Sunday, January 11, 2009

Joining the Kiva

Last summer, I saw the ruins of a kiva, a hollowed out room for spiritual practices, at Homalovi, a site in Arizona where the proto-Hopis may have lived.  The site flooded sometimes but most of the time the river sustained their culture with its water.  Windblown red sand, willows leaning over the river, shards of grooved and painted pottery laid out on big slabs of red sandstone--my husband and I were the only ones there, and we found it profoundly moving.
Today, I joined others in microfinance, through a web site called Kiva.  I remembered the kiva we saw last summer.  Microfinance was started by Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus, via the Grameen Bank that he founded.  It lends money to the poor, giving them a hand to begin a business that can support their families.  Kiva works similarly.  I paid $25 via credit card and selected Atsina Doris in Ghana as my loan recipient.  I joined others and she still needs more willing lenders before she'll receive the amount she requested.  I have loaned through Kiva before, and although there are no guarantees, I expect to have all of the loan repaid.  The poor are a great credit risk, as it turns out.  It's another kind of Kiva, but both seem spiritual to me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another Tree Mystery

The sycamores still have leaves, both white-trunked ones and gray-trunked ones, so I'm still waiting to see if they'll lose all leaves at the same time. But the sweet gums turned out to be two different types too. One set of the trees, which Claremont has planted in the median at regular intervals, have leaves with five points on them, star shaped leaves. The other ones have three pointed leaves. Almost all of those with five pointed leaves have dropped their leaves now on my street, but some of the three-pointers are still covered with yellow-to-brown leaves. I haven't spotted any three-pointed red or orange leaves on trees, but found one reddish three-pointed leaf on the ground. I collected the seed balls under various trees last time I walked the dog, and found that the five-pointers have balls with hard, pointy extensions while the three-pointers have similar sized balls but they have threadlike extensions. I'm tempted to think they're different species, but I've lived on this street over ten years thinking they're all alike, so they do have some similar traits. I'm sure the five-pointers are sweet gums; I had to identify them in my ninth grade project long ago. The three-pointers are a mystery. Mutants? Or a different type of tree that looks similar?