Contingency Plans

So far, we have several places to rent cheap in Prineville. There were rumors that Paul had a construction job there, if he wanted it. The payroll person said they paid $32 an hour.

I said Call on it.

Paul said It’s too good to be true.

Paul seems to be right. The payroll person has dropped off the end of the earth. She used to be our neighbor. Now, she won’t return our calls, even though she promised she’d give us information over two days ago. There’s subbing. But we’ve tried that. It worked when we weren’t paying rent. I doubt it would work so well if we were.

Then, there’s multiple part-time jobs in Bend. A .667 job teaching art. A .18 teaching art. A .33 teaching art. A 1.0 teaching science.

Paul applied for all those.

I also applied for a .18 teaching ESL. A .833 teaching ESL. A .5 teaching language arts.

Perhaps between the two of us, we can come up with a 1.5 job which might pay for 1.0 of our rent and .1 of each of our bills.

Neither of us are holding our breath, but, nevertheless, Paul took the day off to travel over there, dig out our ancient college transcripts from the file cabinet deep in the storage shed, and deliver a cover letter personally to all of the schools, in the hopes of making a good impression and getting someone to pull his application from the slush pile.

He’ll stop and poke his head in at Jefferson County, since the alternative education position is still open, hoping to get an interview.

Over on this side of the mountain, a few days ago, we worked late into the night completing an application for a school in Portland and in Camas. We had just handed in hours of work to the Multnomah Educational District secretary when bing! we both received an email that said,

The position you applied for in the Multnomah Educational School District has been filled. Thank you for applying.

I said, They didn’t even wait until the position closed. They must have already had their candidate chosen.

I thought, I wish they wouldn’t post jobs for which they’ve already selected a candidate. I ignored my kids for an evening to fill out that application. I stayed up til midnight, lost a good night’s rest. Why blow up the balloon and hand it to me, and when I turn around with a grin, take out a pin and pop it?

Evil system. At least that’s what it feels like.

We’re still waiting on the alternative school in Camas. But Camas rentals run about $1300 for anything decent. And, rumor has it there’s a waiting list to get on the sub list.

We were counting on subbing to get us through the winter when things slowed down for the landscaping company Paul works for whenever he’s out of work.

And how will this piecemeal, patchwork pile of part-time jobs pay for a $1300 rent? That’s close to our mortgage which we were only able to make when we had two tight full-time teaching positions.

Paul’s and my conversations go something like this:

If you get that job, maybe I can … to make it work. If I get this job, it will only help us if such-and-such happens. So-and-so offered the basement of his house for $_______. Maybe we could make it on subbing and the landscaping job? It would be better if we had something more secure. What if you got a job here and I got a job there?

People often suggest making pros and cons about where to live. But possibilities really can’t be listed as a pro in this economy.

In the meantime, I signed Elsa up for Camas volleyball. I have no idea if she’ll be able to finish there. If we get three part-time jobs in Bend, we might be able to … Or the Madras job would make it possible for us to move back to Crook County. Paul could commute. Or the Camas job would make it possible to make the rent. Maybe. If I can sub or get a part-time job.

When we put the kids to bed tonight, all of the kids were in tears. Between my sister’s and my kids, we have seven. We use up a loaf of bread every time we make sandwiches for lunch. We go through a gallon of milk a day. And seven kids crammed into a single-family residence are going to make some messes. When it’s time to cleanup, seven fingers point in seven directions, all of them claiming to be innocent of playing with that particular toy, and all of them accusing the other that he or she was the last to use it. Elida and I both came up the stairs and, as Elida would say, knocked some heads together.

We don’t want to hear anymore about who played with what and who made which mess. Just pitch in and clean up!

Later, I gave my girls a verbal lashing that we were guests in someone’s home and we should be on our guard to be helpful at all times. I said, “If you’re not cleaning up something, you should ask yourself why not!” I added that I shouldn’t have to remind them to do basics like clear your dish, rinse it, and put it in the dishwasher.

They nodded solemnly and swore to do better. I added, “I wish I could be of more help to you, but August means tons of job opportunities. I am on the computer all day long trying to get your Dad or I a job. He’s out either trying to get a job or working the one he’s got. We all have to do our part and your part is cleaning up after yourself and doing something extra.”

At night, a single mattress and a sleeping bag is added to Emily’s room. Emily shares a bed with Elsa. Paul and I pull out the twin mattress and sleep together on the floor in the hallway. One of my girls joins Elida in her bed.

At my Mom’s and Dad’s house we all can sleep two to a room, but it’s an hour to get to Camas where we think we’re going to be if we land on this side of the mountain. It’s close to Elida and her art studio where Paul can teach classes and clinics. It’s close to Portland, where we have applications. It’s also close to most of the construction jobs.

And now, Elsa has daily doubles at Camas High School, where we may have a job …

or we may not.

Perhaps we’ll get the Madras job and will they let her transfer to the volleyball team at Crook County? Or maybe the Bend thing will work out? Or maybe they’ll hire Paul at Camas and solve a multitude of problems.

We’re not holding our breath.

We just keep making contingency plans.



  1. Well I’m glad I finally figured this thing out! I’m also glad to be part of your contingency plan. I’m writing this in my bed w/one eye already glued shut at 2:29am. I know it’s a tight fit, I know the kids could sometimes kill each other, but at the end of the day…it’s fun! I love having you here, I love not thinking you have to leave to go back over the mnt., I love the possibility of you being in my hood…I’ll deal w/the extra legos, pb &j sandwiches, and gallons of milk because you are worth it. I love you guys and selfishly the idea of you being here permanently is really wonderful!


  2. Still praying and missing you all! I don’t know what else to do these days, but I do know that, again, life feels different when you are not near and I’m a big girl and need to handle it, but like Elida, I feel some selfish motive in my prayers creeping out, and since the Lord knows my heart, He knows I’m a little bit selfish. My hope for you all is contentment and happiness, and wherever that is, I will love you and see you there too. BTW, I know the payroll person, and have seen similar habits in the past. But I still hope it works out! Love and miss you all tons!
    Sister Golden Hair….


  3. I think we are living out changes that are Steinbeckian…though we aren’t hungry nor shoeless, a reset button has been pushed in this economy. I am grateful that there is work at all, even at a fraction of what it paid three years ago. Glad to have my man back home, hoping to find work in this area….I wonder what the lesson is? Don’t you feel like there is one? Maybe that all this is so transitory, that the relationships are what are important? Even though we have to spend so much time just securing the basic necessities, it is for those we love, it is for the relationships that we strive. Whichever way the wind blows, you’ve turned a corner, we’d love to have you back in the high desert, but will love to share a bottle of three buck chuck with you over there. Glad you have your family for support, love you all…xxxooo


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