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A fox and a hen and a bag of corn
On getting more done by doing less
From the fall into the winter into the early spring, there have been stretches of time in the last year that have bled into each other. We’ve been jostled back and forth between making headway on the store when we have money, to grinding to a halt when we do not.
To create more times when we have money, I’ve undertaken a steady rhythm of checking in with potential or existing clients about potential or existing work, following up on invoices, doing math in my head as I fall asleep, and making my way through paperwork and processes as finances and capacity have allowed. All while trying to figure out the simplest way to get the the commercial space as open as possible as quickly as possible.
Do you know that logic puzzle with the fox and the hen and the bag of corn? It’s a trope I invoke pretty often in my life when I can’t figure out what order to do things in. And — now that a lot of the bureaucratic tasks are sorted out — it’s what it has felt like trying to tackle the renovations of this building.
The 2000+ square feet that we refer to as “the store” or “the cafe” or “the commercial space” is actually made up of a lot of discrete areas. This is a list of those areas, with a secondary (but not exhaustive!) list of what renovations still need to be done for each:
The Post Office’s inside sorting area and mailboxes accessed from outside.
(A light, some drywall on the interior, and a Little Free Library)
The front of the space, which will be the grocery store.
(One wall insulated and drywalled, other walls repaired, shelves stripped and painted, walls primed and painted, plumbing for coffee machines behind the counter, subfloor installed, floor tiles installed, lights installed.)
The back of the space, which is where the cafe seating is going to be.
(Subfloor installed, floor tiles installed, booths re-upholstered and installed, walls primed and painted, lights installed.)
The sunporch area, which will be a lounge and event space.
(This area is pretty good, but currently storage for the rest of the space.)
The smaller kitchen, which will be be Temperance Tonics production.
(I am clueless about this, this is a Haritha project.)
The larger kitchen, which we will use for the cafe and also rent out.
(Faucets replaced that froze and broke off during a winter storm, lights covered, floor repaired, everything deep-cleaned.)
The storage area where our grocery stock will live before its on shelves.
(Mostly a lot of re-organizing here.)
Bonus: The near-acre of land behind the property.
(Don’t even get me started.)
After months of feeling like my head was full of bees, I finally internalized what Haritha had been saying all along — we can’t do it all at once. Especially with me trying to do as much freelance work as possible to pay for it all, and with Haritha trying to run an alcohol-free cocktail company and an online store while also being in charge of all renovations (either doing it himself or managing contractors). He was being pulled in a million directions, and whatever he did in a day meant there was something else he didn’t get done.
Also: the volume of tasks and directions was often (very reasonably and relatably) making him shut down entirely. What a mess!
Now that we’ve broken down all the pieces, we can see a clearer path between “no part of the business being open” to “every part of the business being open”. Ironically, the first step involved closing some things down. We closed down our mail order, at least for now. And we closed down Temperance, just until we are able to get the smaller kitchen outfitted and up and running.
It’s super scary to hit pause on those things, because they are the only sources of income that I am not directly responsible for earning. But we can’t really see another way. And turning down the volume on those other tasks has helped Haritha get some good momentum going on the renovations we need to do to get the grocery store part of things up and running. It kind of blows my mind how much he’s been able to teach himself or reverse-engineer.
Seeing all of those layers of floors (and wall!) gone represents hours and hours of Haritha’s work. Oh and those tiles I mentioned in my last update? They turned out not to be asbestos after all! The man who did the testing said it was only the second time in his entire career he’d seen 9 by 9 tiles in that style that were not asbestos.
I feel self-conscious about the fact that I talk about floors so much, and that we keep saying we’ve finally chosen a direction and then we change our mind! But I really love statement floors and was having a hard time making such a long term and costly decision! But we have finally at long last chosen the tiles we are going to have put in — we even put down a deposit.
In the end, some of our choice was made for us. Because of the rough shape the floors were in (under the layers of veneer floor and carpet), we need to put in a sub-floor before we can do anything else. That extra cost bumped the linoleum floor of my dreams to $18K. Even with my floor obsession, I couldn’t justify it.
But for about half that price, we are going to have a beautiful combination of Cherry Red and Lemon Yellow tiles that makes my heart burst just thinking about it. I’m sure some people are gonna hate it but Haritha and I are gonna love it enough for all of us.
Since the floors will be so colourful, the pale yellow we were thinking for the walls has been toned down to an off-white. This caused a low-key identity crisis for me at the paint store, given that these were my last two apartments:
But I am consoling myself by remembering that for our apartment we have bought (but not yet had time to put up) this incredible wallpaper. It was our one year wedding anniversary to ourselves, because the first anniversary gift is traditionally “paper”.
Fun fact: the colour palette inspiration for our living room is this scene from Anne with an E which makes me cry just thinking about it!
That is my newsy update for now! Thank you for reading, and feel free to comment and let me know what sorts of other things you think I should write about more. I worry that updates like these are boring but I also worry that updates about my feelings are exhausting! Also do people wish updates were more frequent but shorter? What are we doing here?
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