"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Seamstresses in Training

Today my sister-in-law and niece arrived for a weekend of home crafting lesson swapping. Today it was sewing, which was the perfect opportunity to work on our Project Linus quilts.

The project:
Teach my sister-in-law and her daughter how to use their sewing machine, and work on our Project Linus quilts.

More than two hours.

Why bother?
During the holidays, my s-i-l said she would be interested in bringing her daughter down for a Mom n' Daughter crafting weekend. I really enjoy their company, so I was thrilled. And to be able to share skills that will serve us all throughout life added to the pleasure. Working on projects for total strangers just capped it off.

Worth it?
What a great day spent together. The girls (ages 6, 7 and 8) were so excited to make their projects. Niece made two pillows and a purse. E finished her Project Linus quilt (and said she's ready to make another) and V, the youngest of the three, felt like such a big girl using the sewing machine on a real project - a cat-shaped pillow that she got started today. I also got a good start on my Project Linus quilt.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Trash - Is It Really So Difficult To Toss?

We packed our belongings, strapped on the cables, piled in the minivan and headed home today after a wonderful week in the mountains. While our long day of travel into the mountains proved difficult for our Charitable Deeds Project, today brought us a task nearly upon waking.

The project: Pick up other people's trash and deposit it in the bin.

Is it really so difficult to carry your empty beer cans INSIDE the door and deposit them in the trash can that rests just 10 or 15 feet from your drinking spot?

1 minute

Why bother?
The railing along this snowy walkway wasn't really intended to display aluminum cans, I'm fairly certain. It looked trashy, got in the way of pedestrian safety in these icy conditions and, well, just looked trashy.

Worth it?
Referring back to our previous trash pick up, I'd say yes, chiefly for (again) this reason.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Kinder Manner of Ski Removal

Yesterday's deed was a matter of course. Today's deed was a matter of paying attention.

The project: Help a youngster with his skis.

While watching our girls play in the snow after a long day of skiing, I noticed a young boy standing nearby, but I didn't register that he was standing with one ski on and the other off. He was very patient. Finally, his dad slid in and the boy called out, "I can't get my other ski off." The dad was at a disadvantage, still in his own ski gear, uphill and trying to catch the eye of another member of their party. I jumped up, feeling like a dolt for failing to notice his predicament, and helped him get out of the broken binding.

15 seconds max.

Why bother?
It was easy for me to reach the binding, and since I was already in "street shoes," easier for me to reach the boy.

Worth it?
Yes, though there was a bit of a forehead-slapping factor on my part for failing to notice WHY the boy stood so still for so long without saying a word.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Faceplant First Responder

A snow skiing vacation is JUST the place to be if you want opportunities for charitable deeds to jump into your lap.

The project: Provide aid to accident victim.

While pausing at the intersection of two runs awaiting one of my girls come off the easier of the two, my attention turned up the steeper run. There I saw a little girl, younger than my own, heading downhill at an increasing rate of speed, her skis wedged in pizza formation, but her legs not strong enough to hold the edge. As she raced toward her brother, she yelled his name frantically before narrowly missing him.

Then she was headed toward me.

Should I move? The options raced through my mind: If she hits me, it's going to smart. If she doesn't hit me, she'll hit the trees behind me, which'll be far worse for her. And if we're both lucky she'll manage a turn.

I started yelling, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" She tried. She managed to turn just enough to avoid me and the tree, but crossed the tips of her skis in the process and, in a flash, lost a ski and smashed, face first, onto the hard-packed snow.

As my own daughter reached the intersection, I raced forward to check on the girl who was slowly pushing herself off the ground only to display two missing front teeth! What a relief it was to find these were not the victims of this accident, but previously lost as a natural part of human development!

5 minutes including her dad's scramble to the spot, and her rapid ascent into his arms.

Why bother?
Sometimes I think this section might be unneeded. I like to think THIS is one of those times.

Worth it?
I was so glad I could be there for her immediately. She was very frightened and had the wind knocked out of her.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Finding a Screw on a Mountain of Snow

Today Mr. B got into the act.

The project: Find a lost snowboard set screw and return it to its owner.

While helping our girls load onto the rope tow at the bunny hill, Mr. B overheard a snowboarder asking the lift operator if he'd seen a set screw from a snowboard. A few minutes later, Mr. B spotted the screw in the snow. (What are the chances?!) Mr. B skied down the hill, then ran about 200 yards with ski boots on to give this guy the missing piece.

Have you ever tried to run on snow in ski boots?

5 minutes

Why bother?
Mr. B is a good guy - and he knew the kid couldn't 'board without this part.

Worth it?
Mr. B was winded, but the kid was back on the slopes in no time, and Mr. B was happy with his effort.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beginner Skier on Advanced Slope

Sometimes it takes a good hard look at the situation to find a good deed, a way to contribute. Some deeds leap out, beg to be part of your life, won't take "no" for an answer.

The project:Help a skier make it down the slope.

While taking a final run down the "big hill" with the older daughter, we came upon Laurie. Laurie said she'd skied before, years before, and felt ready to tackle the mountain again. Unfortunately, she didn't know the mountain, didn't have anyone along to help her or guide her, and didn't have the skill to make it down the mountain with relative ease (or even a great struggle). I found her struggling to put her skis back on after a fall on a steep, icy, narrow path that connects the lift with the "beginner" descent. I helped her get her skis back on, back on her feet and pointed in the right direction. Fifteen feet later she was on the ground again.

While helping her strap in again, I discovered the bindings on her rented skis were not properly set for her rented boots. The bindings were MUCH too large for the boots, so there was no way she could get proper click into place! I didn't have any tools with me, nor the expertise to set them exactly, so I helped her snap in again, then headed down the hill for help.

Laurie may have made it down the mountain on her own eventually, but it wasn't going to be a fun trip. And Laurie wasn't a youngster, so I was worried about this stranger's potential for injury, particularly on these hard, slick runs. I hope she enjoyed her ride down with the Ski Patrol - or at least a good binding adjustment before her final descent.

20 minutes

Why bother?
This woman was really struggling, and on her own, as the day drew on. The lift had just closed and I was worried she'd be lost in the trees or injured on the slopes.

Worth it?
For my own peace of mind, yes. For a lesson in kindness for my daughter, who stood by patiently in the cold as she watched me try to help this woman, absolutely. For Laurie? I certainly hope so.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Deeds on the Road - Opening Doors

Today we headed out on another family trip; this one to the mountains for a ski vacation. Finding good deeds on the road can be a challenge when you spend most of the day five hours in the car. Still, we managed.

The project:
Opening doors. I find spending hours either driving or riding limited our contact with the Outside World. Still, we did stop for a pit stop, trudged back and forth through hotel doors to lug in our gear, and ventured out after The Game for dinner.


Why bother?
It's simple, easy, doesn't really put anyone out of their way and is almost always appreciated.

Worth it?
After having completed the task myself, it wasn't difficult to appreciate the benefit this small favor provided another traveler struggling with an overwhelming pile of winter wear