Post #3266: The wet coast returns

I am starting Day 4 of my new job and wow, have I ever learned a lot this wee – and do I ever still have a lot to learn!

But something did click for me yesterday which helped me understand why I am the person for this position, and that was the realization that my new role and team plays a connective function among many parties. That hadn’t been clear to me at the outset, it being a new role with no work description of any kind, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly this new group is supposed to do. But once I heard “connector” everything I had read started to fit into a pattern that I understood, because connector is my central social role as a communicator, creative, and union advocate. And like that, it all fell into place. I know what I’m doing here and the next step is figuring out how to do it.

In the land of government, we almost never get the chance to stand a program up from scratch – mostly we step into a well-worn path, and sometimes we have to dismantle programs (12 years under the Conservatives saw a lot of that) – so I’m grateful to get to experience something truly unique in these last few years of my employment. At the same time, it’s like being a junior employee all over again; I’ve hade those first-week jitters even though I’ve been kicking around for 23 years. Good thing is, now I know who to ask for info and also Google exists which was not the case when I first started in the public service. Acronyms and organizations are only a quick search away!

One thing that’s been interesting this week is my return to normal working hours. For the last six years I’ve worked 6:30-2:30 because most of my team was back east. Now that I’m on west coast time again I’ve moved to an an 8-4 schedule, and am fitting my workouts in first thing in the morning instead of at the end of the day. Work + workout = the same length of day, but the order is reversed. While lifting heavy first thing in the morning is taking some adjustment, I have wanted to move to morning workouts for some time. For one, it gets it out of the way – but mostly, it doesn’t allow for me to make excuses all day about why I don’t have to work out. This week I’ve just gotten my gear on and went straight to the gym after coffee – twice in our garage gym, and twice at the local fitness centre. Besides a little creakiness in getting started, it’s been a nice switch.

The rains have returned full force today and I’m starting to think about fall textile projects. I have been warping one of the looms this week with a table runner that was featured in Handwoven magazine a few months ago. While I mostly want to work on my own designs, this project is an opportunity to work with mercerized cotton (which I haven’t done much of to date) and also explore shadow weave. It’s also a palate-cleanser after several “summer textile school” projects in plain weave, and a way to set myself up for the commission project I hope to get started on later this month. In addition to the weaving, I’ve continued to do bits and pieces of dyeing – and though I had planned to pack up the dye studio for the winter, I think I’ll keep the indigo vat going for a bit and keep a few supplies out for dyeing threads and other small things.

One thing I really need to get to is sewing some new fall/winter clothing. Since losing weight a couple of years ago, I still have not got a functional wardrobe for all seasons and have a hard time with the quality of most ready-to-wear clothing. I have a list of things I want to make, and fabric for most of them – so now I have to get down to putting the work in for some new things.

I did get a big studio clean done last week when I installed some new office furniture, though I didn’t get into the cupboards for a real stash bust on the fabric and yarn. I’m feeling pretty ready to be indoors though, with more drawer space for the bits and pieces and furniture that fits the space better (see my instagram photos on the right for the before and after).

This weekend I am anticipating the arrival of some friends who are coming to help sort out some of the belongings of a friend who died a little over five years ago. Her artworks (and all related materials) ended up in my crawlspace and I’ve started to worry that between rodents and potential water damage (we have a pressure tank down there), it isn’t the best place for them to be. Our goal is to winnow the material down more than we already have and get it stored in the loft of my zendo. At some point though, it needs to be well and truly dispensed with – and it’s not at all clear to me how that will happen. But I’m hopeful we can eliminate some of it this weekend given the passing of time since her death. At the time we initially dealt with it, everything was a bit too fresh and we still thought we might put on a show or have a sale. Now we’re all ready to see the end of it which will help with the decision-making process.

It really feels like another season today, and I’m ready to turn towards the industry of autumn. Good thing I have lots to keep me occupied as the days get a little darker.

Post #3265: Always things to do

Brian and I have been up at our cabin in the interior of BC for the last few days, almost a year since the last time we were here. Between Covid travel restrictions and forest fires, it’s been hard to get in here from the coast, and I’ve missed it. Fortunately, while we’ve been absent, one of our cabin partners continued on with the work and we’ve returned to a working bathroom and a pretty functional kitchen sink/counter area. Prior to this it’s been the outhouse and outdoor kitchen I built a few years ago – and while we have made do, it is sure nice to be able to use the washroom without going outside! And run water from a tap instead of a hose! For the longest time we didn’t even have a well, and we brought all our water in big jugs which we had to carry up the massive flight of stairs to the front door.

While we still have finishing work to do (floors, doors, window-casings, baseboards), we are not all that far away from the final inspection now – and not a minute too soon because I understand that there is pressure to close out our building permit this year (it’s been open for somewhere in the neighbourhood of seven years now). The irony of course is that during the time we were building the cabin (as an escape from the city), we have moved out of the city and so it’s become less of a *thing* than it was for me a few years ago. But still, we need to finish it and get the occupancy permit so that we are legal and also if we collectively want to sell it at any point we can. One thing that has happened in the intervening years is that real estate values have continued to go up and the place is currently worth quite a bit more than we’ve put into it financially. It wasn’t an investment property to begin with, but it may become one in the future. In the meantime it’s a great spot to come and do nothing a couple of times a year.

In the last few years I’ve started doing a lot of canning up here. One of the attractions of this area is that it’s very close to Keremeos (about an hour away) which has the least expensive canning produce in the province. This week we hit the fruit stand early in our trip and so had food-puttering activity all week long; we have cases of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, roasted salsa and nectarine jam coming home with us tomorrow.

Besides that, I haven’t done a ton up here this week – made it out for a couple of runs, did some writing and knitting, read some books, and slept in every morning on principle since I’m starting the new job Tuesday and I wanted to make sure I am really rested up for it.

Tomorrow we drive home to Gabriola where I will tear apart my office on Sunday. After five years of using the built-in furniture, I’ve decided to set things up a bit more effectively for my use by changing up the desk furniture and rearranging some of my studio storage. I’m looking forward to this as an opportunity to declutter and clean-out some of the corners, not to mention organize the mess of cables that connect up all my work equipment!

It seems that no matter where we are, there is always another project on the horizon!

Post #3264: And….. Change

I think I can finally say it….. because it became official at the start of this week with the signing of my paperwork….

As of today I am wrapping up my work position to go on holiday and when I return I’ll be starting a new job working in salmon stewardship. I’m not going to type the name of my program in here because I don’t want to be google-able in that way – but in broad terms, I am moving away from communications and into a job fostering partnerships and new directions in BC’s salmon story.

Some of you know that I have spent 20+ year of my life in government fisheries work, I am a certified fisheries field tech with a communications degree and a lifetime of union experience in fisheries-related workplaces to boot. So although this is a departure from my field of communications, I am bringing all the relevant skills and some of the necessary knowledge into the new role. The rest I’m just going to have to learn as I go (which is the part that excites me – I love that I get the opportunity to delve more deeply into this field at this stage of my career).

Earlier this week though, I was ready to pull the plug on the whole thing. The paperwork hadn’t happened and I was feeling a lot of stress. I thought the stress was related to feeling unprepared to make the job change, a fear of failure and all that. But then on Tuesday, the paperwork got signed… and immediately all my trepidation disappeared. I realized afterwards that it wasn’t the new job I was stressed about; the fact it might not come through was upsetting me. Since then I’ve been focused on wrapping up my current job, a big research report for Coast Guard, an internal accessibility survey, a number of external-facing projects I’ve been managing – and realizing that hot damn, I’ve been good at my job these last few years. I *am* good at my job. And that I’ll be fine going into a new one because I am able to work with people, and information, and systems which is what I’ve done my whole career (union and work).

The photo up top is one I took seven years ago, right before I moved into my current role, when I had the opportunity to attend the Adams River Sockeye festival as part of my job (something I’ve got to do more than once). I grew up on the west coast and have often been moved by the sight of migrating salmon. Since going to work in fisheries in my mid-twenties I have worked in the midst of an ecological crisis involving the loss of many stocks and species to climate change, habitat destruction, and overfishing. I cannot think about the beauty and resilience of these creatures without also feeling a great fear and sorrow for our future. I don’t move into this new role under any illusions about what can really be done in the face of it all. But in these last years of my career, change in perspective and practice with regard to salmon and other species is something I feel lucky to work on.

I’m only going into the new job as an assignment, which means that if things don’t work, I can step back in my other role again – but I’m hopeful that this will be a place of meaning and challenge for me, and that I can make an impact on this world in some small way before I’m gone from the workplace, before things change too much more for the worse.

Roderick Haig-Brown’s poem Pacific Salmon memorialized at TsĂștswecw Provincial Park on the banks of the Adams River.

Post #3263: End of Summer

The last Friday of the month is normally a “Comfort for the Apocalypse” day, but I’ve gotten behind lately. Not so much in terms of time, but I really haven’t had the brain space to get the newsletter done what with house concerts, end of summer canning, and a new job starting in just a couple of week’s time.

Brian also reminds me that I am always like this in the last two weeks of August. Late summer has always been a weirdly stressful and unfocused time in my annual cycle, and I need to learn to plan better for it!

I’ll be back on track shortly with more here and there!

Post #3262: Myself Again

The other night I somehow managed to knock my water glass off my bedside table and awoke from a dead sleep to the sound of glass shattering against my metal bed frame. Fortunately most of the glass and water went behind the bed and not into it, but it was one of those completely terrifying moments just the same. The strange thing is, the top of my bedside table is not level with my bed (it sits several inches higher) and I was sleeping on my side which means that my non-dominant hand must have suddenly shot up and swept the glass off the edge in a fairly deliberate motion. I was in a deep dream state when this happened, so perhaps something subconscious triggered action, but I’m not normally someone who acts out dreams or sleep walks. I have mostly had a tendency towards sleep paralysis, the opposite condition.

Besides this totally bizarre incident, my insomnia has abated this week. Between that and the cooler temperatures, I am out of my floating state and feel much more like myself again. If there is anything this summer has reminded me, it’s that I am from Northern stock and much happier in the climate of my ancestors (Celtic, Scandanavian, Germanic)

This past week I have been attending a union convention via an online platform. This was scheduled for last summer, but cancelled and so we are catching up – just as we did with another convention in May. As much as I find union conventions a bit of a drag in person, they are worse online, with none of the usual sideline conversations or camaraderie (or drinks after session!) It is definitely possible to get the business done, but hard to feel the spirit of the thing when you are alone at home in front of you workaday computer.

Still, the good thing about online convention is that I am in my studio which means I’ve found lots of time while listening and during breaks to fool around at the weaving loom. Normally I knit during convention proceedings (keeping my hands busy helps my concentration), but at home I can get my weave on! This week I’ve finished one warp, wound the next one, and dressed my loom for another 8 yards of fabric. This is sample #3 from the Jane Stafford Weaving School, and I plan to make some towels and a scarf as I work through it over the next couple of weeks. After this project, I’ll be putting a commission on the loom to weave in September (that’s right – I’ve agreed to a first commission and will likely be open to others in the future).

I went for my first real run in nearly two months this week (I did a couple of 3kms on Cortes in July, but they were too short and hilly to count) – clocking 7 km at the behest of my running buddy who is not going to let me quit now that the weather is cooler. I’ve also been back on my workout schedule and thinking about what that is going to look like come fall. I had set some goals for this summer, but the heat and busyness of everything really dragged me out so I’m feeling pretty good just to have held onto my gains even though I didn’t advance them at all.

We’ve got two more house concerts at Birdsong before the summer closes out and I’ll be happy to be at the end of the series even though it has brought so much joy to our community and to us. Seven shows in 9 weeks is a lot to organize and it’s been the focus of most of our weekends over the summer. This has been a singular year in a number of ways (weather, covid, vaccination, coming out of a long dark winter) – and I don’t expect we will try to replicate a summer concert series to this degree next year.

I am definitely feeling the turn towards fall with the cooler weather and sprinkles of rain. Though we will likely have a dry/warm autumn, the change in the air is apparent and I hope it has an impact on the fires in the interior. I still have my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to go to our cabin outside of Princeton in a couple of weeks, but that all depends on the situation out there. For now I’m happy to be at home and rolling towards the seasonal transition (my favourite season is upon us!)

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