Category Archives: Work

Day 19,108

I just can’t help but feel that my day would go so much better if I could just get out of my bathrobe, shower and get things done. Here’s hoping I manage it in the next hour or so, since I have to be at work 4.

Somehow, I don’t think fuzzy red bathrobe is part of Bulk Barn’s dress code.

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I watched a trailer for 20,000 Days on Earth, a documentary with Nick Cave, and it got me thinking, how old am I days? Hence the title.

And FYI, I’ll be 20,000 days old on January 1, 2017. I think that might be a good day for a big party.

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I know, I know. I haven’t posted the fitness things for a while. I went great guns for a month, lost 10 lbs, then the enthusiasm waned. I have to rekindle it, as I would really like to be below 190 by the time I go to school in just over 5 weeks.

5 weeks. Fuck.

catching up

Yes, I did get in to the Brewmaster Program at Niagara College. And yes, I’ve almost got my Second Career application ready to send off to see if I can get any help to pay for it. Accommodations and transportation have been sorted out. I’ll be renting a room from our pal Moose during the week and commuting with our old car (Keith bought a newer Mazda 3 for him to use). I’m kinda looking forward to being back in the place I grew up – Moose’s house is about 2 concessions away from my old high school. Plus his backyard has a hammock and a firepit, so what’s not to like?

2014-06-04 12.25.38

Moose’s backyard in early spring. Looks much greener now.

I have a new blog, this time one related to all things beer-y. It was called Goodale and Beer, but I have forsaken that for the much snappier Hop Kat. For anyone still counting, this brings the total number of blogs started since 2005 up to 9, with three still being active: HopKat (beer), Katitude (photo-a-day), and this one.

I’m working part time now at the Bulk Barn. I was given a promotion and a raise after about 3 weeks, and am  now a cashier supervisor. It’s close enough to walk to, so between walking there and back, and being on my feet for most of a 6-hour shift, I’m over my 10,000 step fitness goal every day that I work. I come home smelling of candy and spices, which is not nearly as nice you would think it would be.

I’ve signed up to take the Fresh Meat skating course again through Toronto Roller derby. This is the third time. I have informed The Knee that I will be finishing it this time whether it likes it or not. It replied by pointing out that I will need to get my ass off the couch and away from Netflix if I want this to happen. I am taking its advice as I wish to keep walking when I get old(er).

The motorcycle is uncovered and I’ve been out on it a few times. I’m noticing that the anxiety and borderline panic is returning. Awesome.

Putting together my summer list for 2014. There’s lots to do. I would really like it if “worrying about money” didn’t make it on the list, but I fear that’s the only given.

Overall, life is good. There are flies in the ointment, but when isn’t there?

 

Get Shit Done Day

Running solo for the next few days as Keith is travelling with Colm Wilkinson. Am a bit at odds wit myself, and am now entering day 5 of this funk that has me alternating between feelings of dread, being on the edge of tears and being in utter denial that anything is wrong at all (N0, really, I’m fine. Really). I laid in bed last night and as my mind started going down the paths that lead to anxiety (again) I decided to throw some money at the problem and take myself out on a date. I was going to make Wednesday Get Shit Done In the Morning and Then Go Downtown to See The Bowie Exhibit At The AGO Again and Then Go To The Ballet Day.  And then I slept as well as anyone could after eating chocolate just before bed (d’oh!).

Thought about it this morning though, and have decided to break that into two days. Today will be Get Shit Done Day. Get ALL The Shit Done Day to be precise. That way I can get the most out of tomorrow’s Go Downtown to See The Bowie Exhibit At The AGO and Then Go To The Ballet Day without anything hanging over my head.

Shit that I will get done today (in no particular order):

  1. finish sock monkey hat for my niece’s birthday. Finished, 11:09
  2. make slouch bag like this one in the sock monkey fabric for niece’s birthday Finished 1:36
  3. wrap sock monkey hat & slouch bag & package for shipping to Calgary. Finished 2:50
  4. package 2 pairs of Dr Who fingerless mitts for shipping to Rochester MN. Finished 2:50
  5. go to post office across the street and mail packages to Calgary & Rochester. Finished 2:50
  6. sew replacement buttons on grey winter coat. Finished at 4:50
  7. update LinkedIn profile. I had someone awesome write up my summary that I was having so much trouble with. Now it’s time to actually get it on there! Finished 6:18
  8. take and upload photo-a-day photo. Finished at 5:45
  9. write about Monday’s final beer class for beer blog Finished at 8:10: http://goodaleandbeer.com/?p=164
  10. watch movie & drink a beer for Beer and a Movie section on beer blog
  11. write about movie and beer on beer blog
  12. follow up with TDSB re: if they can move up the date of the exam so I can get my marks in to  Niagara College in time.
  13. do a bit of a sweep and clean. Done sort of at 3:10, enough so I’m saying it’s done. It’ll have to be done again though before Keith gets home.
  14. start silk mohair lace scarf thank you gift. Started at 8:30
  15. cook up next home brew – Mocha Stout from True Brews (this might not happen. It’s time consuming, and I want to get the rest of stuff done first)
  16. sign up for and play tonight’s Buddy Dank home game on Poker Stars Signed up at noon. Definitely playing by 10!

Hitting Publish now, at 10:13 am. I’m ready to get crackin’.

Proof:

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Tomorrow

I am going to attempt to do the following eleven twelve thirteen things tomorrow. I am telling you in the hopes that by telling you, I will be more inclined to do the following eleven twelve thirteen things. The word accountability keeps floating through my head here, but I cannot for the life of me put it in a sentence that makes sense in this context. It’s been a day.

  • put on the Fitbit that has been in the charging station since August.
  • track my food.
  • go for a swim (taking off the Fitbit first).
  • meet Nancy for lunch.
  • write the three blog posts I’ve been meaning to write for weeks.
  • update LinkedIn profile.
  • contact brewers for interviews.
  • finish Molly’s sock monkey hat
  • finish Yukon piece for memoir writing group.
  • take two Pantone project photos
  • have a really good cup of tea while reading a book. Hopefully the book will be really good too.
  • do this week’s online programming course assignment (almost forgot that one).
  • work on nephew’s website (and that one)

I could start some/all of that today, but it’s 5:30 and I have a busy night of knitting and watching Lost Girl planned for after dinner.

FUNemployment, Day 120

Oh hey! How are you?

Yeah, I know, it’s been a while. 92 days to be exact. No, I didn’t actually count the days; I used a website. I’m not that bored.

What have I been doing in the last three months?

Well, I did not accomplish much on my Summer List. I didn’t skate very much, actually twice if I’m honest about it. The first thing I did while unemployed was gain weight which made the knee hurt. And I was afraid to go to practices for reasons that only exist in my head. I didn’t learn Ruby on Rails or brush up all that much on HTML5, CSS or Javascript. I didn’t go to a drive-in. I didn’t do anything on my Pantone Project other than take one photograph with a red tomato. I joined the HackLab but haven’t been even once, afraid to go for reasons that again, only exist in my head. I did start the Flora Chameleon Scarf, but put it away when it didn’t work after the 12th try, to trouble shoot another time. I didn’t write anything of consequence other than a few half-finished entries in my journal. If only writing/blogging in my head counted…then I would have written tonnes!

I didn’t get to a drive-in or eat a hot dog over a campfire or go to Manitoulin Island or Port Dover. Keith was quite busy this summer and we did not get away even for a weekend trip. We did travel together to Owen Sound as Keith was working up there for a week, and I did get to see Moreland Place and its neighbour, Inglis Falls. I quite like Owen Sound; it’s pretty and has a great used bookstore beside a great coffee shop down the street from a great yarn store.

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound

Moreland Place, Owen Sound

Moreland Place, Owen Sound

We did get out on some day trips together, Keith and I. We explored different parts of the city on long walks, went out of town now and then, and spent a day at the Art Gallery of Ontario taking in the Ai Wei Wei and David Bowie exhibits (both were brilliant). We took a day and went to the US of A, where we were surprised with a friendly US customs border guard, delighted by the change in perspective by being on the American side of Niagara for the first time, intrigued by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright at Greycliff Estate on Lake Erie, satisfied by wings at Duff’s, and amazed at the work being done to restore Buffalo’s Central Terminal.

Road trip to Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

Road trip to Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

I did get out on the motorcycle a bit more, mostly back up to Tyson Lake, once in August, and again in October for Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m getting good at making a 4 hour highway drive last close to 8 hours on a motorbike. The August trip was a solo, read-reflect-and-write trip, where all I really did was read, drink beer and goof off. Thanksgiving was all about family, and I loved spending time with everyone. Highlights were watching my niece and nephew play hockey, and having Keith ride up to Parry Sound to join me for the 6-hour ride home on a clear and wonderful fall day.

Solo vacation

Tyson Lake, August. Solo time spent sitting around, drinking good beer and watching nature do what it does.

Thanksgiving with the family

Tyson Lake, October. Thanksgiving with the family

I also spent a lot of time making jam and bread, soups and stews for the freezer, and knitting like crazy.

from top: beret that I'm not sure I'll wear, cowl with art-deco wave pattern, cowl with stranded colourwork (frogged) and cowl with overly-intricate Irish cables.

From top: beret that I’m not sure I’ll wear, cowl with art-deco wave pattern, cowl with stranded colour work (frogged) and cowl with overly-intricate Irish cables. There’s more projects, but these were the prettiest.

I also volunteered at Toronto Mini Maker Faire, which was an amazing show-and-tell of Maker culture, and Cask Days. More on Cask Days later; know that it was beyond fun.

I think most of the time over the last 3 months has been spent trying to process my unemployed state. And to figure out what I’m going to next.

This is where I have to thank the fates for Keith. He has been incredibly supportive in his quiet, laid-back way. He seemed too quiet and laid-back in my panicky, oh-my-freaking-gods-what-the-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do moments, but I realized that he is like this because he trusts, he knows that I’ve got this (or will eventually). He is not rushing me to go out and find a job, any job, that might not suit me. Employment Insurance makes sure that the bills are covered, and between that, the settlement and Keith, I find that I actually have time to plan my next steps for the first time in my life.

Plan A: Brewmaster
Yes, you read right. Brewmaster. It started with a conversation with Keith:

“so what do you think I should be when I grow up?” I asked jokingly.
“Brewmaster Goodale has a nice ring to it,” was his reply.

And so the seed was planted. I’m putting together some research to present to Second Career in the hopes that I might be eligible to have my tuition and expenses covered for the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations course at Niagara College. I’ve gotten my high school and college transcripts, have emailed the admissions department to find out what I need to do, and have subsequently signed up for a grade 12 biology course, bought a one gallon kit to start making my own beer, and started a beer blog (goodaleandbeer.com, and no, it’s not quite ready yet) to act as a portfolio. I’m making contacts with brewers, teachers and beer sommeliers in different programs to investigate the growth of the craft beer industry and job opportunities within it.

I am realistic about this. I really want this, but know there is about  25% chance that I can get all the ducks in a row and make it happen. I’m not sure if I can get a student loan if the Second Career doesn’t pan out, and I know I can’t go there on my own dime as I am just not keen on dipping into my retirement investment at this age in order to pay for tuition and boarding. At the very worst, I don’t get into the program, but I will still have the contacts and plan on furthering my beer education through the Cicerone program or something similar.

Because beer is delicious. And beer people are wonderful.

Plan B:
Of course I have a Plan B. What’s the good of doing all this work for a 25% chance at Plan A without a fallback plan? There was a time I would have set all my energies to Plan A, but to quote Danny Glover’s character in Lethal Weapon, I am too old for that shit.

I have checked with Employment Ontario, and can apply for Ontario Self Employment Benefit and go back to running my own business again. I think I would focus on contract work in desktop publishing or web development at larger business as well as working with small business this time. We’ll see how that goes.

Plan C:
Get a job. I’ve been conducting a steady job search since IE started as that is a condition of the payment, and have been sending out 10-15 resumes a week. I have had a few interviews, but nothing that panned out into a second one. While my skill-set and education doesn’t look that great on paper (too general, nothing specific and in-depth), I am not discounting the chance that I might find a fabulous job that fits my skill-set at a fabulous place that fits my values and temperament. hey, it could happen. It did before, just when I was least expecting it.

There you have it. Three months of activity in 1200+ words. I feel…lighter. Writing only really counts if I commit words to paper or screen. Otherwise it’s just thinking, and I think too much as it is anyway. Going to aim for at least once a week, and perhaps try the NaBloPoNo. Maybe even NaNoWriMo since it’s not like writing an hour a day can interfere with work these days!

FUNemployment, week 1

It’s been just over a week since I walked out of the school for the last time, and so far it feels just like any summer break I’ve taken over the last 12 years.

Well, except for the occasional stomach-dropping, headache-inducing moment of utter panic when I remember that I am an unemployed 51-year-old with no formal education and no real clue about what she wants to be when/if she grows up. But then I talk to Keith or call/text/email a friend who will patiently list my many positives for the umpteenth time until I stop hyperventilating and step away from the ledge.

But other than those moments, it’s been a fun week. School finished on the Thursday, capped by an evening out on a local patio, drinking with my soon-to-be-former colleagues. There were speeches for the staff departing; mine was given by Andy, my fellow beer-loving punk-rocker. It the longest, sweetest, most eloquent and had the added benefit of making the principal who fired me look like she had just taken a bite of an apple only to find half a worm dangling from the core. There were hugs at the end of the night, and promises to keep in touch in varying degrees of sincerity, which will likely not happen now that the only common ground has been removed.

I left the next morning for my writing retreat, feeling only very slightly hung over. I was on the bike, it was a sunny day and I was heading to a cottage on the shores of Georgian Bay to spend a weekend doing some of the things I like the best. It was a great ride along roads I’d not been on before with a stop at the Meaford waterfront park for one of the best burgers I’ve ever had from a chip truck. I arrived at Chris’s family cottage around 2, settled in, and sat on the beach for a while drinking in a view filled with only sky and water. Everyone else arrived, and the day was filled with laughter and workshops.

My sense of peace and equanimity went to shit sometime after breakfast the next day. My period started and I experienced cramps so painful that I couldn’t sit up for the morning workshop (I blame the Super Moon!), and spent the afternoon in bed cuddled up to a hot water bottle and letting the hormone roller coaster take me for a spin out of control. No writing, just crying. It wasn’t pretty. Bad-ass biker chick cover was completely blown. The day was saved by the kindness of the women around me – I can’t describe just how awesome they all were.

I couldn’t really get completely out from under the shadow of Saturday’s melt-down though. I had been looking forward to the weekend for months, and I felt like I’d blown it, wasted my money by not partaking.  I did get a few things written, but not what I’d wanted.

Sigh. File it under Shit Happens, and move on.

The rest of the week was moderately productive. Keith was working the Toronto Jazz Festival all week, so I spent my afternoons knitting and watching Torchwood on Netflix. I finished a pair of socks in 8 days – a new record that only sounds good if you’re a knitter. Otherwise, it’s just kind of sad.

The Headstones played on Thursday, a private event for the fans (like me) who had backed their new album on PledgeMusic.com. As always, it was a great show, but a bit surreal to be back in Lee’s Palace after a decade away. The scene of so many bad decisions  looked both bigger and smaller, vastly different and yet completely the same, proving once again that memory is a tricky thing.

I crossed over to the dark side on Saturday – I bought a Macbook Pro. It’s used and the battery is crap, but it’s got the software I need on it and I can do the programming I need anywhere. I’ve been working on it for three days now. I am still waiting for it to change my life.

Sunday was a lazy day – we went to a friend’s cottage and basically hung out on the deck and chatted about everything and nothing while listening to the wind in the pine trees.

Which brings us to yesterday, Canada Day. We talked about going out and doing something, seeing a movie or going for a walk, but inertia proved stronger than desire. I made strawberry jam for the first time since leaving my parent’s house and Keith made scones and coffee. We feasted on them all day as we watched odd movies like Sushi Girl (think Tarantino wanna-be), and finished them off as we sat at the window and watched fireworks around the city.

 

 

Five days

That’s it, that’s all I have left – five days of working at the school. Let me say for the record that the last six weeks have been the exact opposite of fun. The small joys of knowing that there are some bullshit tasks I will never have to do again are more than offset by the sadness of leaving people, both adults and kids, that have been like a family of sorts. The end-of-the-year fun trip, the graduation ceremonies, all were bittersweet.

I learned to carry tissues with me always.

It’s an odd feeling, when fear, sadness and anticipation collide in your belly. I want to stay but I can’t wait to go. I want to take some time to try and remember what my Plan A was but I want to extend the income of Plan B.

Plan B. That’s what the school started out as. I was running my own design business when I answered the ad on one of my Webgrrls mailing lists. It was supposed to be a three month contract to finish out the year after their old computer teacher bailed. Three months morphed into twelve years, Plan B morphed into Plan A.

And now to rediscover Plan A. I doubt I’ll be returning to teaching. While I love it, I think that I love teaching there, at that school, more than I love teaching in general. That’s not to say that I’m not sending out my resume to every private school in town. I just doubt anything will come of it; now is not a good time to be a teacher looking for work.

I am not in any rush. I am paid until the end of August, and can then go on EI (Employment Insurance). Keith & I both have some savings & investments, and neither of us is carrying any debt. I have spoken to employment lawyers who have indicated that there should be some severance funds coming my way, but when that might happen, well that is dependent on another person. Best case scenario is next week, worse case is however long court cases take. Yippee skippee.

So, here I am. Fifty-one years old and back to trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And hoping like hell that fifty-one isn’t going to set me back any more than it already is. Ageism…the new ism on the block.

I put out a call on Twitter; my friends’ responses were intriguing. Alas, suggestions like the Doctor’s companion are impossible, and while being a cocktail tester or professional knitter definitely fall within my skill set, I don’t know just how well they pay in the long run.

Right now, the options that are sticking in my head the most are going back to school for a bit and/or going back to running my own business. For what, well that has not made itself known yet. Programming? Design? Web development? Wearable technology? FSM only knows at this point.

Big questions. All I can really think about right now is how I need to just get through the next five days. Report cards still have to be written, rooms cleaned up, and I have to sort through and either pack or throw out all of the stuff I’ve accumulated there over the last decade plus.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be indulging in a few wobbly pops on the evening of the fifth day.

 

stuff and crap

So, I was told on May 3rd that the school would not be renewing my contract after 12 years of teaching there.

Just imagine the initial reaction. The stress kept me awake for days.

A week later and there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train. While I was completely blindsided by this, I’ve come to realize that the change is going to be interesting. And wild. And fun. And awkward. And hard. And occasionally stressful. I am smart, capable and have an affinity with technology. Opportunities abound.

I am humbled by the support that has been offered by friends and colleagues, and by Keith. I am fortunate beyond measure.

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I *finally* have the final class M motorcycle license. Thankfully, this one doesn’t expire.

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Last night’s writing class was based on scent as memory trigger. I buried my nose in a old paperback and wrote:

It is the smell of summer nights, reading by flashlight in a tent or a cabin. It is the smell of winter days, home, sick, with nothing to do but read upstairs while Mum watched her stories downstairs. It is the smell of Chur-Lee Lodge, of being enveloped by the old mushy and musty sofa by the bookcase while listening to the rain drum on the roof then drip past the windows.

I know now why old paperbacks smell the way they do*, that the chemicals used to make paper breaks it down after time, makes it powdery so that you pick up traces of every page you turn, absorbing them through your skin to carry with you always.

* Why Do Old Books Smell?

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There is no rhyme or reason to my thought process today. Maybe I should go have a nap before heading out to derby later.

BBall

That’s me, the one in the black.

Yes, I know it’s fuzzy; I was running. More specifically, I was trying to get around #4 so I could get the ball. I was unsuccessful.

Today was the annual teacher-student basketball game. I have been at the school for 13 years, and this is the first time I’ve played in it. We (the teachers) lost, 42-16, which was ok because the students were members of the senior team who came this -> <- close to winning the Championship again this year. I can’t speak for the other teachers, but I was kinda expecting to get schooled.

I joked with some of the seniors afterward that the last time I played basketball was when I was in high school, in 1977 (actually, was using that as my excuse for my blatant rule-breaking. Shh…don’t tell them). I had a blast, and rode those exercise endorphins all day. I wore braces on both knees and while they are sore here at the end of the day, it’s just the ache of muscles that had to work more than they are used to.

Honestly, sometimes I think breaking my knee might have been the best thing to happen to me at this stage of my life. It’s forced me to lose weight, to be more active, to take a few risks.

 

Rare

It’s a rare day indeed when I leave work and don’t feel like somehow, somewhere, I made a mess of it.  It’s usually as I walk out the building that some words come back to me, and I see them in a different light and wonder who might have interpreted them other than how I meant them. We have all had that teacher who, with a flippant comment heard at a wrong moment, has inflicted some damage completely unknowingly, but deep enough to leave a mark.

Today was a rare day. I walked to the bus and thought, yeah, that went well. I was helpful, and kind and laughed with, not at. It was a good teaching day.

Which of course means that it likely wasn’t. Teaching teenage girls is like that.

Sometimes I think that going skipping through a mine field would be easier, less fraught with disaster.