Friday, December 21, 2012

5 Decades Down 4 to Go

On February 16th I completed my 5th decade. For 4/10th of that time I have had a job, whether it was delivering news papers, cooking pastries or making stuff, working is a part of who I am. First having a job allowed me to be in a place where I fit in. Later it became a way of paying the bills.

I discovered through work that I am a visual learner. I did not enjoy the school process because I need to see how things work or fit together. I need to write a persons name down to remember it. I like to know where you are from or where you live so that I can place your home on my mental map of the world. If I am not familiar with where you live I need to open the Atlas and see where Namibia fits on the globe.

I have spent a full 38 years building stuff. When I set out to make something I start by putting it together in my mind. Then the item gets translated to paper sometimes it stays as a sketch or I will progress to a full shop drawing. Once that step is done the item gets built. Once I get started on the building process I used to quickly discover what knowledge I am missing. That is where books and mentors came in handy, helping to fill in those gaps in knowledge.  I have been lucky to have been able to find some very great mentors, some of those mentors are still in my life and others are no longer with us.

Two important lessons came from my parents, my mom who was a great knitter; had no hesitation in riping out a weeks worth of knitting to fix a mistake that she noticed. My dad taught me that you can do anything you set your mind to. Those lessons have allowed me to build a house in 5 days in Bridgeport and to accept that the right thing to do is strip off a finish and just redo it.

My best friend Mark's mom, Nicky Morgenstern; was helping me make a bed/ storage unit. Her first question was "which side of the line do you want me to cut on" in those simple words I discovered 1, the importance of layout and 2, that there are no dumb questions. With that simple sentence she set me off to ask questions and to learn. She also prepared me to work with the thousands of Habitat volunteers and families all who had questions about what they were doing.

As a young teenager I spent part of the summers on my own at our house in Mansonville Quebec. I plodded along renovating a early 1800's house that should have been torn down. You only have to cut about 1/2 an inch of sheetrock with a skill saw before you realize that there has to be a better way. There were many houses being built in the area so I got onto my bicycle and rode over to a silo house that was being built and spent a day working to help cut sheetrock. I don't want to know how many boards of drywall I have hung or taped since then. I do know that I learned to hire a taper when working on anything more than one room. My mom now lives in that house my dad and I started to renovate all those years ago. That house is the longest on-going collaborative project I have worked on.

My wife Julia and I live in the second longest ongoing project. I am lucky in that I have known Julia for about half of my life and we still love each other. We continue to learn and grow together.
I celebrated the start of my 50th year by gathering people who have been part of my life. Some were able to come round to the house and share a meal, I had to settle with a phone call or e-mail with others. My friends and family have given me much of my knowledge and encouragement. That is what draws us as people together, community. There are no perfect friendships or relationships, each relationship can be meaningful to us. We can help each other through difficulties, celebrate achievements and enjoy the passing days.

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