goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Let’s Do It Better

Each year, the second Halloween is over, we get bombarded for 6 weeks with the need to be big consumers. The commercials on tv explode, teasing us into believing we just NEED that thing we never thought about five minutes before. The printed ads in the local newspaper or mailed to us via bulk rate paper our house  with colorful pleas to spend spend spend.christmas-shopping-chaos-560x360

If you believe them, Christmas is just not complete without the latest gadgets including technology for toddlers, more boots and clothes for the ladies, more tools for the guys, more makeup and perfume, more ties, more more more.

This year, do it different…..and do it better.

First of all, know your budget and stick to it.

Secondly, make a list of the people you want to purchase for.  Think about their interests, their hobbies, the things that make them happy. Start listening to them NOW if you haven’t been paying attention all year.  And be wise….the latest in fashion accessory for your fashionista may be out of style in a few weeks. Aim for classic to provide long term value.Stress-Free-Christmas-Gift-Master-List

Third, aim for the best quality you can afford. Better to buy ONE gift and one small stocking stuffer than a large volume of junk.  Let’s start teaching about the value of gift-giving as the living symbol of the three wise men.

Finally, buy local. Yes, I know,  it is less expensive to hit the major big box stores. But this year, let’s think about the effect of where we spend our dollars.  Big box stores are national chains with corporate headquarters unlikely to be in your town. So the only employment benefits are probably low paying, possibly minimum wage and maybe also part-time to avoid paying benefits to full time employees.  Many big box stores have corporate deliveries of items from a regional warehouse that does not typically make purchases in your town, so basically for each dollar you spend in that store, only 5-15 cents stays in the local economy.local this holiday

Meanwhile, down on Main Street and in small neighborhood shops you have stores owned by your neighbors. They’ve been there maybe for decades, but probably not.  Our shopping choices killed many downtown stores as we shoppers opted to head to the mall instead.  Many shops are small with eager entrepreneurs who lost their jobs in the recession and are trying to find a way to make a living. The dollar spent there basically gets spent almost in full in your community. shop craft fairIn addition, there are numerous holiday markets and bazaars at this time of year. If you are lucky, you have one in your area that features artist, artisans and craftspeople who produce all the items they sell by hand. Their skill, their talent provides you an unique gift of high value, one of a kind, for that special person on your gift list.  The prices at these markets range from $1 to over $500. I know, I run a holiday market and I see eager craftspeople work hard all year to produce their love in a tangible way. My job is to tease the shoppers to at least come take a look. 

simple gift

Unique might scare you. If you want to be just like everyone else, unique is not for you. But if you are your own person, walk your own walkway, want to stand out from the crowd, this is the place for you.excellence of a gift

 

 

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Changes in our Lifetime: Air Conditioning

If you are of an age, anywhere above 40, you most likely remember living through the summer without air conditioning. Growing up in New Jersey we had some warm spells but the reason we finally got a window unit when I was in high school was to help filter the air to help with my allergies.  It was the ONLY time my sisters wished they had allergies like me……

Each summer from the age of 3 until 16, I traveled with my parents on camping trips around the United States. We slept in a huge heavy canvas tent for years which eventually got replaced with two smaller lighter tents. In 1965 we got our first camper van that snugly slept all 5 of us plus our two boxers. Sometimes we enjoyed setting up wherever we wanted to stop, like crossing the Nevada dessert. Dad pulled off the highway (no interstate expressways in those days) and followed a dirt road a ways, making sure we stayed between the highway and the first rain culvert.  The idea of a camper van opened up new areas to us.our van on daytona beach fl

But we never went to the Deep South because, in the summer, the heat and humidity made things pretty uncomfortable. We visited some areas on trips during school vacations in December and the spring, but no full exploration without air conditioning.

I moved to Nashville in 1975 and my exploration of the Deep South really started.  My first car did not have air conditioning and I would jump in the condo complex pool after my late afternoon drive home. In the summer Memphis often was 90/90…90 degrees and 90% humidity. My hair in those days best resembled Bozo the Clown because of the damp. It was years before I finally got a style that was good for my curly hair and stopped fighting nature for that straight hair look that I never could achieve.

Until air conditioning spread throughout the South is was a laid back place. I lived there in the mid to late 70s and returned to Nashville in 1994. The difference was amazing. During those two decades, air conditioning had given the once sleepy culture a vitality it had not had – ever. There is a reason the South had a reputation for being slow….it was. You HAVE to move slower in the kind of weather that lasts for months and months.heatindex

Once air conditioning became widespread there was a new migration of people in the US. Many people moved south to areas that welcomed them and cities grew. Nashville had a population of 500,000 when I lived there in the late 70s and over a million 20 years later. And that population was much more diverse with people from all over the globe, not just the nation.  This influx of diversity resulted in some new cultural norms in the South,

For example, when I worked for the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1975-1978, a pretty conservative work place, I stood out as a “foreigner” because of my Yankee accent.  (In those days they called me a “Yamn Dankee” and smiled, thinking they were not being rude, bless their hearts.)  I used to fly home to visit my parents and bring back bagels. One day one of my co-workers asked me why I was eating my sandwich on a donut.  I introduced them to bagels and soon I was “importing” 5 dozen each time I flew back from New Jersey to Nashville. In 1994, when we returned to Nashville, it became very apparent things had changed…at least on the surface.  I saw  bagel shops all around town. More surprisingly, I saw many many many multi-racial couples. However,  people were no longer as “polite” as they had been before. They expressed very clearly the things that had changed that they hated. Very few thought the change was good, but they sure did like their air conditioning.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years. At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years.
At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

 

As this climate change happens and various areas of the country experienced a hotter than typical summer through it all most of us have our air conditioning.  Can you imagine life without it?  Would you live where you do without air conditioning to keep you comfortable in the hot summer weather?  We are pretty spoiled.

 

 


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Bombardment: No Wonder We Are Stressed Out

Dying polar bears. Hundred of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Damage from oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundred of thousands of acres on fire in Alaska. Bee colony deaths. Monster hurricanes.oil-spill-beaches

Shootings in churches, schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. Road rage. Burning flags. Burning churches. Love the sinner hate the sin translating into willingness to quit a job instead of follow the law. Lynchings over race and sexual orientation. Surplus military vehicles coming to your town as local police equipment.armored police vehicles

Items sold in grocery stores as food that have no natural nutritional value.  Adults who have never eaten a nectarine. Children who only eat canned fruit and can not identify the real thing. Chicken shipped to China for processing and then shipped back to American supermarkets.cildhood obesity

Trade deals with other countries that are secret. Jobs outsourced from the US. Shoppers who stand in line for hours at big box stores for a sale instead of supporting locally owned stores on main street. People who claim they are patriotic but buy cheap foreign made goods.sale line

Mandated national academic policy. Children who watch television 6 hours a day. Adults who watch television 6 hours a day but don’t have time to cook from scratch. Active children given drugs instead of fun outside.  Organized recreational sports with angry parents.kids-watching-tv-blog-size

People who never spend time in nature. National parks crowded with people in air conditioned RVs. Trash thrown out of cars. Lack of recycling programs and attitudes. Yards junked up with old tires, old appliances, overgrown weeds.  Water bottled for sale from a drought-stricken area where farmers can no longer irrigate the crops that feed us all.food gorws

Children joining the military because patriotism/economy is so bad can’t find a job/can’t afford to pay for college and finding themselves unprepared  in situations where they learn war is not a video game. Traumatized vets coming home and unable to maneuver through the rigmarole of policies and practices of supposedly helpful agencies, maybe also spiraling downward with drugs used to quiet the noise in their head, abandoned by families because of emotionally unstable behavior, ending up on the streets.homeless veterans_infographic

Growing number of homeless. Feeding the hungry illegal in many towns. Not in my backyard attitude of many communities instead of recognition that poverty exists everywhere. Rinse and repeat through several generations.  Assumption all are druggies and abusing the system.hunger in the US

On and on. Anger. Hate. Fear. Me. Me. Me. My rights. My privilege is more important than your need.

Those of us over 50 recognize how much the US has changed since our childhood. While some long for the good old days of the 1950s, they don’t recognize it is not because of what was or was not happening all those decades ago but because we were children. We had no real knowledge of what was really going on and we basically had no responsibilities.  Of course life was simpler then-we were children and naive.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it's an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it’s an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

There has been no idyllic time. Ever. For each era  where countless people had prosperity, countless others were diminished through economic or legal policies.

Some people recognized that something needed to be done to fix those policies, so all people could have the opportunity to strive to that level of prosperity held by others.  What happened over time was that some people just could not be helped and other people began to realize their own position of power was diluted and started working for equal protection under the law.not being bullied

The turmoil we now experience is truly nothing new. Even the hate, which seems to be pervasive, is really nothing new. There is a lot of fear and we are being manipulated by those in power to keep us off balance and fearful. Fear of anyone different from us, whether in color, nationality, citizenship, education, economic standing, residence style, education. Having fear of anyone who is different, people huddle in groups of like-minded friends. They rarely bother to know anyone outside their narrow group, and so the fear…and the hate….continue.

We enjoy diversity in parrots...why not in people?

We enjoy diversity in parrots…why not in people?

Why? You certainly don’t like it this way, do you? The ONLY person whose attitude you can control is your own. Start. Set an example of good. Of calm. Of rational thinking. Of sharing ideas calmly. Of living the Golden Rule-TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.Golden Rule

 

 

 


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There’s Something in the Water

Something is going on.

In the past three weeks five people I know have had babies. In the next two weeks, several more babies are due. The problem is not that there are so many wonderful babies born, the issue is it is all around the country so potentially more difficult to avoid if it is spread in the water. Be careful. Maybe drink beer or wine instead. stork-and-newborn-baby-cartoon

Also in the past couple of weeks several of my friends have been going through difficult times. Loss of jobs, illness, marriage issues, needing to move, you name it.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????So I put a light hearted spin on the babies, but in reality, life throws huge curveballs sometimes.  And there are times in life that it feels that the issues are all there are to deal with with no “normal” time happening.  Lots of issues that will cause a major change.  Babies do that also.

So, why is it that just when you need to face a needed adjustment, all you feel like doing is staying in bed?  At the time you need to think clearly, all your issues are making your head spin.

You need to forget how it will look and reach for help. If you have a reliable partner, share, talk, hug, cry, plan. If you don’t, call a friend. You and I know that when the going gets tough, only true friends walk with you. The others scatter, as if it is contagious. Better off without them. Note their action but do not spend one iota of energy mourning their loss.

But remember to reach. And if no friends surround you, get thee to a professional. Someone who has expertise in the area where you need the help. Don’t put on your game face. Give an honest picture of where your head is, your heart is, your finances are.  Only with honesty, essentially to yourself, can you get on the pathway to healing.

And besides, beer and wine won’t help. You need to take those steps, albeit difficult, to look yourself in the mirror, into your heart, tell yourself you deserve better, and then work for it.

Why? Because you are loved. You are important. I need you in my life.

You hear me?two-people-holding-hands-you-are-not-alone


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Celebrate Without Going Broke

When I went into the doctor with a raging sinus infection seven Januarys ago we came to the conclusion that I was allergic to the mold that naturally forms on real Christmas trees once they are cut. The doctor was a bit surprised that I was just discovering this at my advanced age. He laughed heartily when I explained I had married Graham and was only now celebrating Christmas. We switched to an artificial tree and breathing remains undisturbed.

I wanted all the sights and smells I had heard about, read about, seen on tv and in movies. I wanted the plaid dresses with black velvet. I wanted the aroma of real pine, not some sprayed chemicals. I wanted candlelight and fire in the fireplace and all the bells and smells. I was ready to be a full fledged Christmas consumer.

By making decorations or bringing home natural items from a walk in the park to decorate the tree, you can save lots of money

By making decorations or bringing home natural items from a walk in the park to decorate the tree, you can save lots of money

When you add Christmas to 8 nights of Hanuka you end up with a lot of gift giving. Graham felt challenged. I quickly explained I had always done gift giving much as many families do-one large and several small. So this year, for example, he will buy me 8 pairs of socks and we bought a meal saver for safely freezing food.  As for me, most of the gifts I will give are items I have personally made, including the canned items I put up all growing season, baked yummies, and some useful sewn items. While all have costs associated with them, by preparing all year the cost is spread and does not hit the budget all at one time.2014-06-22 18.45.32

The whole concept of gift giving has really gotten extreme, as you yourself know. I am managing a Holiday Bazaar at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds December 13 and 14. By limiting the vendors to people who hand craft their items, we will have a vast array of jewelry, soft goods, food items, furntiture, toys and more with an array of prices from 50 cents to $500. By reminding consumers to get out of the mass produced buying frenzy at the local mall and keep their spending in the local economy, I am also suggesting they buy unique items for their loved ones.??????????wreath3??????????IMAG0309
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earrings2IMG_4324chestblackberry jamimage (7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even so, this may stress some budgets. I have been seeing more and more suggestions on how to make this season special with your family but not break the budget. I’d like to share some.wine and cheese traya

Can’t spend any money? Hand write (yeah, remember how to do that?) a letter to each member of your family. It doesn’t need to be long, maybe one page. Recount a memory or tell them something you look forward to doing with them. Share the love.The-Power-of-the-Handwritten-Note-in-Marketing

Check out these other suggestions by the MadHouseAdvent-activty-

Now, go and sin no more racking up credit card debt! ENJOY the season!

 


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It Could Be You

So many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, stressed to pay all the bills we have and concerned that something may happen to shake your world. Losing your job would do that. Getting seriously ill also would do that. Few of us have enough in savings to ride through months of being unemployed.  Taking a minimum wage part time job won’t help.

cant-pay-bills-on-timeSo then, what happens? You can’t pay your rent or mortgage, your power gets turned off after a few months and you manage to get it paid by going to one of the churches who has a Compassion Fund for things like that. You go to food panties to save on grocery costs and then to soup kitchens to get a warm meal as often as possible.

So then, what happens? You stop answering the phone because you know the calls are from debt collectors.  The day comes when you get the eviction notice.

So then, what happens? You can’t or won’t turn to family or friends.  Either your relationship with them are not healthy or they are as financially stressed as you were.  Or you do approach them and they welcome you, for a time, and it becomes a cycle of a few days on the couch and then you move on. Your appearance deteriorates as your emotional health is shaken to the core. It is just about impossible to think clearly to find your way out of this quagmire.

So then, what happens?  You retreat. You run and hide. You might be using drugs or alcohol to blunt the pain. You find yourself on the street.

You think it can’t happen? That everyone you see wandering the street pushing shopping carts full of their belongings muttering to themselves can’t be you?

Yes, some of the people on the street have mental illness. Yes, some are using drugs and/or booze to blunt the pain of their situation and the addiction adds to the problem. Yes, some are lost souls. But not all. In fact, not most.

All are people with a need to have some basics: shelter, food, and love….yes love.

We have places that in the name of “family values” are making laws to run the homeless out of town.  Those may or may not be the same towns that also had sunset laws mandating that all the “colored help” must leave the town limits by sunset. Fear and bigotry in the new age.

colddogI see a lot of postings on Facebook not to leave pets outside in the winter weather. A good, heartfelt warning to many people who own dogs but keep them tied up outside.  A reminder to people who feed stray cats but prefer them outside.  We feel for the helpless, the four- legged creatures who rely on us.

Find some compassion for the two-legged homeless.homeless-in-snow

There are solutions. Salt Lake City, for example, crunched the numbers and it became clear that the cost to the city per homeless person was running about $20,000 a year. When abandoned housing was converted into apartment space for the homeless, the cost dropped to $7,000 per person per year and reduced the number of homeless on the streets by 74% since 2005. New York City and many other cites have program to put housing first. THEN the social assistance programs to help with health issues, job training and more.

Here in McMinnville, there is an organization with the acronym of CWISH: Community Winter Inclement Shelter Help.  We heard about it last year but this year Graham has gotten involved as one of the three coordinators. Five area churches open their doors on a schedule to provide warm and dry shelter during the winter.

This morning in Portland, Oregon

This morning in Portland, Oregon

The current cold front started two night ago and so, one of the local churches has hosted 12 and then 15 people the last two nights. Families are welcome. Women and men are offered safe, warm and dry shelter.  They will continue to host tonight and tomorrow night and then pass the baton on to another of the participating churches. Volunteers are needed to be at the church in four-hour shifts from 8pm to 8am.

This is a band aid but efforts are being made to come up with a better solution. Once again, I am glad we chose to move here. This is a town with a heart.

What are you doing?

 


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Silly Me Smart Me

I did something silly at my age. I took a part time temp job, helping at a farm. The farmer looked at me and asked me if I knew it was hard work. Oh, yes, I assured her, thinking of all the farmers I had met in West Virginia and now here in Oregon. Intellectually I know it is hard work.  She then asked me why I thought I could do it. Well, thinking of several people, I know there are some people my age and older farming. And thinking of a few others, I know there are people my weight farming. I assured her if I did not injure myself, I would be there each and every day until the rains came and her need for an extra pair of hands ended.

The first day we picked beans. The farmer and the other helper kneeled or leaned over, bending at the waist. I knew my arthritic knees and my lower back would never forgive me, so I semi-squatted and soon discovered my quads and my hamstrings were a bit angry at my decision. It definitely was mind over matter to walk anywhere for the next couple of days.  Ibuprofen helped. So did lots of MSM and glucosamine and heat and ice.  And being stubborn.2014-09-17 08.52.38

I2014-10-05 08.03.22 talked to Beth Ann Earl of Noni’s farm in Huntington, West Virginia who told me to sit down and scoot along. Compensate for my age and body. Stretch.  I have two pairs of jeans that may not be wearable out in public after this job, but I can pick beans with the best of them now. LOL  The last of the beans which have been drying on the bush need to be harvested and laid out inside the high tunnel, joining other beans, some popcorn, and the onions.

2014-08-31 13.23.10The farm is organic, which means no herbicide. That also means an amazing crop of pigweed.  Not wanted, but it turns out I’m a pretty darn good weeder. Dubious honor as the garden is 200 feet long and a kazzilion rows wide. I also scooted along much of this process too, carrying the weeds to the ends to load on to the 4-wheel to bring to the compost pile. Fun driving the Kubota!. 2014-08-29 12.20.13I’m pretty proud how wonderful that garden looks now.2014-10-05 11.51.14

I started working a couple of months ago and it was pretty warm.  Recently we had 2 days of light rain, just enough to split the tomatoes. The forecast looks like this may be the last summer weather, as the rain is showing daily for the following week.

At that point we’ll shell the beans inside and then she’ll probably let me go. I will be looking for a desk job next. 2014-10-05 09.56.31

Don’t get me wrong. This was a great experience. After visiting farms in West Virginia and really getting to know many of the farmers supplying The Wild Ramp Market, I had a great respect for the work they do. Now, understanding how it really truly feels, my admiration has soared.

We consumers take the food that appears in the store for granted. We have abundant supply of an amazing selection of food. If you buy from the supermarket, items come from all over the world. If you value the effort and want to support the local economy, you purchase from local farmers and you follow a more seasonal approach in your diet. Either way or a combination, realize this:

Our small farmers are finding it harder and harder to make a living. Industrial farming does not look like the story book version of a farm. Industrial farming typically grows one kind of crop, year in and year out, feeding the soil with chemicals to try to restore the nutrients. Small farms may be conventional, using chemicals, but many make an effort to farm in the time honored way, whether certified or not, organically with a variety of crops and rotation of the land with cover crops helping restore the nutrients to the soil for the next edible crop.2014-09-17 08.52.45

You can tell the way I lean. I love my local farmers. I was happy with all we could find to eat in West Virginia and feel abundantly blessed here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  You can eat well too. Without the sore muscles.