We all encounter the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world. To counter the negative bits, there’s the outright joy and loveliness we are blessed with. Here are things we have observed thus far.

You know the economy is less than desirable when:

Your favorite and truly authentic English bakery, until further notice, is now only open for “take away only” two days a week and catering/special orders the rest of the week, which means we have to enjoy our elevensies at home instead of a lovely sit-down surrounded by the cute English decor. (So, when you’re in town, go support this incredibly charming English bakery.)

Your favorite grocery store mails, for the first time you remember, a big “Budget Buster” coupon book with two coupons per page (both sides!) for things you actually use. (Except for the bacon. A coupon for $2.50 off one package of bacon made me wonder just how much it was originally, since $2.50 is about all I’d pay for such a package.)

A local school district is so strapped for cash that it comes up with a plan to make up for their million dollar shortfall: Get rid of 500 jobs, 250 of those to be teachers. The idea of more students per classroom and an extra class with no prep period for high school teachers results in students confronting the school board and demanding they take better consideration of their future education. Teachers present options such as taking a furlough (giving up their paid teacher-work/leave days) or raising property taxes. Some students walk out of class one day in protest, resulting in a district official’s “official” statement of, “the best way you can support your teachers is to stay in class.” (You mean this classroom here that can barely hold all of us now?) And they warn the teachers that if they strike, they risk termination. (You mean like you’re possibly considering for me now?) The superintendent and school board have huge, complicated, sometimes ugly jobs, but some of us are wondering how they actually got so far into this mess, and why they don’t hire someone who actually knows how to budget money since this district was far in the red at least two years before this. Recent events may not have helped, but they didn’t single-handedly cause their predicament, either.

In the same vein, school districts are considering putting ads on their iconic yellow school buses to get more funds. People go either way on this. My only concern: Some drivers already don’t notice the red flashing lights and big red flashing STOP sign that projects from the side of the school bus, not to mention the kids spilling from its doors, to bother to stop for the school bus. (On both sides of the road, folks! It’s the rule in this fine state.) I worry that ads would just be one more distraction.
(Read this for an entertaining take on this issue.)

Department chain stores repeatedly hold weekly or weekend 30%-70% off sales, and business advertise sales with terms like “Stimulus Sale!” and “Beat the Economic Blues” or some such thing.

You get the dividend check for your shares of stock and the amount of shares you hold exactly equals the amount of the check—in cents. (Yes, we didn’t even reach a dollar mark, folks.) Which meant it cost more for them to print and send the check than the check actually costs.

Despite all of these, however, there are happy and positive things happening in the world, as they always will.

Sweet, beautiful new babies arrive in this beautiful world to bring joy to us all.

Wonderful FAL, after her many years of hard work and much prayer and consideration, is finally able to retire. (Insert stars, balloons, and confetti here.) Amid her nervousness, she is happy and we are all very proud of her. After entering the work force as a teenager and working for “the man” ever since, FAL deserves to answer to herself for a change.

You learn that friends and cousins are going back to school to get degrees, thus bettering their lives and circumstances and setting good examples to their kids.

While driving through town, you hear your cousin’s song on the radio, on a major FM station. (Wait to go, Neon Trees! We love Elaine!)

Your children love school and their wonderful teachers who instill confidence in them.

You have the chance and ability to create a lovely Medieval-style gown—thanks to a second-hand store and a bit of ingenuity—for a sweetie’s Medieval banquet.

The ladies’ day you plan goes off wonderfully well, and all of your lady friends enjoy a much deserved day of play, talk, and munchings—and leave with the new exciting skill of how to drill through china (and horde craft store coupons) to make their very own lovely wall clock. (Nice donated china + no desire to give it to the thrift store = have an awesome and successful craft party)

The fantastic parent’s committee you serve on serves a proper and lovely English High Tea to our children’s teachers, much to everyone’s delight.

A double-fortune fortune cookie! (Because I’m awesome!)

Birds are singing! Green flower shoots are appearing! Spring is coming! As George Harrison would say, “Here comes the sun, and I say, It’s alright!”