NOTE: Sorry for all the writing. It's something I wanted to document (so hopefully some day my daughter can read it). There are pictures of my little slice of heaven below if you want to skip to that.
In my early 40s, I have a watershed moment. My daughter was about 9 months old an in daycare. As most parents with young children can attest to, my daughter and my wife and I caught all kinds of colds for the first year or so while she was in day care. There was one cold that after two or three weeks was handing on and on separate weeks I had taken some sick days to rest. This was very unusual. Typically if I take a sick day and rest up over the following weekend the cold subsides. This one wasn't, as such I called my doctor. I had been using the same doctor for 15 years and really liked her. I considered to be my age when in actuality she was 15 years older.
When I called to make an appointment, I was informed that she had died from breast cancer. I was stunned and without words. Here was someone my age who had passed away. We all know this happens but this one hit home. There had been many things I had been putting off doing. I was living in a condo and wanted to be in a house. By having a house, I could woodwork. Yes, I know it's possible in a small space but at the time I wasn't thinking of hand tools. Also, my doctor dying made me think of the other things I had wanted to explore. I was thinking that in my last 10 or 15 years of a working career I might want to be a woodworker or teach college chemistry.
Again, the impact of the death stuck with me to the pint that within six months we had sold the condo, I was teaching one night a week at a local college. After a year or two in the home I had remodeled the garage and bought my woodworking tools to start my woodworking journey.
I learned a few things:
I still liked my career but I had to move to a small start up to appreciate that. I had loved the big company I was at and am very grateful for my experience there. In order to feel revitalized, I needed to be at a small startup when I could leverage all that I knew how to do to help a small band of folks push the frontiers of medicine.
I liked teach college chem a lot -the one night a week I teach at my almamater is very fun and I have great faith in the upcoming generation. I didn't want to jump into it full time. When I "retire" my dream is to teach two (possibly three) days a week. It's so much fun. Plus since I don't depend on the money, I don't worry about getting laid off or if I don't dot the i's and cross all the t's. I really do focus on trying to do the best job at teaching the students. I don't care about all of the other stuff.
And for woodworking, I gave serious thought to doing it full time. I have decided I will keep it as a hobby. I enjoy working my hands and the pride in making things. I have decided that I don't want it to do it for a living. What I like about doing it as a hobby is that I really do get to pick and chose to do what I want. I can take as long as I want and not have to worry about pay. If I screw up and have made a piece of hardwood firewood, I don't worry about it eating into my profits. I typically do a morning session, long lunch, then an afternoon session. Three to five hours in the shop on one or both weekend days makes me a happy camper.
If you have been patient enough to read all of this, below are some recent pics (Jun 2020) of my workshop. It is really just a wall or two inside the garage. I can work with the cars being in but I like to pull them out. In a future post I will talk more about what I like and would do differently (ac, off a cement slab).
Life is good. I still think about my poor doctor. I feel sad she died young but I have taken that event to make changes in my life that I think she would be please with. Now if I can just loose the weight she would be even happier as she looks down on me.
Figure 1. The main workbench.
Figure 2 To my right side some tools I use less frequently.
Figure 3 The junk bench. At some point I need to clean up this area and build a proper bench for the space.
Figure 4. Two and half shelves I have to store my wood.