Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't Feed The Grinch

It's been all over the news; those dire predictions of gloom and doom for the economy. One has to wonder though whether the mainstream media is contributing to make these predictions a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The events of the past few years are not an act of God, like a flood or a hurricane, but the result of man's decisions here on earth; a series of events that created a domino effect and a climate of "all or nothing" thinking that has begun to take on a life of its own.

Now it seems to be common for people to react to this news with a knee-jerk reaction; cutting out spending, deciding not to exchange presents this year, putting the brakes on so fast they could almost get whiplash!

Even large companies seem to have scaled back their advertising. (I never thought I'd miss all those clever ads for Target until they were gone).

A walk through the mall today seemed eerily hollow, the halls seeming to echo, most of the brightly colored decorations conspicuously absent. There were sale signs evident in all the shops, big and small alike, yet a feeling of mailase seemed to hang in the air replacing the usual festiveness of the season. There were no twinkling lights as there had been this time last year and clothing colors did not seem to give any sign that the holidays were approaching. Except for a few red pyramids of strategically placed red metallic balls, and the temperature in the building turned down too low it would have been easy to forget what time of year it was and to think it was just any other day.

My show last weekend was a bust. After working a total of 22 hours I came home sick and about $18.00 in the hole. We artists are supposed to make a profit at such things, not actually lose money! I still have not recovered both physically and emotionally from the events of the past week or so, but I'm looking for ways to have fun despite all the "bah humbug" going around like a virus.

I firmly believe that clamping down the proverbial sphincter is not going to cure the economy, nor will it prevent whatever unforseen problems may come along. It is more the illusion of control that not spending any money gives us, and like it or not, there are more than enough problems that will come up if we live long enough that require our money, sometimes every last bit of it, so why not continue to enjoy at least some of it while we still can?

I'm not proposing that people go out tomorrow and blow their last dime, but just don't stop entirely. If we stop spending entirely then the economy will never recover. It is reasonable under the circumstances to spend less on Christmas expenses than you did last year, but eat, drink, be merry, and give gifts that are meaningful to those you love and care about, and for Godsakes, take Christmas (or other applicable holiday) off from work to spend quality time with people in your life!

For those of you especially who are creative it should not be hard to create a nice time on a budget. I have never been at a loss for something to do to have a happy and memorable holiday, (and I live way below the poverty level).

With a little ingenuity one can come up with a meal, thoughtful gifts, and even some really cool decorations. Watch carefully. I am about to show you some great examples if you need creative re-fueling. There are things you can make or buy that are heartwarming and don't cost an arm and a leg, so don't feed the Grinch. Do enjoy yourself in this season of giving. has a wide selection of really pretty hats for only $15.00 apiece! A gift like this is not expensive but it's substantial, especially because it's well-constructed and not mass-produced.

Here are two of her hats shown below.

Winter White Coloured Retro Hat

Pink Pow with Black and White Stripes Ear Flap Hat

Now this you can hardly beat! is offering any 5 totebags for only $35.00! That's only $6.00 apiece folks! It's not limited to only the bags shown in the picture either. If you have 5 people to buy gifts for you can take care of them all in one purchase. Imagine that!

5 Tote Bags SALE

If somebody on your list loves pottery then check out this original signed piece by for only $20.00

Strawberry candy dish

Here are a few great gifts for the guys in your life. makes a soap that looks like a handgrenade. Army buffs should love this.

American Grenade Soap, Army green

For the man who does alot of writing offers this pen made with genuine turned Lacewood at the great price of only $21.00.

Handmade Lacewood Executive Style Pen

One of these Southwestern leather slide bracelets could be just what your man wants (but they can also be worn by a woman who likes that earthy, cowgirl style). Each of the three similar bracelets in my shop are available for $60.00 apiece, and with what you get for that price they're well worth it. Check these out at

Unisex Southwestern Slide Bracelet (Garnet and Peridot)

Women or teens will love the simplicity of these Haiku Earrings. These are also available with frosted Amethyst. Only 2 pair of these remain. If you're on a tight budget but want to buy a nice gift these are the ticket.

Haiku (Variscite and wood) Earrings

For children (or for animal-lovers) has this realistic stuffed rabbit; at a steal for only $10.00!

Frosted Charcoal Cuddle Bunny

In addition to buying your gifts, you can also make them. If you already have something you make regularly or you have a skill you can use when needed there are lots of supplies on Etsy to help you plan for your hand-made gifts. Your loved-ones will be so excited to know that you cared enough to take the time to make them something lovely.

If you don't generally do any art or craft there are always baked items, and as long as you can follow a recipe in a cookbook there are many choices of home-baked goodies that your friends and family will enjoy, many of which only cost a few dollars to make.

For the holiday dinner invite a friend or family and make a day of it preparing some delicious food. If you play your cards right it need not cost alot. If your budget is especially tight plan a menu of something you can buy in bulk (there are some places where you can even get a good deal on a turkey if you watch sales circulars and compare prices), or make it a covered-dish dinner and have each person contribute something.

I ordered a pizza one year when my son was here and I couldn't afford a turkey. We watched a good movie in front of the TV and ate while we talked. Neither of us minded not having the traditional meal. The important thing was that we made a point of doing something special.

This Thanksgiving it looks as though it will be just me so I decided to get just a turkey breast and potatoes and I'll have that and salad, since I really don't like the dark meat anyhow and a whole Turkey would be more than I can eat for a month! I saved alot of money that way too. My son probably won't be here until around New Years, so I may have to do the same thing for Christmas. Carmella will keep me company until then.

Traditions are important. They are what keeps us connected to life and to one another. The economy is bad enough, so don't feed the Grinch by cancelling Christmas. Make a point to stimulate the economy. Remember that whatever (or whomever) you do feed will grow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just When You Thought Things Were Going Well

It's odd that sometimes when you think things are at their best unbenounced to you they're really on the cusp of total collapse. I've been busy putting out fires. That seems to be the theme of the day. The Carmella-cam stopped working altogether and it required about 3 days of talking to 3 different companies to come up with a solution without paying through the nose. Finally I reached a supervisor that believed in good customer service and by that time I was hoarse from all the hours spent on the phone. The Geek Squad is going to send a guy over on Monday to fix it. The supervisor I spoke with on the phone said it could be a defective router and she is going to leave instructions for him to bring another one just in case. It could also be that the set-up was configured wrong to begin with and re-configuring it might fix it. I also requested that the guy speak with the camera manufacturer Linkseys to be absolutely sure that he is connecting it to the web correctly so it will not fail when he leaves.

All this came after I received some very upsetting news which required alot of extra work on my part that I should not have had to take on and then my autoimmune disease flared up horribly. The last thing I needed was to have to clean up somebody else's mess and it seems as though the ramifications just keep coming.

The one constant was that Carmella was here the whole time by my side. Thank God for dogs because if you're looking for loyalty they will never let you down. There is a permanence to them you can't get anywhere else.

The woman from whom I'm supposed to be buying the rubber stamps of my pictures has dropped off the radar again. That always seems to happen whenever I ask a question in my e-mail. If I were not so tenacious she would have lost the sale completely, but I will still place the order although this has dampened my enthusiasm to get it as soon as possible quite a bit with all the stops and starts. I'm running out of energy with all this being required to drag people that has been happening lately.

Yesterday when I went to take a bath I found that I was bruised all over. The past few days I'd been in awful pain throughout my body and then the next day it felt as though my muscles had been torn and were itching as though healing some damage. Then I noticed the bruises. That is very strange. I have had the pain many times but bruising is new. I hate to go to the doctor because he is not thrilled about having to treat something that isn't easily fixable and I have to drag him too each time I go in there. If he's tired of it that goes double for me but what can you do. We all will get something serious that we can't shake sooner or later and I don't have the luxury of going home and forgetting about it. I have to deal with it everyday whether I want to or not. Some days I barely notice it and other days I'd have to die to feel better. That is the nature of the beast. I just try to enjoy my life as much as possible, to make a difference, and make the best of it.

I see alot of parallels between Carmella and I. Even she seems to be getting the same reaction from her vet. He wants her to be instantly better and it just doesn't work that way. She, unlike me, is cured of the disease, but it will be anybody's guess whether all the damage will heal or not. I finally received an e-mail from Dr. Norwood about the possibility of putting her on an anticonvulsant. Apparently he'd tried to call Dr. Sears about it but his voicemail said that he was unable to retrieve his messages, so he never got it. He said that if Dr. Sears thought it was worth doing he would go ahead and prescribe it. I e-mailed him and told him Dr. Norwood was trying to get ahold of him and have not heard back. I wrote Dr. Norwood and asked whether Klonapin would be safer than Phenobarbital in terms of risk for liver damage and said that I would hate for her to have to tough it out for at least 4-6 months while waiting for her body to take over and heal the jerking and that it must really be making her tired and sore to have that constantly. Dr. Norwood has fallen out of contact again after my response e-mail.

One thing I have noticed is that Carmella seems to have a hip that comes out of place on one side as if it's loose in the socket. I'm not sure when that started, but I discovered it one day when I put my hand on her back and she walked forward. I could feel it. I asked Dr. Norwood about that in my last e-mail as well. I hope it's not hip displaysia. It occurred to me that it might be because she does look like she has some German Shepherd in her and that breed is prone to it.
Right now she looks very much like a German Shepherd and also has alot of Pit Bull characteristics. She's still gaining weight and has become very muscular. She doesn't have an ounce of fat on her!
Sometimes in the morning after I let her out she will jump up on my bed and snuggle up while I'm watching TV.
She has gotten better about not chewing on me but still goes through times when she gets rambunctious with open jaws, especially when she's been outside running around and chasing squirrels. Yesterday she just about pulled my arm off trying to get to a squirrel through the computer room window as I was holding onto her collar. She sounds like a hound on the hunt, desperate to grab these furry animals that frequent the back and front yards as commonly as leaves. Occasionally one will stand right in front of the window on the porch teasing her as if it knows she can't get out that way.

I got another bill from CareCredit and the total is still pretty big after Carmella's procedure and the one follow-up visit to Dr. Norwood a few weeks ago. I have a 2 day show coming up on November 14th and 15th which is this coming weekend. I hope customers are not going to be too penny-pinching because of the economy because it would be nice to be able to pay off another big chunk of that bill.

This show is one of the few a year offered by the GA. Microenterprise Network that I belong to. These shows usually are connected with various conferences. I wish they held them more often, but usually they are only offered once or twice per year. The entry fees are relatively low ($50 or $60) as they are geared towards low-income small business owners. This particular one is connected with The Refugee Women's Network, Inc. and takes place at a hotel in downtown Atlanta. The location is good and I usually do well at conferences of this type.

Yesterday I spent all day literally just organizing my jewelry and putting price tags on items that I'd been listing on Etsy since my last show. I didn't realize how long it had been and just how much inventory I'd built up in recent months. The gray duffle bag I carry to shows weighs a ton and I have about 4 large ziplack bags full of jewelry, a full earring rack which holds about 24 pairs of earrings, more on earring cards, about 5 stand-up flocked necklace display boards, and a few rings, not to mention a whole tray of softies bracelets! Since I have nobody to go with me I have to use a minimum of small displays; just what I can carry. I often wish I could have a more interesting set-up, but that would involve more hands to carry it, and as I don't have a vehicle that would be next to impossible. I'll be happy if I can sell half of this stuff. That would lighten my load considerably.

Last week I finished a copper bracelet that is along the same lines as the piece "Hint at Something Deeper". I figured out that if I used a certain type of beadcap it looks like the seedhead of a poppy.

Copper Poppy