Weather To Be Wary

I am in one of those FitBit weekday competitions so I am trying to not sit still period this week.  That, plus hosting commitments (SOMEONE has to introduce Mom to Boardwalk Empire), have kept me from writing much.

I will save general “I got a FitBit” details for another post (I have it already started!  Twice!) but for those that don’t know – a FitBit is an activity device, specifically one to measure the steps you take in a day.  And if you have friends through their software, you can compete against each other.  I have some that have been competing weekly.

This was all well and good a few weeks ago when some people were new and still gearing up.  I got first place twice without even trying.  Then I skipped last week because I felt like it would be “cheating” what with our 42-mile hike.

I should not have skipped.

All of a sudden people are pulling crazy numbers.  And some are friends-of-friends whose personal life I know nothing about but I’m thinking NONE OF THEM have two jobs, one which requires me to sit at a desk.  (Maybe I shouldn’t ask for a raise this year, but a treadmill desk instead?)  I am now just roaming rooms in circles and pacing like crazy in some hope of generating enough steps that the tracker can keep me on the same graph as them without resorting to using exponential tick marks.

And the weather is not cooperating.

Yesterday it was rain.  A misty, delicate rain most of the day.  Then we needed to go to the post office, three blocks away, and I volunteered to dash out.  The rain will make me go faster!

Not only did it choose black 1.5 to have a downpour, but the wind picked up with a vengeance.  I was soaked and had to pretty much go straight home to change.

Today, it is snow.  Specifically, a snow as hard and windy as yesterday’s rain that hit me on my morning walk and I wondered for a few minutes if I’d get to see anything in front of me until I got back inside.

Now it’s snowing worse and I’m stuck doing laps at the shop.  I’m beginning to wish I had looked for a used treadmill instead of an elliptical machine.  I loved the elliptical machine at my old gym because I could do High Intensity Interval Training while saving my knees.  But it is HARD to get the FitBit to count steps on the elliptical.  Even though I sweat more during the workout, I’ll log about 1/3 less steps than if I’d just hoofed it down the road for the same amount of time.

So when I get hit by snow plow this winter, and they finally uncover my body in the thaw, please remember to sync my FitBit one last time.

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.


What Goes Down Must Come Up

I’ve had a touchy stomach the past few days.  It’s very odd because I usually do not succumb to ailments below the throat.  (Internal ailments that is.  Ankles and knees, I am not speaking about you.)

My cast-iron status quo is somewhat confounding if you knew how much IBS and other digestion-related diseases run in my family.  It is less confounding if you knew how my father melded exotic foods with a laissez-faire attitude towards expiration dates and food spoilage.

Even when things do get on an uneven keel below the neck, I tend to roll the punches pretty well.  So I was surprised yesterday morning by how persistent a stomachache I had.  I drank water, ate a little food, and went to the bathroom.  I had done my part, but my stomach refused to stop complaining.

I figured it was a combination of stress (we have left much trip planning for this hike to the last minute) and non-sleep.  I muddled through the rest of the day, did indeed feel dead tired by 6:15pm, and went to bed at 7:30pm.  For a while it seemed my stomach might keep me up, protesting the blandest of dinners (roast chicken), but things settled down and I felt very refreshed this morning.

I was still careful about my coffee and breakfast.  But returning from my usual morning walk without any unusual morning twinges, I decided I was still hungry and made myself my usual breakfast green smoothie.

And promptly threw up a small amount of it.

That was, while unpleasant, educational.  Because it was very evident that what my body was trying to expel was not the smoothie, but gobs and gobs of phlegm/snot that had made it to my tummy.

Evidently my sinus issues, which I have SO frequently I barely notice until I can’t breath or have an elephant sitting on my right eye, are a little worse than I realized.  And my just-to-combat-the-dry-air nettie pot session first thing in the morning helped move things along.

While it’s not fun to feel under the weather before planning a rugged and athletic vacation, at least I know I will be getting plenty of fresh air in the next few days.  And not be making green smoothies.  That trend may continue a few days more.  Because as much as I have come to love the taste of pureed spinach, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, and even kale on its way down, the taste on the way back up leaves a lot to be desired.

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.)


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.

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.

November the First

Yesterday I drove the new kittens to the shelter, so now they are also the old kittens.  Just the newer old kittens.

Baby, the last holdout from our older old litter of kittens, had been adopted.  Tom figured this out by the fact that when he came home Baby was not running around our house.  She had been at the shelter a week or so ago when I dropped in for some vitamin supplement for the newer kittens.  All by her lonesome.  It took a lot for me to not snatch her up then.  If the newer (now also old) kittens were not so ill, I might have done so.

But the plan is to have Spike, Celeste, and Pixie be our last permanent felines for quite a while.

This last kitten litter (the newer old ones) were cute and fun and needy, but none of them tugged at my heart quite the way Baby did.  So it was easy to load them up and send them on their way.

I then came home and did a lot of random puttering about the house.  At one point I was on the computer.  Spike jumped in my lap and drooled on me for a good 10 minutes.  I believe that was my reward for chasing the annoying little shits out of the house.  Then in the evening, both Celeste and Pixie insisted on sleeping in the bed.

Right after Celeste puked on the sofa.

(We are too rural for trick-or-treaters, and it rained all day so the downtown Halloween event  was a bust.  There is a ton of candy left at the shop and I’m seriously considering just throwing it out in the most wasteful spectacle of the year.  So.  Much.  Sugar.  Luckily I also brought chips and guacamole for lunch so I’ve got a balanced meal today.)