Film at 11

Most of the things sold in The Hiker Box are items Tom or I have either used personally or seen in use.  Some other things are based on best-sellers in the field or what’s the newest from a great, reputable company.

And then there are the customer requests.  Things customers have asked for time and time again to one of us and it becomes our mission to obtain that product and have it on the shelf.  If only for the other one of us to ask, “Why in the heck are we carrying a pedometer?” and some day be able to taunt back, “See!  I sold a pedometer!  Thank goodness I ordered them!  WE WOULD BE BANKRUPT OTHERWISE.”

(Note: sometimes this does not go as planned.  Sometimes you hear 4,510 requests for an item but as soon as you have one, no one else ever wants one ever again.  And sometimes you will order one, people will ask for one, then look it at on the shelf, shrug, and leave without purchasing.  This may or may not have happened with pedometers.)

Many of these product requests fall outside of the range of “Hiking, Camping, Backpacking” and more into the range of, “You are a convenient store for tourists to pop into and ask for random items they forgot to pack.”  I will say that at least 65% of these requests are items you might sometimes eventually use outdoors.  Or carry outdoors from the car to the house.

We get a lot of general sports-type requests.  We get a lot of specific-there-are-three-outfitters-in-a-5-mile-range-catering-to-that-activity requests. (We usually do not act on those but give referrals.  And it has so far worked nicely in that other stores refer customers to us as well.)

But come summer, this is tourist town.  And I have lucked out on choosing some products that have nothing to do with hiking.  We sell out of swimming floats and collapsible umbrellas.  We did rather well with critter nets and citronella candles.

Where we have completely flopped is batteries.  Even when we sell an item that REQUIRES batteries.  They are just not the type of thing we can purchase in enough bulk to be well-priced and while someone might wonder if the grocery store carries collapsible umbrellas (it does, but you did not hear that from me), they are fairly sure they can find batteries there.

So imagine my excitement when I had the cutest girl come ask me, “Do you have the stuff that goes in here?” pointing to an opening in a camera.  I started to show her the batteries, all excited that I was definitely going to make a sale because I have been a cute little girl once and I remember having terrible price-comparison skills.

Then it dawned on me.  She was asking for FILM.

(No, we don’t carry film.  And it will take many more cute little girls to ask for it before I make it a mission of mine.)


It wouldn’t be Prudent

I’m not doing NaBloPoMo, in case you were wondering.

It is sad I have neglected this space so long that two posts in a row might make someone wonder what sort of streak I am on.

So, yeah. But no. Not gonna do it.

Currently my shoulders are permanently glued to my ears and my right jaw has been clicking for two weeks. That’s stress, folks. Capital S. And the last thing I need is to pile another commitment on top.

But…writing helps me with stress. Even though it’s unlikely I’m going to unload here about the specifics that have me shrugging and clicking, (Hello! You may be my mother or a shop customer! Man I miss when no one but strangers read me and I shared every embarrassing and rude detail of a date. The sharing part, I miss. Not the dating. So much) writing in general makes me feel good. It’s also an invisible to-do I can check off and feel like I accomplished something for the day even if all my other tasks went down the toilet or are on hold or require me to get back to someone in X days.**

I plan to try write something every day. Some days I may not. Some days I may write something and it goes elsewhere. But I want to get back to writing more in general and here is a good, no pressure place to start.

**It was actually an email back and forth with a sales rep that made me realize how much I need to communicate with the outside world more (and yes, I include writing here as “communication”). I’ve never been the best at business relationships. Introverts are not good at small talk or on-demand answers. I have always hated cold-calling people and have an amazing super power to leave the most incomprehensible voice mail messages. EVEN IF I WRITE DOWN A SCRIPT BEFOREHAND.

But when the sales rep didn’t respond to my initial email, I was physically depressed at the idea of figuring out the appropriate professional delay before I re-iterated my request. I put off the second email and had day-mares (like day dreams, but negative) about how this would play out where we could not order from the company he represented anymore and our business was doomed.

When I finally pushed “send” the second time and he got back to me within 5 minutes, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then immediately recognized no one should get that het up over a damn email and maybe I needed to take it down a few and put more words out there for other people so I don’t end up a complete hermit.

So hi. I’m here. Hopefully with some regularity. Maybe some hilarity. Just don’t ask me to phone you.


Once upon a time, I was a fairly functional adult. I had good credit (still do, actually), showed up for work mostly on time (ditto), and could handle basic home & car maintenance (um….).

I installed a programmable thermostat by myself once! And a chandelier! AND figured out how to operate the chandelier and the microwave at the same time for seven whole minutes!

Then I met Tom.

Before he ever saw me undressed, he completely dismantled my old dryer and put it back together. More to the point, it did not work when he started that endeavor and it did when he was finished.

Ladies and gentleman, if you do not enjoy being Miss/Mr Fix-it, find yourself a farm hand. (Notice the feeble attempt to not assign stereotypes here.)

Years of working on his father’s and grandfather’s land has left Tom with a vast knowledge of the mechanical and a patience to work through even the most complicated repair. And so we somewhat settled into roles of What We Do Best with my handling 99% of the cooking and him handling 99% of the wrenches.

There was that stretch of time where he traveled for work and I only worked part-time. I think I kept up vague notions of handiness and oh yes, I have a physics degree – two actually – so let me check the breaker box.

But since we’ve been living at the cabin and he installed an entire hydronic radiant floor heating system by himself? Forget it. Maybe, MAYBE I will wield a hammer to hang a picture. Because where Tom excels at mechanical know-how and patience, he sort of trails off in the urgency department and I only have to ask 73 times before I realize I too have opposable thumbs.

(What I am sometimes lacking is an actual hammer. Tom likes to squirrel tools away and/or leave them exactly where he used them last. That heating system means there are roughly 13 screwdrivers, 2 headlamps, and 1 PEX tubing stapler hidden somewhere in our crawlspace.)

So yes, I have come to rely on Tom for much of our general repair and maintenance. Not only do I pile his honey-do list with things like “Make the plumbing stop vibrating”, but I also request his opinion before asking a 3rd party to get involved.  I will not request anything more than the most basic oil change from our mechanic without Tom’s say-so. And forget suggesting we “call a plumber”. He looks at me like I have suggested the wrong kind of threesome. Which, I guess in a way, I have.

All of this to tell you that I was overdo for an oil change when one evening my dashboard would not light up and I had to drive home not knowing if I was going 5 or 35mph.

I dutifully told Tom about the situation, which caused some confusion because my “Check Engine” dashboard light HAS been coming on and he has been diagnosing that himself. When I said my dashboard didn’t light up he kept saying, “Well, that’s good!” thinking he’d gotten to the bottom of my error codes.

“I’m going to get an oil change this week. Should I ask Mike to fix my light?”

“Fix your…? No. That’s silly. I’ll do it.”

“OK, but if that’s the case I need you to do it tonight or tomorrow. It’s unnerving to drive home in the dark with no dashboard light.”

“OH! Your LIGHT! Yes, have Mike fix that.”

Mike did indeed fix it. He moved the nifty little dial for brightness from “in the dark” to “let it shine, dumbass” and didn’t even charge me.

We figure that Tom’s shoulder knocked the dial when he was using his code reader thingy. But why, WHY did it not even occur to me that the dial existed? A dial I’ve used before in a past life of competent human? Because I have grown soft and unaccustomed to fending for myself in the land of fix-it. Tom’s plans to trap me in this marriage via home repair and car maintenance have succeeded.


It seems if I don’t write something soon, I will have gone a whole month with a depressing and unsatisfying un-ended story staring front and center here.

News!  I’ve moved!  Did you notice that 5-minute period where this site came up “Database Connection Error” on Sunday when I bit the bullet and canceled my previous hosting?  I needed to edit the wp-config file to point to local_host.

It’s ridiculous how scary it was to see that, even though I knew I’d copied over the database.  And I still had a copy on my hard drive.  And for three whole seconds I also thought it might be freeing.  Start completely from scratch!

When the issue was resolved I even did a madcap “Update all” in the themes.  I’d been putting that off because I could not remember how much “design” I’d properly captured in my child theme.  But hey, I almost completely deleted the blog!  What’s a little wonky background rendering of an already meh background?

I moved because I could piggy-back hosting onto another site for almost free.  And because that host provider (GoDaddy) has excellent technical support.

Now it has been 3 days without email at the shop because of a cPanel problem.  Way to instill confidence, GoDaddy.

Other news!  There are new kittens!  No photos because while they are cute, they are also shitheads.  Literally.  They have pooped with a frequency that is mind boggling.  Originally we were all like, “Oh hey, we are experts at this, let’s give them de-wormer!”  And everyone agreed and rejoiced.  But the pooping.  Did.  Not.  Stop.  They pooped in the litter box.  Outside the litter box.  On a bed.  On the other bed.  On the kitchen floor because they couldn’t make it to a litter box or bed in time.

Through out all of this, they remained by every other quality of life indicator “healthy”.  Eating.  Playing.  Bright eyed.  Bushy, if poopy, tailed.  So it was thought perhaps the de-wormer just needed more time.

They went to the vet an hour ago.  Turns out, they have a parasite that our particular de-wormer of choice doesn’t kill.  And a bacteria infection.

A side effect of the new medicine is that they probably will stop pooping altogether for 24 hours before resuming a normal bathroom schedule.  I have never been so excited for 24 hours of not pooping in my life.  “Don’t be alarmed!” warned the vet tech.  Little did she realize how close I was to drinking 6 bottles of wine for the corks.

There is No Good Side. Only Zoul.


Man, people are annoying.  And how is it that I moved to a town with a population the size of my last neighborhood and I somehow interact with MORE PEOPLE on a daily basis than before?

Please don’t point out I run a store open the public.  Smartass.  I am talking about interactions that I do not invite with my warm customer service and sunny personality.

I had a lady annoyed with me that I returned her phone call.  Here’s a tip for not getting return calls:  DON’T LEAVE A MESSAGE REQUESTING A PHONE CALL BACK.

I had someone leave a message that he had moved out of a storage unit (late) (did you know I manage self-storage as part of my PT job?  Did you know it is equally parts depressing and frustrating?  GUESS WHICH PART HAPPENED TODAY.) and to email him the extra cost incurred.  I emailed saying there was none, no big deal.

He emailed back to say they had not actually moved out and could he have another day.


Oh!  I also had the depressing part happen today too!  Someone who is not in control of her situation called.  She is elderly and sounds exactly like my Gma did at the end.  Luckily she wasn’t with it enough to leave her phone number!

(Shut it call log)

In other news…a kitten has the runs, my to-do list is producing anxiety because Tom also has a lot on his to-do list but he forgets half the things so I in turn have to remember THOSE THINGS AS WELL, and I’m pretty sure someone else is breathing my oxygen.

Great month to give up drinking!

Enter title here

I have ten minutes before I must leave for work.

The summer has been fun but also stressful.  For the entire month of July we were checking the store’s bank balance daily.  We were watching to see if the sales were going to catch up with the due dates of bills or if we needed to put more capital in from our own dwindling account.

The good news is that we didn’t need to.  The “life goes on” news is that we still have to watch it, albeit not so vigilantly, and I estimate that the stress from this alone makes up for 1/3 of the fatigue I feel even after two cups of coffee.

I have four minutes now.  I’ve spent three writing and deleting several sentences.  The horrible dilemma of trying to get caught up on writing while also providing quality writing to prove I should continue writing.

Especially when I have no time and spend three of those minutes trying to spell dilemma. Auto-correct thinks I want to say “mademoiselle”.

We have no foster dog right now, but somehow ended up with a Mamma cat and six kittens in our spare bedroom.  Photos coming soon.

When crippled by angst over writing, always go for the cat photos.  It’s the Internet after all.

Holding for Manifest Destiny. Don’t know what that means? Me too.

Hello!  I am still busy!

I remember a time when I was only responsible for one website.  This one.  Now I am responsible for four, including one I created from scratch, organized a change of hosting for the site, then migrated my design.

Let’s all take a minute and laugh at the fact that I “designed” a site.  HA!

I googled Manifest Destiny.  Evidently it is about the belief that “American settler were destined to expand throughout the continent.”

I am not holding out for that.

I do believe in making your own luck, destiny, what-have-you.  And so I approached my bosses at 29N about a summer schedule.  I asked for the day off on Mondays and less hours on Fridays.  (In return I will do some remote work.  My hope is that I can get that done during downtime while manning The Hiker Box and no one will even notice my smiling, sunshine face is not in the office.)

They said yes!  As they have said to every raise/time off request/work change I have suggested to them.

(Hint:  To make your own destiny, come prepared with: 1) reasoning beyond, “because I want it”, 2) an explanation of how it will benefit the company, and 3) a willingness to negotiate.)

I have had this request in the back of my mind since last September, when I was bowled over with tired from the summer peak season at The Hiker Box.  (I also told them to expect this request come summer 2015.  Another tip for getting your way – don’t surprise people with “your way”.)

I have been dreaming of this request since March, when we got in full swing with new orders and changes to the store for the upcoming season.

I have been walking in a trance wondering if this request would ever get started since mid-April.  I’ve logged more hours at The Hiker Box week after week without seeing a give in any other part of my life (see: website “design” and hosting migration) except that I exercise less and can be talked into pizza for dinner easier.

(By “talked into pizza” I mean I tell Tom, “We are having pizza for dinner.  I can’t even.  I just can’t.”)

Then today I looked at the calender for something else entirely and realized Memorial day is only TWO MONDAYS AWAY.  A WEEK AND A HALF.


All this dreaming.  Hoping.  Wishing.

It’s coming true.

See you in a few Mondays!



Singularly Insane – Shopping Edition

I am busy these days. It’s debatable whether I am insanely busy. One might argue that I am regularly insane but can’t hide it as well when I am busy.

I see every day split up into three categories: My part-time job at 29N, our own business The Hiker Box, and our personal needs. Even weekends break down this way since I carry a rental property on-call phone for 29N. It’s exhausting but what I signed up for…I did sign up for this, yes? I believe so. We don’t have a Magic 8 Ball but I shook a cat and a mouse fell out this morning so I will take that as a sign. That I signed up.

I think of myself as fairly good at multitasking. Which, according to research, means I am terrible at multitasking. But between my 6 separate email accounts and my Bullet Journal, I find I can stay on top of what needs to be done pretty well. I also kind of enjoy having many chores to accomplish so that when one hits a roadblock I can swerve to another and feel productive versus stymied.

But I hate multi-tasked shopping. Hate it. I hate trying to keep items separated in the cart. I hate trying to switch so quickly from list to list as I walk down an aisle. I hate the stinkeye I feel from the cashier and other shoppers when I delineated my purchases into different orders at checkout.

(To that end I also hate that I keep track of 5+ credit cards and their receipts. 29N almost paid for my gas this morning.)

But shopping is something that makes a lot of sense to combine. Who wants to make three separate trips to the store? It also makes financial sense when I have to drive to another town because I can expense the mileage for business-related trips but not because we ran out of toilet paper at home.

Today I decided I was going to shop for 29N before coming into work. And because you cannot buy wine before 9AM, I realized there was no need for me to tack on any other shopping. I could single task and not feel guilty about it!

Then I walked in and saw the front desk was free of other customers. I can buy a lottery ticket! Now I’ve multitasked a trip to the store without the usual nuisances AND secured our financial future!

I was so happy about that as I wheeled my cart along picking up items that would all go on the same purchase. I even had enough free brain cells to start composing this post in my head.  The joys of single tasking.

I got to the register, unloaded my cart without need for extra separators, and started digging for my keys. I like to shop on Wednesday at this particular store when I can swipe my perks key tag and get a discount at the affiliated gas station.

No keys. Which made me immediately realize I was too light – in the pants and in the purse – to have my phone.

I stammered to the cashier I had misplaced these items and had to go hunt them down.

“Oh, yes! They are at the front desk!”

Like I said, I am GREAT at multitasking.

Work Hard, Play Hard, Write Cliched Post Titles

A combination of the other administrative assistant on vacation, Kath coming to visit for a long weekend, and IT problems has kept me from my beloved blog.

Even right now I am typing from my own laptop which I brought to work for trouble shooting.  I’m on lunch break if scarfing down some lentils between phone calls is your definition of a ‘break’.

Supposedly today all my Internet bandwidth problems at the office were going to be solved.  And I am shocked, SHOCKED, that they are not.  I am the Captain Renault of the Internet.  And if you do not get that reference please stop reading here and go watch Casablanca.  Right.  Now.

(I find old movies rather boring and slow in plot.  But the writing!  The lines!  I just stop and slap myself mid-scene they are so good.)

The IT support shtick is getting rather old.  I agreed to oversee a few projects that will never die and I am NOT being compensated appropriately for them.  (The increasingly smaller amount of time I am not playing IT detective I am slightly over compensated so in theory it was going to be a wash.)

So let us end on a high note:  Kath came to visit!  She has been working at a sanctuary in Minnesota and finagled four days off to drive over and stay a bit.  I took Friday off (even with the IT issues and the missing assistant – my bosses do appreciate me and mostly give me anything I ask for.  Note to self:  work “pony” into next negotiation conversation) and Tom minded the store a lot so we had a glorious time just hanging out.

And that’s pretty much all we did – hang out.  Slept late.  Ran some chores.  Ate leftovers or prepared meals concocted solely for an excuse to eat good bread.  Watched some TV.  Read books.  Talked.

There is something indescribable about a connection with a friend that runs so deep that any time you spend together feels exactly how you’d like to spend that time.  You are never worried about compromise or being dull.  I am so very lucky to have a core group of friends with whom I feel like that.  It has been hard that we’ve been scattered across states in the past years.  But it means that much more when we are reunited.

OK lentils are done.  Back to the pings!

Progress Operation March

Hello there!  I absolutely did not post every day in February and I absolutely feel wonderful about that.

I did post more frequently than usual, and more posts where I actually thought of a theme, edited drafts, coerced several grammar mistakes from the final version, and sometimes added media.

This is not going to be one of those posts, by the way.  This is a regular seat-o-the-pants, hunched in an old wicker stool at The Hiker Box counter top, whatever floats into my head, post.  I might notice an aggressive number of commas, parentheses, and the word “just”.  But I am unlikely to do much about them.  And I definitely won’t fix any tense issues.  Tense issues were my friends.

It’s March 2nd which means a new month!  Full of promise.  I wonder if it is just a certain personality that finds the calender page turning to be a new lease on life.  The ever-optimistic, that this month will be better than last?  The ever-re-doer, who wishes to throw last month’s failures out the window and pretend to start fresh?  Or how about the ever-so-slightly OCD sufferer, who has a rash from looking at all the strikethroughs and carrot-ed squished additions to the last month?

Which ever I am (a cross between 2 & 3), I DO love the beginning of a month.  This month I also got to start a new Bullet Journal, a double organizing bonus.

I am also in general in a better mood than last week because last week I had horrible sinus pain for several days.  Another reason for not writing – I was in a bad mood from pain and had no patience for anything but the basics.  I finally broke down and emailed my doctor who prescribed a nasal steroid that made things a lot better.

Reason #3 to be in a good mood is that we are seeing temperatures in the twenties during the day in the forecast!  Actually, tomorrow we’re supposed to get scary-driving snow and then the high is only six on Wednesday.  But by Friday?  THIRTY DAMN TWO I WILL TAKE IT.

In recent weeks I’ve become enamored with snow shoeing.  I’ve managed to squeeze in a walk here and there, but it’s difficult when little free time collides with the arctic freeze we’ve had.  The snow shoe window is closing fast but I believe the next two weeks or so will provide some good opportunities.

Then comes the weeks of mud.  It will clear up just in time for mosquito season.  Then we will be insanely busy with the store…

Actually, if being insanely busy with the store is a problem I can wish upon myself, I will take it gladly.

But for now, forward March!