I Remember Sunshine

This is where sunshine will get you: several teeny tiny January tomatoes on the plant that didn’t produce all summer.

Four days without a post and you are probably in the polite stage of wondering where I am. Some days that’s what I wonder too, as my attention span drifts down to almost nothing and the overcast skies have brought a severe case of the blahs.

I’m just going to tell you right now, I could never live in the Pacific Northwest. While I’ve always liked snow, these endless gray days with very little precipitation to show for it just seem to completely suck at my soul. And this year snow, so desperately needed — we are in a state of extreme drought, and our basin has the worst snowpack in the state at about 65 percent of normal — just feels like one more thing to deal with on days that already feel too full.

While it’s the beginning of a new year, this also means a year has ended, and for people responsible for business bookwork, that means a whole pile of deadlines: quarterly reports, W-2s, 1099s, reports for the feds and the state, plus regular monthly stuff like taxes.

Colorado implemented several changes, some through the legislature and some through the ballot box, that are going to impact employee leave this year, and finding information on these changes has been way more problematic than it ought to be. I attended a Zoom meeting Thursday when it turned out all I needed to do was go talk to my neighbor Lisa, since she was the presenter for these changes.

I actually felt a little bad, because Lisa is a business owner, like me, and she did the heavy lifting I did not. She even tracked down someone to point out that language was vague and got that changed to clarify that newly-mandated leave did not have to come on top of leave already provided by a business. In an earlier day I might have done that; these days I don’t seem to have a lot of room for advocating.

[Although my friends Peter and Sarah did get their conditional use to be able to buy the building that looks like a house for their home and office on Main Street. Planning commission voted 5-2 in their favor.]

The good news about Lisa’s presentation was that Pat’s, now down to six employees, does not have to make any changes to our paid-days-off policy this year because six is less than 16, which is this year’s threshhold. The great news is that when we, along with all businesses of any size, do have to comply in 2022, we already offer more than the required leave — although Lisa said her attorneys had advised her to start calling everything “leave” rather than specifying it as sick leave or vacation.

Yes, I said “down to six.” Gilly is still with us, and we are darn glad about that, but Omar tendered his resignation. He seemed sad to be going, but Kara and I still aren’t clear whether he quit because he was falling behind on schoolwork or we weren’t offering enough hours, even though he routinely failed to show on days we told him he was needed, and frequently arrived late and left early. It’s hard to get a clear read on 15-year-olds.

On top of routine end-of-year activities and new legislation, the federal government has opened another round of the Paycheck Protection Program, for which we qualify, although trying to figure out what number to use has required some brain cells as well. To qualify for a second PPP loan that hopefully will one day be a grant, a business has to show a loss of more than 25 percent in any quarter of 2020.

While my accountant said he’s had to tell several clients they don’t qualify because they had a huge year, Pandemia be damned, we qualify in at least two quarters. But depending on where you look on the second-quarter profit and loss, we are at a 41 percent loss, a 33 percent loss, or — after expenses — a 222 percent loss. As long as it’s beyond 25 percent, I guess.

Determined to learn from my mistakes, I decided to file this second request with a local bank rather than a giant corporation that doesn’t believe in answering questions no matter how they’re posed. It’s not my local bank, which is not offering PPP loans, and I am being required to open a new account, and there’s a boatload of paperwork that goes just with that. This bank wants to know how many deposits I plan to make each month (I don’t know) and how many cash withdrawals, and I don’t know if that’s literal cash or just a long way of asking how many checks I plan to write (I don’t know).

I also have to start at ground zero with the PPP application, which I wouldn’t need to do if I just re-upped with Paypal. But here’s the difference: all of my correspondence with the local bank has gone through the chief bank officer, whom I know by sight and name, and he always gets back to me within a day, sometimes within minutes.

At Paypal, I had a question early in the process last year, and a man promised to look into it for me. After waiting for a return call for two weeks, I called back, and even though they had an answer for me, when I asked why they hadn’t let me know, here was the actual response: “We don’t do that.”

So, lesson learned: shop locally.

I have slowly made other decisions as well, some of which were weighing far more heavily than they should. I put my woodshop membership in abeyance. Branden, the owner, confessed to taking all the tools I was looking for, so they should be back in place, but I am going to wait for warmer weather. This decision proved prudent because despite Lynn’s self-sufficiency, I have no idea when I would be working on a wood project right now. I don’t seem to be getting much of anything done, unless it comes with a deadline.

However, my head is at last shorn. After weeks of indecision where I learned that no matter how long it gets, my hair will no longer lie down, I opted to go to my regular barber, right as he opened for the day, after a good 15 hours to tamp down aerosols. He also disinfected his chair on my behalf, which ought to be standard procedure but isn’t.

Bonus: in an effort to get my hair under control, we opted for ultra-short. I’m not sure I like the new look, designed to keep wavy, thinning hair under control, so if I let it grow out, it will take enough time to get me back to warmer weather — and maybe more of the population vaccinated.

I don’t know how I address my waning attention span, which saw me yesterday pick up multiple books, read two pages of each and then set them down, no matter how interesting — Booker T. Washington’s description of getting to Hampton College in pursuit of education was spectacularly riveting — but maybe if the sun would ever go back to shining it would help.

In the meantime, catch as catch can on blog entries, and I apologize for that. I start them most days, but like the books, it isn’t the start that’s the trick, it’s the finish.

One thought on “I Remember Sunshine

  1. Always look forward to your blogs, but I can’t imagine writing every day. So I’m glad to get them – even sporadically!
    T.L, HAp has many tools that you are welcome to use. (Plus he’s a patient teacher) We’ll be
    Back in May!


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