Category Archives: recession

Here we go: everything linked in under one virtual roof

When I left LaMama Back in the day,  (read the obit I wrote on my mentor and founder of LaMama Ellen Stewart)  I ventured out on my own to launch a theater I called Under One Roof. I wanted a name that was expansive, a literal and figurative umbrella. I sought a theater, of course, and a library for multi culti/ multi disciplinary artists, and classes for kids and a haven in the very underdeveloped neighborhood of TriBeCa. So today, I thrashed out by email to my web wizard Lauren Little Wolf Walker  ( I thought about Under One Roof because Lauren had been an intern there. Now she has her own company, a family and I visit her mostly by computing magic. Walker Interactive also made my website, I was their test case and now Little Wolf  deemed it a dinosaur.

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>Making a Home Make Money


Making a Home Make Money

By Wickham Boyle 2:06 pm August 10, 2009


I love having a house in the country and a place in the city—so much that I have chosen country abode over health insurance. But even that sacrifice has not saved me enough to be able to hold on to my second home year round.

On the last day of July, I drove to my beloved little house a hundred and twenty miles up river from Manhattan, to make it ready for the August renters. We had rented our home before, but never for what seemed to me to be such a long time: five weeks. When you have a garden to grow and tend to (Read “No New Plants, Period.”), five weeks seems like an eternity. But it is a buyers market so when a good family responded and this is what they desired, I said YES.

I am doing this to make ends meet. It is not a tragedy of any magnitude; it is what my mother used to call, “an upscale problem.” I have two homes and so I have the upscale luxury of making one pay for the other. It doesn’t mean I won’t miss it, or bemoan my inability as an Ivy League educated mom to better provide for my family. It also doesn’t preclude me from experiencing some pangs at handing over my baby to another family.

I was grateful that our little house found renters when many of my neighbors have had their ads unanswered.

I had owned another farmhouse, one that I lost in a bitter divorce nearly two decades ago, and finding this house and purchasing it with my new husband, the love of my life, was the final stroke in healing my wounded core. This magnanimous man had moved into the loft where I had lived with the wretched ex and never bemoaned his energy lurking in the corners, but there were moments when we both felt it. This house on the slope was ours alone, a little nest and a testament to hard work and commitment.

In tough times we find ourselves either separately or together engaging in creative problem solving. If the taxes are too high on your home or well… second home, then you figure out a way to make it pay for itself. Like my children, my house is mandated to take a summer job. And it has. I am proud of my kids for finding jobs this summer and grateful that our little house found renters when many of my neighbors have had their ads unanswered. Thus, they are looking to second mortgages or home equity loans as bridges to pay taxes or bills.

And then the renters arrived. She is a documentary filmmaker with a cute lighting designer husband and two oh so sweet little boys, 3 and 5. The big boy and I immediately caught a small, bright ribbon snake and it was game on. They walked the property with me and oohed and ahhed at the giant two person swing my husband built, they ogled the ground hog hole dug right under a hammock, hung in a tall cedar. I showed them where the blackberries were staked ready to bloom.

We covered the more mundane issues intending a 200 year old farm house: water pump, creaky floors, strange light switches and the modern wonders of WIFI passwords and Direct TV, when it isn’t raining too hard.

We did a quick download of where the trash goes, where the best ice cream is sold and how to attract birds. And then we left another family waving from our porch.

I was overjoyed that small children were going to enjoy the hills and hammocks and wildlife, and happy that a harried, working mom was going to sip coffee on the porch watching humming birds and jays. I was also content that I had posted an “early bird special” on Craigslist and found good renters when other houses languished.

I felt wise, and a little sad. I know it is only five weeks but still I know I will miss the peaches, corn, lengthening of shadows and the first chill of fall. I received a cute email from the mom extolling the beauty, and comfort of the place along with news of the zoo established on the porch now housing fireflies and frogs. It’s just five weeks, and yes, it’s an “upscale problem.” But when times are tough, those things that bring us fulfillment grow in significance. I’m happy my little retreat is bringing the same to this other new family.


>Gardening in a Time of Recession


This is from the wonderful site 
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No New Plants, Period.
By Wickham Boyle ⋅ 3:03 pm July 27, 2009 ⋅ 

Gardening, after storms and the economic downturn, is akin to living with the dogged devotion of a Mets or Red Sox fan. As I wander through the garden and see the places crushed by the ice storm or rotted by the ceaseless rain I say to myself, “Wait until next year.” I say this too as I leaf through garden catalogs and dog-ear the pages. I know I can’t buy anything because I am on a recession diet: NO NEW PLANTS, PERIOD.

The economic downturn hit our house hard when I lost my part time editing job and our health insurance in March 2008. Then the stock market debacle turned our savings into dust. My response was denial; I just refused to open my account statements. It is possible to practice denial in dealing with retirement or college tuition accounts, but I had to walk out my front door and no amount of denial would allow me to over look the havoc wreaked on my garden.

The first thing I had to do was clean up the disaster. Then, since I am known to be a positive, plucky person, I decided to make gardening in a time of recession into a game, a challenge. How to garden when there is no money for plants or accoutrements? Not a penny. Luckily plants divide, unlike stocks of late, and what the economic community call “the green shoots of growth” seem to abound in the garden. I just had to learn to notice.

How to garden when there is no money for plants? Luckily plants divide, unlike stocks of late.

Every autumn I make a list of new year’s resolutions for my garden. In the fall of 2008 I fantasized a new job and a hedge of hydrangeas. Not just for the alliterative effect—though, I love that—but because they are opulent and romantic. I notated the idea in my garden journal. But when I read it this spring I crossed it out and scribbled: ice storm, rain and recession. I still wanted a project, so I settled on another romantic notion I had been incubating: a white garden.

I felt I could muster a white garden because many wild flowers bloom white, and I could toodle around my land culling these and cultivated white flowers too. So in spring I began marshalling the white plants to a western hillside covered in the leavings of a crushed willow tree downed in December.

I walked my property finding Queen Anne’s lace, phlox, a small white lilac strangled by buckthorn, and yarrow amidst the poison ivy. I waited until the lilies popped their heads up showing their colors and I moved the Casa Blanca and alba. I took wild daisies from the side of the highway and asked neighbors for seedpods or cuttings. Slowly my hillside began to fill in with buds, which are now opening in a mostly white profusion.

I am not a perfectionist, to my detriment, I fear, so when an occasional blue bell appears, I leave it. A few errant Halloween orange daylilies bloomed, now that the willow is gone and sunlight streams in. Maybe next year I will move these colorful interlopers, but for now I am celebrating that things are thriving.

The white garden.

I recently returned to take a peek at my portfolio, which had languished unvisited for nearly a year. And lo and behold, some things are coming back there, too. My portfolio and my white garden are making small strides.

I walk along, bending to weed, or examining new shoots and I think, next year, next year there will be white clematis climbing, and my GM stock will no longer be reborn, and they will issue new stock certificates. I will have blowsy hydrangeas grown from the cuttings my neighbor brought me. Next June, the delicate mock orange bushes, rescued from the highway crew, will bloom in the safety of my hillside. Next year, our teams will win, the market will soar and my white garden will be a glorious reminder of what can be culled, saved and nourished even in a time of deep contraction.