Friday, March 24, 2017

in brief



Most days:

Special package day:

 Every day:

Grateful day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

marching along

There's been a lot of variation in the weather lately.
Snow, rain, ice. A couple of warm days. Then more snow.
Very strong winds and truly, bitterly, painfully cold.
Welcome to March in Massachusetts!

The snow is nearly all gone now, and I had hoped to get a Permit to burn a big brushpile on Thursday to celebrate the return of my Occasional Helper. But now a big storm is predicted for Tuesday, so the brush may all be buried under snow again. If it was all in one place I'd clamber up the pile and get a tarp over it right now, but it's not...there are several scattered piles that will be shifted to the burn area once the fire is going well. The idea is, one person goes to and fro moving material, while the other minds the fire.

I sure hope we don't miss burn season; some years, the weather doesn't allow burning at all. This means looking at a huge mess every day for another year, which can be discouraging.

I actively battle discouragement on all possible fronts. Right now, despite several days of single-degree weather, my thoughts are turning to the gardens. And I'm enjoying the fruits of last year's gardens, which always lifts the spirits.

 On today's menu: organic popcorn! 2016 experiment.

 Also, candy roaster squash!

Decided to save some candy roaster seed.
Della seemed very interested.


 "Who, me? Interested in seeds? Not at all.
I'm, ah, here to...examine this bowl.
Handpainted in Portugal, was it? Very nice."

"Also, this chair. It's definitely time to inspect this chair."

Well, I hope your weekend has been pleasant, and your week ahead will be wonderful. And now I must sign off and go persuade Della to move from her new spot.
On the seeds.

Friday, March 10, 2017

friday flurries

Well, it's been a bit of a darkish day.

Snowed all morning, and quite cold.

 The wind had a real bite to it.

But just as I went outside to do the last chores of the day,
the sun suddenly burst through the greyness
and the sky turned bright blue!

Minutes later, the sun went down.
It was a colorful surprise ending to a dimmish day.

And here's another colorful surprise.
This one appeared in my email today:
the Kiva tally for International Women's Day.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

and the winner is

There were five wonderful comments left on the Kiva giveaway post, in this order:

And a few minutes ago, at 5:01 PM, I used Random.Org to "draw" the winner:

Congrats to KB Bear!

I'll email you also, in hopes you'll see this news in time to make your loan while it's still International Women's Day 2017. Of course, being in Colorado, you've got a little more time than I do here in fact, the sun is below the horizon already, and I'm making this a very short post as I've been away all afternoon and must get out right away for the last chores of the day.

Thanks to all the commenters
for sharing your thoughts on inspiring women!

Update: 6:45pm

I just checked the Kiva site and there are a lot of loans indicating that matching funds are available - right now, and today only, I believe - so if you have any interest, try using this link to go straight to the first page of "matched" loans, with the little green "X2" badge on the descriptions.

Monday, March 6, 2017

another giveaway giveaway

Look, readers! It's a woman with a goat!
We are everywhere :)

I've decided to repeat my own Kiva giveaway giveaway.
But this one is specifically to contribute to Kiva's effort
to crowdfund $3M in loans to women by 8th March.
Time is short, so please share this giveaway in any way you can.

I'm cutting and pasting most of my original blog post about Kiva, because although I could always write it differently, I don't think I can write it any better. If you already know all about Kiva, you can zoom right to the bottom of this post.
So here goes:

Are you familiar with Kiva? Since 2005, this non-profit group has funded microloans all over the world by combining donations of $25 or more. Donors choose a loan they wish to contribute to, and after that loan is repaid, a donor can re-loan the original donation to another borrower!

All the screenshots are from the Kiva website.
They are very nice images; left-click to embiggen.

I. Love. Kiva.

I love the fact that 100% of every donation goes to funding a loan. There is a separate option for donating to Kiva admin costs. This is brilliant. A $25 lender does not have to wonder how many of those dollars are really going to the designated borrower, because ALL the dollars are going there.

I love that Kiva does such a great job of making this program work. The repayment rate is 97.1%. That's due diligence, that is.

I love that more than 2 million loans have been made, in 83 countries, by 1.5 million lenders, to the tune of over 800 million dollars. Oh, and Kiva has a top rating on Charity Navigator.

It's an unusual experience, making a Kiva donation. Reading the borrower information is a tiny, unique window on ordinary lives around the world. There's much I wouldn't have imagined. And much as familiar as the view from my porch.

Maybe a cooperative group of farming women in Vietnam are adding to their small breeding herd of pigs. Or cattle. Or goats. Maybe an urban taxi driver needs to repair the vehicle that supports an extended family, or a shop owner needs enough capital to begin purchasing products at a lower bulk rate. Maybe someone is planting apple trees in Moldova, or growing a small business in California. 

The Kiva website offers simple filters to help a donor find the loan they wish to support. Some search filters are geographical. Some filter by the purpose of the loan - such as agriculture, or retail business, or clean energy - or by characteristics of the borrower: elderly, single parent, individual/group, etc.


This new giveaway is for a $25 Kiva Gift Card
(purchased by me)
for the winner to donate to a Kiva loan supporting a woman.

A small sample of loans currently gathering funds.

If you have already donated to Kiva, the $25 will be added to your account. If you are new to Kiva, redeeming the gift card will set up your account. And in case you have concerns: in my experience, Kiva does not pester donors. I get an email periodically to let me know when a loan has received repayments, so I know when I have enough funds available to donate again - that's about it. And that's actually pretty nice.

Now, if you want to put your name in the hat for this all-new giveaway to mark International Women's Day 2017, here's what to do.

1) Leave a comment saying something relevant to International Women's Day.
It can be about something you do, personally, to support women.
It can be about a woman of the past or present whose life has inspired you.
It can be about a woman in your own life who has influenced you.
It can be about your own life experience and personal observations.
It can be What IWD2017 Means To Me, if that primes your writing pump.

Write a novella (like I do) or write two lines - doesn't matter. We all want to read what you want to write.

But in some way, your comment must thoughtfully relate to women, because the giveaway is for a Kiva loan TO a woman, in honor of International Women's Day. Okay?

Please feel free to share this giveaway, in any way you like. It's open to anyone on the planet, or on the International Space Station.

I'll do the random number thing at 5PM Eastern Time on the 8th.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

kiva giveaway

Remember when I did that Kiva giveaway?

Well, right now, Kiva is doing a huge giveaway in honor of International Women's Day.

They are inviting people who have never made a Kiva loan to make their first $25 loan for free.

I don't know how they are doing this, but they are planning to fund
3 million dollars in loans by the 8th.*

I just don't see a "down side" to this.

If you'd like to read my post about Kiva and the work they do, here's the link to the giveaway giveaway post. Please check it out or just go straight to the Kiva website.

I love Kiva.

*Edited 11:55AM Sunday 5th March

When I posted this last night, the "free loans" were still being given away. But Sally informs us in her comment below that the "free" loans were capped at $250,000 (which I did not know or I would have mentioned it...but still pretty darned impressive!) which have now been given away. So the goal is to have additional "regular" donated loans to women add up to $3 million by International Women's Day.

Thanks very much for that update, Sally - and thanks also for making a loan!
I believe I will follow your lead :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

winter theme

If I ever look back on this Winter,
I think I will remember a season of apples and soup.

 I've gotten fairly good at making soup this winter.
There's never a plan; it's just whatever comes to hand.
It's like Stone Soup, without the villagers.

Organic broth. Lots of vegetables; fresh and from the freezer.
Organic chicken, while my frozen stash lasted.
Perhaps cheese. A splash of cream if I have it.
New this week: organic kamut or farro.



The 2016 drought meant a tough year for apples in my neck of the woods. I wasn't sure the local orchard owner was going to part with any of her Rhode Island Greenings - apparently she and I have similar taste in apples.
I felt lucky to buy a half-peck.

  They were a bit smaller than usual, again due to the drought.
They reminded me of wild fruit. Precious wild fruit.

Della is not a big cat. This is not a big apple.

The apples were stored in the coolest spot on the porch, and I kept my fingers crossed they would "keep" well there. But in November I discovered that the skin on some of the remaining apples was just beginning to get that leathery-loose feeling that says,

"I'm fine, but use me NOW."

I had been enjoying the apples sparingly,
but as soon as there was a risk of wasting even one apple...
the brakes were off.

Plush porcupine eying the state of the apple skin.

There was to be no apple mosaic cake, since the hens weren't laying.
Just apple crisp, which is about the easiest thing in the world.
The first apple crisp was delicious.
The second, ditto.
Until, one day...

there was One Apple Left.

First, I admired it.

Then I painted it's portrait.

Then I went to the grocery store and bought a few organic Granny Smiths to add to the last Rhode Island Greening for a final apple crisp.

It was...okay.
So that was it. "Farewell to apples!" for a while.


It turns out that making an apple crisp every week for a month
is an excellent way to build an addiction.

A week later, I returned to the grocery store for more apples.

Granny Smith.
Not Rhode Island Greening.

And the week after that.
And, well, yes.

Clearly, I need to put some thought into proper storage for apples before next Autumn. Not too cold, not too warm. Safe from varmints. Accessible even in deep snow.
It's tricky, of course.
If it was easy, I'd already be doing it.
But darn it, I'll have to figure something out.

The goal: to have Rhode Island Greenings right into Spring.

And with that in mind, I'll keep filling the soup kettle.
Maybe it will help me think.