Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Man-Cave to Casbah

Happy Hippie indeed.

Hi guys and gals, as well of those of you who are unsure or unwilling to commit. In my last blog post, I shared with you that I was having a busy week listing lots of scarves on eBay during a free listing week for eBay store owners. It was a great success, so the past week I've been packing up the items that sold and getting them to the post office as quickly as I can.

It's been very reassuring to me to see that I really can make a modest living from my business, so long as I'm willing to devote enough time to it and live frugally. I'd previously had some success at this level, but it was back when I had a large suburban home where I could devote an entire room to eBay shenanigans. To achieve the same results in an RV took me a while.

It wasn't just the smaller space--it was also getting to the point of settling down to business. I spent a year kind of treading water in one place after my marriage ended and then another year wandering about, both geographically and in terms of how I made a living. For a while last year, I actually had a job. After a time, I came to realize that working for someone else, even just part-time, was distracting me from my real work, which is self-employment on eBay and as an artist and busker. So I am beginning to buckle down now and do what I need to do.

Today I got an email from eBay about some upcoming policy changes that present new challenges. Every time I just about figure out how to be a top-notch eBay seller with stars and ribbons showing potential buyers how reliable and trustworthy I am, the rules change. Now I need to decide whether I can provide one-day turn-around on my shipping in order to maintain my privileged status as a Top-Rated Seller. Can I do this, living on the road? I don't know yet. I have a couple of months to practice before the new policy goes into effect.

Silk Ceiling

So, you are probably wondering what all this has to do with my title, "Man-Cave to Casbah." Actually, I have to give Steve credit for this title. While he's been dogsitting in Ajo and I've been living by myself in Why, I've been getting a little creative, bring colors other than brown and design elements besides the bones, feathers, skins and skulls of dead animals into Steve's 5th wheel. While sorting through my many hundred scarves to pull out the best designers and brands, as well as green scarves for St. Paddy's and florals for my spring sales, I uncovered some hippie fodder...hand blocked silk scarves from India. Today I stapled them onto the ceiling of the cab-over bedroom. Hence the title.

Rumi in the living room

I've also been taking down some of the yellowed paper on which years ago Steve printed out some of his most beloved sayings, and I've been painting the words directly on the walls. That's right, commitment. With me constantly finding new ways to improve his home, I'm sure Steve feels trepidation every time he comes out here to visit me. But he still keeps showing up and fortunately he has been happy with the results thus far. My next redecorating projects involve using up some of my vintage fabric cache to cover cushions and make curtains.

My first mandala

For a while this winter, my creativity seemed to be kind of dried up. But the practical art of redecorating has gotten it flowing again, and now I'm spending a little time each day drawing. One of the items on my bucket list was to create mandalas and now I am thinking of making some greeting cards, combining mandalas with the quotations that I've been gathering for daily posts on FaceBook over the past year. Mandalas are a natural for me, because I love to doodle and, like any mosaic artist, I'm mad about geometry. Most types of art work integrate your inside and outside, but mandalas are particularly great for this because you can choose symbols that hold special meaning for you.

Mesquite honey from Indigenous Nutrition

In closing I'd like to rehash some old business from past posts. In my last blog posting, I mentioned that the blooming desert is causing me hay fever, a condition I thought I'd left behind when I came to the Southwest. Who knew that such tiny flowers could cause so much sinus congestion and headache? I sure didn't. I thought about taking pictures of these little blossoming bio-hazards, but Roxanne has already done it for me. So I'll just mention that I'm trying a couple of ancient remedies this time around rather than just popping Zyrtec and they seem to be helping me.

While it's debatable whether local honey actually helps immunize you from the effects of pollen, I sure do enjoy slathering a full tablespoon of mesquite honey on my toast each morning. If nothing else, it soothes my throat while going down. And there is no doubt in my mind that using my neti pot once or twice a day is helpful. Once you get past the revulsion of having stuff coming out of your nostrils, nasal irrigation rocks! I've also begun using lavender oil instead of antibiotics for the rosacea that usually starts bothering me by late winter, and that rocks, too.

On a final note, there was a very interesting article on Yahoo! News today about the reopening of portions of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, ten years after their closure to the public following the killing of a park ranger by drug runners. For my friends living in other parts of the U.S., this article gives you a little bit of a feel of some aspects of living near the Mexican border. In a short time, though, I have become inured to the loss of civil liberties that occurs each time I travel around here (although I'm sure I would be far more stricken by their lack if I wasn't a pinkish, blondish Norwegian-American). Most days, the beauty and peace of living in the Senoran Desert allows me to forget about politics and crime.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

All By Myself

Nicole Miller silk pocket square handkerchief, designed for Absolut

That Celine Dion song, "All By Myself," is such a cry-in-your-beer number. Personally I just don't understand it. When I am by myself, I get to sleep in the middle of the bed and take all the covers and all the pillows and eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and be completely self-indulgent. What's wrong with that?

Pierre Cardin equestrian scarf with knights in armor

Steve is house-sitting for friends in Ajo for five weeks. I am not. I'm staying out at Why with my cat. Sleeping in the middle of the bed, taking all the covers--no, wait, we've been through that already.

YSL pocket square

I thought about taking the Guppy into Ajo and moochdocking in our friends' back yard, but Steve's job involves small dogs who are very excitable about cats, among other things. I would've had to confine Sonja to the Guppy, yet the dogs would probably still bark at her. So I'm staying home.

Is there an Echo in here? No, but there are lots of them in my eBay store

And it's perfect timing to be All By Myself for another reason--I'm in the middle of a Free Listing Week for eBay Store Owners. Uploading an auction listing usually costs me between 35 cents and $1.00 per scarf, depending on how much I'm asking as an opening bid price. I still have to pay other costs to eBay and their Paypal subsidiary, but I am saving some bucks.

D is for Dior

And it's perfect timing to be doing lots of eBay listing, too, because I bought a shitload--wait, can I say that in my blog?--of scarves recently. Okay, make that a Guppyful of scarves.

My buyers seem to like Talbott's mosaic design as much as I do

A couple of months ago, a lady was selling a box lot of scarves on eBay and she mentioned in her auction description that she was downsizing and getting rid of a life long collection. I won that auction and emailed her to ask if I could buy the rest of her collection, which she sold me at a very reasonable price. I think I've gotten 12 Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Boxes of scarves from her, which is something like 1000 scarves. So I'm listing, listing, listing, and am glad the listings are free.

Sometimes I list to the left, but that's about my arthritic knee and my politics, not eBay.

Vera! This is Vera Neumann, not Wang or Bradley

Having this huge inventory of scarves is great. It's like somebody else went to a bajillion thrift stores and already picked out the best scarves and then mailed them to me for a lot less money than it would have cost me to do the same shopping, with gas at $3.69 a gallon here.

Nautical tall ship scarf by AV

So I'm working hard and Steve is, too, and when we're done, it will be starting to get too hot to stay here in southern Arizona, and we'll pack up and go back to New Mexico. We plan to spend the summer in Truth or Consequences, but we may travel somewhere northerly in midsummer when it's hot in TorC. We don't want to get too tied down being wage slaves this time around. And then in the fall, we are thinking of heading east to Florida rather than back west to Why. But who knows? That's a long ways off yet.

And the Oscar goes to...

In the meantime, please enjoy looking at my scarves on eBay.

Steve came out to Why today and made me fish tacos for lunch. Tomorrow he's coming out to make a new door to cover my propane tank compartment, since I keep losing doors along my travels. He's fashioning the new one out of an old metal Stop sign.

So I'm not completely All By Myself--we have visitation.

Nothing comes between me and my Calvins

An update on my son Sly--he has qualified for SSI and is receiving a small monthly check while living with his dad. The amount will increase when he lives elsewhere, and he's actively seeking a place to live. Seattle is expensive, and he's looking at getting some help through mental health organizations that place people in affordable, supported housing. It's all kind of up in the air right now, but at least Social Security has come through.

Hmm...do you suppose Anne and Calvin are related?

And another good thing is that Sly's hallucinations have stopped since his meds were changed, and now it seems unlikely that he is schizophrenic, although he has been diagnosed with Cluster B personality disorder traits as well as severe depression. But it looks like he will get his antidepressants increased once he's completely off of the meds that were giving him scary delusions.

This Scaasi is HTF and EUC in eBayese

It is difficult watching Sly's challenges from afar, but even if I was closer, it is essential that he start learning to find and get help on his own. And he is doing this. I pray every day that he can continue to work towards being independent or semi-independent without any huge crises, but, of course, this is outside of my control and would be even if we lived closer to each other.

Thank you for the kind comments and interest there has been about Sly. I really appreciate knowing that others care.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Staying Put Never Keeps Me From Rambling

Sly and another critter at the Arizona-Senora Desert Museum

When I last blogged a few weeks ago, my 19-year-old son Sly and I were on a camping trip to several Tucson area tourist traps. (By the way, our tickets to most of the places we visited were BOGOs because I bought a Tucson Attractions Savings Passport. If you're going to visit Tucson, you should buy one, too.)

Sly and a portion of Biosphere 2

On our penultimate day on the road, we visited Biosphere 2, north of Tucson near Oracle. Years ago, Biosphere was an experiment that had humans living in a domed environment to explore possible space colonization and ways to survive on Earth in case of environmental disaster. Due to funding and management disputes, as well as factors of "confined environmental psychology" (we used to call it "Cabin Fever" in Alaska), the experiments that involved having humans live inside the facility ended. A few years ago, the University of Arizona took over management and later ownership of the site, and now they are running experiments on climate change and other issues.

We enjoyed the tour at Biosphere 2, and it was fun to imagine what it would have been like to live there back in the day. There are several really warm, lush biomes, as well as harsher desert environments, all in one big complex. I never felt like we were getting the whole story as to why people no longer live inside the facility, but it really didn't matter. There is still a lot of interesting stuff going on there, and it's a great learning environment for both the University and visitors.

Harris hawk

After our tour, we hit Tucson's rush hour traffic to try to get to the campground in Saguaro National Park that lies west of town. We had hookups and bathrooms there, but no showers. The next morning we drove to the nearby Arizona-Senora Desert Museum, which is one of my all-time favorite places to enjoy and learn about nature. They have it all there--museum exhibits, art institute and gallery, zoo, trails, cafes, gift shops. It was all fun, but the highlight of the day was seeing a demonstration of Harris hawks in flight, sometimes so close over our heads that we were brushed by their wing feathers.

After the hawk fly-over, we headed back home to Why, where we spent the remainder of Sly's visit, mostly in quieter pursuits such as playing board games, doing jigsaw puzzles, and sitting outside reading in the afternoons. When Sly had been here for a little over two weeks, we drove up to Phoenix for his flight back to Seattle. However, this was on the first full day of the Seattle Snowmageddon, and all of the flights were canceled and it was hard to predict when Sly could get out. So I rescheduled Sly's flight to have him stay an extra week. As it turned out, this was a good plan--some parts of the Seattle area were without power for five days.

Deer, deer

The extra week also gave my ex-husband a chance to look into some resources for Sly. Within a few days after his return to Seattle, Sly started a day program in the psych ward of a hospital near his dad's home. They're making a new assessment of his condition and revising his meds, which had been giving him a lot of scary side-effects. So far, switching up the meds is making things more difficult, and Sly is also having to do a lot of hard work on issues that he'd rather not look at, but ultimately this should all help with his recovery. In the meantime, the Social Security Administration has determined that Sly is disabled and has started providing some funds, which will really help in getting Sly into a semi-independent living situation as well as funding his future healthcare needs.

Sly's painting of a blue one-eyed singer

Sly's extra week here in Arizona also gave him time to do more artwork. He finished painting some deer antlers for the neighbors, who had him over for dinner one night, where he showed their friends a painting he'd just completed and sold it on the spot! That was very encouraging. Sly has also had some sales in the past on his Etsy site, and maybe he'll be able to add more paintings there once he finishes his partial hospitalization program.

Dina in Brian's Chinooky Van

Another benefit of Sly's extended stay was that my friends Brian and Jon from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, came through and stayed with us a couple of nights in Why, so my son got to meet some of my friends and vice versa. Somehow I managed to only take a picture of Brian's dog Dina while the guys were here, rather than any photos of the guys themselves. But we had some nice meals, a campfire, time to all sit together in the sunshine, and all that good quality camping-with-friends stuff.

Since my son left, I've been really concentrating on taking care of myself. Steve and I drove up to Casa Grande, a city that lies between Phoenix and Tucson, one day so I could get my Arizona driver's license. Becoming an Arizona resident will enable me to get on a state health care program, which I need because my pre-existing knee replacement and other arthritis problems make private health insurance prohibitively expensive. I had a scary high blood pressure spike one of the last day's of Sly's visit, and I've been more aware of blood sugar issues lately than in the past, so I'm planning to call on Monday to set up a physical at the community clinic in Ajo, where they can get me started on the state program for low-income residents.

Steve and Sonja in the leather chairs

I've had a little more time for socializing since Sly went back to Seattle. It's a big arts weekend in Ajo, and our friends Arnold and Dusty have their historic house on a home tour, so they've been painting and redecorating, and last weekend Steve and I ended up with their nice old leather chairs.

The past couple of days, I've been helping our friends Clyde and Joan (silversmith and quilt designer, respectively) with their booths at the annual "Quilting in the Senoran Desert" show, and that was really fun. I saw beautiful, inspiring work and learned a lot, and got compensated for my time by getting some of Clyde's beautiful handmade jewelry as well as having a good lunch from the Oasis Cafe both days.

Now I'm ready to chill...like Sonja:

Sonja having a sit-in