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!