School, Day 0, in which I thank a lot of people

How to explain how I felt yesterday as I sat in a classroom for orientation, listening to people talk about the program I spent so much time and effort getting into. I think giddy covers it best.

(We’re going to gloss right over the nerves, anxiety, self-doubt and near-crippling panic that I experienced in the preceding 48 hours. The less said about that the better.)

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Yes. We drank beer during the orientation info session. I can safely say we were the only program that did. They had 5 styles, but I felt that trying all five with no breakfast might be a mistake so I settled for samples of the NC Teaching Brewery saison and Septemberfest. Both made me wish I’d had breakfast.

I met most of my classmates. It appears that I am the only estrogen-based life form, which should make the next 16 months interesting. As well as from Ontario, there are two guys from the US, one from Calgary and another from Fredericton. I was as chatty as a nervous former teacher could be, so I’m pretty sure they know more about me at this point than I know about them. Note to self: sshhhhh.

Today is the first day of classes, and a fairly light one at that; an hour of Math of Finance at 11:30 followed by two hours of Computer Applications, which seems to be basically a self-learning software to guide one through the basics of MS Office. As someone who has taught it for the last 12 years, I am really hoping I can fast track through it.

I should go and have breakfast then shower and get dressed. But I can’t help but linger here over my coffee and think about how fortunate I am.

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First and foremost, I have to hand it to my beloved. He was the one that planted this little seed in my mind by replying “Brewmaster Goodale has a nice ring to it” when asked what I should be when I grow up. He has been nothing but supportive and wonderful throughout the last year while I was recovering from having the rugged pulled out from under me and then planning and working toward this next stage. He is quietly sacrificing much. He is shouldering a larger financial burden while I’m a student, has seen his vacation cut short from 2 weeks as planned to 5 days to accommodate some work that came up for me, and is keeping the home fires burning solo while I’m at my mid-week home across the lake. He is, in a word, wonderful, and I am quite lucky to have him in my life.

While Keith keeps telling me I made it this far due to hard work, I could not have done it without a lot of help in one form or another from just about everyone I know.

  • my brothers Brian and Doug, and my sister-in-law Linda. They have been my cheerleaders in unexpected ways and have offered much needed moral support and offers of financial assistance (which I hope I don’t need). I am grateful for how they have my back.
  • The Moose, our friend who is graciously renting me a room in his house in Winona. I hope he still wants to be my pal after being my mid-week landlord for the next while!
  • The “beer girls” – Erica at Black Oak, Jen Murphy at Beerlicious and Jen Shute. I met them at the Prud’homme beer course and they have been invaluable sources of information and assistance whether it be a letter for my Second Career application or connecting me to beer folks so I can make some extra money doing LCBO tastings. You guys rock!
  • Bella Dodswell of The Career Foundation, who helped me navigate the paperwork minefield that is a Second Career application. My application would not have been successful without her cheerful advice.
  • Juliette, who is still willing and able to pick up the phone and talk me off a ledge, even though we live on opposite sides of the world from each other and are separated by a half a day’s worth of time zones. The woman has mad skills and I am proud to call her friend.
  • Lori is another friend from far away who is kind and generous with her time and herself. I appreciate her more than I can ever say.
  • Caroline, aka the Hoppy Beer Witch, who is funny and interesting, and who has been instrumental in whetting my interest in the BJCP.
  • Robin Le Blanc, the Thirsty Wench. I have only spoken with her a few times, but we have many common thoughts on social justice and equality. She has given me much to think on in terms of working to expand the diversity of brewing, while introducing me to people in the industry.
  • Toronto brewers, who helped my application by taking time to complete my survey: Steve at Liberty Village, Tomas from Spearhead, Jeff from Indie Alehouse, Mary Beth at Granite, Mandie at Left Field, Dave at Kensington and Doug at Junction Craft. Shout outs to Tina from Junction Craft and Paul from Flying Monkeys in Barrie who have patiently answered my many questions about the business on several occasions.
  • Nate Ferguson and Alan Brown of Niagara College, for giving me a tour of the college and patiently and promptly answering all of my email questions, no matter how big or small.
  • The women at the Admissions department of Niagara College. They gave me invaluable advice during the application process and their emails were always fun and friendly.
  • my derby pals, my former colleagues, former students, friends and friends-of-friends, and perfect strangers, all of whom said “wow cool” when I told them of my plan to become a brewmaster. No one said I was too old, too female, too unexperienced or too anything; everyone has been amazingly supportive and interested.

And for this, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I quite honestly could not have done this without you and I am grateful.

Let me buy you a beer next time I see you.


(cross posted from my personal blog, It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time)

Session Toronto

Once again, I waffled until the last minute to buy a ticket to a beer event that I pretty much knew I was going to go to anyway. I let the price point change my mind every time I went to buy a ticket online but finally sucked it up when I read of the beer collaborations that would be presented there.

I had a great time. It wasn’t as busy as I’d expected it to be, nor as hot. There were no crowds to weave through and while Dundas Square is in a bit of a concrete fishbowl, it becomes nicely shaded once the sun dips below the skyline.

I ran into Jenn Shute, who was there manning the SOBDL booth, and stayed to say hello. We ended up running into each other pretty often, comparing beers and trying new ones. I went around and introduced myself to any of the Toronto brewmasters who had responded to my survey to say a personal thank-you and talked with many of them extensively. I got a chance to talk to Nate Ferguson a bit about the Brewmaster program and to Paul from Flying Monkeys about how tasty Chocolate Manifesto is at the end of a night. I ran into a few people that I’d met at during the Prud’homme classes.

And I got to drink some great beer.

Once again, I forgot to write down or otherwise note everything I drank, but a few of the standouts for me were the Indie Ale House/Indie 88 cherry saison collaboration and Snowy Howell, a white IPA by Muskoka. There were a lot of other ones that were notable, and I know that I liked them, but alas, drunken middle-age brain failed me again.

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Taken while I still remembered to take photos.

 

December madness

I tell myself every year that this year will be different, this year I will be as prepared for the December holiday madness as it is possible to be.

I was on the right track; I realized early on that there would be no way to knit gifts for my nieces and nephews. This decision coincided with an email from the World Wildlife Fund, and the gifts were purchased and sent in record time. We are not going to be around for the holiday itself, so the usual travel itinerary between Stratford, Sudbury and Oakville does not need to be sorted, hostess gifts, presents and food do not need to be organized.

And yet, I am still discombobulated. Because of the misunderstanding in the due dates for my marks, I’ve had to drop the teacher-led class for a self-paced online grade 12 chemistry class. To say it has been difficult is an understatement; the frustration of not understanding it as quickly as I would like combined with the stress of the expedited timeline reduced me to tears in lesson two. Phone calls from far-off bff’s shook me out of it, and I have learned (again) to ask for help. I now know that I know not one but THREE people with chemistry-related degrees, and the science teacher at my old school has offered to help me with my homework.

Phew.

Then on to the application to Niagara College itself, and I am stressing out over every aspect of the portfolio submission. The little voice in the back of my head whispers that I am too old, too late and without enough relevant experience to get it. The little voice would rather I not try than be turned down. Words fail to express how much I hate that little voice.

I am also trying not to slip in to my usual winter hermit mode. Have met some former colleagues for lunch, and went out on Monday with Jen from Ltd Supply to check out the Indie Ale House. It’s hard to say which was more delicious, the burger or the Christmas porter. Like I said to Jen, a good burger should fall apart before you’re finished which this one did in spades. The porter had a lovely warm gingerbread taste going for it, making it a perfect dessert for the meal.

We headed over to the Hole in the Wall where it is very possible that I may have drank a little too much of the Yuletide Cherry porter from Barley Days Brewery. Good conversation over good beer in a good locale – definitely worth braving the cold for!

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And that is why I have not made my Mocha Stout yet. I’m going to take a look at the timing and plan it so there’s nothing that needs attention for the week we’re away on our southwest road trip. It might have to wait until we get back.