BTW, I run all my SS sites at at least 128M, sometimes 256M.
Its also probably worth noting that the assets folder needs execute permissions
ie $ chmod 755 assets -R
It's not so much the permissions as much as the ownership. Apache needs read/write on the assets directory.
That was an issue I was already aware of and had dealt with quite a while ago. This was a new issue that came up after everything had been working.
However, the matter is moot now, because I figured out that I had run out of allocated memory. After increasing the memory allotment, I was able to get back into it.