Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WE HAVE A WINNER!!

Sorry I'm a little late posting this, but I have three excuses: (1) air conditioning repair person this morning, (2) Google Blogger having a meltdown today, (3) a bout of insomnia last night so I'm walking around like an extra in Night of the Living Dead today! At any rate, here we go.  The winner is:


Amanda Ergenbright!

Congratulations, Amanda!  I'll be in touch with you to make arrangements to get your gift choice to you.   

Couple of notes:

First, a huge THANK YOU to all who participated by reading and commenting.

Second, I want to note that Linda's interview edged out the previous record holder for the most comments/entries for a giveaway on my blog. I am absolutely not surprised - it just shows that so many of you agree with me that her work is stunning and beautiful and that her interview was so entertaining and informative.  

Finally, I want to offer a huge shoutout and welcome to those of you who signed up to follow my blog and/or my Facebook page.  I'm looking forward to getting to know you, and I hope that you will continue to come back and share your thoughts with me.   I'm sure Linda extends the same welcome to those of you who signed up for her blog, FB, and Twitter.  The online artistic community is very special to both of us.

Thanks again to Linda and to all who participated!

Do you know this bird??

About a week or so ago, this pretty bird appeared in my backyard (the best picture I could get). I am by no means an expert bird watcher so when I see a new guy I check the books and online. I haven't been able to identify this one and, based on its behavior, I'm beginning to suspect it's a pet bird who flew the coop. It keeps to itself, comes by itself, and doesn't fly away quite so quickly as the others do when I go outside.  I have gold finches here but this one's coloring just doesn't fit. It is yellow all over except that tiny "cape" on its back and around its neck.  Could it be a canary?

Once before I posted a pic of a spider and one of you was kind of enough to identify it. So I figure one of you may know what this is. And if it is a pet, should I try to capture it? I haven't been able to find any "lost bird" postings.  What do you think?

Monday, June 28, 2010

My ABC Treasury

I decided to create a new Treasury this morning.  (By the way, I like the new Etsy format for creating treasuries - you can create them at any time. You don't have to watch the clock to hurry and grab one - that's the way it was before.)

Anyway, one line from that childhood rhyme came to me this morning: "Now I know my ABCs."  So that's my theme. Cute, huh!



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stuff, Stuff and more Stuff

Yep, I have a lot of it, mostly in my studio. It collects there. Tools of the trade, like two printers, computer,  binding machines, sanders, paper cutters. Supplies - pencils, pens, brushes, paints, matboard, frames, paper of all kinds. So far so good; makes sense.  I am an artist after all.

But the most overwhelming is the "I'm going to do something with this" stuff.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not an obsessive compulsive or a hoarder. Just a saver.  My voluminous stuff is very well organized!  Neatly filed in boxes are precious items like broken silverware, feathers, pieces of wood, doorknobs, handles, keys, beads, ribbons, dried flowers, rocks, vintage playing cards ... it goes on and on ....

Since I wrote about my decision to endure another back surgery next March, I have been making a list of things to do before then.  Having been through several back surgeries already, I know that my recuperation will be excruciatingly long and I will not be able to do anything strenuous for a long while.  So I have to get some big projects out of the way now.

Tops on that to-do list: DO SOMETHING WITH ALL THAT STUFF!  Second on that list: Start saving/making some money to cover the extra expenses that will be incurred with the surgery. So I created a new category in my Etsy shop called "Upcycle, Recycle, Destash."  And I'm having fun creating new products with all the stuff in my studio.   Here's some of what's already listed:

Coasters made from leftover bathroom tiles and my pink rose Lazertran transfers.


A message board/key holder created from wood pieces, cup hooks, and dry erase board left over from various household projects.


Three little houses from more of that left-over wood.


A garage sale find that I never used, a photo album with a frame on the front. I refinished it with sand textured paint and sea shells.

A Salvation Army thrift store buy - new in the box shelves, also refinished with sand textured paint, sea shells and twine.

And this refinished wooden trinket box that has been in my possession for - oh, I don't know - 10 years maybe? LOL! 

Happily, I just sold this Shabby Chic Pink Jewelry Holder!


I have about four more projects in the works. And I want to start putting together some destash packets too. I'm having fun with this recycling project, but I fear I have more stuff than I will ever have time enough to use up. I'm trying, though ....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Treasury

Here's a pretty treasury: Etsy Roses.  It includes one of my newest upcycled listings, four ceramic tiles with my rose photos.





The treasury was created by expressions 123, a fun shop with cards, magnets, and other items using scrapbooking techniques. Stop by and take a look.    


Friday, June 25, 2010

L'esperance means "hope"



Are you hoping to win  the $40 gift certificate to L'esperance Tile's etsy shop?  Well, duh, you can't win if you don't enter!  Go here to post.

Color at the Country Fair

I kind of fell off the radar for awhile and didn't submit too many pieces to Thurday Sweet Treat.  But I'm trying to get back into the groove. The theme this week was Vibrance Rides the Ferris Wheel.  The first thing I thought of was some photos I took over Memorial Day when I visited a local country fair. Since I'm also trying to find the time to get back to studying Photoshop, I decided to use some of these photos and practice color enhancements and effects. I think one of the challenges of all the techniques available in PS is to know when to stop. (Come to think of it, that's an every-day challenge for any artist, not just with Photoshop!!)

I like the way these turned out so I think I might try putting an ACEO collection together with them. What do you think?





Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Treasuries - Catching Up


A few new treasuries have been kind enough to include one of my pieces in their collection, so I wanted to share them with you. 


The first one was created by one of my online friends, Klaire of Mystic Silks called Blue is Beautiful!  It includes my Sky Blue Holiday Wreath.   I love the color and the choices she made - lovely!




Look at this delightful treasury - Good Things Come in Threes by Deb Babcock of Blue Sky Pottery

It includes my Home Sweet Home Three Little Houses, part of my upcycled/recycled section.  I love my little houses, if I may say so myself!








And this stunning treasury is titled One Small Step and includes my The Moon's a Balloon Digital Print.
It was created by Cheri of Art2ArtColorado who has some pretty stunning work of her own.





Finally, one of my newest prints, White Dogwood Reaching for the Sun is included in this treasury created by Sparkletribe. Isn't that a great shop title??

The treasury is called Mataitirangi-eyes shining to the sky.  Since sparkletribe is in Australia, I'm assuming that tongue-twister word is someplace in that beautiful country.




It's constantly amazing to me the incredible variety of artwork on Etsy. I wish the world knew more about us!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In the Studio with L'esperance Tile and a Fantastic Giveaway!



I am so pleased and excited to visit with one of my favorite Etsy artists, Linda Ellett of L'esperance Tile.  I have been a fan of her work for a long time, and I wanted to know more about her.  Simply put, I am blown away with everything she has accomplished and is still accomplishing - it's absolutely amazing.  So pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and settle in for an interesting artistic exploration AND a big finish with a very generous giveaway!

FK: Linda, what’s your morning “cuppa?"


I really enjoy my morning tea; my favorite is Constant Comment or Earl Grey. Every other Friday morning I meet up with my friend Sara at the local coffee shop and we have our “Chai Tea Chat”. My afternoon tea break is usually a vanilla chai or chai latte.




FK: Great! I'll pour for us both while you give us ALL of the online sites where we can find you ...

My Etsy shop is http://www.etsy.com/shop/lesperancetile
My blog is “She’s so clever!” at http://linda-ellett.blogspot.com/
My personal Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/lellett?ref=profile
My fan page on Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/lesperancetile
My Twitter page is http://twitter.com/lesperancetile
My Flickr page is http://www.flickr.com/photos/linda_ellett/
My website (under construction right now, new look coming soon) http://www.lesperancetileworks.com/

FK: Wow - that's quite a list! I'm curious - what does “L’esperance” mean?

L'esperance means "Hope" in French, a tribute to my Grandmother, Elizabeth Hope Collopy, whose great-grandparents came from Canada and anglicized their name from L'esperance to Hope. I started the business with a $1000 inheritance that she left to my Mom when she passed away, and which my Mom gave to me. Some very strong, caring women in my family!!



FK: What is your art education background?

I completed my BFA in Ceramic Art at Alfred University College of Ceramics in 1979.  After becoming addicted to tile during an apprenticeship that summer at The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, PA, I established L'esperance Tile Works three weeks after returning home and have been making tiles ever since.

FK: That's impressive that you were so determined at a still relatively young age.  Tell us something about your family and where you live.

I grew up in Lansingburgh, NY (also called North Troy), which at the time of my childhood was the typical idyllic small town with turn of the century homes and tree lined streets with boulevards. Anyone from that area who was a child in the 50’s will remember waking up to the smell of the local bakery, Freihofer’s, who became famous for their white bread and chocolate chip cookies! Alas, they are no longer in existence…..





After returning home from college and my apprenticeship at The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works I moved into a lovely Victorian brownstone in downtown Troy on Washington Park. My husband Don and I were married in October of 1987 on the steps of the Million Dollar Staircase in the Capitol Building in downtown Albany, which is made of carved stone columns and banisters depicting the local floral and fauna – breathtaking! We fell in love with the space after completing a reproduction of a historic fireplace for the Lt. Governor’s office.



Our son, Harry, was born in 1990 and we lived in Albany until 1998, when we again out-grew our studio footprint and bought an old school house in Rock City Falls, 45 minutes north of Albany. We moved most of the tile making studio up there, but kept the glazing, packing and shipping part of the business (with a full crew) in Albany for 3 years.

Finally, in 2002, we brought everyone up to Rock City Falls, which is just 10 minutes west of Saratoga Springs. We consider Saratoga our downtown, and really enjoy all of the arts and culture that the city offers.

We just finished creating the Artspass Tile for the Saratoga ArtsFest for the 4th year. You can see the step-by-step process on my flickr site here.



FK:  It looks to me like the work you show on Etsy is smaller and more personal. Am I right about that?

I opened my Etsy shop in Sept of 2006, after my father told me about Etsy. I had a very active Ebay business, where I sold seconds and overrun tiles, and he thought Etsy might be a good place to sell. I immediately was drawn to the layout and look of the site, and how easy it was to set up shop. But I decided that this was the place to let my creative, personal side of tiles rule. I had been making small ornament tiles for Christmas gifts for family and friends for a few years. I didn’t really spend much time on my Etsy shop until the following year, when I began to learn that to have a successful shop you need to put energy into it. It seems simple now, but it didn’t occur to me that if you don’t list and keep things fresh, buyers won’t find you!

So – you’re right – my Etsy shop is all about the tiles that aren’t available to our distributors, my small tile ornaments, and the pottery that I was inspired to create just for my Etsy shop. I also have focused on gift tile lines for the Etsy shop that have become very popular. Examples are My Victorian Postcard series, including “Sailing Away.” 



I also joined the Etsy Mud Team, which is a wonderful group, very personable and full of suggestions and support, although, sadly, I just can’t seem to find the time these days to keep up with the forum thread. Hopefully I’ll get back into the thread soon.


Victorian Valentine Tile Ornament - Bird with Love Letter





FK: I’d like to know a little about Lesperance Tile Works. It sounds like a big operation.

 It’s been over 30 years since I founded L’esperance Tile and we’re still going strong. I started out using local red clay that we dug from the nearby banks of the Hudson River and carved my tiles with inspiration from nature – flowers, plants, birds, etc. I sold my tiles to local home owners and through a local tile company for the first few years.

Then, in 1981 I connected with an architectural firm who asked me to reproduce a fireplace that was missing from a historic site in Elmira, NY: the Arnot Art Gallery. I used historic photos and a few tile samples that were found in the basement to recreate it. With that I entered the restoration world and found I liked it! Don and I began to exhibit at shows that focused on historic restoration and reproduction and really created a name for ourselves in tile reproduction. L’esperance Tile is in five State houses, including the Lt. Governor’s Office in Albany, NY, and the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, OH. We also have tiles in many historic homes, including the Mark Twain Home in Hartford, CT (2 fireplaces), The James Thurber home in Columbus, OH, and the Daniel Webster Home in MA.


In 1992 we met one of the owners of Waterworks at a tile convention and became one of the core tile offerings at Waterworks based in Danbury CT, with 30 showrooms in major cities around the country. We sell most of our tile through their NYC and West Hollywood showrooms, to clients that include John Cusack, Barbara Streisand, Ben Stiller, Sean Connery, Lorne Michaels, Al Roker, Jay Leno. A lot of celebrities have our tile in their homes, but we’re still waiting for that party invite! *grin*  Our tile is also featured in two Hollywood movies: “The Game” with Michael Douglas, and “Duplex” with Ben Stiller. The upstairs bathroom where the little old lady lives is all our tile!


Although we grew steadily with the Waterworks sales force putting our tile out into the world, we unfortunately don’t get to see most of the installations for ourselves. But there has been a conscious effort to keep the business small enough to be part of the production team, which I thrive on.

We have between 3 and 12 employees, depending on the demand of the jobs in the shop. For the field tile production (plain glazed tiles with no pattern) we extrude our clay into long ribbons that get marked and cut by hand, dried between plaster boards, edges get sponged soft when the tiles are dry, bisque fired, glazed, and refired to either 1950 F, 2050 F or 2165 F, depending on the glaze we’re using. Decorative tiles get pressed on our hand press from the blank ribbons of clay and treated in a similar manner as the field tile.


I’m the designer/reproducer, carver, and glaze creator/matcher of L’esperance Tile. We have a mould maker who makes production run moulds for us, but Don or I will create moulds for small run tiles ourselves. My husband Don is the direct contact for Waterworks, and for the architectural firms we work with. He also is in the production shop with our large dust press and wet clay extruder, while I’m in the glaze shop or at the computer with our online presence.



Victorian Greeting Card Ornament



FK: I have seen your flickr page showing your process.  Can you give us a brief explanation?

To create a decorative tile I first put the design into Photoshop and make sure it’s the right size. The wax original needs to be 11% larger than the finished tile because our clay shrinks that much. Then I pour a wax blank – I use discarded candles that my Mom brings me from her church, melt them in an electric pot, and pour the hot wax into a flat enameled pan to produce a blank wax that measures about 11” x 17”. Then I take the printed image and trace over it onto the wax. After I lift the paper away I have a line drawing of what I’m going to carve. That’s when the fun begins! After I’m finished with the carving I set it up to pour a plaster mould, which after drying gets pressed into the wet clay with our handpress. Photos of the process (and Abbey the cat overseeing the action) are here on my flickr page.

FK: I was first attracted to your site because I love the arts and crafts/art deco/art nouveau styles. And your fossil tiles are wonderful! Do you do a lot of research to get the ideas flowing? It looks to me like your tile art and colors are period authentic, and yet they look very contemporary at the same time.

A lot of the tiles that I create are custom requests, either for reproductions of early 19th century designs, or designs to suit the homeowner. I created the fossil tiles last April for a local woman who is a retired Earth Science teacher. She was redoing her kitchen and wanted a custom backsplash. She choose a few of the fossils that are pictured in the Earth Science study guide, and I took it from there. I’ve always loved fossils, so it was a really fun project for me. Her husband is an avid Adirondack High Peaks climber and gave me a photo of his favorite peaks. I created a decorative panel of the site that sits above their stove area. Those are the types of jobs we get all the time. It’s always a great treat when the projects are close by and we actually get to see the finished project. Read my blogpost about the project here.


As far as my glazes go, I love glaze calculation and have over a dozen base glazes that I’m constantly tinkering with to get different results, at all different temperatures. Some of the glazes like to be brushed, some we spray on, and some we dip. I also use commercial glazes if they fit the puzzle of reproduction. We use the technicians at Alfred University to do our materials testing for us, as some projects need the material to meet certain standards. We just completed a large tile restoration project for the MTA at the Ocean Parkway train stop in Brooklyn, NY, which had to be certified for exterior freeze/thaw conditions.

We love research and spend a lot of time studying the original English and United States tile producers. In 1984 I won a grant to research medieval and Victorian tiles in England, and Don and I spent a month exploring cathedrals and abbeys all around the country – it was amazing. I took photos of the tiles and I have a set based on some of the Medieval images.





My favorite U.S. tile maker is JG Low Art Tile Works and I’ve been commissioned to recreate about a dozen of their tiles. Their finest carver was Arthur Osborne, I’m a huge fan of his distinctive style. I’m influenced greatly by the early tilemakers, but I only reproduce tiles when I’m commissioned to. When I carve for fun I draw on nature themes and ancient cultural images. I have 2 tiles that were inspired by many trips to the Native American wing at the Natural History Museum in NYC – the Inuit Ivory carvings are just so fascinating to me and after staring at them for an hour I went home and carved a “Fish” and a “Bird” tile in that style.



FK: You definitely work hard!!  Where’s your “quiet place” when you need a break from creating – somewhere you go to rest, refresh, meditate?

I’ve created a garden in the area that used to be the school’s playground. It's the place that I go at the end of my studio day - and sometimes right in the middle of it - to sit, to dig, to explore, and to observe.

But my favorite places to chill and rejuvenate are the nearby Adirondacks, in summer/early fall, swimming or canoeing/kayaking on the northern waters of Lake George near Huletts Landing. I out-last everyone in the water – I stay in until I’m a prune!









In winter I enjoy cross country skiing at Garnet Hill in North Creek, or long walks in the woods behind our house that follow along the Kaydeross creek. Sometimes my cat Abbey will join me.


FK: What part of being an artist is the most gratifying to you? What part is hardest for you, or that you dislike the most?

The finished work is so gratifying that it fuels the creative process for me. Whether it’s reproducing a design that someone else originally created, or designing tiles myself, it’s such a long process to get to the final product, that when the tile finally emerges from the kiln, glazed and complete, I’m inspired to start new ones. I can’t always anticipate what the glaze will look like on the completed tile, and it’s most usually a real treat to see one for the first time, and very rarely…not so much!

And, of course…I LOVE my Etsy customers – they are an amazing group of people! It’s so delightful for me to see some of the same customers back in the shop over and over, spreading the love of my tiles to their friends and families.

Trying to price my work fairly to make a profit is always a challenge. Keeping track of employees and their personal problems isn’t that much fun.



FK: What do you do when you’re not being an artist? What activities do you enjoy?

Well, honestly, I don’t think that being an artist is something that gets turned off and on. I think I live a creative life……I’m the one who is making sand castles when I’m on the beach, creating fairy houses out of sticks and moss when I’m camping, and finding the dragons and giants in the clouds when relaxing on the hammock.


My husband and I both come from large, fun loving families, and hanging with them is great entertainment. Even though we only have one son, we both have 4 siblings, 7 in-laws, 9 nieces, 5 nephews, and 2 great-nephews! And, both sets of parents are still healthy and happy, so our family parties are great fun and last well into the evenings. We like to vacation and party with our families and friends as often as possible. We’re fans of eating out, going to the local film forums, and seeing local live music - CafĂ© Lena’s is a great place in Saratoga.


FK: Linda, I have enjoyed so much hearing about your life and your art. You must be so proud of what you have accomplished. And now what are you going to give away to some very lucky reader?

I couldn’t decide which tile to enter into the giveaway, so I’d like the winner to decide, with a gift certificate of $40 for anything from my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/lesperancetile

FK: That's a wonderful gift, Linda. Thank you!


Here's how you can win that generous gift certificate. You have several opportunities to enter your comments. They must be entered as separate comments in order to be counted for the random drawing.


First entry: Visit Linda's shop, come back here, and enter a comment about your favorite piece. http://www.etsy.com/shop/lesperancetile

Second entry: Enter a comment if you signed up to follow Linda's blog (or comment if you already follow). http://linda-ellett.blogspot.com/

Third entry: Enter a comment that you signed up as Linda's fan on both Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/lesperancetile) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/lesperancetile).

Fourth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my blog (or comment that you already follow).  (See column at right to sign up.)

Fifth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up as my fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/anotherbrightidea).

That's FIVE chances to enter for the random drawing!!!
More than five entries will not be counted. I will use random number generator to pick a winner after 12 noon EDT on

TUESDAY, JUNE 29.

Good luck!

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Friend Treasury

Since I joined Etsy, I have made some really great online friends. I decided to create a treasury that features  some of these great artists and ... great people!!  Visit the treasury and see their beautiful work up close, then click on each shop and be delighted!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's About the Back ...

I started writing this post several times and each time I got cold feet and didn’t post it. I guess because it is such a personal subject it’s hard to talk about how it has dominated my life for quite a number of years. Oh, I know I have occasionally made comments about my crummy back, but never really explained what that was all about. Last week I flew to St. Louis to meet with a surgeon who is a specialist in what is called “revision surgery.” So it’s time to explain.

Warning: I'm leaving out the gory details and technical language, but if you are sensitive about medical issues you may not want to continue.


I have idiopathic scoliosis.

This isn’t my back, but mine looked exactly like that before my surgeries. I didn’t even know that my spine was deformed like this until I was in my 20s when a doctor noticed it during an examination. The prevailing belief at the time was that at my age there was nothing that could be done since I was past my growth spurt, and that it wouldn’t get any worse than it already was. (Yeah, right!) I was told to forget about it, and I did. In retrospect, I was fortunate in that my S-curve was well balanced and I didn’t have front-to-back rotation. So it wasn’t very noticeable and I wasn’t self-conscious. (Yes, I had trouble sometimes with some clothing alterations, but it was relatively easy to compensate for one hip being slightly higher than the other.)

The trouble started in my later years, when I started to hurt “from my neck to my knees” with some internal problems as well. After years of tests, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture and anything else I could think of with no relief, I finally had major spinal fusion surgery in 2000, with rods and screws and hooks placed along my entire spine. This is how it looked after that surgery.

Unfortunately, that didn’t end my back problems. In 2005 I developed spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord that puts pressure on the spinal cord and the spinal nerve roots. People, I have to tell you … that was the worst pain of all!  I had no choice but to have another surgery, which extended the fusion a little further into my lumbar area.

I never really recovered after that surgery – I was unable to keep myself upright, and walking and standing for any length of time became extremely difficult. The surgeon insisted there was nothing wrong, so I sought out opinions from two other surgeons. Both of them told me that my fusion did not heal solid, a condition called pseudoarthrosis. I subsequently had a third surgery (2007) with a different surgeon, an additional fusion down to the sacrum, and a fourth anterior (“front”) surgery (2008) to place a metal plate in front of my vertebrae.

In my defense, these were all well-respected surgeons and I had done my homework beforehand. Revision surgeries are relatively common, especially for people who had their surgeries more than 20 years ago because of the fusion techniques used. I won't bore you with the historical data, but the technology is a lot better now but still carries risk and complications, and I'm living proof of that.

Here's what it looks like now, after I have been sliced and diced three more times.

It was after the second surgery that I finally took early retirement. I just couldn’t handle the travel and physical demands of my job anymore. Each of these surgeries has a very long recuperation time, anywhere from 8 weeks to 3 months without driving, bending, lifting, or twisting, 6 months before I could start any physical therapy, and a full year before I could be considered to be fully recovered.

After all that, you would think I should have a perfectly straight back with no problems. No such luck! I have a condition called iatrogenic flat-back syndrome, which simply put, means that the surgeries I had didn’t allow enough for the normal curvature ("lordosis") in the lower back, so I am constantly bent forward. And that causes all kinds of other problems with hips, legs, upper back and neck, and an extremely poor prognosis. I’m not in horrible pain, just a constant ache and soreness in my entire back which requires me to get off my feet every so often, and to plan my activities to minimize extensive walking without a break.  The ideal posture for anyone is for your cervical (neck) area to be balanced directly above your lumbar area.

Here's a side view xray of how I used to be, and how I look now.

That’s why I went to see the surgeon in St. Louis who is one of only a handful of surgeons in the country willing to take on complicated revision surgery for a condition like mine. As you can imagine, there’s a long wait list, so I’m scheduled for surgery next March.

What I have orders to do between now and then is a specific aerobic, stretching, and weight training program. (They didn’t say it, but I will – I also need to take off 20 or 30 pounds!) I have been exercising all along but I have to re-double my efforts now, with no slacking off.  Many standard exercises are forbidden to me because they are too stressful on the lumbar area or because I simply have very little flexibility. And aerobics in particular is difficult because of my bent-over condition.  But somehow I have to get as healthy as I can for what will be an extremely complicated surgery. 

What I would also like to do is figure out how to get some real buyers into my Etsy shop. Either that or figure out some other way to make money. I know not what.  LOL! My insurance will cover the surgery, but I need to save up some money for all the extra expenses - traveling back and forth, and lodging, meals, etc., with a family member for at least two weeks for the surgery.

There … I’ve said it. It still feels a little strange to talk about this, but this is what's on my mind these days. So if you have any kind of back pain, or you are living with a chronic health problem .... I understand.
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