Been A Long Time...

It's been almost a year since we moved into our present (and hopefully final) home. It's probably over a year since I turned a pen! I ended that streak this week.
Pictured below is the second pen I finished this week. The first (not pictured) took hours; for every step of the pen making process I had to remember what to do, assemble the tools from the far corners of the house (and storage unit), and then finally do the fun part. Rinse and repeat for every single step. It was like getting on a bike after not riding one for a very long time. It's like stretching disused muscles. (okay, stop with the similes!) I have some long overdue stretching to do. (and the metaphors!)
This second pen pictured here is made from a chunk of old maple burl. I dye stabilized the wood before turning it making it easier to work and much more durable. It came together quickly. Look at the amazing wood grain and chatoyancy. Love that word! Look it up. People don't often think of wood as having chatoyance, not like you find in certain gem stones like tiger eyes.
Chatoyancy in wood is the result of compression from stress. A branch grows out long and strong. It casts it's strength as far has it can in order to reach the light. And as it stretches out, it throws off branches and those branches have more branches and more importantly, leaves, glorious leaves. They do all that stuff that our 8th grade science teacher told us they did. They use the Sun to produce energy for the tree as a whole.
But when a strong branch supports more and more weight over the years, it bends. At the locations where the bends happen, often the tree will send in reinforcements to knit and give the branch the help that it needs. these places where stress from the weight off the world created the most beautiful aspect to fine wood.
Stress brings about some beautiful things!
This week I entered a new chapter of my life. We know that these times will happen, but when it happens it comes as a surprise.
I was laid off from my job this week. My company's technology division has been going through a major restructuring. I was among those that were 'restructured' out of a job. I don't hold ill will toward the company. Heck I still have a little money in their stock. I know how these things work. And this time it was my turn.
I'm looking at this as an opportunity. What kind of opportunity? That depends on my current mood. Because, even though I don't hold ill will toward the company, it still is a shock to the system knowing that I didn't make the cut. Loosing a job is a lose, especially one that you had been at for the better part of 20 years. We had been through a lot together. I started in the call center working a graveyard shift so that I could get through school and still support my growing family. The company was there for me then.
When I graduated with a degree from the university, the company gave me a low paying programming job, but it was still a raise from what I was making in the call center, and it was in my field so I was grateful. Maybe I should have broadened my horizons at that point. But I was just glad for a job near my home and family with people I already knew and loved. Back then work was like a family.
I have so many photos of those times and so many good memories. And I'm proud to say that my fingerprints are on some of the very first code. The same code that is currently being supported by hundreds of employees all over the world. In the beginning it was just me and another guy writing the platform that has now morphed into the general customer facing application.
After a couple of years as a programmer. I had the chance to try something I had always wanted to try. I became a creative director for a medical company. I oversaw the design of all manner of documents from logo design, advertising, manual design, trade booth design etc. It started out strong, but the money ran out before the product was widely enough used. That was the first time I was laid off.
I came back to the company. They welcomed me back with open arms and they threw me on a project. That was my project until last week. Been a long time...
To provide a little more context, the company swallowed another company, and took it's name. A few years later that new larger company was been subsumed by an even bigger corporation. I continued on that same project I had been assigned on January 4th 2011, my second day of rehire.
Now here I am, almost 23 years from my original hire date and just over 13 years from my second hire date. I thought I might work for the company 'til I retire. The corporation had other plans. It was no longer that local company I started with way back when. Perhaps it's now a bygone era since so many people work remotely. How do you really connect with your fellow humans? Maybe work just isn't the place for that anymore. We live in a very different world than when I started with the company.
Maybe the weight of the leaves I've been supporting all these years will take on a special quality like the chatoyance from the pen I turned this week. Wish me luck. Been a long time...