Wednesday, November 28, 2018


I felt sad when my passport expired.

The expense of renewing it seemed unjustified, considering how unlikely it is that I will be physically able to travel. But letting my passport expire felt like a surrender.

Every now and then in the past 3 years - my passport expired on 8 November 2015 - I've mentally debated the decision. It came down to one question.

Not: "How likely is it that I will use a passport?"

But: "How much value does the option of getting on a plane carry?"

Once when I had a medical appointment in a city I rarely visit these days, an hour away, I stopped at the AAA office and had pictures taken. Just in case.

And one day when I came across my old passport while looking for something else, I put it in a place where I could find it when wanted. If wanted.

Well, on the subject of renewal:

My Massachusetts driver's license is going to expire in December. Hoping to avoid a trip to the Registry, I went online to renew it. It quickly became apparent that the licensing system in MA has changed, and is in the middle of a transition related to federal ID requirements. I read all the instructions two or three times, and after spending an hour on the website, I came to a startling conclusion:

The simplest way for me to renew my MA driver's license
would be to first renew my passport.

Crazy but true.

This morning, I renewed my driver's license online.

Because a few days ago, this came in the mail:

And I feel very good about it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

giving tuesday

I don't know about you, but I am just as tired of hearing people complain about
"the commercialization of the holiday season"
as I am tired of the actual commercialization.

So I love the whole concept of Giving Tuesday.

from wikipedia:
Giving Tuesday, often stylized as #GivingTuesday for purposes of hashtag activism, refers to the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a movement to create an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

There's just no "down side" to Giving Tuesday. I love the recognition of the value of all kinds of giving - your time, your goods, your voice - not just money. I also love that so many philanthropists and organizations that can offer huge financial contributions, take this opportunity to match the tiny financial donations of ordinary folk like me. When my five dollars suddenly becomes ten, that's pretty sweet.

This Giving Tuesday website provides "near me" opportunities in the US - searchable by town or state, with a filter for category. I tried it for Non-Profits and immediately found 4 in my little town, and 1775* in Massachusetts.

An interesting website I visited yesterday for the first time is a place "for nonprofits to find pro bono help and for skilled volunteers to provide it." I don't have experience with TaprootPlus, but I do have experience offering skills to non-profits in lieu of cash, because these days my time/skills are frankly worth far more than I can afford to donate in cash. It's very satisfying when such an arrangement works out, but it can be hard to set up without a specific project/need already identified by the organization. (Psst: still hoping to hear from you, Snow Leopard Trust!) So if Taproot Plus is a functional clearinghouse for both the nonprofits and the volunteers, that sounds like a need fulfilled, right there. If any of my readers have used this website to either find free help or provide it, please share in the comments or send me an email. I'd love to follow up.

Meanwhile, today I'm going to make my small - but sometimes matched! - donations to groups I've written about before on this blog - APOPO HeroRats, the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation, the Pat Brody Shelter for Cats, and of course, the Snow Leopard Trust.

Pat Brody Shelter - free access outdoor area

And now - if you've made it all the way to the end of this post! - here is a little reward.

Some of you may remember a giveaway back in - oh my gosh, I just pulled the original images, and look - it was January 2015! 

Well, last year I had stocked up on more of these stars in order to repeat that giveaway in December. But I unexpectedly lost my laptop for most of that month and missed the opportunity.

So let's do it now!

I just checked the Snow Leopard Trust gift shop, and did not find stars amongst their many felted items, which makes these handmade stars not only pretty and cheerful, but possibly rare collectors' items!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post - perhaps sharing your own ideas for Giving Tuesday? or just say hello - and I will draw a winner one week from today. All are welcome, anywhere on the planet and on the International Space Station.

The winner will be announced on the blog and will have 3 days to provide me (by email) with a mailing address.

Good luck!

That state-wide number made me smile. There was rather a lot going on in Massachusetts in 1775! It was the start of the American Revolution.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


ice on motherwort

None of that shilly-shallying, dusting-then-a-warm-spell, off-and-on easing into Winter this year! Our first snow was the night of the 15th, and it was a heavy, wet snow requiring the tall boots. Since then, we've had more and more snow but often right on the edge of freezing rain, so it's a bit of a mess out there.

Still plenty of color, though! Doesn't this Rubus look lively despite it's icy snowcap?

After the most muted Autumn foliage season I can recall in all my New England years, my eyes are reveling in shrub colors right now. I painted this watercolor the day after the first snowstorm, when the sun was reflecting off the snow and backlighting the Kerria japonica between the porch and the stilt barn:

The kids are taking this new snow situation in stride, and of course the rest of the herd is very familiar with all aspects of Winter. All is well, as long as there are plenty of sheltering options when wanted - such as during the freezing rain episodes - and Management keeps the hay coming.

 My boy Betula, reaching out from under the stilt-barn to have a bite of hay.
What? Doesn't everyone recognize their animals just by their noses?

This past week, despite the weather - and the fact that the zipper on my work coat broke completely so I'm now wearing multiple fleeces and moving like the Tin Man - a long-delayed barn project is finally seeing progress. The doors - which have been a headache/backache for a long time - are now 80% functional again. A little more effort and they may be perfect. If I can avoid wrestling with them every day this Winter, it will be a BIG improvement!

Campion says, "Doors are all very well,
but let's focus on that hay you mentioned earlier."

It's definitely Stone Soup time, and the crockpot has been on a constant simmer. Do you keep a soup pot going, and add different things to change it up as you go along?

At this point in it's evolution, my current soup has beef, onions, mushrooms, bone broth, carrots, rice and chick peas. I sometimes add shredded cheddar or curry seasoning when I dish up a bowlful. Yesterday I also cooked a pot of lentils, so now there's an option of roasted squash and lentils with soup poured over. I am eating well. We all are. Bonus: at the feedstore Saturday I bought a new kind of chewbone that Piper seems to enjoy - huzzah! It looks like a rolled rawhide bone but it's not rawhide or bone, it's completely edible. I gave it to her Sunday afternoon and she worked on it for four hours, non-stop, before she had to stop for a nap. Today she was back at it again, so if it retains it's allure and lasts more than a week, I'll order a whole bag.

Time to paint #324 of the DailyMarkmaking2018 and call it a night. Here is a group of one-inch squares I've done recently as a change of pace between "regular" sketches:

Always something new to explore, isn't there?
Amidst all the other stuff we do, and deal with,
let's not forget to have some good fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

hay day

I've never felt comfortable standing idle while other people work.


When the work being done is my work...even more so. 


 Sometimes, though, there are things that MUST be done,
at a time when I CANNOT do them.

And at a time like that, when - for example - I can no longer delay getting in as much of the winter hay as possible, and an entire squad of my hay man's family members not only delivers but also stacks the hay for me...


Well, all I can do is count my blessings,
thank everyone from the bottom of my heart,
and stay out of the way til it's time to write the check.

All weekend I've been puttering around getting little things done, but the most satisfying "achievement" was getting that hay in...and I didn't lift a finger.

Funny, that.
I don't know if this means I should be worrying about how much longer I'll be fit to carry on with this goatherding way of life, or if I should just be finding more ways that other people can do all my work...
while I enjoy the totally undeserved afterglow of achievement!

I hope your weekend was productive and satisfying, with or without hay.

Friday, November 2, 2018