Tax Credit for 2017

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The 2017 donation checks are in the mail. Ten nonprofits made my list, and of those, two are cat shelters that my sister, who is now in feline heaven, has supported. The runners-up, fine organizations all, know where I live. In 2018 they will send mailing labels, calendars, dream catchers, stickers, nickels, bookmarks, maps, note pads, and photos of  children and animals in need of food, medicine, shelter, and compassion.

Last November I started to save bulk mail, and by the end of December I had a stack of envelopes. My name and address are linked to a segment of the political and social stratosphere. I receive nothing from the NRA, the Republican party, or religious organizations – except St. Jude’s Hospital, which I don’t count as secular. In some abstract way what I value and support has been synthesized. I imagine computer programs sending millions of potential donor profiles to advocacy organizations. That puts me on lists for animal shelters, nature preservation, social justice, literacy, population awareness, women’s health, shelters, recovery/rehab, and Tucson’s kid camp.

Remember the saying, You Are What You Eat? From the send-us-money letters I receive, I am correctly targeted. I use Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/) as a source to filter organizations. Many have a strong advocacy and persistence, but high administrative costs. When a CEO makes mega-bucks, I should be asking fill in the name for money. My bottom line: No contribution when an executive’s annual salary is a high six-figure income.

Best wishes to all for 2018. Let’s work to improve the health of our planet, and the lives of its people and animals.

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Kiva Microloans – Give & Get

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L-R: Rosa, Judy, Susan, Debbie                                                            Absent: Kathi K.

In 2009 Rosa, Judy, Debbie, Kathi, and I began making microloans through Kiva. (http://www.kiva.org/) We agreed that in a small way we would help women who needed money. At the start we each contributed $25 and invested $125, one project at a time. Loan repayments were eventual, and we were patient. Of our nine loans, two fell into default. When that happened we took the hit, added money to our Rainbow Women account, and help fund another project.

Kiva does not permit contact with a borrower, which is fine and understandable. We lost track of Amelia in Liberia, and our loan went into default. In 2014 the Ebola virus devastated the country. As much as we wanted to know about Amelia’s well-being, we were never told. Our second default occurred recently. Rochelle in South Africa needed money to purchase equipment for her daycare center and had repaid 55 percent of our loan. We understand that default is always a possibility.

Kiva projects are supported by individuals and groups. To reach a funding goal, projects need to attract many lenders. For example, we helped Aminata in Senegal raise $1,075. Twenty-two other lenders pitched in. Our next loan of $200 will cause a ripple effect. Improve the life of one woman and those around her will also benefit.

Here are photos of the amazing people we chose to help with a Kiva microloan.

 

Carmen, Peru

Carmen, Peru

Amelia, Liberia

Amelia, Liberia

Miriam.Columbia (2)

Miriam, Barranquilla, Columbia

Aminata, Senegal

Aminata, Senegal

Florinda, Peru (2)

Florinda, Morropon-Piura, Peru

Rochelle,S.Africa

Rochelle, Lenasia, South Africa

SanFelipe'sEffort.Mexico (2)

Zenaida Gonzalez, Group President – Estado de Mexico

Vicky, S.Sudan

Vicky, Gudele, South Sudan

Marusya.Mongolia

Marusya,  Ovorhangai Province, Mongolia

Rainbow Women has made loans in education, agriculture, food, and retail. Kiva has 11 more categories to consider. Choosing a project is definitely a challenge. Everyone has a compelling reason for the loan. A woman in Vietnam needs a toilet. A woman in Ukraine wants to fix her roof and buy radiators. Fifty-nine women in the U.S. are looking for loans. A beekeeping project caught my eye – bees are universally vital. Others agreed, and the project has been fully funded. You might like to join the many individuals and groups who reach out and help through Kiva.

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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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Silhouettes & Exhibits

The current exhibits at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art fill the mind, eye, and heart with wonder. When I needed a time-out, I sat on a bench near the 7th floor elevators. I photographed people who walked from the elevators to the galleries. In silhouette they created an unexpected exhibit with the right elements – light, dark, lines, and tension. I sat there fascinated by the people who wandered in front of my camera as I clicked away. An apartment building adjacent to the museum provided vertical lines and rectangles to create a background of convenient abstraction. The public area was filled by some who sat on a ledge and also wanted down-time. Others walked passed with intention to enjoy the “Soundtracks” exhibits available until January 1, 2018.

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Not to be missed: Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s water with bowls and sound, clinamen v.3. The zen-like combination of sound, movement, and color quieted my mind. At best I wanted an hour to contemplate and slip into a quiet space. Several YouTube videos offer a chance to experience the beauty of clinamen v.3.    https://youtu.be/_wdltDfs-F4.

“The Visitor” by Icelandic musician/artist Ragnar Kjartensson created a music video that rings uniquely atmospheric and sensual. The setting is an Astor family mansion in upstate New York.  Hypnotic and mesmerizing describes what I felt. Lynea felt close to tears from the haunting sounds – cello, drums, piano, and more. Truly a knock-your-socks-off experience. I must say that Kjartensson does look better dressed. He’s the guy in the bathtub playing guitar. Videos on YouTube:  https://youtu.be//lcwGnWuXJuU.

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#MeToo

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When I was a 16-year-old high school student, I worked part-time at Sears (Newark, NJ). Since I could type Louise Gleason hired me to work with her in the personnel office. After graduation and on to Rutgers, I kept my little job. On Saturdays I finished clerical work for the store manager’s secretary. The upstairs offices were empty, few people were around. The telephone operator and I might be the only employees on the 3rd floor. Merchandise managers and the store manager rarely showed up. Saturdays were quiet.

Harry P., the manager of store 1044, was a good-looking guy in his 40’s, married with kids. On two separate Saturdays he interrupted my work by inviting me into his office. Each time he began with small talk, then wanted to know what my boyfriend and I did on our dates. (I was dating a Sears management trainee.) I figured Harry out for a voyeur and decided not to feed his perversion. The next Saturday he evened the score. I had stacks of paper and five file cabinets in front of me – sort and file, that was my job for the next few hours. Harry, the snake, approached silently from behind and clamped his hands on to my breasts. I swung away and screamed. His response: “I just wanted to see if they were real.” I don’t need to explain what “they” were. That Saturday Harry P. showed himself to be a predator. I needed my job and I loved working at Sears. That’s my store. The secret had been mine alone until #MeToo became an option.

Mr. Griffith, the previous manager, had a carved wooden sign above his office door. The sign read: A Peacock Today, A Feather Duster Tomorrow.

As women continue to react to sexual injustice, more men will become feather dusters – a euphemism for all washed up.

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Final Stop – Sitka, AK

Our week-long cruise on Wilderness Discoverer ended in Sitka, a city I had missed on previous trips to Alaska. Yes, we had rain. Then the sun came out until the rain began again. Alaska had an exceptionally wet spring and summer. That’s what a friend who paints houses in Juneau said.

 

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I’ll remember Sitka for gorgeous flowers blooming everywhere a flower might grow. I thank the drivers for not taking aim at tourists. They were easy-going, patient people who slowed down to let wayward pedestrians cross the street. Next best – the dogs. In Sitka people walk the nicest, friendliest dogs, and I missed my Abby. Most of all, I will be grateful for Ana Dittmar, the heritage museum curator at St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Ana agreed to accept my mother’s prayer book.  (See WP post  Sept. 2, 2017.)

 

 

Even though I had a map, the entrance to the Russian Orthodox cemetery was hard to find. Eventually, I met a tourist who had visited the cemetery, and she gave a simple direction – walk straight up Observatory Hill. Pass the houses and go to the end of the road. At the end, a dirt path snakes into a forest with topsy-turvy graves, triple-bar Orthodox crosses, headstones, and flowers. Visitors like me stepped into a eerie place of  lush plants, moss, and slipper slopes that were magical and spooky.

 

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Alaska – The Inside Passage

On to explore Alaska with Un-Cruise Adventures, a small-ship company that stamps a capital A on activities. Wilderness Discoverer left Juneau on a rainy August afternoon and docked in Sitka one week later. Except for a stop at Glacier Bay National Park, we were out there beyond towns, people, and wifi service. On rainy days, and that meant most days, the A’s put on their REI rain gear and took off to kayak, bushwhack, paddle board, explore, and skiff the shorelines. On the last day, 18 passengers put on bathing suits and took the Polar Plunge into dark, cold water.

Excursions took us to desolate islands and inlets. We watched brown bears catch salmon and whales take a breath of air. Mussels, barnacles, crabs, and all sorts of sea creatures met us on shore walks. Our one fun salty, edible was pickle grass that grew above the high tide mark. (I’ve since learned that pickle grass also grows in Death Valley.) Into the forest primeval of Emmons Island we walked – a thicket where trees, moss, vines, insects, and pesky mosquitoes live in harmony.

 

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My Mother’s Prayer Book

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The last days of an Alaskan vacation ended in Sitka. On a Saturday I visited St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral as a  tourist, but one familiar with the history and traditions of Orthodoxy. Sunday I stood with others during the two hour liturgy. Childhood memories unfolded among the icons, incense, candles, and choir voices. I remembered the words. I knew the drill.

In the Cathedral, I began to think about my mother’s prayer book – again. The question I have often asked myself, who might want Our Daily Bread? The first edition book with 655 delicate pages, published in 1938, belongs in a special place. Certainly not on an eBay auction block. Through the digital world I reached a priest at St. Michael’s. Ana Dittmar, the Cathedral’s heritage museum curator became my go-to person. Although the prayer book is not related to the history of the Cathedral, Ana accepts ” . . . Orthodox items that are of sentimental significance . . .  .”

About the prayer book – The book begins with 49 pages of morning and other prayers, followed by the Divine Liturgy. Evening prayers, prayers and devotions before and after Confession and Holy Communion come next. Psalms. Prayers for special intentions. Prayers and liturgies for the dying and the dead. Child’s manual of prayer. Fast days. Pages on the left were printed in church Slavonic. Pages on the right were printed in English. Ten years ago a Tucson bookbinder repaired and restored the cover.

Mary Lissik Lulic never traveled beyond Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. What a joy to know that her prayer book found a home at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka.

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