Year in review

Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. 2017 has been a year of flood change. My divorce became official early in the year, and all financial obligations satisfied.

For two years I worked for a major home improvement box store. Two years of excellent reviews and the maximum pay increase allowed raised my start pay by a whopping 59 cents and hour. Gee, how can I begin to offer thanks…

Styrofoam houses, coated and primed

I will not disparage my former employer, the job got me through a couple rough years. But enough was finally enough, and I severed ties.

I half-heartedly applied for other retail-type jobs. Retail is not my forte’. I cannot understand how even the most ardent masochist could enjoy a retail job.

Somehow I stepped in shit, and landed my current job. My second paycheck included a 10% raise. My fourth paycheck had another 10%. Forty hours a week plus all the OT I want, for a family-owned business.

I started in the silkscreen shop, with time in the machine shop. I currently run the flatbed printer, a printer that can print on media up to 3 inches thick, and 8-foot wide. I am being trained on the CNC router. And I am the go-to man for the Styrofoam constructions.

Completed houses ready to be installed on the parade float.

We shape Styrofoam on the router, then I refine it, sand it, fill it, paint it. We started with architectural features for a church-run school. Somehow we were offered the job to design props for a parade float. We have absolutely no experience designing floats, so of course my boss said, “Yes, we will do it!”

Styrofoam books for another float

That one float led to two floats for the Fiesta Bowl parade – all within a one month window to design and fabricate. There is nothing like taking a difficult task and making it more so.

Somehow we pulled it all off. In the end we had almost every employee working on the props in one way or another.

This is my dream job – I get to exercise my creative side. There is so much work that rarely does a day not fly by.

I am on Christmas break – we have off this week with pay – except for tomorrow. Tomorrow a group of us have to work, constructing one of the floats.

At home, I built a shed in our back yard, and constructed a cedar closet in the studio. I acquired an air compressor and a Craftsman shaper and other tools for my soon to be work shop under the car port. Pretty soon I will be able to commence work on the Field and Stream trailer.

All in all 2016 is turning out to be a great year.

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