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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.

BOOM!

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…

Non-Toxic

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.

Progress Operation March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But for now, forward March!

Such a Pretty Ugly

Don’t get me wrong; I love living here. I love living here year-round and appreciate all the modifications necessary for a warm winter. But that doesn’t mean I see it all through rose-colored glasses.

And the truth is, it gets ugly around here in winter. Here is what it is like in an 1909 summer cabin in a winter with regular lows around negative fifteen:

For one, we have this pink Styrofoam insulation up along several of the walls. There is no way for us to put insulation inside the walls themselves without extensive work (drilling holes & adding foam insulation is not an option without further knowledge of the wiring).

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I don’t really mind the pink panels. I do think they are ugly, but for the most part I optically tune them out. The biggest pain is the physical space they take up. It’s only an inch or so here and there but on our front porch, where it is narrow and we need it the most, it adds up.

The front porch in general gets the brunt of ugly in the winter, which is a shame because it is the room with the best views and the most views. Looking out at Meta Lake, the porch is walled on three sides by huge windows. Even with the pink panels and the vinyl/shrink wrap over the glass, it’s too cold to stay out here to enjoy the view. The front porch is also the default area to store items that may be kept outside at other times of the year. It used to be, back when this was a “summer” cabin, that EVERYTHING got stored here. You couldn’t move around until you started hauling things out. Now we try and store much of the outdoor furniture under the house.

Besides the panels, the other all-around home ugliness is the vinyl or plastic over all the windows. We have a hard time getting the sticky-tape that comes with conventional window plastic kits to stick over the length of our windows and for the duration of winter. So instead Tom buys bulk vinyl and/or window plastic (depending on sales, availability, etc.) and tacks it up with wood lathing and penny nails. On the porch windows that do not have storm windows, he hangs vinyl on the outside as well. Very ugly. But very effective.

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The hope is that with the vinyl…and maybe some of the thicker plastic?…we can take it down carefully and reuse it next year. Last year I spent a few hours pounding penny nails out of wood lathing so those could be salvaged.

I would love to not have to put up the plastic and I hate the idea of putting nail holes in the house year after year. But the alternative is to re-do all the porch windows. Too expensive even at it’s cheapest for us right now.

Another necessity, for another year or so at least, is this cement board smack dab in the middle of our living room. The original hearth is technically illegal for even the fireplace itself, let alone the cast iron stove that protrudes almost a foot. We will, in time, cut part of the floor away and inlay a decorative piece of metal for a permanent solution. But the fireplace will be in jeopardy whenever the house is lifted for the basement addition. So until we know the final outcome, the cement board stays. We have wanted exactly zero inside fires during the summer so at least we get a seasonal reprieve from this eyesore and foot hazard when it can be stored away.

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While not exactly ugly, the “staging” area for our wood pile is not pretty either. It’s also a space hog. Again on a narrow porch, the back porch this time, we put down one of those shallow tubs a washing machine rests in. When wood is dragged over from the wood pile (we use a small sled and often then pull the sled up into the house), wood gets stacked here first for snow to melt away.

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Very few of these uglies will be rectified by a basement addition.  That would be like a tummy tuck fixing your drooping eye lids.  There is the hope that the additional heat insulation a basement provides would mean not everything pictured here is 100% necessary for winter survival.  But I’m not holding my breath.

When these ugly ducklings make their appearance in fall, I am dismayed but also a little excited.  It is a sign of change and a thrill to batten down the hatches.  It is us against the elements and we will win!

But now, five months later, I am tired of them.  I wish for different changes.

Remind of that when my car gets stuck in the spring mud pit that is our driveway.

My Own Boredom

It’s Sunday which means I’m at The Hiker Box, “working”.  And if ever there were a time for quotation marks around the word working, it is February in northern Wisconsin at an outdoor gear retailer at 4:35 pm on a Sunday.

Low is neg twenty tonight.  High was neg three.  There were a few people out, but they meant business.  Drove to shop A, purchased needed items at shop A, drove away.  We had three sets of people come in the entire day.  Only one who purchased something.

I’m not complaining and I’m not really stressed about the situation either.  Because hey, we had a sale!  That’s all we need to keep it from being a zero day.  Come April, when we will have been open an entire year, we can start the comparison worrying.  For now, I will take what we can get.

It is quite boring to sit in a shop by yourself all day.  If this were just a job, I’d go insane.  But it’s not.  It’s my own business.  The boredom is comforting and indulgent.  I do not think of the million things I could be getting done at home the way I might in a lull at another work place.

Of course there are a million things to be done here.  And I do some of them, every Sunday.  I chip away that long list of ideas and research and grunt work necessary to build a business.

But then I might watch a movie.  (Last week it was “Mile….Mile and A Half”  And yes, I want to now run off and hike the John Muir Trail.)   Or read a book.  Or prepare for the rest of the week mentally so that I am in a better position to spend more time here knocking out more work in the afternoons versus feeling like I defended my thesis all morning and now wish to lie down for a month or two.

Since I work another job during the week, Sundays are my day to feel like I actually own a business.  I get to open the door and flip the sign.

Even when we’re busier, it has it’s boring moments – QuickBooks, anyone? – but right now with the lull after the holidays and before the spring/summer season, the boredom allows me time to reflect on this crazy choice we made.  I appreciate that.

Although I would appreciate a second sale too.