Starting a Fourth Chapter

I look back at the content in this blog and see it is all about my third chapter. As I seem to be embarking on a new, fourth, chapter it’s giving me cause to reflect on the previous ones.

It also has me looking at the last two posts which were both tales of endings. I can see it’s time to talk about beginnings.

While growing up in Midland, going to school there and having a couple of jobs as a teenager, is part of the story I don’t really view that as a chapter. It’s more of a prologue to being an adult. A time to explore, learn, make mistakes and adjust. I have the same thought about “Rye Hi” where I studied photography. My first real chapter started after that, in the mid 70s.

Chapter 1

It involved working at photo studios and photo labs. It included living in Guelph, getting married, moving back to Midland for a while and becoming a photo-journalist. It featured a couple of firsts: winning first place in a photo exhibit and selling my first art print (I wonder if that photo still exists at Ste Marie Among The Hurons) ). This is the chapter I learned to be a man, without a father to help guide the way. He passed away in the prologue. So a lot of my sensibilities have been instilled in me by my mother. Look back one post to get a glimpse into that.

I think I’ll give that a mixed review. Mostly positive. My mom taught me lots, there were things she couldn’t help me learn though. Life added into that too! It’s impossible to predict how things will evolve.

This chapter ended with a divorce, a redirected career leading to a second version of me. I had a big part to play in this bump in the road. I guess I’m not one to look for the smooth path.

Chapter 2

I got tired of being a starving artist. A new relationship brought two beautiful, intelligent & creative people into the world. Photography turned into an IT career that lasted thirty years. And another amazing relationship that has seen me go from this chapter into the fourth! One that has lasted longer than that IT career. And has been a lot more interesting!

I spent time learning to be a father, learning the IT industry, learning more about who I actually was as an adult.

I’m not sure I did great at being a father. I think I get a passing grade. Without a role model I had to make it up along the way and I know I made lots of mistakes. I’ll let my kids weigh in on that.

It also took a while for me to figure out my view and role (roles, I had a few) in IT at IBM. I think I did well on that front. I had some great mentors (some dolts too!) and I like to think I learned great ways to approach problem solving from them all.

This chapter lasted a long time. It took me through innovative technologies as the Internet became a public reality and it took me to quite a few places to share the skills I developed. My favourite IBM memories are from the time I spent in Brussels with a hand-picked team doing a custom stock trading system. At a personal level traveling and cycling trips with Andrea along with canoe camping trips with my kids top the list! The entire top 10 list all brings a smile to my face. Who would have though creating and successfully testing a disaster recovery plan would be exciting ๐Ÿ˜‰

This is such a small rogues gallery of the hundreds of people who are part of this chapter. I will leave it that way though! If you don’t see yourself in the photos I imagine you can picture the events!

Chapter 3

This blog started as I got ready for this chapter and it documents much of it so I don’t need to spend much time writing about it. Retiring from IBM, buying my Westy and traveling around North American in her while I covered bike races (or just traveled for pleasure), doing some IT contracting… it’s all in the many blog entries.

Chapter 4

I’ll describe this more in the blog entries that follow as this chapter is just beginning.

Andrea & I took a long trip in 2018 and that was about when I decided I didn’t want to do more IT contracts so that’s closed. In the summer of 2019 the magazine that was a major client decided to close. The niche I work in as a photo journalist is very small and there are lots of people who are prepared to give away their photos. So I’ve walked away from that too.

[Edit] My friend Steve reminded me that playing bass guitar pops up in this chapter too and he’s right. That started late in Chapter 3 and has never made it into my blog other than in my tribute to my mom (An Ode To My Family). I’ll keep on playing and I look forward to getting together at Kinsale Social Club when we can hang out together again.

My two Chowny bass guitars

And then there’s this global pandemic. That’s definitely a factor. Andrea was in Spain on a training camp in early March as things ramped up. And since then we’ve hunkered down.

#quarantinystarter

A lot of people hopped on the sourdough train, including me. The #quarantinystarter project started on Instagram by @wordloaf who worked at Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen back in March. His thought was to carefully use scarce commodities (flour was on that list along with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and much more).

I’d dabbled with baking before but never gotten serious about it. Andrea had spent more time at it over the years but has switched gears from bread to cookies and granola. She’s found her niche I think!

It did mean we had a lot of the things that a baker needs. I’m slowly learning how to use these tools. Let’s just say the early loaves were rustic and clearly amateur. I kept at it until the weather turned nice. And then I got back into it as summer came to an end.

I’ll let you decide what you think of then and now loaves. And I’ll pick up on that in a future post.

Stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

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