To Barter

exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.
“he often bartered a meal for drawings”
synonyms: trade, swap, exchange, sell
“they bartered grain for salt”

Barter #1- IT help for a watercolour

Some time ago, I panicked when I could not get into the “dashboard” (where I make changes, add and delete things) of my website. I tried to enter multiple times with the predictable result  that I was locked out. I had that sick feeling when we realize we know very little about something we depend on for so very much. My trouble shooting daughter could not help me out this time.

I put out a plea out on Facebook, and met Ruth, the daughter of a friend who was willing to help. I stopped in late at night, after her long work day.  When it seemed to be a more complicated problem than I thought, I left the computer with her for a sleep over. Alas, just at the edge of the city, Ruth and her husband called – they had solved the problem and I drove back. I could not have been more relieved or grateful. It was not just that they had helped me out, it was they did it with such good grace and good humour, and never showed for an instant that they would rather be doing someting else.

I offered them eggs, honey, money or art. Ruth asked for a watercolour of blue eyed grass. Blue eyed grass grows both in my birth home in Ontario as well as here in Saskatchewan. A small deep blue flower with a yellow centre, it often takes my breath away when I see it in a thatch of grass. It is a surprise, it has the power to get you to stop and bend down and look at it really closely, it is diminutive and unassuming. I have often thought of painting it but didn’t feel I have the mastery to catch its essence.

20151215_101415Usually I plunk myself down beside the flower and like to spend time with it before painting it but of course, it is winter and I cannot. I had a couple of pleasurable times exploring blue eyed grass with my watercolours. I never came close to expressing what I feel about this small wildflower, but I loved trying, and in the trying getting to know it better. I hope to spend more time with it next summer, perhaps on the coulee hills.

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Barter #2 – Children’s Book for Dance Lessons

When Donna asked me if I would be willing to work on a book for her grandson, I said, yes, but not for a fee, for a barter. I had a sense that while I wanted to give this a try, it would take quite a few hours and that a barter made way more sense than money. Donna had the story idea, and in fact had written it down and she and other family members had lots of photos.  It ended up being a combination of a scrapbook and a children’s story focused on one little boy and his nana who have a great and memorable adventure together. The gift in this exchange for me (not unlike the barter above) was how much fun and delight I had putting this together, and how sweet it was to celebrate the loving bond of a little guy and his Nana.

When Donna came to pick up the completed book, she asked what I would like in exchange. She is a very talented person, so I rhymed off “Baking orpickled eggs or started plants in spring or….I have this kind of crazy idea.” “What?” she asked. “Old time dancing lessons. Shane is a wonderful dancer and I am not, but I would love to learn.” That final suggestion made her eyes twinkle, so in spring, when her husband  is off seeding, we are going to push back the furniture in her living room and try a polka or two in her living room!

Because these two barters happened at the same time, I am struck by how much about them is pure gift. In the first case, there is the gift of the help I needed, of the generosity of spirit with which it was offered as well as giving me the chance to paint a flower I might otherwise not have tried. In the second case, it was a gift to be reminded of how I love to work on a project, especially a children’s book. There is the anticipated gift of dance lessons, and of dancing with Shane. On the other side of this equation, Ruth and Donna also both gave and received a gift.

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