Sunday, June 28, 2020

40 years later

My mom had sent Linda an email a couple days ago and mentioned it was June 28, 1980 that I left Ontario and moved here. At the time all my possessions fit into a carefully packed 78 LeMans. I had thought I moved out here in August, but was a feckless youth then, so how would I know?

Now I'm going back down memory lane, but trying not to be maudlin about it, or indulging in the early signs of dementia. Some older people have told me you've got to watch out for when it's easier to remember decades ago than where you put down the book you were reading.

At the time I didn't think I was staying. I figured I'd work for a while and see what happened. I got a job in no time flat. The place to live in 1980 was the hard part. Later, I got a job at the City, was BDD'd, we bought this house, got married, and all of a sudden here we are. Maybe I should unpack that a little.

As it turns out, I've had 17 different periods of employment here. I don't say jobs because I've often had several different jobs with the same employer, as well as the same job, same office building, same work team, under 3 different employers. In the beginning I was an employee, then became a contractor in oil and gas, which explains much about my work history.

The 3 employers, one team? I started at Amoco, it changed to BP Amoco, then to just BP. Technically, during one of the transitions I was laid off by mistake, but never missed a day of work while they fixed it. I got a retention bonus out of that one. Same job different employer is common in oil and gas, with assets being sold like kids trading hockey cards. Changing signs and providing logo work gear is a minor industry in the patch.

Most of the time my contracts were extended several times. Several places have called me back for another contract. At one place I worked for 3 distinct teams one after the other, which was really strange. My first team, our boss and her boss got fired, but the rest of us hung in limbo for a while, then everybody else was let go. I was rescued by another team, then all of them were let go in the great 2015 bloodbath. For a while I was almost the only person working on my floor. I was moved onto another team and mostly finished up. By then I was getting tired of the place and my boss was getting tired of me being right about data and databases and spreadsheets, so we came to a mutual agreement that my contract wouldn't be renewed.

The work life has been quite the roller coaster. Working lots, and not working, with lots of travel to obscure places. I joked that my team mates flew to places like Dallas, Houston, Montreal, London (UK), Denver, and where did I go? I drove to Fox Creek, Red Earth (but not Pink Mountain),  Chinchaga, and lots of places not even on the map. Sometimes the directions didn't even start at a place. Once it was "head west past Gulf Strachan, and then...", except at the time Gulf Strachan hadn't been a place for a decade or so. Good thing I knew that.

When you're a contractor, transitions are interesting. When you're working it's tough to take time off or spend money. When you're not working you have lots of time, but you're reluctant to spend money because you don't know when you'll get more of it. Once the transition between contracts was over the weekend. Once it was well over a year, and I was looking hard along the way. Towards the end I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever work again. Most times it was several weeks, which is par for the course. For about the last 5 years I haven't looked, work has come looking for me. Which is nice.

In all that time I've only lived in a few places. There was the 2 bedroom apartment with the roomie, the previously mentioned illegal basement suite, the one bedroom apartment that I hardly ever stayed in because I met Linda about then, a shared townhouse, and then 35 years ago building this house. It's sort of odd sometimes, having moved around so much in the first third of my life, (7 places I can remember before I moved here, and there might be more.) and not at all in the second half.

So what else in 40 years? Shiftwork while working at the City nearly killed me, but I escaped just in time. Barely. It's screwed up my sleep patterns ever since. My advice? Don't do rotating shift work. The money isn't worth it. The important bit of work advice? Keep firmly in mind there are only two ways to leave a job, 3 if you count sudden death. One is at the employer's choosing, the other is at yours. I've done both, I know which is better. Start planning now if you haven't already, because they certainly are. A word to the wise and all.

For a while I thought of setting up a nice wood shop in the basement, but that hasn't happened. I can barely find the tools to build things Linda asks for. For a while I was moderately influential in the SCA. For a decade or so I was active in triathlon. There's been a linked series of novels gradually being written and edited. There is no completion date I'm willing to discuss publicly. A little while ago I started carrying around a real camera, and if you've been following the blog at all, you know how that has turned out. There's probably other stuff that doesn't come to mind at the moment.

We haven't done as much travel as maybe we could have. I still need to get to Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Nunavut, and North West Territories. I'd like to get to Haida Gwaii and see more of New Brunswick. Let's see, we did manage to get to UK, France (passing through), Italy, and Bermuda. New Zealand extensively. Lots of places in the USA before they went fascist. I won't go there any more, not even to transit on the way somewhere else. We spent a little extra to get the 10 year passport, but who knows when we'll be able to use them again? Even travel within Canada is looking difficult, and no idea how long that will continue.

I've no real idea if I've blogged this photo or not, though I've done similar ones. Some of you will remember those. I think it's sort of what like memory is for me. Fairly clear close up, fading into the mists as you look further back. On the blog front, I just passed 3400 blog posts.


So that's 40 years here. I'm sure hoping for another 40, if Kenney doesn't destroy the place. What about you, will you still be around?

Of the Day
Michelle

Curtis and Celina
Shortly after this, as I was trying to get a different angle, Curtis started sliding off, and pretended he'd planned it like that.

Flowers
Don't be fooled by the soft and gentle petals. This is the dread Alberta rose, harbouring thoughts of lawn domination.

Driftwood
Yes it's hollow. I checked, but still didn't put my hands in there, just in case.

Ribbon Creek

Me
Enough of the orange shirt for a while. This is one of my go to shirts for photography sessions.

In the found file, here's a photo of a photo of me at the Toronto Zoo circa 1986, I think. Hairy. Skinny.


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