Home > Archive: December, 2009

Archive for December, 2009

Back home again

December 30th, 2009 at 11:48 pm

I had a nice visit with my dad and stepmother Monday/Tuesday. As with Thanksgiving, the 3-hour trip there and back was non-eventful, meaning, no traffic issues.

We had a super-wonderful Japanese lunch Monday shortly after I arrived; it was just the 2nd time I've had Japanese. I really like the seaweed salad, plus i had a chicken teriyaki Bento box and red bean ice cream for dessert.

Later, i went with my step-mother and her dog, Lily, for Lily's final exam at therapy dog training school. There were lots of much bigger dogs there, including a standard poodle, a shaved down English sheepdog and a Dalmatian, but she passed and K. was quite pleased.

She wants to start bringing her to a local hospital. The dog trainer gave her a 2-page list of hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers and public libraries that have dog programs. Amazing it's gotten that big. And she wants to put her other dog, Bailey, through the same training.

Monday night we had dinner at the Bonefish Grill, my first time there as well. The place was packed. What recession? I had the tilapia.

Tuesday a.m. we ate breakfast at their favorite diner. (Yes, they eat out a lot.) We ran into a few of my dad's old crony friends there. Afterwards, I stopped to fill up on NJ's cheap gas ($2.35/gallon), which is ending in 2010 cus the state needs to balance its budget with gas taxes, and I headed north on the Parkway listening to New York talk radio.

Step-mom kindly sent me packing with some home-made beef stew, pumpkin soup and a big glass jar full of blackberries and gooseberries, which i plan to bake tomorrow with their strawberries in a gargantuan berry crisp. All these berries are taking up too much room in my freezer. I never seem to eat enough fruit in the winter, so here's my chance for redemption.

Today I created another blog for job search purposes and so I now have 3 blogs to post to at least a few times each week. That's a lot of blogging, but for the first time ever, I'm using a variety of topic-specific blogs as a job search tool to help showcase my writing.

I also finally finished writing a pro bono fundraising letter for a local environmental group. I had been procrastinating on that one.

Aside from running to the bank to deposit checks, I drove nowhere today. Spoke again to my friend/neighbor H., who still sounds quite sick on the phone, so i guess she won't be coming over New Year's eve.

It was nice, glad it's over

December 26th, 2009 at 01:56 pm

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas.

I had a few stops to make on Christmas eve and while I could have deferred them til after Christmas, I decided: what the heck.

Somehow I got myself up early enough to leave the house around 8 am and went directly to Wal-Mart first. I picked up 3 cases of Fancy Feast for my best boys.

Then I ran to Kohl's to use a $5 coupon on anything my little heart desired priced at no more than $5! Actually, after browsing much more expensive items and looking through the entire store, I settled on 4 pairs of "boot socks" (extra thick and very soft) and with the coupon they were $3, or .75 each.

Then I headed to nearby Petco to use a coupon there for a free tennis ball dog toy that squeaks. I'll give it Bailey and Lily when i see my dad next week.

I've been wanting to get pants at Good Will for a while now, but I don't think they were open yet so just headed home and kicked myself for not bringing my mortgage payment with me so I could mail it, plus some checks I want to deposit.

I also did an hour long walk.

The only thing i had left to do was bake a cake, which I did, a carrot/walnut/raisin cake using whole wheat flour, wheat germ and honey, so somewhat healthy It came out very good.

Christmas Day I doodled around the house all a.m., refilled the bird feeder. Headed over to mom's around mid-day. The funniest thing happened when my mother's gift to my sister was strangely the same shape as my gift to my mother. Turns out they were the same thing, and what's more, I got one too! An immersion blender! I guess my sister had asked for one and my mother decided to get one for me too, and i just decided my mother would like one too. I had also secretly wanted one but had decided I couldn't afford it right now, so it was pretty funny. And they were all Cuisineart brand.

Among other goodies I got lots of homegrown things from my sister which are always appreciated, including some novel gift ideas, like a mason jar full of soap nuts, a native Himalayan fruit that actually is being used these days as a green alternative to commercial laundry soap. I also got a dried sunflower seed head full of sunflower seeds, for the birds, with a small branch of real homegrown cotton! (I didn't know you could grow cotton in Connecticut.) How cool is that. Also got a red cashmere scarf and a mini moss terrarium from my sister.

And every year, my mother gives us both a piece of her art, so here's the one I picked out this year, hanging over my bed:

I thought over the bed was a good place for it, becus depending on how you look at this piece, it could be the solar system or your mind.

stuff about surveys and holiday plans

December 23rd, 2009 at 02:12 pm

For a while now, i've been doing occasional surveys with 2 different survey companies: 1 pays you $3 for each survey while the other requires you to accumulate points which you can then convert for $20 at a time. That company only pays the equivalent of between $1 and $3 for each survey, and it takes longer to make any money. They also take a really long time, 6 to 8 weeks, to get the check mailed, so you've got to be like me, a patient saver!

I remember reading another blogger saying she averaged $20 or $30 a month from surveys, which i found hard to believe at the time, becus half the time I'd spend 5 minutes answering endless questions only to be told i didn't qualify. Or, I'd try to begin a survey the day after I'd received it and they told me it was already closed and that they met their quota.

However, since i haven't been working, i have been doing nearly every survey that comes my way from these 2 companies and i must say, my earnings have grown. I'm already getting $20 in January and $40 in February from the 1 company and have been getting more or less regular $3 checks from the other company every week or so.

It may not seem like much, but just 1 $20 check will pay for a month's worth of cable. $40 would pay for both my phone and internet combined.

So while in the past I poo-pooed surveys as a meaningful way to spend one's time, that's changed for me now and i guess I'll have to "eat crow." (You young 'uns probably don't know what I'm talking about.)

I have 0 Christmas spirit this year. I'm not depressed, there's just not much going on. Christmas day will be the usual dinner with mother and sister and Monday i'll be headed down to see my dad and stepmother for an overnight visit.

There are no children in my family, so that makes a huge difference. Unusual, isn't it? 4 of us kids, only 1 just got married, and no one has kids of their own. I think it stems back to my parents' divorce, not to mention my first step-mother's early death, my mother's 3 failed marriages, multiple moves.... Too much instability. And i haven't been dating anyone for a while, so no big excitement over the whole gift-giving thing.

Maybe tomorrow night I'll invite my neighbor over for hot chocolate or something; i know she's estranged from her daughter, who's my age. Sorry, don't want to be a downer.

I also just heard from my old college roommate, who is passing thru my way on her way home from Boston to see family in NJ. I invited her to stop by, which she's done in the past.

I need to start thinking about baking tomorrow, so today would be a good day to make sure i have all ingredients.

Dreams of the unemployed

December 21st, 2009 at 10:05 am

I dreamed last night that I was in a strange place, a junkyard, of sorts. It was all woodland with a wide swath of land cleared in the center for a logging road that ran through it and disappeared into the hills beyond. Old, rusting hulks of cars were strewn about with other assorted castoffs of Man.

The place seemed ominous and gray due to warnings I'd received that wolves lived in this woods and came out after dark. Don't wander too far off or they might pick you off, someone told me.

(Large, predatory animals, bears or lions, for instance, are often in my bad dreams; in this one, it was wolves, maybe because Christmas at Yellowstone was on TV the night before.)

A large, dusty truck, the kind used to haul coal or iron ore, lumbered down the road. He wasn't driving it correctly, shifting the gears wrong or something, and there was a man near the roadside shouting at him. The trucker ignored him and passed him, then turned the truck around and barreled down this road past the man again, picking up speed and accelerating at a high rate of speed down the road past the man. The truck disappeared from my view and I waited for the sound of screeching brakes, the smell of burning rubber and a terrible crash, but I heard nothing. Still, I felt troubled, like something bad was going to happen.

Still looking in the direction of the truck and the man who'd been trying to help the driver, I saw the man turn to face me and freeze. Get over here, now! he shouted. Run! I knew without looking that there was a wolf behind me. I tried to run, and as in all dreams where locomotion is involved, my legs turned to jelly. I was holding a bag of something heavy in one hand and tried to drop it from my fingers, but it wouldn't seem to leave my grasp. I kept my eyes glued on his face, not daring to look anywhere else and I moved toward his outstretched hand, which meant safety.

When my hand nearly touched his, I awoke to the sound of a snow plow blade scraping the road as it went by. It was 4:30 am.

8 to 14" Headed My Way

December 19th, 2009 at 05:27 pm

The white stuff's comin'.

I got to Shop Rite at 8:45 am, but it was already mobbed.I bought some lamb for my favorite lamb casserole and picked up mousetraps at Ace Hardware. (When you're snowed in, the best thing you can do is eat.)

Yesterday was a No Spend Day and a No Drive Day.

I was reading someone else's blog about their expected tax refund. It's so hard to predict with my erratic freelance side income, but it looks like my freelance income this year will be about the same, even a little less, than last year. And last year I got a $624 federal tax refund.

Plus, I'll have big tax credits for my energy-efficient windows and door, plus a few extra deductions for job hunting expenses. Taxes are already being taken out of my unemployment, so i don't have to worry about that.

The extra $ would be quite welcome in my coffers right about now.

Rogue email

December 18th, 2009 at 08:43 am

Can't sleep. It's 3:30 am.

I got an email yesterday I used to work with. There was no message, just a link. Since I know the sender, I clicked on the link. It brought me to a website selling Viagra.

Apparently when you click on the link, the message automatically replicates and re-sends itself to ALL THE CONTACTS IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK. Not cool. I have several hundred contacts in my address book due to my freelance work; many I'm not in regular touch with. It would be very embarrassing to have to contact them and warn them not to click on the link, if indeed it's not too late. I know that Yahoo email won't let you send a message out to more than about a hundred recipients; it looks like spam to them; i'm hoping this is what happened to the rogue email and the message went undelivered.

Just another example of the importance of treating every hyperlink with caution, even if it comes from someone you know.

I don't think this one does any lasting damage, but who knows.

I went to a workshop yesterday on interviewing skills at our local library. There was a good sized crowd, all, I noted, over the age of 50. I didn't really learn anything new, but a good refresher course never hurts. Of course it's all pie in the sky stuff becus it's been months since i had a job interview.

I met some people in my town who are making an educational film about water quality. They need a writer to do the narration. This could be a very exciting opportunity for me, a combo of pro bono and paid work. I have already volunteered to do some grant writing work for them. They are mostly volunteers themselves.

It's kind of funny that ever since i was laid off, i was casting about for some interesting volunteer work to do. I got as far as meeting with one volunteer group but after an orientation i backed out. The work just didn't seem that interesting and involve virtually no networking opportunities. I had also wanted to return to a food bank but they had all the volunteers they needed. Maybe this film will be my volunteer opportunity. There's not just the narration of the film, but also the grant writing for funds I mentioned as well as PR work following completion of the film.

I've now woken my cats up, who are prowling around and no doubt wondering why I'm up at this hour. Luther was being quite the bad boy yesterday. He seemed to enjoy popping the bubbles in some pieces of bubble wrap I'd saved and put by the attic door to take up with me next time i went up there.

Finished my Xmas shopping

December 12th, 2009 at 07:48 pm

Hooray for me! I finished my Xmas shopping today and came in under the limit I set for myself.

Becus I'm not working, i decided I should spend no more than $100. No one is expecting much, if anything from me for gifts because they know about my employment situation, but I wanted to just tone it down, not eliminate Xmas gifts entirely.

I pared down my list and bought for 4 people.

1. My dad has a special fondness for orange marmalade, especially the good stuff he got when he was in England. So I went to a little gift shop in my town called the UK Gourmet and bought 3 varieties of marmalade: the original, a lime/lemon version and another version made for diabetics. Total: $17.25

2. For K., who mentioned she wanted to buy an immersion blender after the holiday, I bought a Cuisinart immersion blender for $30.

3. For my mother, I decided she also might like the ease of use (lightweight) and easier cleanup of using an immersion blender, so she got one too, as well as a canister of Bag Balm for her very dry hands (this was basically "free" becus I bought it a year ago as a kind of gag gift for someone else and changed my mind) and an Audubon engagement calendar.

The Audubon calendar is something I receive in the mail free every year becus I have named Audubon in my will. I really like the calendar, but it was a way to save money on Xmas gifts so am giving to my mother, who will love the photos. I've also named the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund and some other groups in my will, but only Audubon gives me this calendar as a token of their appreciation each year.

4. For my sister, I got a used book from the library on edible plants for $5, a very nice set of napkins with a pretty botanical chestnut print 1/2 price for $3.50 and a box of photo paper, normally $8 but after rebate just $1.48! Today was the last day of the rebate at Staples, so i really lucked out.

Spending came in at $87 which leaves me with leftover money to buy a nice bottle of wine for Xmas dinner. If I had paid full price for everything the total would have come to about $113.

I'm also thrilled cus on my shopping errands today i was finally able to use a coupon (obtained thru the freebies email from this site) for a FREE box of Debbie's cupcakes. I had gone to Shop Rite and Stop and Shop looking for these and they had other Debbie's baked goods, but NOT the cupcakes. This always seems to happen to me. The really good coupons I get often can't be used cus i can't find the product.

When I was about 10 years old, I had a serious thing going for Ring Dings, which are very similar to Debbie's cupcakes. In fact, I remember writing the company a letter telling them how much I loved their Ring Dings in the hopes that they'd give me a year's supply of free Ring Dings. They didn't.)

Anyway, i found them today at Big Y. Normal price is $3.09. I also was able to use an Internet coupon for Michael Angelo's frozen entrees, buy 1 get 1 free. 1 large package of eggplant parmigiana is normally $9, so i got the 2 for $4.50 each and each box will give me 2 or probably 3 servings.

I also went to Pet Choice Supply, normally too high priced for regular visits, but i had another coupon for a free can of cat food and bought a few other cans of cat food there. Stopped at a craft show at local hotel, but didn't see anything i liked.

I love productive shopping trips.

I have 4 different work-related projects to work on this weekend, but haven't been real motivated to focus on them yet. But it's all good!

Random Fiday Stuff

December 12th, 2009 at 12:28 am

Yesterday was my mother's cataract surgery. I had to get up at 5 am in order to pick her up and bring her to the hospital at 6:15 am. Oh, it was still dark out when I left; hate that this time of year.

So the day before, I was shoveling snow in my driveway furiously, knowing I'd need to clear it for the next day. My house is on a curve where the road widens out and the plows always pile up a lot of extra snow at the foot of my driveway. I got 4 blisters from just 30 minutes of heart-pounding shoveling. I didn't do the whole driveway, just 2 paths for the tires.

I stayed with my mother in the waiting room until she went in and left at 7 a.m. It was too early to run any kind of errands, so I just went home and washed the dishes and checked my email and before I knew it, it was time to head back to fetch my mom.

I brought her to her place and I knew she didn't want to be alone, so I stayed for about 4 hours. she had 3 different antibiotic eye drops to put in 3x a day, so I did the first round. I made us lunch and we generally hung out and talked. She wasn't really in any pain but her vision in that eye was blurry and she had to wear a clear glass shield to protect the eye. When we did the eyedrops, I had to peel the tape holding the glass shield off and she was saying ouch, ouch becus the tape was pulling her hair.

I went back home to attend to some stuff there, and told my mom I'd call her at 4 pm to remind her to do the next round of drops. I then decided I should really go back to my mom's (3rd time!) with take-out dinner cus I knew she didn't really feel like cooking. She wasn't sleepy, just feeling out of it due to the dilation.

So I picked up 2 meals at Boston Market (believe it or not, she's never eaten there) and she really enjoyed her meal. The place is very close to her condo and is very conveniently located, so I may give her a Xmas gift certificate for the place for some time when she's out shopping or running around and heading home, hungry but tired and not feeling like cooking.

The good news is, she's feeling well enough already that she doesn't think she needs me to pick up her art on Monday from a show at local library; so that would be one less chore for me and save me the drive.

So that's how I spent yesterday.

I spoke with her today after her 1st follow-up with her doctor. He told her she now has 20/25 vision in that eye, so sounds like it worked out well. She has another follow-up on Tuesday.

This morning I met 2 former co-workers at a diner. It was supposed to be a group of 5, but 1 was sick and the other had a freelance deadline he needed to meet. It was nice to see my friends and also nice that T., the only 1 of the group still working, picked up the tab for our late a.m. breakfast. This is the same person who bought me chocolate and a herbal tea gift selection when I had to put my last cat to sleep. He's a stand-up guy.

On the way back from the diner, I stopped at Costco (packed) and Petco.

For this weekend, I need to make further revisions to a real estate blog I wrote last month. I need to make it more upbeat, less "gloomy." I was being too realistic, he said. Ha!

I also need to call a guy in town who's active in local environmental town boards and is making some sort of film and who needs a writer. I really don't know anything else, but a good friend of mine does his books for him (he's a landscaper) and she recommended me. I'm not sure I'd be the best qualified, but I'm sure they don't have the big bucks to pay someone who did. I can certainly write and I have a strong interest in environmental stuff, but I've never written narrative for a film. Could be a great opportunity or something that never comes to fruition and a huge drain of my time. I'll have to listen closely to what he tells me and take it from there.

It's hard to believe that Xmas is just around the corner. I'm done with shopping except for my sister, and I still have to wrap everything.

I was at Xpect Discounts the other day and I got a very nice clear glass cake pedestal dish for $3.99 and 4 16 lb. bags of walnuts for $2.99 each. Walnuts go for at least $6 a pound everywhere else, but this is my secret source of walnuts, rich in omega fatty acids. I eat a small handful daily for health reasons. I freeze the bags til I'm ready to use them.

So after 2 consecutive days of unusual activities, I'm back to the normal boring routine of being unemployed.

Heavy wet snow

December 9th, 2009 at 04:16 pm

The storm that was headed east with a vengeance hit New England sometime last night, and I awoke to a new blanket of snow, about 3 inches, on the ground.

With rising temps, the snow has changed to rain and I'm waiting for it to stop (around noon, they say) so i can get out there and shovel the wet stuff off the driveway.

Tomorrow I am bringing my mother to the hospital for cataract surgery. I have to get up at 5:30 am at the very latest. This will be interesting, since I haven't used my alarm clock in months.

She won't be done til about 9:30 am, so I'll have a good three hours to kill, maybe with shopping errands, while she's in there, even though the surgery itself only takes 10 minutes.

My mom was feeling pretty anxious about it (who wouldn't, it's your eye) but after talking to a bunch of people (everyone seems to know someone who's had it done), she seems to feel better about it now because it's a quick recovery.

Let's see, I can hit Xpect for some cheap wrapping paper, then Costco for some milk since I'm running out. I could always order from the $1 menu at a fast food joint and I'm not averse to sitting in my car. Oh, bummer. I just realized those places won't be open around 7 am. Maybe I'll just go home again.

Yesterday H. and I saw The Invention of Lying in the $2 movie theater. It was pretty good and i thought a very clever idea for a movie, the idea being, a world where no one ever lied and how blunt and funny some of the things people said to each other were when only the truth could be told. Rob Lowe and Jennifer Garner were in it; I'm not sure why this movie never seemed to get much PR when it first came out.

I made a really good dinner last night, pasta, shrimp, pea pods and broccoli in a peanut butter sauce (just a half cup of PB, sesame oil, sesame seeds, water, rice vinegar, garlic). Every so often I get a PB craving and this definitely satisfies it.

For the past several weeks, I've kept the heat on at 64 daytime, 63 nighttime. Any cooler than that and it gets real chilly around here if you're sitting still. I felt, too, that one of my cats was getting cold, and since I'm here all the time now, I might as well be comfortable.

I checked the tank the other day and saw that I've still got a half tank of oil. I'd like to think I could get through til early January with that, but they are predicting much colder temps this weekend, so I don't know, since I never really turn the heat down now. It's a treat, though.

Craig's List sales have kind of fallen off. Bummer.

Got a dusting of snow last night

December 6th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

It looks pretty, but i haven't ventured out all day. Too cold for a walk.

Today was a No Spend Day.

I made chili for lunch.

Negotiating with family when I'll be down to Jersey. I had planned on a visit Dec. 21, but K.'s daughter in law wanted to come that day and if we both came, one of us sleeps on the couch. I can just as easily move my visit since I'm not working, although I had wanted to go that day in particular so I could join K. and her dog at their therapy dog training class.

We agreed I'd go down the following Monday. It'll be after Christmas, but that's ok.

I called to report in to the unemployment office this morning at my earliest time yet, 5:30 am and would you believe the line was still busy, busy, busy.

What else did I do today? Very little. Broke down some boxes and newspapers for recycling later this week, turned off the outside water to faucets (forgot to do this earlier), set some mousetraps in garage, filled the bird feeder and suet feeder and wasted time on the computer. I also reposted about 10 Craig's List for sale items. I'd love to keep the sales going.

This week I'll be transporting my mother to the hospital for cataract surgery and on the following Monday, I'll be picking up her art from a local exhibit. Also hoping to meet up with former colleagues for a networking get-together at a diner, maybe 5 of us.

I've gotten a little bit of Xmas shopping done. I need wrapping paper but hate like the dickens to contribute to the massive paper waste stream of the holidays. Wish I had old maps or something nicer than a brown paper bag to wrap the presents in. I'm not terribly creative.

Another Craig's List Sale

December 4th, 2009 at 05:08 pm

I pocketed another $22 from the sale of a tripod bag. The gentleman, a retired engineer who spent most of his career at a local hospital, then took an early retirement package, traveled about 50 minutes to pick it up.

My bag isn't padded, but even then, the new ones seem to go for about $50.

If he had known how the economy would unfold in the past few years, he said he probably wouldn't have retired early. He says he spends his time doing wildlife photography and recently bought a wood tripod he never uses cus he doesn't want it to get banged around, hence the purchase of my case.

I finished a load of laundry this morning and billed a client for some freelance work. I called 2 survey/focus groups to see if anything's cooking, and the woman at one told me they're expecting some work coming in Tuesday, so I should call back then.

I love to express small bits of income in terms of what it can buy me. So that $22 will cover a month's worth of cable TV.

Yesterday I spent about $40 on a voice recorder. It's not something I would have chosen to spend money on now, but I bought it out of fear and concern that my neighbors' sons will escalate a little situation here. Last summer I complained to the town zoning that they were running a commercial landscaping business from their home. The noise from the trucks, trailers and equipment coming and going, plus repairs at times done 10 pm at night, is not something I want to live next door to.

The zoning enforcement officer kept giving them 30 days to find someplace to store their equipment, but i could see they were just ignoring that request and then I'd have to call zoning and tell them that nothing had changed. Each time zoning would talk to them and they'd say we need a little more time. As far as I could see, they weren't doing anything differently, except they started hiding their equipment in the backyard, becus they didn't yet know it was me who complained and i guess they thought the zoning officer randomly saw the equipment herself during a drive-by.

Now, more recently, they've taken to driving their trailer and mowers up a long driveway that goes to the side of my house and to an interior lot where another family lives, and that family apparently gave them permission to leave their stuff there. Then, in the morning, i see my neighbors driving up to retrieve the trailer and head out for the day. So they're trying to circumvent town zoning laws by hiding their stuff at another nearby house. Amazing.

I guess by now they've figured out it was me who called zoning (i've had noise issues with them before, namely, the same sons pre-driving age driving their ATV and dirt bike around the yard) becus 1 of the 2 sons who has the business has taken to revving/racing his engine as he drives up that driveway, or past my house.

The other morning, one of the sons banged on my door. I didn't answer the door, but i have now purchased a small, hand-held voice recorder I intend to play if he comes to my door again. I'm sure he will be very angry and i want a record of any altercation if things continue to escalate.

The 2 sons are about 19 or 20, and the zoning person told me the one she spoke to slammed the phone down on her. If i hold the recorder in my hand, it looks very much like a cell phone. I am most concerned about vandalism to my house or property, and i have taken to parking my car in the garage now, which i don't usually do unless it snows.

It's a little stressful, and I'm not walking in my neighborhood much, but this neighborhood has never been quiet, due mainly to this one family, and they are, after ones, the ones breaking town laws, not me. So I won't back down and will keep after zoning to enforce the law. This has been going on since July.

The Lowlights and the Highlights

December 1st, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Today's lowlights: trip to the landfill, quick errand at town hall, 30-minute walk. Lunch was: grilled cheese sandwich, pumpkin soup, a can of V-8 and fresh pineapple chunks for dessert. Then, watching too many court TV shows.

Highlight: getting a call from a former co-worker who was laid off the same day as me. I'm trying to coordinate a get-together at a centrally-located diner for about 8 of us, all but 1 laid off by the same employer. (The last one is still working there.)

Over the weekend I did design some new business cards for my freelance work. I plan to pick up blank cards at Staples tomorrow and print them out myself.

I have another business name, and cards, which I've used the past 7 or so years for all my freelance work, but the business name speaks to the real estate industry, and i do, on occasion, get work for non-real estate clients.

So I really like my new business name. (Which by the name I am not registering, which some people do so that no one else can use that name in the state, because then the town latches on to you and starts taxing you as a business in town!)

I like the new business name because 1. It's clever and 2. It positions me as specializing in copywriting and marketing work for small businesses, a niche that is generally under-served. That's partly because they can't afford big agency rates, so that does present other challenges; i have to make my rates affordable, but still enough that it's worthwhile for me. With state and federal taxes taking 36% off my gross income, that can be a tricky balancing act.

I have done work for small business clients before who wanted to "consult" with me in person multiple times. My practice now is that I'm only willing to meet once with a new client because all the running to and fro can quickly erode my net profit. I'm a one-man show working out of her home, not a big, fancy agency that can give clients the star treatment. It's sometimes a bit of an educational process during which I have to gently explain to the client how I work, and why.

My goal is to keep my 15 or so "For Sale" items continuously posted on Craig's List, as I believe this is the best time to sell stuff. I've gotten some nibbles on my Made in Russia die-cast toy cars as well as my tripod case and otherwise have sold some camera equipment, a drum and some wireless earphones.