August 12, 2012
In a post of almost two years ago, I write that I am ‘happy to report that the working life is gradually becoming less problematic.’ Ah, ha ha, spoke there perhaps a little too soon! The ‘great little company’ I announce getting in with weren’t headed where I expected and didn’t find me a fit for their requirements after all, for one thing. And the road since has been anything but smooth.
This post, though, isn’t going to be a litany of disappointments. We’re past due for an update is all.
So things didn’t work out with greeNEWit, but they did with TerraLogos immediately after and, really, as a consequence of the attempt. (Word people should feel free to wax sarcastic or scholastic about either name, or both, in comments below.) Both connections owe something to my membership in the area chapter of a trade association, Efficiency First, to which I’ve committed myself (and some hundreds of dollars in membership fees) since its 2009 inception — though I never go to the meetings without wondering what I’m doing hanging around these small-industry heads, regular entrepreneurs & employers.
I mentioned TerraLogos (by way of link) a couple of weeks ago, in the post in which I propose to start being less reticent about thoughts on vocation. I was happily and wearily absorbed at TerraLogos for most of 2011, and four or five months into it I’d decided I wasn’t going to stay. A concise though by no means complete or altogether fair confession as to reason for having so decided would be that if I’m going to be as absorbed in my work as I found (or maybe made) myself there, I might as well be self-employed.
And here we are, then, or rather here I am, self-employed — under the old name, originally a convenient throwaway and still surely a curiosity, Bowman’s Housecraft. My aim this time around is to stay focused on energy-efficiency and whole-house issues. Over the winter I was fortunate to pick up freelance energy audits with another company in the local network, Baltimore’s EnergyReady. But more important to where I think I need to go has been a friendship, begun as I first looked into getting into the field in 2008, rather than another business connection.
Which brings us to spring & summer of this year. In this period I haven’t been doing audits much, I’m a little sad to say. (There is more auditing on the horizon.) After TerraLogos, it seemed wise to resuscitate my carpentry ‘practice,’ such as it is. I started putting together a new, more stripped-down little web site, foregrounding the creative rather than the analytical side of what I do. My name circulates again locally a bit and, at the same time, I position myself better to adapt to the needs of these friends, Michael and Suzanne, who run a small home performance operation out of their home near D.C., in the old Maryland suburb of Chevy Chase. They don’t need an energy auditor, but they’ve long been open to the idea of a loose partnership that will allow me to do my audits in their name and, therefore, under the auspices of the state’s power-utility-sponsored homeowner-incentive programs, whose requirements I’m not set up to meet on my own.
Whether a partnership in any regular way is what’s emerging now is hard to say, but we are working a good deal together now. At the moment, actually, besides bringing carpentry and other skills to a few of their air-seal & insulation jobs, I’m into projects on their house — various, including an incipient bathroom remodel — while temporarily occupying its ground-floor studio apartment. I’m ‘a member of the family,’ it’s been joked more than once; happily, the two-year-old and the cats like me.
It’s been good, being briefly a summer resident of Bethesda/Chevy Chase. Debt burden and spotty income have prevented me from living so independently for more years now than I would rather admit. They’ve made me take Baltimore seriously as my home, at the same time, for which I’ve learned to be grateful. Both facts have bearing on my vocation reflections. But right now I’m enjoying the break from the normal, enjoying getting to know one of the nicest ‘walkable’ neighborhoods around, enjoying the prospect of stitching together the pieces of ‘what I do’ into something coherent, at last, maybe.