Thursday, By Appointment

In the beginning, we’d established Michigan Hot Sauce Club hours based on stock deliveries and peak times the mall was busiest. Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Thursday was the day devoted to store-keeping. Parked in the fire-engine red and glittered, padded vinyl office chair behind the display counter, Jeff would scan new items into the register. Then, price label the goods, and find appropriate alphabetical space for each.

Not long in, we determined Thursday wasn’t going to be a big sale day. We downgraded to Thursday afternoon. Pretty quickly, realizing weekday sales were still rare, we decided to advertise, “Friday, Saturday, and Thursday by Appointment.”

I’d put the fear in him that check-ins were required, twice a day, or I’d freak out. That came about in response to a few incidents. One, notably, the time a physical therapist showed up for a home visit, and it appeared Jeff wasn’t home. After ringing the doorbell, knocking on the front and side doors, and phoning him, she called me.

She’d already looked in the front window and the office window. I asked her to please go around the side and peer into the den window by his chair. Thankfully, she did, reporting that she had knocked on the window and he hadn’t moved.

I begged her to, please, knock harder – as hard as she could. I told her I didn’t care if the siding was damaged or if the windowpane cracked. She whomped a few heavy-handed hits. That did the trick. Jeff’d been deep-sleep reclining in just his underwear.

Later, told me how embarrassed he was. I was more concerned that he’d missed the doorbell, the knocking and the phone ringing. I told him that he’d given me a panic attack. From here out, I demanded he always have his phone on the loudest setting possible, and that he keep it with him, at all times.

“Even in the bathroom?” Jeff joked, good-naturedly, rolling his eyes when I answered with an emphatic, “Yes!” I, also suggested, he should always be wearing pants or shorts. At all times. Especially, when he had appointments.

Thursday, September 29, 2006.

I worriedly called Jeff on my break at work. It was almost 10:00 am, and I hadn’t heard from him, yet.

It took me two, long-ringing tries to get him on the phone. When he answered, I immediately asked him, “Where were you?” “Morning constitution!” he quipped.  He told me he wasn’t “feelin’ too great,” and asked if I thought it would be ok if he took the new stuff down to the store on Friday.

I didn’t see a problem with that. We hadn’t had a Thursday sale in quite some time, and Friday mornings weren’t setting our profits on fire, either.

Jeff did end up bringing the boxes down that day, after lunch. He said he’d just had to force himself to “get on the giddy-up.”

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Dog Gone, Repeat

It was more than a little bit my fault. I was going for the mail, when our mischievous little bit darted through the door on a Saturday afternoon. She silently slipped behind me, which was amazing, as she was an unusually heavy-footed pup. Stealth really wasn’t her style.

Sadie had slyly wedged herself against me as I  turned the door knob. I looked down at her adorable face and foolishly said, “Stay.” I don’t know why I thought that would work. Never had in the past.

She took it as an invitation to tag along. Sadie pushed through the slight crack, pranced down the drive, t turned a hard right without hesitation.

By the time I got to the street edge, she was out of my sight. I forcefully bellowed her name, hoping she’d hear me. It’s safe to assume most of the neighbors heard me, because Jeff showed up at the door.

Coming out of the house, he called down to me. “Why’re you calling her? Is she with you?”

I wailed the obvious. “No! She ran away!” Then, quickly requested, “You try calling her!”

Instead, Jeff did an about-face and headed back inside. “Let me get my shoes!” he tossed back-over his shoulder.

“Ugh! You don’t need shoes to shout!” I shouted, as the door closed behind him.

Left on my own, I started scouting for Sadie. Within seconds, I spotted her sneaky spots squeaking between two houses on the other side of the street. I headed that direction, only hesitating to glance toward the house when I heard the front door slam, again.

Jeff had wandered back outside, with a firm grip on his car keys and slippers on his feet.

Sadie heard the slam, too. She took off at a sprint, again, heading around the curved corner of our street.

“Argh! I think she’s just gone around the corner!” I informed my husband, assuming he was going to track her down by circling the neighborhood.

He didn’t. Instead, he just stood there next to our old beige Buick, repeatedly hitting the lock button. I surmised he was just having some sort of bumble trouble. But, I was wrong.

The car horn beep-blasts served as a Sadie beacon. She showed up panting and smiling. Just sat her cute little butt down by the driver’s door. Ready and waiting, eagerly watching Jeff.

“Whelp….’ Jeff tossed the keys from one palm to the other. “We need to go for a ride, now.”

“Um, no, we don’t.’ I countered. “Let’s not reward her for running away.”

“Oh, no.” Jeff shook his hands and head. “We’re not rewarding her for running away! We’re rewarding her for coming back!”

When it was obvious I wasn’t immediately following his train of thought, he clarified. “It’s happened before.”

Narrowing my scowl, I put my hands on my hips preparing to ask how it was that I didn’t know of this before, even though I knew the answer.

Before I could formulate an appropriate scorn, Jeff added an addendum.

“Besides,” he reasoned. “It’s a good day for an ice cream, anyway.”

I processed his Jeff-logic and realized the rub. Sadie knew what would happen if she wandered. Jeff knew what would happen if she wandered. That explained her carving a familiar path, and matched his lack of concern. They both waited patiently.

Of course, the ice-cream tricked worked on me, as well.  I laughed at them both, then headed inside to get my purse.

Those two were made for each other, and made for me, too.

Quote for the Week: 2019 04 02 a pleasurable punishment encourages repeat jakorte

 

 

 

Snapping Turtle Spots

In his mind, he’d committed a grievous crime showing unusual temper. Per usual for Jeff, though, he found a humorous way to apologize.

Despite what the cute card said, his reaction wasn’t “for no good reason,” and the real crime wasn’t losing his temper.

Before we’d reached this point, before disability, and a long while after the honeymoon backseat-bottle incident, I saw a notice for a free mouth and throat cancer screening. 

I signed Jeff up. I was thinking ‘scared straight’ and ‘this is how much I care’ combined.

I’d already given him facts and articles. I’d already cajoled and nagged. I’d already yelled and cried. I was hoping a doctor could get him to quit, and offer a way to help him do that.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go that way.

He resisted, of course.

I insisted, of course.

We drove to Ann Arbor for the weekend clinic appointment. I accompanied him into the exam. When the doctor asked Jeff why he thought he’d need a screening, Jeff pointed. “It was her idea.”

I explained the chew and the diabetes and what I knew from internet-research. The doctor concurred, and said we could certainly talk about ways to quit after the exam.

The exam was brief. I mean, very brief. He asked Jeff how long he’d had dark spots on his gums, under his tongue and inside his lower lip. Jeff said he had no idea. There were many of them, but two in particular were large and concerning.

So concerning, that the doctor immediately halted his examination. He rolled away and bluntly reported: “I’m 99.9 percent sure what I’m looking at here is mouth cancer. You’ll likely have throat cancer, as well.”

We were stunned. He went on to explain that the only question was what type, which would determine the degree of aggressiveness. 

Turning to pull some supplies, he announced, “We’re going to biopsy those.”

“Now?” Jeff asked, echoing the panicked look I was aiming his way.  The answer was a firm, curt, business-like, “Yes. Right now. Is there a reason why you don’t want to do it now?”

“Nnnooooo,” Jeff drew out his answer, shaking his head.

He was advised to immediately stop tobacco use, and we were given a return appointment in 2 weeks. At that time, we would know what type of cancer Jeff had, and would be able discuss treatment options.

The timeline, itself, was an urgency marker – a 2-week turn-around. High priority. 

I drove us to a nearby restaurant, parked, took a deep breath and turned to Jeff in tears.

“Aw, might not be anything…” he waved it off. I stared at him in disbelief. “Did you not hear him?”

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” Jeff tried to reason with me.  “99.9% sure!” I countered, crying out. “Jeff! What are we going to do?”

“No sense in worrying about it for two weeks, yet.” Jeff turned his head away and looked out the window.

“Not gonna change anything…” he softly shrugged.

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Pill Fill & Other Stuff

I’ve mentioned this before, but the Rx tackle box really was an amazing work of art.

Sunday afternoon was pill fill day. It’d take Jeff about an hour to prepare for the week. It was also the designated time to evaluate what was needed: reorder meds, restock OTC’s. When he was done, he’d make some sort of punny fish announcement.  “All set to go fishin!” “Now, I just gotta find a pond!” “I’m ready to fish for meds!”

Jeff took somewhere between 18-20 pills a day, and used a few ointments, as well. Without fail, every week, he’d need a refill/restock on something. Occasionally, Jeff would discover he only had a few days supply left, or that he’d miscalculated and was completely out.

There was always at least one trip a week to the pharmacy. If it worked out, timing wise, Saturday morning was preferred. It didn’t hurt that we had to be in Tecumseh to open the store, anyway. It absolutely didn’t hurt that the locally owned family pharmacy was a few short steps down from a locally owned family bakery.

If not, it didn’t bother him at all to have to pick up prescriptions more than once a week. Pretty much like all else, Jeff’s necessary errand always turned into social visits.

Later on, it bothered me, because a weekday collection would mean I’d want him to find a ride, He’d ignore that request and end up driving himself, which wasn’t ideal. Plus, a round trip to Tecumseh from Adrian in our old Buick ate up a lot gas.

By the end of summer 2016, after our last race trip, our outings were limited to stores with electric carts or very small spaces. Meijer had carts. Aldi was small. Both were very close to home at 2 miles away. Also close by: a butcher shop, three gas stations, a do-it-yourself home supply store and quite a few restaurants.

It was nice that all of that was relatively close, but it wasn’t foremost in our minds when we chose our home. Back then, we were both commuting to Ann Arbor, sharing the driving and necessarily passing through Jeff’s hometown five days a week.

Way before I ever met Jeff, he always preferred offering his local hometown support. When that was no longer a convenient option, Jeff felt badly. With exception of, perhaps, the pharmacy, I don’t think we were any Tecumseh business’ mainstay.

As our purchasing center shifted, Jeff made an effort to support the local Adrian butchers, farmer’s stands and non-chain restaurants. He’d very seriously discuss with anyone, anywhere, the economic benefits and the importance of “doing what’s right” to keep America’s small towns and farms “booming.” Small business Saturday was akin to a serious holiday for him.

There was an unofficial access road that ran between our community and the Museum of Walmart,. Which, meant I could send Jeff out for an errand in the middle of the day, and not have to worry about him driving on a real roads. He could get to Aldi that way, as well.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, also, that going to Walmart was never a fast trip. It was our Sunday, after church, after breakfast outing with a purpose. Jeff would happily go up and down every aisle, in every section, in a motorized scooter, just to see what was new. I always went where he went.

I know all of this information seems a bit random. It’s stuff you need to know, though, to understand the chain of coming events.

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Feet Firmly

It was supposed to be a New Year’s Day trek.

A plan for reviving and renewing and recommitting.

But, Sunday was a sunny day; way more interesting and way more convenient.

As usual, half the battle was getting ready to go out in the cold.

How cold is cold? How warm will I get? Light gloves? Heavy gloves?

Scarf? Hat? Leggings under jeans? Sweatshirt, sweater, long-sleeved tee?

Over-thinking is my specialty. I was still tying my footwear of choice when my fellow adventurer  arrived.

It’s always easier with two. Especially, when easily distracted by catch-up tales of Christmases. Hunting for fairy houses beneath the tropical foliage, discussing and longing for ways to economically and realistically grow tropicals here in Michigan.

It’s funny how quickly you can identify and obliterate your own ignorance. I’ve never wandered through a desert. The closest I’ve come might have been the short succulent aisle at a local garden shop. Or, maybe it was that time I asked someone to pull over so I could get a little closer to a real-live, dead armadillo in Plano, Texas. The green giants there were distant enough, but at least they were alive. I think.

Anyway, the point is, the cacti were stunning. In case you didn’t know, they’re not all green. They’re not all upstanding or towering, either. They’re gorgeous little symmetrical growths and odd-shaped tubular spikes. Subtly variegated, boldly striped or pin-painted with impeccably placed galaxies of dots.

Outside, crisp coldness was a welcome antidote to layered heat-retention. This had been my draw all along. A self-challenge to stop daydreaming about snow photography, and just do it. Stationary and kinetic sculptures, lightly dusted with snow, stood out and peeked out along dirt rows and paved paths. Photo-happy me, scuffled along discovering treasures. Which, is how it came about that we logged 3.5 miles. Slightly over our virtual 5K goal, but a sadly short 22 active minutes.

Lamenting that, I stalled. Standing there in my steel-toes, still caked with the mud of Katrina, this thought crossed my mind: Those were note-worthy years. Some years just aren’t. Obligations, expenses, losses get in the way. In times like these, self-focused isn’t necessarily a negative way to go.

Since its the end of the year, I’ll accept the insignificance and aspire elevation. The good news is the new one begins today. The better news is, new days are plentiful; each with new opportunities for future note-worthiness.

Quote for the Week:

2019 01 01 may our feet be firmly guided jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

In Any Season: Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Nothing but Good News: Good News Network . Org

Hope for the New Year: From the Bible From the Bible

 

 

 

Lasagna-nipulation

“Lasagna. It’s not ready, yet. So, wait a minute!” “Ooooh,” I cooed. “I love lasagna! Garlic bread, too?”

Jeff grabbed my hand. “Of course! Listen to this…”

“The bounce houses can be free. They said so, because it would be good advertising for them. Someone has a flat-bed trailer with a generator that we can borrow to put a band on.” 

“Would you be able to hear a band over a generator?” I asked.

“I imagine so,” Jeff replied. “He’s used it for parades and even Apple-umpkin, once.”

He went on. “We can use the tents for free, but we have to pay for the labor to set them up. I don’t think we can do that ourselves.” “No,” I agreed. “We definitely cannot do that ourselves.”

He just kept going like a linebacker sized Energizer bunny. “And the broadcast would be included as part of an advertising package to promote it!”

“You’ve already started this.” I stated.

“Yep.”

“And you’ve done all that?” I stared at Jeff.

“Yep,” he beamed. “Did it all today, and I’m going to ask for donations of salsa and sauce from our suppliers, since it’s a fund raiser, too!”

I was about to tell Jeff I still didn’t think we could afford all that, when the oven timer went off.

He let go of my hand, and chattered happily as he headed toward the oven. “You go change out of your work clothes. I’ll get dinner on the table.” 

I spent my changing time going over all of the known and unknown components of this oversized crazy venture.

Even while I was seeing dollar signs, I was thinking of Jeff’s exuberance. He’d checked the availability for a lot of things, and the best date was only a few weeks away? Could we pull something this large off in just about three weeks? “Well,” I reasoned with myself, “we did open the store in about three weeks…”

“You know,” I commented as I sat down to one of my favorite dinners. “We might be able to do something like that… just a lot smaller to start with.”

“We’ll see.” Jeff said.

“I guess we’ll have to sit down and make a list of questions and things that need to get done.” I countered.

“Ok,” he agreed. “Let’s eat!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 11 05 Food is an amusingly underestimated jakorte

 

Sauce-a Huh?

We had a store coach. A fellow BNI member, with tons of enthusiasm.  He and Jeff got together once a month to brain storm. Jeff would bring him our ideas, and our monthly advertising budget. How much we spent didn’t exactly have a direct correlation to how much we earned. Mostly, we spent more on inventory than marketing. Some months, we’d spend more on advertising and less on product.

Jeff was super excited when I got home from work that day. In the meeting they had dreamt big. Then bigger; then bigger, yet. As he talked, it became clear he wasn’t really thinking budget.

The idea we had agreed to investigate further was to invite as many local non-chain restauranteurs as possible to a salsa meet-and-greet. Of course, there’d be tastings. Hopefully, some bulk sales, too. Serving salsa wasn’t an issue, we were licensed for that having taken the Lenawee County Health Department’s Food Safety course.  

When Jeff mentioned a local wine-maker and declared we could give samples of that, too, I had to stop him. “Um,” I said. “We don’t have a permit for that.” “I’ll check that out,” Jeff made a note. “Maybe he could do the samples for his own stuff.”

“Anyway,” he continued. “That’s not all of it.” He shuffled some papers around. “Here’s what I think we should do.” The title of the hand-written (almost illegibly scribbled, truly) was Sauce-a-Palooza. “I’m not sure we can use the ‘palooza’ part.” I interjected. “Might be copyrighted.”

“Ok,” he waved his hands. “But, that’s not all of it.”

“All of it” entailed tents, tables for crafters or businesses, a homemade salsa contest, hot sauce eating contest, bounce houses, live music, a live radio broadcast, and 20 different kinds of salsa for a vote-for-your-favorite American Red Cross fundraiser.  Each salsa would have a mason jar next to it. Each vote was 25 cents, but folks could put as much as they wanted over that in, too. The salsa with the most money in their jar would be the winner.

“The winner of what?” I asked. “No, wait… never mind that. Do you have any idea how much it costs just to rent tents? Do we need a permit for that? Live music? Where would we get a power source? I have no idea how much those bouncy things cost.  Do you?”

“Well,” Jeff was getting ready to explain, when I cut him off, again.

“Do we really want to serve homemade salsa from people we don’t know? We can’t just set out jars of salsa and let them sit there all day. We’d need to keep them cool. We’re gonna need to hire help for all this.” I took a deep breath. “Oh, no.” I reported. “We can’t possibly afford all that.”

“Well,” Jeff started.

“Maybe next year.” I emphatically ended the conversation, before adding, “So, what’s for dinner?”

Quote for the Week:

10 29 2018 There are only two types of business people jakorte