Years ago, when we were traveling from New England to Florida on a family vacation, I finally gave in to two impulses that had been tamped down by my mom years before. She had been the “keeper of the budget” and if there were no funds budgeted already for some impromptu experience noticed while on the road but not planned for, there was no impromptu experience if it had a cost.
I learned quickly that those things that are marketed (See Rock City! Wall Drug Store! South of the Border!) were bypassed for experiences that yes, over time, have proven to be more significant. For example, on a visit to yet one more boring State Capitol building, we met former Governor Orval Faubus, the significant bigot of the day in the school desegregation episode in Little Rock.
So, it was with delight, as an adult, that I stopped at South of the Border, a tourist trap that teased me on multiple trips to Florida as a child. And I learned, that yes, it just was full of cheap junk, and other than being a useful potty break, there was no other value to the place.
But it is Smith’s that came to mind today when the publisher of a new “newspaper” in our county responded to my comment that his writing did not even meet the standards set by my high school journalism class. He proudly said, “Made you look.”
On that drive to Florida, I was traveling with my husband, now deceased, whose family name was Smith. So, sure, giving into newly excited impulses, we stopped at a place that was marketed through maybe 200 miles of highway billboards, “Smith’s”. When I mentioned our name to the guy who took our money for the gas purchase, his response was “If every family whose name is Smith stopped once, I would be a millionaire.”
So, Mr. New Newspaper Publisher, take note: Mr. Smith had his store on I-95, a major north-south highway with lots and lots and lots of traffic. He paid for billboards that attracted the patronymic affiliation to drop in. You, in contrast, are located in a county with a considerably smaller potential for consumer absorption. But your attitude is about the same. You really are not trying to aim for quality merchandise to attract and maintain some level of public appreciation.
Mr. Smith recognized that he would probably never see us again, but that was okay. He didn’t expect anything more than what had happened: a short interaction.
Contrast your situation, living among us. Not only will you NEVER attract the huge volume of business Mr. Smith enjoyed, but you will also learn that many of us will not waste any more time with your tourist trap fodder.
My personal beef is not your content, although there is plenty of room for critique there. My first impression remains the one I will share: You are not writing newspaper journalism. Basic rules of ethical journalism are broken just about each and every sentence.
You will have a limited readership. There will be some who admire your ability to make noise. The rest of us are just more discerning and ask for clarity and more precision, especially when we do make an effort to read content from the side of the situation we do not support. Many of us DO read across the spectrum, but this week has been long enough to not bother with yours any longer.
By the way, THIS is not a news article. THIS is an opinion statement. So are your efforts.
We have a revolution happening in my family. One of my adult children is now houseless, by choice. And she is working and healthy without any bad habits, so what is going on?
What has happened is the result of thoughtful decisionmaking: how she and her partner choose to spend their hard-earned money. They also have a very different view of what they want in their life than I had developed at the same point in my life, and they are wiser in many ways. They want to make sure that “work-life” balance looks more like “work<life”. They want to enjoy their lives. They are outdoor enthusiasts and being able to work hard and then take time off and play hard is their joy. Dropping $2000 a month for a bedroom and shared kitchen, living room, and bathroom is not their idea of what is important.
Instead, after a minor minivan rearrangement for sleeping on trips, they seriously started looking for a Sprinter van and converted it for living and trekking. After a year or so, they had some better ideas, sold that one and are now in the middle of renovation on the next Sprinter van.
While this is “tiny house” living in an even smaller space, this is not an inexpensive project. Electrical provided three ways, clean and dirty storage for water/etc, insulation to keep it comfortable in heat and cold, all the cooking and food storage and prep requirements, this time a composting toilet and a shower arrangement, a platform for comfortable sleeping (he is 6’2″) while providing storage underneath for bicycles and more. This new home is jam-packed with all that will be needed.
I was asked to help with window coverings. Let me add this right here: I can sew but my skills are limited to “nothing fancy” and I also knew that they deserved something better than “mommy” level sewing, as this is definitely becoming a business for them. I told her I would go slowly…..and I did. I also only needed help from the sewing machine technician twice…..the machine will get tuned up after this and prior to the next big similar project. Live….and learn.
One more aspect to understand about van living: most areas do not have permitted areas for parking overnight. This is part of one of the societal changes we need to adjust as more and more people are forced to live houseless because of the current economy. So, those window coverings need to address the issue of privacy, of course, but also for stealth living as well as basic insulation. The windows must be covered tightly so no light escapes. We use rare earth magnets to hold the panels to the metal on the window frames.
First, Lisa carefully drew templates for each window with heavy paper. Some windows shapes were similar, but some of those had minor differences. For example, the front passenger and driver windows have the same shape but are reverse images.
Then, she obtained and roughly cut out the sizes needed for the insulation. This is batting with a heavy fabric on one side and about an inch of the loft of the insulation. She labeled them appropriately for each window (i.e., R2 for the 2nd window on the right) which helped me understand where each belonged. I then could take the rough cut and, using each window template, trim to the exact size and shape needed.
Lisa and Josh live in California. I’m in Oregon. Fabric selection was next. They came through heading to the Olympic National Park to trek and we hit one of Portland’s major fabric stores. Carefully, and thank goodness Lisa has a head for numbers and organization, she and the cutter helped me by cutting each window panel section piece, instead of just giving me the raw yardage and me trying to figure out the cutting. We needed decorative fabric for the interior side and plain fabric for the side that would face the windows and show from the outside.
We bought a lot of fabric. I found some seam binding there and ordered more online, obtained thread that was the perfect color, and got started.
My first step was to sort all the pieces so I had each window’s components together: the pattern, the batting, the plain fabric, the decorative fabric.
Then, I sewed pouches for all the magnets. By placing them in pouches that are attached to the material, the magnets will stay in place. Magnet pouches were placed in corners and along long straight edges.
Next, the seam bindings and the magnet pouches were sewed to the plain panel.
Then, placing the insulated batting and the decorative fabric in place appropriately, pinned closely, the topstitching on the seam binding edge closes the window panel.
In preparation for their next trekking adventure, a raft trip down the Colorado River in January, Josh and Lisa zipped through Oregon in an effort to hook up with a friend to learn some river rapids reading skills. We met them at an REI where they picked up one more needed item and brought the two window coverings I had completed. We identified issues I knew, others that needed attention, and I brought those two panels home to rehabilitate.
One point was the small round magnets, as strong as they seem to be, are compromised a bit with the fabric. We ordered more magnets, this time rectangles, that will more easily attract to the car metal frame. We hope.
They will be coming back for another river lesson in a few weeks. That will be the time to see if I am part of the next Sprinter van conversion or not. Photos to follow!
When I was growing up my Dad would often drive into town and pick up the Sunday New York Times. As I got older I enjoyed reading not only the magazine but I started perusing the classified, looking for my “someday” job and apartment. Oh, the dreams I had of what could be……and then life took another pathway.
I’ve had a checkered past. I earned a degree in geography and urban planning, but my first job out of college was for the Tennessee Supreme Court in the court administrator’s office. They were starting a judicial PLANNING division and so, since I had a degree in urban PLANNING, I was hired. It was fun but as I realized I was getting further from my education, I looked for and moved to the planning job. For three and a half years I actually worked for a planning and engineering company and really enjoyed it. But again……life took another pathway.
There was a death in my husband’s family. His mother asked us to move to Connecticut to take care of the estate issues. We lived in the house rent free and would until it was sold. One of my tasks was to determine the market value of the property and in doing so, we listed it for sale and boom! we needed to move within a couple of months. I was looking for work as a planner but we were in the middle of a recession then and jobs were scarce. So… life took another pathway.
I started working as an real estate agent for the broker who had listed the house. While I did well, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Showing houses was a challenge because I did not know the area well and there were no apps with a talking GPS (hey, no cell phones at all) in those days so I had to rely on paper maps, all the time portraying an image of competence to the buyers. That was stressful enough but the part that made me more uncomfortable was listening to a homeowner extol the cost of the renovations he had made when it looked like a piece of incompetent amateur construction. And then Baby #1 was born and I no longer wanted to put in the long hours needed in that kind of sales position. Once again…. life took another pathway.
When I told the broker I was going to let my sales license go he persuaded me to start an appraisal division of his company. I built the reputation and business started coming in nicely and then I needed to hire some staff. The broker told me he was moving to California and was selling the real estate business, including the appraisal division. I said no way, it may be your name but it was my blood, sweat and tears. He very much understood and so, I soon owned it. I got a partner who had the bookkeeping kind of background and so we went on, growing during the 1980s real estate boom to 12 employees. (Although I planned longer, I only was able to take off one week when Baby #2 was born.) And then there was another blip in the financial market and property values started to decline. Where there is no room for a second mortgage or a current home value did not support getting the mortgage refinanced, there are no appraisals. We closed the business and…… life took another pathway.
By this time I had had baby #3 and no income. My husband got laid off. We ended up moving from Connecticut to Tennessee where I stayed home with the baby. Then my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer and after surgery, radiation and chemo I got a job at Vanderbilt Medical Center, working for one of my husband’s eye doctors. I had looked for a managerial position at Vanderbilt and when HR asked me what salary I wanted I thought about what I had made in the good years in Connecticut and then made a “cost of living” adjustment and said $30,000. They laughed…too high apparently. Anything lower would not help the family so I changed my resume to administration instead and ended up taking that first position as an AA for $18,000. I figured if I was not going to earn enough money I might as well not be in charge of anything. And so….. life took another pathway.
After five years of learning eye health jargon, things changed when the doctor in charge left. My position was eliminated but I was not, so HR moved me to another place in the hospital. The boss was, to put it nicely, a challenged individual. I left and move over to the university side of Vanderbilt to the Department of French & Italian. More new things to learn and master. And then my husband died and there I was a widow with a young child. Graham entered my life and I sure made him work to woo both of us. And there I was again….my life took another pathway.
My kiddo and I joined Graham when he went on sabbatical to Colorado for six months. I thought a start together in a neutral location would be good. We made friends and when it looked like he might be offered a job there I started looking for work. I had a sweet sweet double interview with the statewide blood bank and they offered me a position for a beautiful salary. I came home from that interview to be told we were moving back to West Virginia. Ha ha…guess what….. my life took another pathway.
Looking for work in the Rust Belt was a challenge. I finally was hired as a practice manager for a financial adviser. Since it was a start-up I accepted a lower than desired salary with the promise of bonuses that would boost it to the sky (dream on, eh?). That never happened. After three years of building that business into something sustainable, I asked for a $10,000 raise and he basically countered with 50 cents an hour. I resigned. This time, definitely my choice…..my life took another pathway.
I started to build up my book selling business that I had been running on a small scale for about 12 years to provide additional income. I was able to match that prior salary for the next two years while having the time to also get involved in the farm-to-table movement and helping build The Wild Ramp. All the time, we were planning for my husband to retire when my kiddo left for college and so……my life took another pathway.
We moved to Oregon just about four years ago. I applied to about 50 jobs, making sure each cover letter and each resume was custom tailored to each specific job. I never heard from 46 place, but had four interviews. One had the grace to tell me I was overqualified and they were sure I would be bored and quit. I countered with an comment (I had nothing to lose) that at this age I would love a job I could do with one hand behind my back. But no job was offered. (Ageism is one more hurdle to getting a job that needs to be fixed. Date of birth information can no longer be asked, but they can and do asked for education information, including year of graduation. I think you agree, most of us complete high school at age 18, so extrapolation is easy.) So feeling ready to do anything….. life took another pathway.
I took a summer job as a farm hand. Yes, me. I never ate so much ibuprofen in my life but I did it and learned a lot more. In all my effort with The Wild Ramp I had probably visited 100 farms and had heard their stories. Now I got to get a (very small) taste of the life farmers live. And the experience confirmed something I already suspected: I am not a farmer. But I need my farmers (we all do) and respect them highly. And so, taking a plunge……my life took another pathway.
I started up the commercial food processing business, Can-Do Real Food, to support local farmers by preserving their surplus produce by canning and dehydrating. (This gives the farmer another income, provides consumers a way to have a taste of the local summer harvest any time during the year, and reduces food waste.) When we moved to Oregon I learned to can, so I had one year of canning at home. Other people have forgotten more than I have learned but it has been a pretty amazing experience. You can read more about it at the Can-Do Real Food blog.
In the past year I had been dealing with a knee that has been injured but there is nothing surgical that can be done to fix it. It forces me to walk a bit wonky which has now affected my hip joint on the other side. I am in a new world of hurt and so…..I suspect my life is about to take another pathway again.
Through all these years (63 and counting) I have received continual education. The first part is one we all are fed K through 12. The next was the narrowing down of a field of study (college). And since then, through work and seminars and conferences and self teaching, the learning has continued and increased. I urge everyone I love to never stop exploring, never be afraid of change.
I know jargon related to the legal profession, the medical profession, the academic profession, and now food processing (and government regulation thereof). I wonder what’s next! Whatever it is, I strongly doubt I will ever live in New York City!
You ever put together one of those bookcases you buy in box or piece of IKEA furniture? You know how the instructions sometimes do not seem to be in English? I can only wonder, when I have that experience, if the instruction writer was so used to the assembly process that forgetting a step or two was easy.
Overall, I am pretty impressed with the State of Oregon. In the almost two years I have lived here I have found most people are friendly and helpful.
I even have been impressed by DMV, which any American who drives knows is an agency that seems to be designed to stay just barely within the Geneva Convention guidelines for torture. In West Virginia, for example, it was pretty typical to wait an hour only to be told that I did not have the right information. Here, we were able to register a car that was 3000 miles away. Not only did they understand the situation, they even had a form and system in place. I definitely felt we were moving to a place where information was shared, and shared in a way that was easy to understand.
However, I hit a spot where the published information for my new business endeavor is not quite “full”. To become a state licensed processor I read I needed to call the Health Department person in charge of my county. I read that the kitchen needs to be inspected and I should call 2 weeks before I expect to start processing. I also read that the state does not prorate the $450 annual license which runs from July 1-June 30, so I figured I would wait until June 15 to call.
I also read that I need to have each recipe I plan to process reviewed by a state licensed lab for Ph, water activity and Brix. Then and only then do I need to send another sample and the written recipe to another lab, run by Oregon State University, for approval. They are the licensing agency, so their approval is tantamount. But no where, in anything I read, did it say that the lab test must be done before the Health Department is called and the license application begins.
So, the Health Department person responded to my phone call today and I need to do things in a different order than what I read. Okay, not a biggie…just a tad annoying. She will not give me a list of approved labs. Okay. I can find some on Google.
I need to convert my recipes into weight measurements in grams, not in cups or teaspoons. Okay.
She’ll be happy to meet with me. Great.
I want to get rolling and this will take another few weeks. Okay. Once I am up and running I will be up and running so in the scheme of things, this is NOT a big deal. Just need to remember to breathe……