I'll premise what comes next by admitting to a great deal of luck in life.
November's place of business is here, on the internet. It's where 99% of our customer interaction happens, it's where our showroom is, and it's our public face. The Newport shop is usually a disaster of detritus from inbound deliveries and allocated parts and stuff getting ready to go out. Though we do welcome visitors in non-COVID times, we don't want walk-in business from people halfway through pub crawls on beach cruisers who need a flat changed, so our street-side profile is low key indeed.
Part and parcel of this is that our hours are what they need to be and what works with my schedule. It's a nice perk for me, since I'm inclined to work when I need to and then be doing something else when the work is done. I wasted months of my life babysitting construction projects when I had no actual work other than the "in case of emergency, get Dave" role, and my ability to sit and wait for work is gone forever.
The "long story short" here is that my girlfriend and I have reached a point where having two houses was still smart, having two houses in the same village is stupid. Which is why I've spent so much of this winter working on her new house in VT. She works remotely with an RI-based company, and has to be here sometimes. I still want and need to be in Newport a bunch, so it all works well.
What I didn't know was just how well this would work. Yes, there are logistical pains, and going back and forth has a cost. My grad school program, even though it's remote, requires me to get tested regularly and provides said testing. It's not quite a "no interactions at all in RI" environment, but it's awfully close. I have no misgivings about that aspect. Keeping spokes in stock in both places is a much more pressing concern.
Winter in VT is orders of magnitude more enjoyable than in Newport. Most days, I wake up, answer emails while having coffee, walk the dog, go for a cross country ski at one of two places within a mile of the house, then go home and build wheels. If there's been a good snow, I'll spend the morning at Okemo (30 minutes away - and hooray cheap season passes!) and then go home and work. Having access to super fun outside stuff and the ability to shift my day to take advantage of it has turned winter from an annual dreadful ordeal to just as fun as summer.
This has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for November in a way I sure didn't foresee. As neat and fun as November often is, it's pretty stressful and (between you and me) it's a terrible way to get rich. Awful. But this change has tipped the payoff side of that so profoundly that it's hard to believe.
Deep in the trees all morning, shipping wheels all afternoon
And maybe the best part comes in a few months. Riding from the house, I don't even get a quality warmup before I'm onto the kind of stuff that people take vacations to go and do - road, mountain, and gravel. The product testing opportunities are endless.
Topping it all is it's a beautiful little town, and the spot where I do said wheel building is pretty insane to boot - see below.
What precisely this all means for November, we can't say. Certainly nothing bad. If it's nothing more than a renewed enthusiasm, so be it. Being out and more involved in the community as a whole is for sure on the cards, vaccine jabs allowing.
For the near term, there's likely no net outward effect. But the thing about when you've crashed into the lucky tree is that you need to realize it and make the most of it. Since November is the big enabler here, there's never been more motivation to make this work as well as it possibly can.
Oh, and we're probably going to get close to a foot of new snow Friday. And I've become a freaking ace at tiling.