Something To Show For It

I don’t know what that title means.  But WordPress has already made the Permalink so…

We’re back!

Technically, we’ve been home since Thursday evening! And I’ve been busy with random chores such as grocery shopping and all-day canning extravaganzas!

Anyone remember that I can? Anyone? Bueller?* I have a feeling I haven’t written about it much since the first few times I broke out the supplies here in 2013.

Last year, the first year the shop was open during peak produce harvests, I ended up freezing things when I could and then live tweeted a day of canning that included two jams, a conserve, a salsa, and bruchetta in a jar. I could barely move afterwards and anytime I thought of canning for the next few months I sort of shivered then had to lay down to recuperate.

This year I managed to do three small one-batch canning sessions during the summer, then blasted out three more recipes yesterday with my mother’s help.  It was so much more relaxing to be able to take shifts at standing at the stove and stirring.

The hike was great, by the way.  I will try to write about it more later.  (I WILL write about it more later, but the first priority when it comes to hiking writing is not here anymore.)  But I did not get sick, I did not get a skin infection, we made the miles we wanted including a 20-mile-day, we tested some great food and OK equipment, and I packed the car with a great “after hike bag” that included more fresh water, extreme peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, oat bran sesame sticks (my personal weakness), and fresh clothes to change into.

So we got home, I did some chores on Friday, and then we heard about the attacks in Paris.  I don’t have anything to say about it, really.  I’m not a political blogger or a social justice blogger.  But I also feel like I need to SAY it.  I need to mention it happened.  I’m not sure why I feel that way; many other things have happened (other happened in past 48 hours in other countries) that I haven’t said.  But here I am.  Mentioning Paris.  Because to not mention Paris feels wrong.

Saturday my mother and I canned.  And today I am the store by myself and it is marvelous.  Not marvelous that I have (almost) no customers, but marvelous that I can putter around the store without need for rhyme or reason and get 6 things done in my weird 1-step-forward-2-steps-towards-the-recycling-4-skips-to-reorganizing-the-front-display-shelf-3-parkours-into-the-billing.  It’s not multi-tasking, exactly.  But there is a joy I get in the freedom of letting my mind, feet, and hands all wander in sync to the tune of “Let’s Get Stuff Done.”

Blog?  Check!

*I wrote this and then went back through the site to link to a canning post.  The second one I found also had a Bueller? reference.  Good to know I stay relevant in my un-funniness.

 

Warning: Thoughts Ahead

It’s 11:20am on Saturday as I type this.  I technically already wrote something today.  I emailed my brother, SIL, and SIL’s sister some pictures and updates to the cabin.  I would share them here except I have no before photos.  Only the afters.  I am counting on those three to have the befores etched into their brains from the 57 years the cabin has been in the family.

Side note: For about 5-10 years or so there was a stretch where I did not visit the cabin very much and they did.  I was working, volunteering, and first-marriaging in Florida.  (The first marriage mention fits because his family was in FL, giving me even less reason to leave the state.)  My grandparents were also in Florida, with the rest of my family in Chicago.  George, Francesca, her family and lots of their friends would take advantage of the cabin several weekends out of the summer.  They made minor changes, mostly linen and small appliance additions, during that time.  I’m sure my brother wished to do more, but I have always been a little…sensitive…about things around the cabin changing too much.  And when I say “around”, I mean I was upset for over a week about a new traffic light on our drive into town.  God forbid someone move the sofa.  Now I have moved here (with his blessing) and there are many things about living here full-time as two adults with cats that is very different from being a summer residence of grandparents and grandchildren.  So I have changed a great many things.  Even thrown out a few things.  And I sometimes wonder at what his emotional response over these changes.  Is he a little sad to see the yellow curtain that separated his childhood summer bed from the dining area finally be removed?  In some way did he not like change but did not have to be quite so vocal about it since I was more than willing to pick up his slack?  Or is he in New Mexico frustrated thinking,  “NOW she makes all these changes when I am a bazillion miles away and working and cannot enjoy them?!”

Anyway, the latest changes are to accommodate another living arrangement – three adults with cats.  My mother is coming to stay for a few weeks.  I think at least two but you never know with her these days.  (HI MOM!)  She has very much embraced the fluidity of retirement.  I have asked her to stay for Thanksgiving but she thinks a friend might visit.  Who knows.  Maybe that will fall through or maybe a more enticing offer than a re-organized bedroom without a ginormous TV lurking in the corner will come up in 3 days and she’ll be on her way.

But the assumption is two weeks.  Maybe longer.  So we moved our computers out of the room she likes to stay in and put the TV in the living room where it covers up almost half of the main windows and I can’t stand it but we’re hardly home when it is light out anymore so who cares?  The TV, by the way, is only ginormous to me.  I also have never had cable except when living with roommates or husbands.  An in-home entertainment center to me is built-in bookshelves.

I have also taken a week off from my part-time job, and while my mother is here to cat-sit (we have a terribly emotional Maine Coon who needs daily meds, sometimes AM and PM, and constant consoling anytime Tom is out of his sight) Tom and I will go backpacking.  Imagine that!  People who run a hiking store going to hike!

This is very exciting but also nerve wracking.  It will be our first multi-day trip since we left the Appalachian Trail in 2013.  I still have not reached a point where I don’t get skin infections, but I do have some better understanding of how to prevent and treat them.  And it is only three days so I am not too concerned except that it might be uncomfortable.  But it is only three days and we plan to hike over 15 miles a day to cover the trail we chose.  I am optimistic given how the weather has held and how much walking I do on a regular sit-at-the-computer day (about 5 miles) and the fact that it won’t be up and down mountains.  But I do want to have fun and being on a tight mileage schedule can sometimes not be fun.

So!  I will probably not be writing much this next week!  Because my mother is scheduled to get here….now?  It’s now 12:47pm.  It has not taken me over an hour to put together such a jumble of words.  I also showered and made nachos.

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.

UnHandy

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.

October

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.

I AM HAVING AN ALL CAPS KIND OF DAY.

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.

(!!!1!)

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.

THAT IS WHEN I REQUESTED THIS SUMMER SCHEDULE TO START Y’ALL.

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.