I had been since fifth grade, English was the natural choice to replace the Chemistry.

Seeking my first teaching job in Dallas I asked for an English assignment.  But the astute folk in Human Resources at the school district actually looked through my university transcript.  They offered me a choice between two assignments.  I could teach junior high science at a campus in East Dallas, or I could teach mathematics at South Oak Cliff High School.  Apparently, English teachers were a dime a dozen, so to speak, and the math and science on my transcript was just too attractive. Math and science always needed teachers.

Hmmm.  Science or math?  I needed a job.  I opted for South Oak Cliff High School and taught there the spring semester of 1974 and all of the academic year 1974-1975.  Employed on an “emergency certificate” I needed an actual Mathematics Teaching Certificate, so I took a night class at Southern Methodist University in post-grad Geometry and an extension course from the University of Texas in post-grad Numerical Analysis the spring of 1974.

Interestingly enough I had grown up in Oak Cliff and South Oak Cliff High School had never been more than ten miles away from my home.  Growing up the high school had been all white in pre-desegregation days.  By my time teaching there the campus was all middle-class African American, as were most of my old neighborhoods.  I taught classes including Fundamentals of Mathematics, Honors Double Math (Algebra & Geometry), and regular Algebra.  I even taught one section of Chemistry.

While engaged to be married my fiancé said to me one day, “Since you meant to teach words all day and are teaching numbers, why don’t you get paid double the money to do numbers all day and become a Certified Public Accountant, like your Dad?”  How does one argue with that logic?  Especially with your soon-to-be-bride?  So I applied at Abilene Christian University to become a graduate student in their Masters of Business Administration program and also to teach math at Abilene High School.  They said yes.  So in June 1975 I was taking classes at ACU and preparing to teach math at Abilene High School.

Three years later in June 1978 I had earned my MBA and completed three years of teaching math at Abilene High School.  I took the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination over two and one-half days in May that year learning later in August that I had passed all four parts of the exam, which only one in ten candidates ever accomplish.  Go me!

I spent the spring of 1978 applying for accounting jobs at the big eight CPA firms.  On July 10, 1978, I began work as a staff accountant at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. CPAs (now KPMG) in their Dallas office.  After one year’s experience with them I was awarded my CPA certificate by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.  I was a BSED, MBA, CPA at age twenty-seven and working for one of the largest international accounting firms on planet Earth.

My first year at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, CPAs found me on the audit trail at clients as part of the auditing staff.  And it was then in my professional career that I began to track my time in half-hour increments.  The firm needed that tracking in order to bill the clients for my time.  After a year I moved to the Private Business Advisory services department where we assisted clients with all their accounting and tax needs.  After four years in that department, my bride suggested I request a transfer to their Midland office, in her home city.  I was accepted as a transferee to the tax department in the Midland office.  So by October 1982 we were relocated to Midland, Texas.  At the firm I became a Tax Supervisor one step below Tax Manager.

At CPA firms promotion movement is up and then out.  In November 1984 the firm suggested I look for new employment and pointed me in the direction of Jack Walcher at Eddins-Walcher Company whose Financial Vice President, Lloyd Sanders, was retiring.  On December 3, 1984, I became the Financial Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors for Eddins-Walcher Company in Midland, Texas.  The money was excellent at $55,000 annually after only $36,000 my last year with the CPA firm.  By comparison my first full year at South Oak Cliff ten years prior had only been $7,000.

From late 1984 onward I handled all the financial accounting, tax accounting, employee benefits, legal, and casualty insurance matters for Eddins-Walcher Company.  By the year 2000 I had moved up to $102,000 in annual salary.  In 2001 we sold the private company to Tom Kelly who renamed the company United Fuels, Incorporated.  I pocketed $55,000 for my stock investment at the time.  Not long after the sale, the new owners reduced our salaries by twenty percent.  These things happen, but hey, I was still on the payroll.

Tom Kelly brought in Andy Rowe, CPA, as his Chief Financial Officer and I took the second accounting chair remaining the Secretary and Treasurer.  For the next five years Andy Rowe and I spearheaded getting United Fuels ready for an Initial Public Offering of stock which we accomplished in March of 2005.

In January 2002 I renegotiated my annual salary with the then President downward $15,000 a year in order to reduce my obligation to be at work from my average 55 hours weekly to 40 hours per week.  I could leave now at 5:00 p.m. no questions asked each weekday.  Looking ahead I had decided to remain with United Fuels until the company was taken public.  In the meantime I planned to study English for a Master of Arts degree at The University of Texas at the Permian Basin in preparation for a return to my earlier career as an Educator.  The salary renegotiation was a needed step in going back to graduate school nights.  December 2004 I was awarded that MA in English by UTPB.

With United Fuels a publicly-held company later in the spring, I began my job search and landed a one-year contract as an English Instructor at Abilene Christian University.  In August 2005 I resigned my position at United Fuels and began my year at ACU commuting from Midland on early Monday mornings returning on Thursday evenings after my last class for the week.  That was a glorious year teaching English full-time at Abilene Christian University, the highlight of my professional career that you are reading about here.  ACU had been looking to hire two new PHDs to teach English and during that search hired myself and two others with MAs.  They later found the PHDs and our one-year contracts became exactly that, one-year.  But what a year it was!  Many cool campus events happened as that was the Centennial Year for ACU, their having been founded in 1906.

My first marriage of twenty-seven years had ended in summer 2002.  My second bride and I found each other on eHarmony.com and married summer 2005 as I began my weekly commute to ACU.  As the year at ACU wound down I found replacement employment at Midland Freshman High School.  Promised an English assignment my second year there, I took on Integrated Physics and Chemistry that first year.  Then taught freshmen English four years thereafter.

Spring 2011 Midland High School principal Jeff Horner emailed to ask if I would take on Chemistry at the high school for one year with a promise of English thereafter.  I made the move and taught sophomores some Chemistry.  Then I taught seniors English IV Advanced Placement and Dual College Credit which is British Literature, my favorite.  Sadly, Horner was promoted to Central Office and his replacement reassigned me back to Chemistry students after that great year teaching British Literature.  After two years of teaching Chemistry again, I had had enough.

I found an English job teaching eighth-graders at Bowie Middle School in Odessa, Texas.  Good year.  But then the principal moved me to sixth-grade English.

Ever heard of the business management principle the “Peter Principle”?   In the business world staff are promoted and promoted and promoted until promoted to their level of incompetence.  Then no one promotes them anymore because they are not doing as well as before.  The logical thing to do at that point is let them keep their salary level and demote them one level back to where they were really, really competent.  At least that was the advice given in the book the Peter Principle.

I had been promoted, so to speak, to my level of incompetence when assigned sixth grade students.  Everything I knew about teaching seemed to no longer work with them, likely due to their maturity level, their being new to a middle school campus right out of elementary.  So, I resigned my position at the end of the fall semester and retired.  Yes, retired.  Texas Teacher Retirement and the Social Security Administration began wiring me my annuity payment each month.  The Ector County School District had to find another teacher for those sixth-graders for the spring semester.

Roll the clock forward to August 2017.  One Friday the local newspaper headlined an article that Midland ISD needed fewer teachers to start a school year than usual, but the ones they needed were in the field of English and Mathematics.  Well now, I checked the vacancies online and there was an English vacancy at Lee High School one mile from my front door.  I applied, was hired and taught sophomores the fall term.  Due to a senior teacher’s husband being transferred to Austin, I was reassigned seniors for the spring term.  British Literature again, hooray!

And so I now near the end of my time with the seniors as they graduate on June 2 in eighteen days.  And I will be done.  Retired, this time for good.  I did NOT sign a new contract to teach next year.

So in summary here is how it all went down for the 45 professional years (chart adds to 46 years due to rounding):

Professional Employer Years Description
South Oak Cliff High School

2

Mathematics
Abilene High School

3

Mathematics
Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. CPAs

5

Audit/Private Business Advisory Services  [Dallas office]
Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. CPAs

2

Taxes  [Midland office]
Eddins-Walcher Company

16

Financial VP, Secretary, Treasurer, Director
United Fuels, Incorporated

5

Accountant, Secretary, Treasurer
Abilene Christian University

1

English (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior levels)
Midland Freshman High School

5

English I (4); Integrated Physics and Chemistry (1)
Midland High School

1

English IV Advanced Placement Dual Credit
Midland High School

3

Chemistry
Bowie Middle School

2

English 8 and English 6
Lee High School

1

English II and English IV

And with eighteen days remaining till my seniors walk the stage at Chaparral Center, I clearly see light at the end of this tunnel.  And now you know far more than you ever wanted to know about my professional career.

As for the future in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, I shall pursue continuation of my self-employment career as a serious Poet and Writer.  Not that I have been paid any money ever for any of the creative works on my Publication History.  But some day someone might pay me a royalty or book advance.  Publish me, I say to the world.  And I mean it.  PUBLISH ME!

Oh well, enough of all this.  Cheerio until next time.

 

 

So long, Silver, Cheerio . . .

Cheerio, Silver!  It’s been good driving you about these past seven months.

Today, forever-friend Sandra of Weatherford, Texas, takes the paperwork to her bank that we signed Saturday evening at my sister’s, Lee Ann Collins’s, house in Murphy, Texas, to transfer title of my silver 2007 BMW 328i sedan from me to Sandra.  So, so long Silver; all my cars are named after their primary colour.

I had left work on Friday, picked up the car from the outfit where it had been “detailed” that day and drove my way toward Dallas.  I had a firm $5,100 offer from my brother-in-law Skip’s friend Paul Miller.  Life-long friends of Skip, Linda and Scott, were mulling over making an offer and finally came through with one for $5,500.

For the record, I paid Paul Miller $8,500 last October for Silver when my 2003 Lincoln Aviator bit the dust after I apparently zoned out driving to work and ran a stop sign.  Silly Willis.  In any case, after driving 280 miles east from Midland on Interstate 20 I needed a break.  So I pulled off the highway some three miles or so into Weatherford to stop by Sandra’s house.  Her husband Gary came to the door and exclaimed, “It’s Gary Willis!”  I had phoned Gary about half an hour earlier to see if stopping by would be okay, but my call went to voicemail.

Well, we visited, Sandra, Gary, and me for an hour or so during which the subject came up for why I was driving to Dallas?  “To sell this car,” I said.  “Do you guys want the car?” I asked off-the-cuff thinking to myself that they already had all the cars they needed.  “Maybe,” came Sandra’s reply.

“Really!” I said.  So we talked about the car, its history, what I paid for it last October, and why I was unloading it so soon.  That was easy.  I was dead tired after working all day and driving a mere 280 miles (so far) and the prospect of driving Silver some 2,500 miles from Midland to Victoria, British Columbia, in mid- to late- June seemed daunting.  Enough so, that the plan was to sell Silver, bank the money, and replace Silver with a new pre-owned sedan in Victoria, likely a Lincoln MKZ.

Well it all worked out.  Sandra and Gary today become the proud owners of Silver and I am driving a white Ford Focus I rented from AVIS when my Southwest flight landed back in Midland Sunday afternoon.  While in Dallas, I brunched Saturday mid-day at The Egg and I with Alan, Preston, and Leah (Preston’s live-in friend).  Saturday night Alan and I dined at Tricky Fish with Lee Ann, Skip, and a life-long couple friend of theirs now living in San Angelo.  I stayed with Alan the Friday and Saturday nights where I remade my acquaintance with his two dogs Patches and Emma.

And now after today only fourteen days remain on my MISD teaching contract.  Twenty days from now I return the AVIS rental car.  Mary Nell and I then catch our flights to Victoria, British Columbia, for housing search week.  We have a seven hour layover in Seattle on our way so plan to take a taxi to/from Seattle’s Space Needle.  Mary Nell wants to see the city from the observation deck.  I vote for eating in the Space Needle restaurant while doing that.  Enough for today.  Cheerio till next time.

Thinking Ahead . . .

Once the moving van rolls away there will much to do.  Insofar as furniture items are concerned, I am not shipping all that much from Midland, Texas, to Victoria, British Columbia.  Largest of the items shipped consists of four oak wall units, two of which are bookshelves only, one of which are book shelves on top with an enclosed “secretary” shelf in the middle and three storage drawers on the bottom, and the fourth a china hutch on top with glass panels and shelves and three storage drawers on the bottom.  The four oak wall units were acquired back in the year 1980 when I was awarded my Certified Public Accountant certificate and purchased our first single-family residence.

Other furniture items include an executive desk acquired in a garage sale, its rolling office chair, and a tall metal filing cabinet.  Along with the desk moving to Victoria will be a Lazy-Boy recliner, a set of wooden bookshelves I found abandoned in a garage to a home I once rented, and an AM-FM radio receiver/CD player/vinyl record player unit.

Also making the move from Midland is an antique wall clock I acquired from Earle McMillan in Abilene in the early seventies.  Earle was my Bible Professor for four of my five Bible classes.  All ACU students were required to take 15 semester hours of Bible to earn any degree.  Earle had earned his PHD in Theology from the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland living there for six years.  He and his wife Eualice would scour the antique stores all over Britain making purchases and shipping them back to Abilene, Texas.  When he returned to teach at ACU, he and Eualice opened an antique store as a side business.  The clock is about four feet tall and now about two-hundred years old.

Then there are the forty some-odd moving boxes already packed and labeled for the move including over 800 books and 40 plus various wall hangings.  That will take some time the first weeks in Victoria to unpack and put away and hang on the walls.  Then there will come the shopping forays to fill out the apartment as I am not shipping a bed and bedroom furnishings, nor a kitchen table and chairs, nor a sleeper sofa for the common living area.  No Rooms-to-Go exists in Victoria so I will be in search of places to find those items my first couple of weeks on the ground.

Up in the air at the moment is the fate of my 2007 BMW 328i with only 62,300 miles on its odometer, some 90,000 short of what a decade old car should have by now.  Brother-in-law Skip Collins in Dallas is looking for a buyer on my behalf and I will look for a local buyer within the next few weeks.  I would prefer to convert the car to money in the bank allowing me to fly up to Victoria and avoid the 2,500 mile road-trip.  I could then look for a pre-owned Lincoln MKZ once in Victoria for its replacement.  Want to buy a car?  Write me an email.

After today only eighteen contract days remain in my teaching contract at Lee High School.  My seniors are slogging through a reading of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World as our final educational pursuit.  We will finish the novel by the end of next week and move on to their taking four class periods to write their English IV final examination essay.  After that, graduation activities will be here including the ceremony on Saturday afternoon, June 2nd.  In just twenty-five days they walk the graduation stage.  This has been a good final year to my professional career as an Educator.  Who knows, after situated up north a while, I might see if any of the local universities need an adjunct creative writing instructor.  I could do that.

Once all the dust settles, things unpacked, things hung on the walls, new furnishing acquired and in place, I will turn my attention to making connections in Victoria.  Rachel has already pointed me in the direction of a Newcomer’s Group there.  I have located a Stone-Campbell Restoration tradition Church of Christ in the city for possible membership.  I will look elsewhere if they are a throwback to the legalism-sectarianism mindset that had so many of such churches in its grip during the mid-twentieth century.

Likely I will look around for a Bridge club that gathers and plays Bridge every week.  Not that I have played any Bridge for a couple of decades, but I figure the bidding system will come back after a little practice.  Then there will be Friday evenings at Hillside Tea & Coffee where the PlanetEarthPoetry collective holds a weekly open-mike poetry slam with two featured readers thereafter.  Certainly, I cannot miss that weekly gathering.  I already have a slim three-ring binder ready with some of my work to use at the open-mike.  I got that ready to take with me and hopefully need to use on Friday, June 8, when in Victoria my housing search week.  I am ambivalent about looking for a gym membership as treadmills and fitness equipment do not ring any bells for me.

My list of pre-move things to do Stateside is completed.  I can’t even fill my time with that list anymore.  So now I continue the wait for the relocation action to begin when driving to the Midland airport Sunday morning, June 3rd.   My chiropractor, Dr. David Doll, may make the housing search week with me, IF he can find another chiropractor to cover his practice.  He would be my second opinion on the various housing choices that Rachel comes up with.  If he can’t make the trip, forever friend Mary Nell Baird will go with me and be my second opinion.  Nice to know that June 3-10 week in Victoria will not be a solo endeavor.   And that is enough rambling for this posting.  Cheerio until next time.

Postscript:

WordPress chat tells me that my comment functionality is working, but no one has yet to comment on any of my postings here at this blog site.  Give it a try.  Click on Leave a Reply.  I would like to see if it really is working.

 

Journeys Far Journeys Wide

Lost count I have of the number of times I have renewed for a ten-year period my United States of America passport.  I have had a passport since spring 1974.  Must have been, say, four renewals through the decades.  I am currently good through 2024.  And who can say, by 2024 I may not need to renew the document.  By then I might just have a Canadian passport.

Wow, one month from today I will participate in the graduation ceremony for my current senior English IV students, and when done that day I will be fully retired.  One month.  Then the following day I fly to Victoria, British Columbia, to find housing and sign a lease.

In the meantime there is not much to do other than teach school my final month.  I have some forty odd packed boxes duly labeled for the move in June.  I have attended already to such things as eliminating monthly recurring drafts for nonessentials (like monthly massages) and made sure all my various insurance policies are in due order.  In March my applications with the Canadian immigration and Visa officials were duly sent.  I’ve made my last cycle of medical and dental visits and printed out hardcopies of my histories for the move.  I even earlier made my “Goodbye Texas” tour at Spring Break to see family and forever friends not living here in Midland.  So, I am simply in wait mode for June to arrive.  Guess I will read a few more novels and a bunch of short stories in the meantime.

Looking back I am not too pleased with the poetic qualities of Expatriate Dreams; that one can use some rethinking and revision.  Guess I can do that too.  But for today, here is another poem with which I am quite pleased in the form of an “ode.”  Odes are poems which praise a person, thing, or abstract idea.  This one praises a thing, a tangible material object.

Journeys Far Journeys Wide

 Signature of Bearer

Signature Du Titulaie

Firma Del Titular

Not Valid Until Signed.

 

I with proud ebony ink

my first, then middle, then

last name thereon inscribed

Now Valid Now Signed.

 

220802356 my official number

Department of State approved

Nationality—[snare drum roll]

The United States of America.

 

Quite thin, dark blue cover gold leaf

an eagle with olive branch and arrows

displays our elegant—Seal of America—

merely 3-½ by 5 inches tall and wide.

 

My smiling photograph inside

Date & place of birth my gender

Valid until the sixth day of February

Ten glorious years on into my future.

 

Immigration Officer stamps within

Heathrow/Gatwick airports in London

Charles De Gaul International Paris

Ports of call in Canada, Brazil, Scotland.

 

Tattered, worn by frequent use still

Property of the U.S. Government

On loan to me as is my very life

on loan from God—I must journey.

 

Travel on through days wend my ways

through God’s gift of life carrying always

My faith & my praise thankful to both

God and to my nation for my Passport.

 

© January 2010, G. Randall Willis