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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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The Moral Majority Has Failed the Test

In 1979 Jerry Falwell, with thousands of followers, started a new political party in the hopes of presenting candidates with good Christian morals.  The issues that attracted followers: anti gay, anti abortion, anti school segregation, anti science teaching among others. The Moral Majority prided themselves as being pro Family and yet, many of the leadership were found to be having affairs or liaisons. So, despite strong evangelical Christian support, the party dissolved late in the 1980s. The people who supported Falwell waited silently for their next hero.

Perhaps they never really got silent but their more recent activities begins to beg the question about the basis of their Christianity.

Look, you know I’m Jewish but I would bet you that I pay more attention at church than cradle Christians whose memorized responses do not require any brain involvement. My Christian husband asked me to attend with him 10 years ago and I said I would as long as I was respected.  My introduction began at Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo where I marvelled at the similarities; of course! this was a denomination not far off the Catholic shoot and that church was derived from Judaism. Funny how the symbolism, while morphed a bit, still exists.  In West Virginia we attended St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington and once again, not only were people respectful, they sought me out at times asking if I would join a study group because they knew my viewpoint, being different, would spark more interesting discussion.  And now in Oregon we attend the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries, a combined church of Lutheran and Methodist congregations.

I listen. I study. I ask questions. And you know what?  The teaching of Christ in the churches where I have worshipped seems to be very different from what I see proclaimed by the evangelical Christians who walk a very different pathway.

  • They say they are pro-life but they have no tolerance for children who are hungry or homeless.
  • They proclaim their great patriotism but their pride in our veterans seems to appear only on two days of the year and there is little concern about the number of veterans committing suicide or those that are homeless.
  • They fight against bathrooms being used by people who identify themselves by their chosen gender, not their birth gender, and yet, we have a President who has happily walked in on young women in stages of undress during “his” beauty contest.
  • They argue against homosexulaity and then we find that some of the loudest voices have been arrested for inappropriate behavior in a public place.

Now we have this judge, twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court who is running to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he was named Attorney General in this administration.  Roy Moore has been accused by several adult women that he inappropriately touched them sexually when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One girl was 14-years-old. And this morning, another woman has come forward who has announced she, also, was 14-years-old when this man took her innocence. Image result for supporting sexual abuse

I’ve read a number of essays that this is not uncommon with evangelical Christian men. They want to have relationship(s) with women that they can mold, women who will not be mature enough to know that a healthy marriage is one based on mutual respect.

While this is also very common in other societies with fundamentalist religions, few more educated communities expect women to be subservient like this.  Few educated societies permit children to become married. Fewer still think sex is an appropriate activity for budding adolescents.

As much as this angers me,  what bothers me more than the men and women who believe this is a good way of life are the many people who say they will still vote for Roy Moore despite the behavior they don’t like. They will vote for him because he is a Republican. That voting for a Democrat is worse.Image result for unthinking followers

Now, before any Democrat starts feeling superior, the same is true in that camp. Here locally we have a woman beginning her campaign for a state house district. Personally, I can’t vote for her because I do not live in her district, but I have gotten to know her and I know she would have my vote if I could. Even though she is a Republican.

There is not much difference between the warring factions in the Middle East killing people because they do not agree on who was Mohammed’s heir and people who are so fixated on the NAME of their political party that they never put any effort into thinking about the person running for office. Or effort working for that party to help make sure it runs honest candidates who WILL represent the common people.

Look at the issues, yes. You don’t like abortion, I understand. But the clinics do more than that…..don’t shut your eyes to the good that is done.  Don’t be so narrow in your outlook that your hate encompasses good.

Look at the experience the candidate has had to help you understand if they know the important aspects to do the job fairly.  It is very clear that Trump meant it when he said he plans to shut several federal departments; his appointments for their secretaries were selected carefully so the most damage could be done. While many people like the concept of “small government” few people like the idea of letting corporate interests destroy public lands for private enterprise.

Look at their ethics and decide if they are like yours.  You don’t rape little girls? Then don’t vote for someone who prefers his meat tender and juicy and well below the age of consent. And yes, “meat” is rude but surely you don’t think what Moore was doing was a meaningful relationship and one you would enjoy?  He did NOT mentor these children; he raped them.

If you vote for someone who admits sexual predation like Trump, you have something missing in your thinking process…..or you also believe women are playthings.  If you think the idea of children and unconsenting young women being sexual objects is not healthy, then you need to speak up when an abuser proclaims they want to represent you.

Image result for fake christiansSo, simply, I’m holding my “from the outside looking in” card and tell you that these people are not learning the teachings of Christ. Being an imperfect human being I can understand. I can understand that just about all of us have done things that have been unwise. But being proud of reprehensible behavior I can not understand nor support. And anyone supporting it blindly will only continue the deterioration of the American culture.

Yes, that will. Not the immigrants, legal or illegal. Not the LGBTQ community, not the NFL players who kneel to add their silent voices to the protest that not people of color do not have the same equal access to the law that is promised.

Nope, those are all part and parcel of this great land with its wonderful Constitution. But the society will continue to circle the drain if all citizens don’t start thinking about how their actions affect everyone.  Or lack of action. The time for Monday morning quarterbacking is over.  Your choice to act or stay silent is your legacy to this American culture.

Image result for choosing to do nothing is a choice

 

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Fear or Stubborness?

It has been easy, since the campaign season, to compare statements and actions by Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler.  Image result for compare trump and hitlerAlso comparable is  the excited reaction of support by a significant minority of the population.  Additionally, what can also be compared is the silence of a larger minority of the populations, providing tacit approval.  These two groups provide a majority base for power.

So, using Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s as an example, why do “good”  people stay silent when witnessing discrimination of others? Later on, it can easily be understood that they were frightened that they too would become a target for internment or death. But at the beginning of the growth of power, why the silence?Image result for Germans quiet about Hitler

All  the insight I have is based on discussion with people I know who supported Trump during his candidacy. I was told “He doesn’t mean that” many times. When asked how they knew that, the discussion faltered, but the tenacity to that one statement was evident, “I know.”

Each of us is indoctrinated to think certain ways. It may be the way you were raised, or it may be completely opposite the parental viewpoint, but our upbringing-the ethics displayed in our households, the education we had (meaning how we learned to learn, not just how we did on tests), and the people in our close circle all influence the way we think and act.

I, for one, was taught early and often about World War II. My grandparents were immigrants in the early 20th Century and we lost family members in the Holocaust. It was personal and there was no doubt about it but I was taught to hate Germany.  As young as 3-years-old I watched the documentaries showing newsreels of US Army liberating the death camps. I know what slow starvation looks like. I also know what determination to survive despite the odds looks like.

When I had the opportunity to travel for work to Germany to spend six months there on a project working with the US Army, I was uncharacteristically slow jumping at the chance for free travel. I understood why and I tried hard to face that prejudice, learned as a baby, and overcome it logically. And I accepted the assignment.

Waiting at the Frankfurt airport for another part of the team to arrive from the States, I had plenty of time to people watch and came to an obvious but, to me, important understanding: they look just like me. And when our coworkers arrived, we got on a train to head to Kaiserslautern, and I thought, oh yeah, here I am, a Jew, on a train in Germany.   The next morning, reporting to the military office, I noticed the swastikas that were part of the architecture. The base had been built in the 1930s. The spector was all around me. Despite my best intentions, a certain low level anxiety showed I had carried much of my baggage with me.

So why did “good” Germans and others in occupied Europe, for the most part, stay quiet about the actions being taken against the Jews, the Communists, the homosexuals, the gypsies, the handicapped?  Was it mostly fear that they might be next?

Or was it that they really agreed that these groups of people were inferior and the nation, the world, would be better off without them?

We see denial of similar issues here and now in our own nation. For example, we hear lots of white people complaining about the silent and nonviolent kneeling protest  during the national anthem at professional football games. They believe, because it is the information being presented by news sources they trust, that the protestors are not being respectful of the flag and thereby the veterans who fought to protect our rights. They will not recognize the actual purpose of the protest. They believe that people have trouble with the police because they are bad people, but 100% stop talking about the  issue when I asked what a 12-year-old sitting on a playground swing holding a toy gun did so bad that he was shot dead within seconds of the police arriving on the scene.

This lack of facing facts is a clear sign of cognitive dissonance, the stubborn and willful choice to not consider information that is not aligned with their convictions.  And all of us have some level of this infliction.Image result for cognitive dissonance

It is so very easy to think that what I believe is THE RIGHT WAY TO THINK and that everyone else is crazy or stupid. But that way of thinking is also cognitive dissonance.

This morning there are statements by various high level Republicans who have an opinion about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual behavior affecting the upcoming election for Senator from Alabama to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that if the allegations are true, Moore should step out of the race. But other Republican leadership are once again blaming the women (why did they wait so long?) and are supporting Moore fully.Image result for sexual assault by men in power

With the recent #MeToo social media campaign I remembered and told my kids about one incident in my life where my boss tried to inappropriately insinuate himself into my life (I was 24 at the time and he was 49). Recently I read there is a new social media campaign gaining ground  to “Name the Pig.” Instead of telling how we were assaulted, we are encouraged to name the person who behaved illegally and unethically.  So, I think about that former boss of mine.  He would be 88-years-old now, if he is still alive. What good would it be to “out” him?  None, I believe. (I dealt with that boss directly, facing him and telling his he had been inappropriate and it had to stop. He listened and complied…..at least with me. )  But I also support every woman, from Anita Hill to the women who named Bill Cosby to the ones in the Moore situation, for speaking out when we are dealing with a man who has been a role model or could become politically powerful.

Meanwhile, we continue to have at the head of our government a man whose code of ethics seems to be best described as “ME FIRST.” The die hard supporters still believe in what the rest of us know are empty promises (I’ll get your coal jobs back, I will make sure everyone has affordable health care coverage….and more, so many more).  One supporter, in the course of a calm and reasonable conversation stated, “I think Trump is the savior of this nation.”  I knew that the ground had tilted and there was no middle place to find a commonality there.

So why are these people this way? Simply, they are not hearing nor reading what the rest of us are learning.  They typically rely on media that comes from the same viewpoint and never cross check with other news sources to see another aspect of the same issue.  Before condemning him or the countless others, think first. Do you? Do you cross-check issues that are getting your blood pressure up? Or do you just confirm with other sources that are in the same camp?

Image result for cognitive dissonance

Most of us react emotionally first and often speak next. Few recognize that if the information just received appeals to your sense of greed or outrage it MUST be verified by cross-checking across the media, liberal and conservative.  I urge everyone to take the few minutes it takes to do that search and read before climbing aboard some bandwagon that you might not like to own later.

Remember, the “good” people of Germany allowed things to take place that eroded their prior sense of right and wrong because it was not directly affecting them…until it it did, and then, it was too late for most to take a stand.

Image result for bill of rightsWe live in a nation that has an amazing set of laws backed by the Constitution that provides protections for all people here to speak their mind, gather in public, practice their faith, purchase weapons for home protection and hunting, keep from illegal search and seizure, protection from having soldiers living inside your home, certain rights of prisoners and people arrested, and other rights kept by the people and by the individual states. The NRA has massaged the fear of firearms being confiscated to drum up massive purchasing by frightened people.  The fact that some news agencies report on the inept leadership currently in Washington does not mean they are fake news; it means the people responsible want to distract you by blaming the messenger.

Don’t ignore the message.

 

 

 

 


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I Did Okay

About thirty years ago I had an epiphany. My job was not the activity I did that provided income. My job, it hit me, was to raise those little munchkins I had birthed to become healthy and happy adults who could function as contributing members of society.

It wasn’t an easy road, as anyone who has walked it can attest. Having a spouse who had a completely different parenting philosophy was harder, believe it or not, than when I was a single mom.  But trying to parent alone can be a constant struggle against fatigue and a slippage of consistency.

I’m not a deep analytical thinker generally but as a kid, whenever I chafed at the rules and restrictions imposed by my parents that seemed unfair, I thought about why. What was the purpose of the rule?  Was it fair? Could my parents have achieved my compliance more readily if they had presented the need for a certain behavior a different way?  It seemed to me that the answer was yes, life was unfair to me then. easier to build a child

I knew my parents, overall, were okay. I understand better now that they had their own issues and that they did what they thought was the best thing for my sisters and me. And despite some developmental restrictions I had to learn to overcome as an adult (i.e, how to deal with anger in a way where it would not blow up into World War III) they gave me a lot of experiences that many other kids don’t get.

Our family was in no way child centric, but my parents were involved in activities that provided for my exploration and growth. Scouting, encouraging my love of reading, camping and travelling, helping us learn to swim, and PTA were things they did. There were inconsistencies about religious training and practice which I now recognize was a struggle between the way my dad and mom had each been raised. They encouraged my participation in the music education program starting in 4th grade, something I did with my kids and learned quickly to appreciate that my parents had provided that model.

What’s fascinating is that when I discuss memories and issues with my two sisters, their experiences sometimes were considerably different from mine. If that can happen in the same environment, the whole nurture vs nature concept shows up more clearly.genetics-nature-vs-nurture-4-638

Looking back it is easy to see that each of my kid’s personalities was evident right from the beginning.  They were who they are even as infants and toddlers. The way they expressed themselves, their willingness to explore or need to stay close, and their responses to me were challenging and wonderful and scary, all at the same time.  I recognized that this was my biggest responsibility in life and I knew I wanted to give them something better than I had had.

STEPI knew I wanted to parent differently but also knew that unless I made an effort to learn a new way, the guidance I heard in my head and heart would be the way I had been raised. I was fortunate that my older two kids attended an elementary school in  the “poor” neighborhood of a town in Connecticut where education was held in high esteem. (in other words, we paid higher taxes for the school system there than any other place I have lived.) The principal of the elementary school was a consummate grant writer and we had an amazing array of programs, offered free. One was a parenting class called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting.  While child raising practices have moved on, this served as an amazing framework for me to teach my kids about fair communication, accepting responsibility, and understanding that there will be consequences for misbehavior.  One of the best parts, particularly after a year or two of practice, was that we all had fewer angry meltdowns.  Me too.

I know it would be interesting to read their perspective of the experience. Now adults in their 20s and 30s, I suspect I would hear about all the horrible things I did to them. But I also think there would be many more positive issues. (I recognize that statement might be self serving. LOL)

I just came back from a long weekend to celebrate my youngest’s 23rd birthday. The joy I felt was better than any drug. I could easily see that despite a pathway taken that was not the original planned, he is doing fine. He is healthy. He is supporting himself (well, almost). He has good friends who also are finding their way along their own pathways.

One important difference, I think, between my parents and me is that I do not expect my kids to live their life the way I would if I had their opportunities.  This son struggled in school, a surprise to all of us. Yet in today’s economic turmoil, a college education is not proving to be the answer it was to my generation, so understanding there are other ways to earn the money to live is part of my letting go.  After all, earning a living is NOT the same as building a fulfilling life. My hope for this young man is the same as it was when he was born and he is well on his way to being the healthy, happy, functioning adult I tried to aim for with my parenting.

 

 

 


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Really? You Think It’s a Joke?

I’ve never been a light hearted soul…..things just are not right so much of the time that it concerns me.

That’s not to say  I’m not a happy person or enjoy a good laugh. I AM a  happy person who is pretty positive but I don’t laugh easily. Most of the time, it seems that other people think is funny just don’t hit me the same way.

Recently, in an effort to still try to talk to people who have viewpoints on the conservative end of the spectrum I have begun to respond to comments they make, particularly if the reaction of their other friends is laughter and the issue is not funny to me.  If the meme or comment is a putdown, so the joke is at someone’s expense, I am the stick in the mud who points out that it is not funny. That perhaps they forgot to pull on their Christian compassion before making fun of someone.  ( I only say that because they post a lot of Bible quotes and also how important it is that Jesus is in their lives.)not a joke

Generally, my comments are not appreciated. No surprise there. Someone who uses humor at other people’s expense generally is not comfortable being told, even when calmly and with quiet language, that their choice of words is not healthy.  I suppose it is only a matter of time until I am unfriended. Not a biggie, but it will be sad because the more we stop talking to each other, the sooner we will forget we have more commonalities than differences.

Being told to “lighten up, it’s only a joke” is something I’ve lived with. My last blog I told you about my first husband. This time, the story is about my second husband.

Before I go further I want to say this marriage produced two beautiful children who are now healthy adults, participating in society and enjoying life. Despite all the angst that resulted in that marriage I would never say or feel it never should have happened. I am blessed to have those children.

The differences between that man and me, our views on what life can be and our ways of aiming for our goals were very clear. Still, I can appreciate a few things he gave me that were gifts of insight I never would have made because I just did not think the same way.

For example, when my dad had been living with Parkinson’s disease for 10 years and no one would talk about it, he called us out on it.

For example, I had been fighting my naturally curly hair all my life trying to make it straight and he suggested I get it cut well so it would be acceptable to me.

For example, when he asked me if I liked to dance and when I said yes, pulled over to the curb and pulled me out to dance to the radio on the grass.

But those were few and far between. Life with him was usually off kilter at best and downright fearful of what I might find when I came home when things were at the worst.

See, he is mentally ill. His diagnosis has changed over time but he never worked to “get better” because he argued the therapists wanted him to change. Well, duh. What you’re doing is not working. Maybe a change would be a good idea?

And his favorite expression, after he would denigrate me was “I’m only joking.” Sorry, forgot to laugh. In fact, instead of not laughing I had to work hard to stay calm because of his fragile mental state.

It was clear that he thought only of himself and how the world revolved around him.  He is unchanged to this day.

Now, I do not know this Facebook friend well enough to know if she also has some issues so making jokes like that helps her cope. No idea. But I won’t stay silent.  I will not be, nor will I permit someone to be,  the butt of a joke.

I read something else today on Facebook, also from a person who I don’t really know.  But I do know one of her adult children and that gives me a lot of insight about her. She noted that in times of recent crises we saw people ignore any political, religious, or racial differences and just pull together to help each other. She suggested we live this way. quote-getting-along-well-with-other-people-is-still-the-world-s-most-needed-skill-with-it-earl-nightingale-90-63-70

Think about how much better we would be if Congress, for example, sat down and said “yes, too many innocents are being killed. Let’s talk together to see if something we who have the power can do to make this country safer.”

How much better we all would be if instead of saying it is their own fault, that we pitch in to work with the homeless to provide safe housing and health care for what ails them.

How much better we all would be if we all could have a living wage with a 40-hour job.  Then we could afford housing, put food on the table and not have to run from our issues into drugs or booze.

How much better we all would be if we all could teach how to learn instead of how to pass a test. If we could all understand that not everyone is going to make an A and perhaps there are other skills the ones who have trouble in school could handle well.

How much better we all could be if we decided on what we wanted to be when we grew up and didn’t have to pay for the education to attain that the rest of our lives.

How much better we all could be if we stopped putting other people down. If we chose to recognize when someone makes us uncomfortable it is a learning opportunity, not a joke. And continue the discussion.

 

 

 

 


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Learning Along The Pathway

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.Image result for vanderbilt university medical center

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!

 

 


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We ALL Must Rise

This morning my Facebook feed is full of “He Is Risen!” I understand the ritual and passion for this Easter Sunday, but once again, I have a perspective as a Jew attending church with my husband for ten years that may never occur to most of you.

All this declaration of Christ as your Savior appears to be meaningless gibberish for most people. Something they say by rote, without thought. Like my ex-husband who wanted to eat the foods on Jewish holidays but he had no understanding of the symbolism of those foods, many people I know who profess to be Christian are walking a pathway that is full of trimmings but no substance.

I spoke of this at Christmas also. The adoration of Baby Jesus and all the promise He represented goes no further than grabbing presents from under the tree for most people.

I am NOT espousing that someone needs to be strict in their daily observation of religion…ANY religion….in order to be a good person. In fact, with ISIS attacking Muslims who do not believe as they do, with fundamentalist Christians destroying rights and freedoms in this nation, with any ultra-conservative branch of any religion, we see they have very narrow definitions of what is right. That is NOT what Christ taught.

I confuse a lot of people when I say that I am closer to Christ than they are because I practice the same religion that Jesus did.  He observed the rules better than I do but he also broke them from time to time. Most of the time, he broke social conventions and was a dissenter, attracting followers and scaring the establishment. But generally, overall, his message was one of “love one another”. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

The Bible Belt where I lived for over 17 years has a preponderance of Christians who believe that Christ died for their sins, that they are saved. It may be a coincidence that that section of the country overwhelmingly voted for Trump, not necessarily because they liked him, because many did not like things about him. They voted for him because he promised delivery from things they perceive as evil. I believe their training as an obedient flock for their churches lead them to have faith without using any common sense about the promises made.  But their minds, like all good sheep, are befuddled by those promises.  They have not learned the ways to solve problems. They are stuck in a rut of tradition that means there is only one right way. And that includes following the shepherd.

Why am I picking on Christians? I just came from an Easter service where the Praise Band was singing and moving. The congregation, for the most extent, clapped as requested but there was no joy, no smiles. Did the words they learned as children not reach their adult ability to analyze? Are the praises they sing empty words without their hearts.  (In order for you to understand that I feel the same way about Jewish services where everything is in Hebrew, I will let you know that my Haggadah this past Monday’s Seder had limited Hebrew. I wanted the participants at my table to understand the story and the reasoning behind the holiday. To chant in Hebrew when you memorized it as a child and have no idea what the meaning is….has NO meaning.)

People often forget this commandment to love one another applies to everyone, everywhere. Not just people you know. Not just people who live near you. Not just people who speak like you, live like you, worship like you do. All people.

When does the message hit the heart? When does it become part of the soul?  When it does, you will rise.

Walking in the spirit is a pathway by people of any or no practiced religion. It means, simply, loving your neighbor as yourself. The rest is commentary.


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Refreshing Old Ways: Sharing the Path

Those of us who remember our Beowolf readings from high school English class merrily purchased our first cup of mead at Renaissance Festivals and were rewarded with a sweet drink. Perhaps we were young and that was palatable. But  it was the last time I drank mead until I moved to Oregon’s Willamette Valley about three and a half years ago.

Living in the middle of wine country is a joy in many ways. Not only does it offer a lot in terms of oenophile enjoyment, but the countryside is beautiful.  And twice a year (Thanksgiving weekend and Memorial Day weekend) almost all the wineries open their doors, even if they normally do not have tasting rooms. It was our first Thanksgiving weekend here and avoiding a popular location with the Portland crowd, we headed up Highway 47 north of McMinnville. When we got to Yamhill we stopped, on a whim, at a meadery at Kookoolan Farms.
Yamhill Oregon Local Farm

Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor and her husband Koorosh met as engineers for Intel and purchased a  farm in Yamhill. Kookoolan Farms has evolved over time to work with other nearby farms to offer vegetables and meat to consumers throughout the region and its reputation for quality is well known. To find out more about the farm and all they do check out their website and their Facebook page.

Like me, Chrissie remembered her Beowolf and started making mead from local honey.  She perfected her craft, moving well beyond the sticky sweet stuff so many of us experienced at those Ren Fairs. In her quest, she started gathering mead from other places in the United States and from around the world. This is when I met her. We visited her mead tasting room and was amazed at the variety of tastes offered.

And why not, when you really think about it. Beer, which has the same basic components, has amazing variety. Wine, of course, varies not only by the type of grape but, as I have learned first hand, by the weather, the terroir, and the skill of the winemaker.  Why not discover the same breadth and depth with mead?

Mead has been enjoyed by people for thousands and thousands of years. It seemed to be found often in monasteries which produced honey for the beeswax to make candles. The mead was a fortunate byproduct of that task.  Today, home brewing shops throughout the country can attest to an upsurge in interest and currently there are over 400 commercially licensed meaderies in 46 states, up from 30 in 1997!  Mead is considered to be the fastest growing beverage business.

Many meaderies, like Kookoolan, are very small with only a limited and local distribution. However, there are many that have larger production and a number of bottle shops are expanding into offering a wider selection.

As interest grows, so do the number of books available on the subject. So far, however, most recent books about mead have been in the “how to” genre. Home brewing is highly popular and there are plenty of tips and lessons available to ease the learning curve.

However, as mead started becoming more popular, Chrissie realized there was something missing. Her clues came from the visitors to the tasting room. Not only “Where can I find mead besides your tasting room?” but “What would be a good dish to pair with this mead?”

She realized she had a definite advantage over just about everyone else in the field. When she went to make her lunch in her kitchen, it was fun to grab a small pour, or two or three in the adjacent tasting room and see what tasted good with the dish she had prepared for her meal. As she kept her notes, the light bulb started to burn brightly and the book concept was born.

The Art of Mead Tasting and Food Pairing (ISBN 978-0-578-18895-9) took three years to produce.  It is a joy to read…and even better to work through by cooking and tasting. Chrissie has not only explained the various kinds of meads that are available, but offered well tested recipes to pair with the various kinds.  Imagine, if you will, you have a pretty terrific chicken pot pie you have made, either from your own recipe or the one in the book.  You might be tempted to pair it with a white wine for supper, but your enjoyment can be enhanced with the right kind of mead pairing.

From spicy (check out the shrimp gumbo!) to sweet there is something in here for every palate. 

The books is also divided into regions of the world, as mead is produced everywhere there is honey. One photograph really caught my eye; it showed an archaeological find at Tel Rehov, Israel with a multitude of preserved hives. This discovery proves that ancient civilizations, this one dating back to 900 CE, had a great appreciation for bees, honey and its byproducts.

The book explains mead history as part of the Paleo world, in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean region, northern Europe, eastern Europe, the Middle East, and in Latin America. Recipes and pairing suggestions are offered to get your exploration rolling.

And through it all, gorgeous photography. Even a simple photo of the collection of meads Chrissie obtained from meaderies around the world in the research for this book is beautiful, even as it began to overtake the floor space in their dining room.

My hope is in your own life adventures you make room for new challenges.  Part of exploration may be of new places, but some new learning may take place in the known and safe nest of your own. Open your willingness to try not only new foods, but new  beverages too. Perhaps this concept of mead pairings will get you thinking and not only check out the book, but start checking out the shelves in a local bottle shop. At a recent visit to a local grocery store yesterday I found this.

 

 

and now I get to figure out what food will go well with it. Ahhhh, time to reread the book!
15713 Highway 47, Yamhill, Oregon 97148                                                                                                                                                                                                                             503-730-7535   kookoolan@gmail.com