Tuesday, August 16, 2011

where to from here

The pecan trees started dropped their immature fruit several weeks ago, starting with the little ones 1/2” to an inch. You can tell how they are growing on the trees because the dropped pecans have been getting bigger and bigger. Now, in the last week, they are starting to be fairly good sized and the squirrels are sampling them. I'd guess that at least 70% of the green pecans on the ground now have been half eaten.

In the few years we have been out here this is the first year that I have seen so many of the pecans damaged by the squirrels. I'm not sure why that is but I tend to think it's the drought. Either they are desperate for moisture and food or all the squirrels have migrated to our yard because we provide a constant water source via the bird baths and the turtle pond. I don't begrudge them the pecans.

So now that the new cycle has begun so I have begun my morning and evening traverses of the yard. Now I pick up the immature fruit because they are hard on my bare feet and bare is my favorite footwear but later I will be picking up the ripe nuts. I hope.

I use this time to meditate, to think about stuff. Lately, I've been thinking maybe this was a mistake, moving out here. Not because we don't like it because we do.

We had discussed whether or not our business would survive with us being out here and I, ever the optimist, could see no reason why it wouldn't. We would keep our same phone number and I assured all the designers we had worked with that we were not going far and still intended to do our work. We've done plenty of jobs that were not in Houston when we lived there.

But the truth is, our business has suffered. The last year and a half jobs have been few and far between. We pare down when work is slim, we've had lean years before.

Was it our move out here, my poor to none marketing efforts (which I am trying to remedy, sort of like closing the barn door after the horse got out), the crashed economy, all of the above?

I've been wondering what I could do if I didn't do this. It's possible that, with my background, I could get a design or art related job if I was still in the city. Out here in this small economically depressed town, that's not an option. And then there's my age which would be a problem even if I was still in the city. Out here the biggest employers are Walmart, HEB and the plastics factory.

I'm used to uncertainty, have lived with it from the beginning and we always managed, even prospered at times, but then we also had our youth. We wonder, even if we had jobs lining up, how much longer we might expect to be physically able to do this work, pick up and manipulate these heavy pieces of glass, entering our 60s as we are. 10 more years? Is there 10 more years of work out there? The middle to upper middle class was my clientele, never having garnered the attention of the super rich, and they are hard hit too. And there are so many relatively inexpensive options out there now for decorative glass.

I've been thinking about changing my medium for the small art pieces I do. Glass is so expensive and time consuming and difficult to work with making the finished pieces quite costly. I've been thinking about maybe working in ceramics and incorporating pate de verre elements. We'll see. I don't know shit about ceramics so there would be a new learning curve but I've been wanting to include multi-media for a while.

Well, I have no idea what the future holds but I am trying to face each day with optimism and being open to possibilities.


  1. Hard. The economy is so bad, and artists are suffering everywhere. Don't second-guess yourself; you made the best decision that you could.I hope that you can hang in there, and that whatever you decide, it will work out.

  2. i can feel your angst coming through. i'm sorry. i hate that you're questioning your living where you do, but understand that reality is closing in too. truly hope it can work out well for you personally and business-like.

  3. These really are tough times. You have articulated your situation very clearly - that should help you with the creative problem-solving and decisions ahead. A real brainstorming session could be helpful - possibly.

  4. You could have been describing where I live, except our closest Walmart is 45 minutes away.

    Times are hard, but I think there are still plenty of people with money and your work is of a superior quality. People are just more discerning. Marketing should definitely be able to help you all. I certainly hope so!

  5. I have no idea what you are going through on a day to day basis but please don't give up on your dreams... Everything happens for a reason and I have everything crossed that you will soon reap the benefits of your move.

  6. Being open and willing to add other elements just might be the answer! But I know how you feel. It's not easy this arr business!! Not easy at all!
    Good luck and hugs

  7. It's rough all over. The moving may or may not have had anything to do with it.

    Hey, you can start sewing classes for children! Trying to lighten things up a little, it will get better.

  8. I know exactly how you feel! This has been the worst season so far. Our ages prevent us from jobs that would pay more than minimum wage and all of our money is tied up in this place. My garden did not yeild enough produce to put anything in the freezer either, so it will be a lean winter. I think our economy is the main culprit here. I don't think it will get better before it gets a whole lot worse. I am glad that my children are independent and have savings they can depend on. I count my blessings daily. I have a roof over my head, food to eat and a husband who is not afraid of hard work.

    I have found that people still want to buy things, just on a smaller scale. There is definitely a price point I can't exceed in the store. They won't buy a t-shirt for $12, but will jump at the 2 for $20. Hard to scale down custom, though.

  9. I'm having the same sorts of thoughts--my income sources are drying up, I'm having a hard time thinking of new ones out here in the country, and I'm not a spring chicken anymore....but everything that's ever worked out for me has been a total, unanticipated surprise.

    I think your optimistic open attitude is the only way to go. Good luck to us all!

  10. Change is difficult... so difficult. I stopped ghostwriting and have been taking less and less freelance work. I'm trying to give more time to my own fiction, if not I'll never get published. Moving also put a stop on my witchy consulting (I don't have space to do certain things). I worry about the income cut (about half or more) gods it's weird to say that. I get scared every once in a while...

    Going smaller (and more affordable for your buyers) might be a good way to go, but how would that affect profit? I'm saying this because it was what I tried with witchery and it didn't work as well. I'm still trying to work things out... I pray you find your way and the uncertainty stays withing the usual limits.


  11. I think it is mostly the economy. I do think marketing would help, as the talent and skill is definitely there - your work is amazing. :)
    Hang in there - you're strong and you will weather this with your usual aplomb.
    Hugs my friend.

  12. Its a tough time for everyone - and what we keep thinking is a light at the end of the turns out to be a delusion, a dim reflection of what was at the other end of the tunnel.

    I think of you alot and hope that there is a satisfactory outcome Ellen.

  13. I'm ten years out of making my living in the art world, and the world of self-employment, but have many friends still out there. They're my age, too, leaving my '60's, not entering. It's a hard life, but if you're disciplined to it, you just do it. It's a really tough year for them. I'd think moving really didn't affect you as much as the economy--maybe you could get a little fill in job to take up some slack until things pick up. As they will, and you'd break your heart turning your back on your work.

  14. Hi Ellen,
    I've left you an award at http://blueskiessunnydays.blogspot.com/
    Sorry, but I haven't figured out how to do a link within a comment yet. :)

  15. So many people are suffering from the economic downturn, and in the business you're in, you'll feel it more.

    Yes, we are all reviewing our situations and looking at our options.
    Good luck!

  16. Mike & I have worried about whether we can make it in the years to come. We both drive over 35 miles each way to work. We LOVE to move closer to his school, but the small towns around it don't have a job for me. And there's my age. 47 isn't THAT old, but it's kind of old for getting an admin job that pays more than peanuts.

    I like how your considering the issue creatively - and would love to see any new work that you do. I really hope that things pick up for you.


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