Behind a brightly colored, overgrown bougainvillea bush in Linda Vista hides the modest home of Christine Hauser. She's lived in the house for more than 20 years, but this week she's getting kicked out-evicted for defaulting on her loans.
Hauser's known the foreclosure was coming for some time, she explains, as she leads me through her house stacked to the ceiling with boxes and possessions she'll likely lose in the shuffle, but, she says, she believes she's done everything she could. When the police come knocking May 1, she'll have no choice but to go. As of yet, she hasn't found a place to live.
"I still haven't figured out exactly what I'm going to do," says Hauser, who's managed to collect $275 from friends, which she'll use to help pay for the storage space she rented for the few things she can't bear to leave behind.
People who know Hauser call her "Tie-Dye Chris" or simply "The Tie-Dye Lady," because her main source of income comes from the tie-dyed shirts, dresses, kids' clothes and even underwear she creates and sells at craft shows and bazaars. Her regular vendor spot is at the Seaside Bazaar in Encinitas on Saturdays and Sundays, but she travels to bigger craft shows across the country when she can.
It was one of these bigger shows, in fact-the Kenny King RV show-that Hauser partly blames for her financial woes. She spent $400 for a spot and stocked up on tie-dye products, expecting to sell more than she'd ever sold before.
"I thought it'd be my salvation," she says, looking down in noticeable embarrassment, "but it wasn't."
That financial hit, combined with generally poor sales during the previous few summers and an accident a few years earlier-she was hit by a car, leaving her with chronic back and knee problems and prohibiting her from working for a time-made the downward spiral more like a high-powered vortex that sucked up her savings.
Finding a cheap new place to live would be easier for some, but Hauser has 23 cats-yes, 23-and she refuses to abandon them. She rescues cats and, because she's somewhat of a softy, she ends up keeping them.
"I look in their little eyes, and promised that I wouldn't leave them," she says, "and I'm just such a cat person-there just has to be a way to get through all this."
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