RIP Elizabeth Johnson (taf)

We met online four years ago. At the time I managed the paid-to-read program I now own, you had some questions which needed answers. We chatted for hours until you – in Australia – found out that I was in the Netherlands and sent me to bed at 3 am.

Over time we learned about each others past and present life, yours had been a hard one. You often spoke about your mother who died at a young age and whom you missed so very much even after more than forty years. You told me about your disgust of the Catholic church which had played such an important and in your eyes destructive role in your family history. You spoke about your love for Wales, from where your family emigrated to Australia and which you never visited but longed to see. About your love for cooking which you inherited from your mother, including her handwritten cook book which you treasured.

Between the lines I learned about your lonelyness, about your drinking to soothe the pain from the past and to survive the day. Yet you had a great interest in the world around you, you kept yourself informed about politics and, being a Wicca, environmental issues had your special interest. Though you could rant and rave about the – in your eyes – devastating effects of some minorities on Australian society you had a lot of love and compassion for the aboriginal people. You never lost touch with what went on in the world.

You were not always easy to get along with and tended to estrange people from you – especially when they came too close – but for me your sense of humour and wittyness more than compensated the occasional tantrum. So we chatted, we quarrelled, we laughed and we cried together for four years. We were friends and even made plans for the future, I was to visit you in a few years and we would tour Australia together; you wanted to show me your favourite gambling spot and the restaurants you liked.

And then you disappeared. At first I didn’t think too much of it. We had quarrelled a bit and after each quarrel you used to sulk for a while before you would chat with me again. But when I noticed that you had become inactive in my program I began to worry about not hearing from you.
So I started looking on the net to see if I could find out if something happened to you. Eventually I got help from someone local who found out that you passed away in June already. The manager of your housing complex had found you after you hadn’t been seen for a few days.

So many things left unsaid, so many questions about what happened and I don’t really want to know the answers. You passed away, you passed on to what can only be a better place for you.
Dear Liz, I hope you found peace now and that your mothers arms are around you, even though neither you nor I believe(d) in an afterlife. I love you. I miss you.

Elizabeth Johnson (taf),  March 14, 1950 – June 2009.

Kiva: We Let You Loan to the Working Poor

Kiva (www.kiva.org) is a non-profit that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur across the globe. Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

You choose who to lend to – whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq – and as they repay their loan, you get your money back.  It’s a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty.

Check it out!

Can Openers

What’s up with can openers these days? In the past two weeks I’ve spent like $25 on a variety of can openers and either they don’t work at all or they give up the next day. The last one I purchased was called ‘Chef’s Choise’ and I guess that’s a fitting name because no decent chef will need a can opener. Unfortunately I’m not a chef nor are my cats. So how hard is it to make a can opener that does what it should do: open cans without a problem?