A lot of question marks just to eat some Brie

Did you watch Hannah Hart’s latest My Drunk Kitchen?  Baked Brie?  In her series of Over Achieving Under A Budget for college kids?

And did you then say to yourself, “Self, you are 40 years-old and stopped eating wop-wop* biscuits/rolls over two decades ago?  And you have been trying to create a shape for your body that looks less, not more, like a wheel of Brie?”

Or did you run to the grocery store and pre-heat the oven?








I don’t even LIKE BRIE.  That much.

**Seriously, I have not opened a “can” of pre-made crescent rolls in forever and figuring out how to get that wonderful artificially flavored dough out of its packaging was the hardest part of this calorie-laden recipe.

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!

Kitten Palooza. I’m sure that title’s not overdone in the least.

We haven’t had a foster dog since Brandi, the cart German Shepard, left in early spring. The reasons are various including trips, our crazy schedule, and spending a lot of time and resources on another secret dog project.

I do not mean to be secretive about the project any longer, but the point of this post is foster kittens. Even my best attempt at briefly describing the dog project was multiple paragraphs. So for now, I shall leave you wanting more.

A few weeks ago we decided to resume contact with the shelter and ask about fostering. For once, there wasn’t an overload. And being in a such a rural area, they prefer to have as many adoptable dogs at the shelter itself for potential new families.

But after a week went by, we got a call. The shelter was still OK, but a shelter in an adjacent county was full up with kitten season. Could we foster cats?

Mamma Jane and her six kittens came to us that same day.


The kittens were four weeks old then, and two of them very sick. Mamma Jane herself went through some illness with us too where we were syringe feeding her, cleaning up vomit, and checking the litter box with growing concern. Luckily, we have experience in the cat-won’t-poop department. A little medication, a little time and trust, and she pulled through.

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The two sick kittens are doing much better as well. The smallest, Baby, had an abscess on her leg that had been drained and she wasn’t walking when she arrived. She is still the smallest and slowest. I weigh her every night and if she hasn’t gained I will syringe feed her some formula. But her appetite, energy, and playfulness have all increased dramatically. She is the one we were worried wouldn’t make it. We’re less worried now.


The other sick kitten, Stumpy (I am trying to get in the habit of calling him Cole Jr because no one wants to adopt a cat named Stumpy), had a hind foot removed. Both Stumpy’s and Baby’s injuries were a result of all the kittens (seven at birth) being on the same umbilical cord. I’m not familiar with cat births (or human births for that matter – thank goodness!) but I guess this is rare and complicates the birth. Stumpy not only had to have his stump heal but he had contracted pneumonia. That has completely cleared up now. While all the kittens needed formula-feedings via syringe when they arrived, now only Baby and Stumpy receive them to make sure they stay on track.

Grey is the last of the “runts”. Nothing is wrong with him, he’s just smaller. Well, smaller and maybe dumber. He always has a dumb look on his face at least. He’s definitely beefing up though. Grey is a big fan of the Louis C.K. “Bang-Bang”. Grey will come out to one restaurant (a plate of formula), eat, then walk around the corner (to the bedroom) to another restaurant (wet food plate), and eat an entire second meal.

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We’ve named the last three kittens WRK (for World’s Roughest Kitten), Boots (very imaginative), and Gandalf (for a grey beard on her chin that Boots is missing). All of them are fat, fast, rough and girls. Our biggest challenge with them is socializing them with humans – allowing for pets and lap sitting.

As you might imagine, our permanent feline crew is not happy about this. That is acerbated by the fact that Mamma Jane wants to kill them. The fosters are in a spare bedroom where we’ve installed a hook catch on the outside to make sure the door can’t be opened if not shut well (this is an old door on the original cabin).

But we can’t chance just trying to open the door quickly and slip in. If Jane gets a shot, there will be fur and claws and blood flying before we can blink. So in order to handle the fosters, we have to lock our crew up in the 3rd bedroom/study area (the “new” 1979 addition to the cabin with thankfully a better door handle). While they prefer this to getting the shit beat out of them, they resent giving up their house and toys. Celeste, Pixie, and Spike have all taken to slinking away from us if we make motions towards the study.

But overall they haven’t acted out. No bathroom activities outside the litter box (that we’ve found yet). No hunger strikes. No silent treatment. They still treat us like the food-doling-chin-scratching humans they always have, with a tolerant annoyance to the fact we feel other animals besides them deserve to be rescued too.

In a few days, we will start bringing a few kittens to the shop. I was initially wary of this; worried their immune systems weren’t up to such a public and social setting. But the shelter is full and think it would be wonderful if we can pimp them for adoption.

And no. We’re not keeping them. Any of them.

Celeste thinks it would be awesome if Pixie and Spike were adopted too.

Apologies for the photo-placement weirdness.  Between new computer, new browser, new App, and not-Interneting in forever, this is the best I could do.image

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.


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!

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!

Wrong Jessica

I get a lot of wrong email for other Jessicas at one of my Gmail accounts.

Sometimes, especially from professional work places, I reply and let them know they reached the wrong Jessica.

Sometimes I just delete.  I’ve found with personal emails, it’s almost impossible to get someone to delete a contact.  My address auto-fills or someone hits reply-all and no matter how many times I request omission, I know about Aunt Mary’s hospital stay and the 8th grade hockey trip fundraising.

Starting last night, I have been receiving emails from a lover of another Jessica.  She is maybe cheating on her husband with whom she also works?  The lover wanted to visit her at work and asked if “dumb ass” was there.  The lover also has some sort of love interest/female companion besides Jessica.

I have neither replied nor deleted.  I am too intrigued to delete and the only replies I’ve constructed in my mind make digs at his grammar.

I have received 3 emails in less than 24-hours.  This is like a cross between electronic Burma shave advertising and a soap opera subscription.  Each time I learn a little more and get drawn in further.

So far I know he’s aware she did not receive his morning email but he doesn’t know why.  He doesn’t want her (the other one), he wants her (Jessica) and only her.  He calls her baby doll and he got a car tag so he can drive legally until the 14th when his insurance will lapse.

I don’t want to reply to him.  I want to reply to HER.

Dear Other Jessica,

You can do better.

Love, Jessica

What’s your take on this?  Am I going to hell for not giving this guy a heads up he can’t type an email address correctly?  Or am I within my rights to just ignore it?  I mean, as long as I don’t enjoy the drama TOO much of course…


At the beginning of February, I mentioned wanting to “detox” my system a little by going without my take-as-needed prescription pain medicines*.

I also abstained from any sort of over-the-counter drug for pain or sleep relief.

This went on for about 2 weeks.  I then developed a sharp pain in my right knee that was not part of the preexisting pains produced by my assorted parts.  I took my prescription anti-inflammatory that night and felt 6000 times better in the morning.

Since then I’ve taken medication sparingly compared to my old regimen.  But it feels pretty decadent after even that small window of abstinence.  I learned/deduced/randomly correlated a few things from this experiment.

1) I’m not in pain all the time.

For 15 years, my life has not been pain-free.  I may have good days, even weeks or months, but my body remembers the damage previously wrought and it won’t let me forget for long.

Going into this, I could not remember the last time I truly felt like I had a pain-free day.  And I’m not sure I’ve had one since.  However, during this experiment I became very aware of moments where I felt comfortable. And being aware of comfortable moments seems to lead me to more of them.

Instead of just anticipating that I would feel pain because I am someone in pain, I began to check in with myself and how I felt before and after activities.

This revelation and continuing the inward reflection is helping me return to exercise in a better way.  As someone who loves a good endorphin high, I have previously “pushed through pain” for a workout in part because I believed there would always be pain so I might as well go for it.

2) I don’t need drugs to feel better.

I’ve already written about my gratitude for hot water and the analgesic properties a shower provides me.  And while I cannot think of other specific tools I use to alleviate or eliminate pain, I would say in general I feel better by just the knowledge that I CAN feel better.

My caveat here is that my shoulder pain, while instigated by trauma, seems to be very muscle-orientated.  Stress, body position, environment, etc plays a bigger role in this pain than with others.  Some pain does require drugs.  It goes too deep and is too, well, painful, to be alleviated with a new chair or special pillow.

3) Drugs can be good for me.

Last month I also was smacked with the health issue of hypertension.  It is partially environment and partially hereditary and I have dipped in and out of the pool of hypertension medications three times so far.

I was heavily using my “as needed” pain medication going into the prognosis that my recent dip in the pool needed to wade a little deeper (my hypertension medication dosage was increased).  Part of my decision to take a break from my pain medications was to see if that had any affect on my blood pressure.

It did.  It seemed to make it worse.

So this is where I am taking a correlation and turning into a causation.  After upping my hypertension medication but still abstaining from pain medication, my blood pressure lowered to OK numbers.  Not great, still pre-hypertention, but good enough the Dr said we’d leave the dosage there and continue monitoring.

Then I had one or two bouts of really bad pain.  I went back to my pain medication for those.  And after those doses, my at-home readings (which were erring higher than the Dr’s) were absolutely perfect.

My hypothesis is that the stress of being in pain will slightly raise my blood pressure.  And by taking my drugs when needed, I am doing my heart – and the rest of me – a favor.

I am happy overall about this experiment.  I do think I had become somewhat resistant to the affects of the drugs.  The first few days I felt horrible pain and wonder if that was a partial withdrawal symptom.  I also managed to have a few nights of decent sleep in a row right at the end.  And have continued to have better-than-normal-for-me sleep.

The best result is that I feel more in control of my body and my pain management than I did before the experiment.

Obvious disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor.  I’m not suggesting that eliminating any medication from anyone’s routine is a good idea.  My doctor was aware I did this and did not object.

*My pain medications are a common muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory.  I’m not talking about messing around with Vicodin, Tramodol, or other narcotic substances.  Just in case you thought I was being rather cavalier about all this.