Tag Archives: barter

Smells Like Childlike Spirit!

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Last night’s soup swap was a great success. I marveled at the way the same basic ingredients could be presented in such unique ways. Fall and winter vegetables teamed up with lentils and beans in many dishes, but each had its own flavor and texture. A “golden” ladle was given to the soup voted as overall favorite. The winner was a cherry dumpling soup! We tend to think of soup as an appetizer; a beginning to dining or a hearty stew-like main course for lunches. So this soup (along with the others – over a dozen in all) surprised and delighted everyone. We went away with recipes and new ways to combine basic pantry items that we get tired of, or use over and over in the same way. Grandma’s acorn squash and lentil soup tastes great, but we tire of the routine.

So let’s look at something that is also always there, and can get stale no matter how much we love it – our occupations. Do you remember when you were a child, dreaming of the careers you would have as an adult? As 5-year-olds, there were no boundaries – we planned futures as firemen, mommies and daddies, doctors and pilots. I decided to ask other writers this question: What would you be if you were not a writer?

At first my colleagues insisted that they would want to do nothing else except what they were doing at present. So I asked, if skill/talent/money/whatever was not in the way, what would they choose to be? Reality should play no part in their answer – there should be no logic attached. I wanted to hear what they would do if there were absolutely no boundaries –in this imaginary world, only their spirits were in charge!

The answers were amazing –given the chance to throw aside the hackles of reality, a few stated they would be farmers, dancers, artists and singers. Without the requirements of formal education, others said they would be veterinarians, paleontologists, and physicists. The answers were exciting and eclectic – pipe organ player, rabbi, metalsmith, kitten photographer, ranch owner (where children could ride horses for free), Radio City Rockette, Indiana Jones, and many more. In the imaginary world, it didn’t matter whether we had long legs, beautiful voices, had degrees or owned acres of land – not even the sky was the limit!

So, as adults, how can we unlock the doors that hold in these dreamy wishes, and make them a little part of our reality? If we gave our spirits control of our lives, instead of allowing logic and all the other things to handcuff us to a specific daily grind, how would it change us? Of course, I am not suggesting we all live completely in a dream world of our making – we all have to pay bills and taxes, raise children and do laundry. But if we did something to fulfill a part of that inner desire, wouldn’t it only serve to make our lives better?

Instead of planning a vacation, what if you spun the globe, closed your eyes and pointed to a destination – and took off on your own Indian Jones adventure? What if you bartered for lessons in something you had interest in doing – dancing, acting, baking, or religious instruction? What if there were no boxes to define you? Dig deep – and uncover your passions!

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Snow Mountains and Soup Swaps

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Snow has arrived in Central Vermont! I spent Sunday with my two friends, Otis and Ben, and we enjoyed the snow together. We tried out the hill at their country home – fabulous! Otis, who is 6 years old, discovered that if we all piled into the wood sled together, the trip down the hill was much faster! Later that afternoon, Otis, Ben (who is 4) and I went to Hubbard Park to do some more sledding, participate in a scavenger hunt, and have hot cocoa and cookies.

At home, the snow plows rumble into the parking lots behind my apartment and push the accumulation into miniature mountains of white and grey. Last night Fae and I played “Queen of the Hill” on the pile nearest the door. Fae loves snow – but like me, when her feet get cold, she’s done playing!

Each morning I discover that a kind spirit has shoveled my little walkway from the parking lot to the steps of my apartment, and cleared a path to the dumpsters as well! This person must come before dawn, as I am usually up early and have yet to find out who it is. So I am giving a shout out and a thank you to the Snow Fairy, whoever you are!

If you remember my blog of last winter, Glove is All You Need, I discovered the singles gathering of gloves in Montpelier. My goal this year is to collect those errant gloves and mittens and find a place to donate them. But this month, shoppers won’t have to expose their hands to put money in Montpelier’s meters. The city has covered all its meters with festive red baggies – everyone parks free. A good thing for shoppers and a good thing for the shops!

I am preparing beef barley soup to take to a soup swap hosted by the REACH exchange in Montpelier. This swap is a bit different than the one I wrote about last year in Soup for You. We all partake of the soup of others instead of going home with freezer-ready portions. I am considering hosting a soup swap of my own in the late winter months – it would be a fun way to spend a cold evening!

Glove is All You Need

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I have been ignoring this blog space and I apologize. The last few weeks have been filled with truck repair and inspection, settling into a new – although temporary – place, and looking for work in Montpelier.

I have also worked to meet people and become a part of the community. Recently I met a city official, who told me about one of her pet projects, the Onion River Exchange Program. The program encourages service exchanges between community members, with hours as the currency. So, each member’s hour of service to others is worth as much as the next member.

Well, you know how I love barter – see the Trading up for Ireland page – so I signed up! The exchanges were so interesting and varied. One single father asked for home-cooked dinners for his two boys and himself; a pet owner needed her dog’s nails clipped, another asked for help with guitar lessons. Others offered such services as web site development, or plumbing work, or yoga lessons.

My first hour of service was for the Onion River Exchange Project’s office. The girls who ran the project were busy moving from one location to another, due to a fire. So they were up to their exchanges in boxes. I was asked to deliver fliers about the project to downtown businesses. It was a perfect opportunity to get to know the downtown area. I spent an hour tacking up fliers, and at the end felt a sense of accomplishment as well as feeling as if I were a part of the Montpelier community.

The weather was fair that day, as were the few days before, and much of the snow had melted away from the parking lots and medians. When I parked behind Main Street and started to put my money in the meter, I noticed there were three gloves of different types lying at the base of the meter. Several other meters along the line had gloves at the base. I could envision what had happened. During the winter, it snows regularly here, and shoppers had to take off one of their gloves to handle the coins they needed to operate the meters. The gloves dropped from their hands and were buried by the continuing snowfall. So now, there they were lying there – a singles club for gloves with a 2 hour limit.

I thought about all those people who wondered what happened to that lone glove; wondering if it had been lost in that same great big black hole as socks from the dryer. I wondered if there was a place that would offer mismatched gloves to solve the problem, just like the place that sells mismatched socks.
I found this cool site where you can send in a lovelorn single glove to find a new mate. I read about one man’s quest to collect pictures of poor little lost handwear.

But the best glove-related site I found was a story about a man who honored his father’s legacy of giving by offering gloves to the homeless.

Next time I’m in Montpelier, I’m going to take some time to pick up those single gloves that are hanging out at the meters, wash them, and take them to a homeless shelter. They might not be new, or matched, but they can certainly warm a hand – or two.

A Magic Carpet Ride, To the Emerald Isle

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A few years ago, an innovative guy decided to see if he could trade a giant paper clip for something, well, better. So he advertised on Craigslist, not knowing what he would end up with. Being a huge barter fiend myself, I liked his spunk.

Fast forward to this evening. I was reading an e-newsletter sent by Barbara Winter, author of “Making a Living Without a Job,” and was making notes on her first article titled “7 Easy Ways to Warm Your Cockles” Since I had no idea I even had cockles, I figured I’d better take notes. I wrote down the seven ways and planned to start cockle-warming first thing in the morning. I read on, and stopped at an entry about a workshop held in Galway, Ireland.

Be still my heart. This area of Ireland had called to me for the better part of my 50 years on this earth. It was on my “Boxcar List.” That’s like a bucket list, but much bigger and harder to ignore. I had written about the female pirate queen, Grainne O’Malley, and recognized her castle immediately among the pictures on the workshops web site. There was a strange need to visit, to walk the countryside and find spiritual sites I knew but could not describe, to breathe the air of a country that I recognized only through genetic memory, through the drops of blood that came from my Irish ancestors. Years ago, I shared my draw to the Galway region with a fellow writer who came from Ireland. “No matter how many generations are away,” he said, “Ireland always calls her sons and daughters home.”

After I clicked off, I looked at Barbara’s list. The first one stared back at me:

Do Something Out of Character.

Hmm. You’re a workhorse, Rosie, not a show horse. If you can’t pay for it, you don’t need it. You have obligations. You have bills. It is all true. If you want to go to Ireland, it has to be free, or you have to barter for it.

I stopped talking to myself and stared at those words. Thoughts become things. I sent off a note to Barbara, basically telling her the same thing I just told you, and sent a similar one off to the workshop leader. And here I am, telling you. I want to go to Galway.

I believe that some things may seem improbable, but nothing is impossible. And I started thinking about the guy who had nothing but a paper clip. I did a quick look through my apartment – remember, readers, I am packing, so pickings are slim. But here are some items I found that I am willing to barter to piece together a trip to Ireland, in order of value:

1. 6 AAA batteries. Not new, but a few of them might have a little bunny left in them.
2. A wire hanger, used.
3. My wig, used this summer during my bald period.
4. The hair of a dog. Really. The hair of a dog. TRADED for handspun yarn – see pics and description in “Trading” page
5. A Virgin Mobile Kyocera phone , with chew marks and a battery that is still fairly good.
6. And, if I find it, I will offer a four-leaf clover, found by me. This is surely worth an entire trip, flight and all! Let me know if anyone is interested in this one and I will look harder. (UPDATE: I found it!)

Here’s more:
JUST ADDED: My high school class ring, circa 1975.
My voice: Got an advertising project that needs a female voice?
My skill: Blog content? A story…on Ireland? Want me to tweet about your Irish wolfhound?

So, whatcha need? Let’s trade! We can’t win if we don’t play. I’ll post offers here and keep you updated on any progress. And if this dream doesn’t happen right now, it will eventually. There is always a Plan B.

UPDATE: I have added a barter list page link at the top of the blog page for easier browsing! Watch for trades there!