The Weird Business – A List

Things I find strange about being a business owner:

-How little Tom and I carpool. Open 7 days/week, if we each take 2 days off that leaves 3 days for us to carpool. But the convenience of someone coming in late/leaving early saves our sanity and ensures more chores get done. In the busy season when there are people in the shop from open until after close, we often carpool. But this time of year when it’s slow and we can eek out a little more work on home renovations? We’re lucky if we carpool 1/week.

-I will never forget after we’d been open for a month or two and sold a large ticket item – a backpack, a tent, something like that – and I was so against buying another one. It is such a financial hardship to start a retail business and we’d seen so much money leave our bank account that when this few hundred dollars came in our direction, I wanted to take the money and run. Luckily Tom understood that replacing something that sold increases the likelihood of selling it again and finally managed to convince me. These days, I’m more likely to balk at bringing in a whole new brand, but very on top of re-ordering.

-How good of a salesperson I can be. It’s not in my personality and not something I’m interested in acquiring. But I am passionate about the outdoors and the brands we sell. That translates into excitement when customers have questions about gear and can be very good selling tool.

-How poor of a speaker I can be. I can get stuck on phrases that don’t quite mean what I’m trying to say and let the end of my sentence drop off as I get confused by multiple questions/customers/attention demands at the same time. I will sometimes use the exact opposite of the word I want. And let’s not discuss my live-TV or radio spots. Please.

-How much I would enjoy being my own boss. Yes, I have frustrations at times and sometimes I chafe at time or money or talent limitations that mean I can’t always achieve my planned project result. But every one of those frustrations and limitations is mine to fix. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it is for me.

A New Year of Happy

I didn’t really do resolutions last year.  I privately decided I would try to minimize the amount of trips I made to a certain Mart.  This worked in the sense that I only went there twice in the year.  This did not work in the sense that I sent my husband there instead (they are the only store in the area that carries our 100% recycled brand of toilet paper and paper towels, and the only one that consistently carries our type of cat litter) and also placed an online order for enough cat litter to get free shipping and have the FedEx guy hate me.

It also did not work because the 2nd trip was this past month when I had such a huge shopping to do and I was HAPPY to be shopping there.  I had CHOICES.  And some things were certainly cheaper.  It also is two blocks from my favorite grocery store for bargains (Aldi) and 1/4 mile from my favorite Whole-Foods-Like store (Golden Harvest) so going there to finish up a grocery list means I can be done in one big trip versus one big trip and several smaller trips to closer-to-home (but still chains and therefore not a “better” use of my money) stores.

So I guess what I’m saying is one of my (a little less) private 2016 resolutions will be to NOT minimize the amount of trips I make to WalMart.  I will continue to not plan out trips specifically around the store and possibly do more online ordering when we really, truly only need those 3 essentials so I am not tempted by bargains.  But I will also not walk out of Aldi missing 4 ingredients for a recipe and trying to figure out when I can squeeze in another grocery trip that week.

Other random things I have decided to call resolutions for 2016:

  1. Get my teeth whitened.  I will start with a home-whitening kit but if that fails and finances allow, I will pursue it further with my dentist.  My teeth have never been very white.  It’s a side effect of having those old-fashioned braces with full bands cemented onto my teeth.  But since moving here, it has Gotten Worse.  At first I blamed our well water.  Then I blamed my smoothie, which I had changed from breakfast to snack and therefore wasn’t brushing right after.  So my hygienist scraped and scraped and SCRAPED OUCH and I started brushing my teeth midday and things were OK for awhile.  But I moved my smoothie back to breakfast and stopped that midday brushing and things have gone a bit grey again.  So I guess either it is our well water or I really need that 3rd cleaning to keep stains at bay.  I don’t really care if my teeth are white as pearls (which, um, they are whiter than some pearls I’ve seen so…?) but there are a few spots that noticeably stain to the point you might be distracted by it when talking to me up close.
  2. Become a vegetarian and lean more towards vegan.  I’ve been a vegetarian before, and never ate a ton of meat anyway, but it definitely has been a staple in our lives since Tom and I met.  In the past I’ve thought that moving away from meat, at least chicken, would be bad for me because I tend to not feel good if I don’t eat A LOT of protein and I have concerns about eating soy.  But the reality is I haven’t felt great for over a year now anyway – soy free – so why not give it a try?  It’s been over two weeks since I made the switch and so far so good.  (Although I still haven’t eaten much soy.)
  3. Use my Bullet Journal consistently and effectively and messily.  By “consistently” I mean, “Take some time at least every morning and evening to update to-dos, calendars, and other lists.”  A Bullet Journal is very helpful for me when I use it.  When I slip away from daily use it is not because I’m using something else – it’s because I feel too busy to take the time to write stuff down.  Which is exactly the time I need to use it the most.  “Effectively” and “Messily” actually go together although I know that doesn’t make sense.  By “effectively” I mean that I need to tailor lists and pages to suit me better.  And by “messily” I mean that if to use it effectively I need to change format half way through a book, I should do that.  I also mean that I should have more fun with writing and doodling in general in my Bullet Journal and fight the urge to keep it some pristine, regimented style.  It is a place for my thoughts, and they are definitely not either.
  4. Go for a Hike.  Capitalized to emphasize a long hike.  Ideally, I will take 3 weeks and hike the Superior Hiking Trail.  I have been pseudo planing this for some time now and my job is aware and supportive of the idea.  But there are a lot of possible obstacles so I won’t beat myself up if this doesn’t happen AND I will also hold myself accountable to find some other, shorter but still multi-day, trip.  HIKING MUST HAPPEN.
  5. Care less about who reads here.  I wrote two posts recently that I marked “private” and can only be seen by me.  While I do think one of them should remain that way out of courtesy to someone else (my ex-husband), the other is private because my family, close friends, and in-laws have become semi-regularly readers since we blogged our Appalachian Trail hike in 2013.  I LIKE that they read (hello people who know me in real life!), but I DON’T LIKE how my readership has censored me to the point that when I wish to complain that my husband is being an asshole (it happens, people) I end up spending 4/5 of the post trying to explain 1) I know he’s not an asshole all the time 2) this doesn’t mean anything significant in our marriage – we’re not divorcing or In Trouble 3) I’m aware I can be an asshole to at times.  While all 3 of those concepts may be true, they detract from the purpose of the post – MY HUSBAND IS BEING AN ASSHOLE AND I MUST COMPLAIN MIGHTILY THIS IS WHY THE INTERWEBS WERE CREATED.  (I will also take an ironic moment here to point out my husband is not – currently – being an asshole.  He’s actually at home getting chores done and later on today we have plans for our first(!!) movie at a real theater in years.  He also wasn’t an asshole yesterday.  BUT THE DAY BEFORE THAT MAYBE AND I DON’T CARE HOW MANY WEIRD FAMILY TEXTS THIS SHOCKING REVELATION CAUSES.)
  6. Use caps lock less.


Some More Things

  1. No, I don’t know when I’ll feel like I have the time and inspiration to write something other than a list.
  2. We needed a huge shopping this week and I mustered up the fortitude to go to THREE stores to get the best deals/favorite brands (or favorite generics).  And I STILL decided to buy a few of the wrong things at the wrong store for the best price.
  3. Those things I purchased incorrectly are things that a) we don’t need often and b) I feel angry about the need for them AT ALL.  For example, one was special laundry detergent for hand washing my delicates.  I opted to not buy it at store #2 because CERTAINLY IT SHOULD NOT COST THAT MUCH.  But alas, it was $1.00 more at store #3.  Then I considered whether I could just use regular detergent (no, because we keep it at the shop since we do regular laundry at the laundromat in town and if I bring it home we’ll forget to bring it back) or just use hand soap (no, because we like foaming hand soap which is ALSO EXPENSIVE and maybe we should just get regular hand soap except that I never feel like I can rinse my hands soap-less in our well water so I’d probably just stop washing my hands) or just use dish soap (no, because for the same reason we use EXPENSIVE foaming hand soap we use EXPENSIVE specific-name-brand-specific-extra-power-style dish soap to clean our dishes in well water) so I bought the BIGGER, MORE EXPENSIVE special laundry detergent so at least cost per ounce went down and now that I’ve written this all out I think using our dish soap would have been fine.
  4.  I also still have things on my shopping list because we did not absolutely need them and I was trying to save (or space out spending) money.  But now I wish I had bought them and never had to shop again.  Ever.
  5. Another reason for a huge shopping list is that Tom is leaving on Wednesday to spend Christmas with his family.  I think I’ve mentioned that before?  But maybe not.  At any rate, I will not go into my office job from Wednesday through next Tuesday (although I will work for them remotely) and keep our shop open.  Since no one will be around to help with other chores, I tried to plan out meals and shopping through next Wednesday.  We’ll see how well I did and if I can find time to get everything cooked.
  6. I am not sad to spend Christmas by myself.  I am happy it means Tom gets a vacation and to see his family.  I have a special meal of all vegetarian appetizers planned and a book a friend sent me that will come down off my “to be read” shelf.  I will probably buy a little wine even though that means going back to a grocery store.
  7. I held off on buying wine because right before Thanksgiving I bought enough (6) bottles to get a huge ($18) rebate.  There is a similar rebate for a similar amount of bottles available right now (different brand), but I was really hoping to actually get the rebate check in the mail first so that it could cancel out some of the up-front cost of this next purchase.  But time is ticking and my “emergency” whiskey got used when I found a small skin infection (AGAIN?!) yesterday during my shower.
  8. To end on a positive note: a) the infection looked MUCH BETTER this morning and I’m 99% sure I won’t need an oral antibiotic or to curtail my exercise routine b) the emergency whiskey tasted awesome.

Some Things

  1. The nice thing about starting a more hectic schedule at this time of year is that you know IT WILL GET BETTER.  Of course it will get better because ALL (most?) schedule changes get better.  You adjust.  You tweak.  You compromise.   But having a schedule change occur during the darkest part of the year means that while it is awful right now, there is (literally!) light at the end of the tunnel and in a few months one of the tweaks you make is to not fall asleep at 6pm.
  2. Getting on a different schedule with less free time means all of a sudden I feel compelled to fit ALL THE THINGS into that free time.  I seriously do not think I have meditated or done yoga in 3 months and while it is a worthy endeavor to find time and space, it is NOT a worthy endeavor to beat myself up over it.  Also, since I DO want to fall asleep at 6pm these days, I’m basically trying to cram a bunch of self-improvement stuff into the 5am – 8:30am time slot which includes an hour wait time between taking my thyroid meds and when I’m allowed to drink coffee.  Insane.
  3. One thing I HAVE been religious about since the roads got icy and the sun went away is using my elliptical in the morning.  I find it very boring, but a month or so ago I finally broke down and got an iPhone 6 which is just a big enough screen to watch romantic comedies on.  That makes it bearable and sometimes I can trick myself into working out a little longer if I get to a good part.
  4. Although if time and weather cooperate on the weekends, I still prefer a walk outdoors.  After a few weeks of icy temperatures, things have warmed up here and there is pretty much no snow on the ground and today it rained.  RAINED.  I love it of course but it is weird and also making me anxious.  Like I’m waiting for the other, ice-storm-power-out-for-days, boot to drop.

Some things that are Unfair

**The exact activity (walking) best suited to make me healthier (weigh less) directly results in illness (skin rashes and infections) which are compounded by my weighing more (skin folds, chub rub, etc).

**I have given up on the idea that I can get 8 hours of sleep.  Per my FitBit, I average around 5 1/2 to 6.  And that’s fine, as long as I am not exhausted at 5:19pm.  Dear Body, if you won’t sleep more, please require less sleep.

**Getting pissy attitude from someone because you are better at something than they are.  (Than they?  You can be assured no one is pissy over my grammar.)  I did not actively attempt to make you suck more/pay less attention/ignore a step in the process.  Basically, don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

**Not having a live-in maid or chef.  Named Hernando.


I have an ex-sensei who uses BOOM! at the end of inspiration Facebook posts and that title is dedicated to him.

(Is a sensei ever really an “ex” in someone’s life?  I mean, the year was 199X the last time I stepped on a mat in a green belt.  You would definitely not say he’s been in my life in any official instructor capacity for a long, long, long (I turned 40), long time.  Yet if he told me to drop and give him 20 I would probably bow then hit the floor.  And “old” sensei is evidently redundant which you’d know if you went to Google to make sure you spelled it correctly.  I bet I should drop and give him 20 for admitting that.)

I have not been writing because I have not wanted to write.  My energies are focused elsewhere these days.  It is first time in a long while that this has happened and I haven’t felt a nagging sensation every time I see the date stamp of my last post.  I’m definitely not giving up blogging, but I am just as definitely not giving up the feeling of freedom from having to blog.

What I’ve been doing while Not Blogging:

1) Turning 40.  Anti-climatic.

2) Walking more.  Our daily temps are eeking in the 40s here in northern Wisconsin.  There is still a lot of snow piled here and there so I have not tried going out on trails but walking the roads quite a bit, preparing.

3) Said Goodbye to Brandi.  This isn’t quite public knowledge yet as you want to be cautious when placing a special-needs dog in a home.  So she is on an extended trial run for now.  But it seems to be a good match.  Unless the new mom finds taking care of her too physically demanding I believe she won’t be back.  I will miss her more than some fosters, but less than others.  Our home was not ideal for her so it is easy knowing she is in a place better suited to her needs.

4) Working more at The Hiker Box.  April is supposedly the slowest month in this area.  For retail, for restaurants, for hotels, for ANYTHING.  But our spring gear starts to arrive this month.  And we just signed on for a much bigger advertising campaign than we used last year.  So it is time for us to buckle down and work on all those “next year” projects we thought of while fumbling through our first year open.

5) Vegging.  More reading.  More TV.  Crossing things off the list and then sitting down instead of writing down more things.  Strangely I seem just as or even more productive than usual.  I get more done during the “day” but after a certain hour I give myself permission to “turn off”.

Well, this has been bland and filled with more quotation marks than I’d prefer, but instead of deleting it I will hit “Publish” (ack!  MORE QUOTES) so this space has something new for now.  Happy Easter!  BOOM!

Typing It In

So I missed yesterday…just didn’t have anything to say.  Today I started on a “real” post and hoped to get it done but I need pictures which I can’t take in the dark.

“Jessica,” you say, “I do not see a huge improvement in your photography when it is light.”  And you are correct.  But it is the ONE THING besides taking a lens cap off I know about photography.  Plus, I wish to photograph ugly and I think we agree given enough light even I can capture that.

Here I am phoning it in, so to speak, until I have proper time and attention and lighting to do otherwise.

So what happened yesterday?

I showed up a cable technician on assigning static IP.  Slightly sweet because hello, tech skillz, I haz them.  Slightly sour because our hardware/firmware were (are) still causing issues.  I will be very happy when I stop lugging my laptop around.

Tanya at the farmer’s market said she’d had enough greens to bring in two bags this week and in another few weeks will have enough to save me some.  GREENS.  There is a dim light (all the better for me to photograph with!) at the end of this wintry tunnel.

I sent the email basically firing my old property manager for the condo.  That felt good.  We are resigned to the fact that cutting ties with him probably means no hope of pursuing further payment from the delinquent ex-tenant.  We will chalk that up to an expensive lesson and we definitely know better what to ask for and expect this next time around.

I hurried to post an unwanted book on so that it would be requested ASAP.  By the time I got to work, it was. I mailed it right away using PBS to print my postage which meant I received 1 free swap credit instantly under their new swapping policies. Then I was able to request a book from my wishlist that I was notified of availability roughly 2 hours prior without having to pay a swapping fee.  This whole process made me extremely happy.  You’d think I’d hacked into a bank and arranged for fractions of pennies to be deposited into my account.

Today?  Today I lugged my laptop to work.

Tomorrow is Friday.  Can I get an Amen?

I Sense A Disturbance In The Force…Oh Wait, That’s The Cat

Right now, I am…

Seeing: The pages of Valley of the Dolls.  I love the writing style and really enjoyed how it started.  Over part way through and I’m invested, but feel the crispness of the story has left.  (Yes, I’m aware this is a movie.  No, I don’t know how it ends.)

Hearing: For now, silence!  A snow shoe event flip-flopped our weekend schedule and I am at home today.  Some chores are done, some have been moved to later in the week (see Smelling).  Once my phone has synced/updated and I have hit “Publish” here, I will probably read some more and then maybe start hearing Season 3 of TrueBlood.

Smelling: Nothing.  Blood?  Neosporin?  I had a small nosebleed on Friday (after a nose blowing) and it came back today a little stronger.  I’m 99 percent sure this is just due to physical aggravation – preliminary blood work didn’t show anything abnormal.  But I definitely need to see the doctor for something.  A different anti-histamine?  A prescription salve?  SOMETHING.  Because if it is aggravated, it is also aggravating.  I am putting off exercise time and more strenuous chores until I’m sure I can bend over without a fountain going off.

Tasting: Jam and cheese together.  I have never understood this combination (or the similar “fruit and cheese plate”).  Then I made a batch of low-sugar orange-rhubarb jam this fall.  It is tart and sweet and pulpy and everything I ever wanted in a jam.  And it goes amazing with cheese.  I ate a half-pint in a little over a week.  I may have to hide the rest.  Or buy some more rhubarb, oranges, and pectin.

Feeling: HOT HOT HOT.  My feet have the rough, callused skin of a hiker every season.  But in the winter they itch to the point it keeps me up at night.  A good soak in hot water with vinegar, Listerine, and a natural Epsom salt/mineral old concoction really helps.  Since we use hot water as our main heating element, the heater is kept at about 145 degrees.  I’m using this blog time for it to cool to the point I can stand it.

Currently – A Pro/Con List

Currently, I am:

1) making use of my father’s Seltzer bottle to concoct non-alcoholic evening beverages.  Pretty much the only things besides alcohol I imbibe are coffee, water, and green smoothies.  I don’t drink coffee after my morning cups (sleep problems), I limit my green smoothies to one a day for several reasons (cost, calories), and while I don’t mind solely drinking water (I have, at times, had a 7-9 liter habit), it seemed like a nice treat to make myself some special drinks while abstaining from the hard stuff.  I found a reasonably priced bottle of pure cherry juice and mixed that with homemade seltzer.  Pros: tasty, not soda, and not too caloric.  Cons: I’m not used to drinking anything fizzy anymore and my body lets me (and anyone near me) know.

2) Stressing over a financial and logistical problem regarding the condo I still own in Florida.  We have not had a good experience with renting so far, but the current tenant’s lease is up in a few weeks.  Pros: We can start over.  Cons: It’s going to involve confrontation, we don’t know for sure when the tenant will be out, and we’re very much at the mercy of everyone else involved since they are in FL and we are not.

3) Starting a new exercise routine.  It’s actually an old routine, with new additions.  Betty Rocker completely revamped the 90-day challenge workouts from the package I purchased this summer.  Now each week has two workouts (plus a bonus).  Pros: new workouts, switching things up each time so I don’t get bored. Cons: I have the winter lazies and just don’t wanna.*

4) Getting Brandi used to her wheelchair.  After an initial excitement, it got very cold here and we insisted she wear dog-booties everywhere.  The combination of lack of grip and strangeness meant she started to view the cart with dread.  Luckily it warmed up.  Our road gets sanded instead of salted so we feel comfortable with her going bare-pawed for a walk.  For now we are on a routine of every-other-day morning wheelchair walk.  Pros:  She’s getting stronger and she’s learning to use the bathroom while carted (a major pro as her scooting method can leave her sometimes not-so-fresh).  Cons:  Not a one.


*This has been the hardest thing about moving to Wisconsin for me.  I am one of those annoying tackle-everything-in-the-New-Year people.  Something about January 1st puts a giddy-up in my step.  But between the cold and the lack of daylight, Wisconsin turns that into more of a saunter.  Over to the couch.  Where I will binge-watch either Glades or TruBlood.


Six Things Sunday

1)  I finally was able to the major installation of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol at two sites that has been hanging over my head at my part-time job since November.  Major problems with transferring the numbers dragged on and on.  Then all of a sudden the transfers were approved and I had 16 hours to get everything in place.  There are still tweaks and questions (one location is closed for winter so that will be outstanding until we see it in full use) but it went smoother than I imagined.

2) I did not make any true resolutions for 2015, but I did decide to abstain from alcohol until my 40th birthday on March 21st.  Mini breaks from booze have been a common theme in my life whenever I feel more unhealthy than healthy.  So far I haven’t any great improvement sans wine and whiskey.  But I also know I might have fought the stress over the VoIP project with a little nip of something had I allowed myself, and that in turn could have made me worse of the day of the project.  I guess what I’m saying is that I recognize the benefits for now may be in how I’m not hurting my health further.

3)  It is the slow time of year in Eagle River.  But since The Hiker Box did not open until April in 2014, we have no experience in HOW slow it will be.  It’s nerve-wracking.

4) In general this is going to be a difficult year financially and I was thinking yesterday about how worrying about finances tends to keep me from writing.  For one, it takes up space in my brain that could normally be used for creative thinking.  For another, everyone’s concept of “difficult year financially” is different.  If I write about my concerns, I feel like I spend half the time explaining that we’re really not that bad off.  Which is true, but it doesn’t comfort me or correct the immediate problem of paying an extremely large bill.  (We do not have an extremely large bill right now.  That was an example.  And this is an example of how I am compelled to mitigate any negative things written here, even theoretical ones.)

5)  I have been participating in The Subtraction Project for January and I love it.  We moved here with basically 4 households merged into one:  1) My & Tom’s stuff 2) Stuff I took from my childhood home 3) Stuff I took from my grandmother’s apartment and 4) All the stuff already at the cabin.  Tom and I are both hoarders in the “Frugal-Recycle-That-Item-Is-Still-Useful” kind of way.  I am finding I really have to go back again and again over areas every few months.  Lots of things might have sentimental value but as time goes on I realize there is something similar and more meaningful already in place and the other item can go.

6)  With some of these things, I’ve been posting on Facebook and asking people if they would like the items.  It does not get things out of the house quickly nor is it exactly financially prudent, but it does give me an immense sense of sanctification when I can pair a once-loved kilt with a child who would love to wear it still.