goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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I’m Confused

Please forgive me before I say something that might offend you, but I am really concerned. Unlike you, who was raised in your Christian faith, I have only been attending church for the last eight years since I have been married to Graham. I am not a Christian, as you know, but Graham feels the desire to attend a church service and as long as I am respected, I will attend with him. I believe in God but I do not feel I need to be in a certain building listening to a regular series of words to connect with that Higher Power. I go to church with my husband out of my love for him and I do enjoy the thoughts and prayers that are expressed and getting to know that community.

However, I also believe I listen more than most people.  It is new to me, not a rote recitation. I listen. I think about what I hear.  And I recognize the root of much of what I hear in the Jewish tradition. After all, that’s where Jesus got it.pay attention

I have, admittedly, been attending what some would consider “liberal” churches. After all, I probably would not have been respected for my nontraditional belief system at any other. So, I also admit that my learning about Christianity is from that viewpoint. I have attended church almost every Sunday, sang in the choir until our move to Oregon, and participated in many book discussion and Bible study groups. In fact, the organizers usually ask me first and then invite Graham, knowing my participation will lead to pretty lively discussion. And, I guess, that is also a hallmark of a liberal church-discussion, not acceptance without any questioning as a mark of faith.

So, since I question, here are some of mine to my conservative Christian friends:

1. I have been hearing for 8 years that Jesus reached out to all the disenfranchised. Why are you so disdainful of the homeless and the hungry? Why do you say they deserve the hardship they have?  Why do you lump them into the same group as the people you complain are taking advantage of the system? And if I misunderstand you, what have you personally done to help? Saying you understand they are lost and need help and acting on that statement are two different things.compassion

2. I have been hearing for 8 years that Jesus caused quite a ruckus in the Temple smashing the tables of the money lenders. If we understand that they were taking advantage of the rules in place, the system, to charge ridiculously high fees just because they had somehow been given an exclusive place of commerce and if we follow the teaching that they were doing wrong, why are you supportive of the billionaires that continue to have huge earnings while paying their bottom line workers low wages? What is the difference? Why are you still shopping in those stores and not helping in the campaign to raise the minimum wage so people working two to three part time jobs can actually afford to live?money-cross3. I have been hearing for 8 years that Jesus urged people to simply follow two commandments: to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. So, I don’t believe you need to be a church goer to love God; however, I do believe you should not be spouting “I love God” without walking the walk. And that means acting out the second commandment.  Maybe you don’t love yourself so well?  For example, if you are still eating processed foods, you don’t love yourself well, because you are contributing to health problems.  If you don’t verify facts before repeating emotional support for statements issued by sources at one end of the political spectrum, you don’t love yourself well because you are not trying to improve your education.  So, maybe clean up your self-love and then you will have the energy, health and ability to think about how you really can love others.

lovethyneighborasthyself

4. I have always heard the Ten Commandments. Christians got that from us, but the Christian Bible changes them a bit compared to the Torah. (Nothing like rearrangement of the original source to point out to literalists that their viewpoint is not accurate.)  So you holler “Thou shall not kill!”  and call a zygote a person in argument against abortion. But you are comfortable with the death penalty, despite known miscarriages of justice.  You also care nothing for that baby, once born, if it happens to be born into a family with stressed intellectual, financial and emotional situations.  How can you reconcile your concern for the unborn but not for the living?pro life anti

5. I have been hearing for 8 years that my attendance in church means that I am searching. Maybe I am, but not for what you may imagine. So many people are waiting for me to get baptized, to be “saved.” You will continue to wait. I do not see a better way there, merely another way. What I search for is the sign of humanity in the people I meet everywhere. Some are there at church. Some I meet in other places and they never set foot in church. I have met others who practice other religions and some that are disenfranchised because of people’s behavior so disdain a relationship with any church. Searching will be lifelong. When I stop trying to seek knowledge, I will be part of the walking dead.Soul-Searching_art

So, back to my point. I am confused. Some of the people I have met in the churches I have attended with my husband are wonderful people, reaching out to others, and I am proud to consider them my friends. And there are others, too too many others, in all kinds of churches and temples, and mosques, who are full of righteous indignation that their way is the ONLY “right” way. Your pathway confuses me because you seem not to practice what you preach, nor walk the walk you talk.faith-meets-world-cover

If love is the way, act it. Don’t tell me you’re beating me up for my own good. No thanks.

 


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The Next Stage

Death. So final. At least from this perspective.

Why are so many people afraid of dying?Life-is-pleasant.-Death-is-peaceful-quotes

Judaism does not particularly get into an Afterlife, so it leaves it open to personal interpretation. The strong message is to do good deeds while living. In fact, there are 613 mitzvot that are required by texts in the Torah. That is the Old Testament for you Christians, so if you are really good Bible thumpers (literal followers, take heed) these are for you, too. Death may simply be a cessation of life, or there may be a Heaven, or there may be a rebirth.

Christianity, on the other hand, promises you Everlasting Life.  There is some teaching that good deeds are not important but there is also a bunch of good deeds that are needed to be done by a good Christian and even an admonition that without good deeds, faith is dead.  However, for the believer, death should not be feared.

The promise of eternal life refers to the soul and that is a commonality in most religions as well as New Age concepts.  Other religions also have concepts of reward or rebirth. Basically….this stage where we are now is only that, a stage…a short visit in the continuing growth of our soul.affirmation447

So, back to the basic question. Why are people so afraid of dying?

A huge change. Not knowing what will happen. Not knowing how it will feel. Sort of like me moving from West Virginia to Oregon…..well, almost Heaven to a beautiful place.

I subscribe to a daily email that is a very positive word from The Universe and want to share today’s email with you:

The top 10 things dead people want to tell living people are:

1. They’re not dead.
2. They’re sorry for any pain they caused.
3. There’s no such thing as a devil or hell.
4. They were ready to go when they went.
5. You’re not ready.
6. They finally understand what they were missing.
7. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the moment you arrive.
8. Don’t try to understand this now, but life is exceedingly fair.
9. Your pets are as crazy, brilliant and loving, here, as they were there.
10. Life really is all about love, but not just loving those who love you…

They also wanted you to know that they really do show up as orbs in some of your photos,  but so does water. Quite a talkative bunch.

Interesting to consider.Tattoo-Love-Life-For-Eternity


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Happy New Year

Ah….you think I’m a bit early. Others are counting down the shopping days left before Christmas (I know YOU don’t get thinking  about it until December 20) and here I am saying Happy New Year. What gives?

Well, it’s one of those religious things. This evening started the Jewish year  5775. Rosh Hashana translates to “head of the year” and it begins the ten days of awe. This is a solemn and serious time.  It is a chance for introspection and self analysis. It is the time to think through the events and choices of the past year, to think through the results of your decisions….or lack of them.

It is also the time to get right, not only with the Lord, but with the people in your life. You know, the ones you hurt either by doing or saying something that was unwise or chosen for dumb reasons, and the ones you hurt by NOT saying something wise or not doing something helpful.introspection-9682

It is, essentially, time for confession. A time for penitence. Only then can you have absolution.  Or not. See, in the practice of the Jewish faith ACTS are more important than words.  Especially empty words read because they are in a prayer book but read without your heart involved.

I used to tease my nonJewish friends I would share a secret with them, and I’ll do that right now with you.  It is traditional to think that on this day God opens the Book of Life. In this monster book are pages and pages and pages, one for each person now or ever living.  On YOUR page are written all your hopes and dreams, all your deeds (good and bad) and God’s plan for you.book of life

These next ten days, until Yom Kippur ends with the first star on the night of October 4, each of us can petition God to inscribe in the Book a good plan for the coming year. But you have to earn it. These ten days gives you time to put some thought into who you have been and who you want to be. To think about about your relationships with people, both dear and near, and the ones you pass everyday in your life without knowing their names. To honor that there is a Higher Power, something much bigger than you.

tashlikTomorrow afternoon there is  traditionally an action called Tashlik.  It is the ritualistic and symbolic action of casting off sins.  Traditionally done at a moving body of water, bread is ripped into small pieces, each symbolizing a sin or problem in the past year. The bread is then thrown on to the waters to flow out to the sea or, more realistically, to be eaten by the fish and ducks.   I was not brought up very religious so I can not tell you the prayers and what they mean. I can just tell you that if you think through this past year, and go through it slowly, truly thinking of the things you know did not work well and what your role was in causing that to turn out that way, you will be well on your way to a better year next year.

L’shanah Tova…..and may you be inscribed for a good year!

 


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America’s Shameful Legacy

Imagine you have been travelling overseas for a while and you wander into a local supermarket in Europe. As you shop for your dinner you encounter the foreign food aisle in addition to Asian or Latino foods, there is a section for American foods! This is what you see.american-food

How sad. This is our gift to other cultures. That and

Mc Donalds restaurant in Parisand KFC in China

There may be some Americans who thing this is great…they can eat the food they are used to when they travel to Paris or Beijing. Personally, I enjoy eating authentic French or Chinese food and when I travel I want to eat food prepared well and native to that culture.  I sure wish the people in those countries would not be thinking that processed food and fast food is what we eat……but maybe it is for most people. What a shameful thing we are teaching others about us.


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Playing with Food

It’s so much fun trying a new recipe. Of course, that statement first starts with the understanding that I enjoy most foods. There are very few I dislike. (Liver will NEVER cross the threshold of this house.) And being a fairly decent cook and baker I can read a recipe and imagine how the flavors will mix, thereby getting intrigued to try something new.cookbooks

Many people are not like that, though.  Years ago I worked in an office with 17 men. I was already 50-years-old so it was no big deal; I could handle them. All except the boss, who I generally refer to as a challenged individual.  Because of the way he tyrannized the work environment, I went out of my way to make things nice. For example, when it was someone’s birthday I asked them what kind of cake they would like and baked one for all to enjoy during the day.

DSC_0010One of the older men had had a heart attack, so I made everything low fat and no one complained. But one time when that man ask me if he could eat the cake, another guy overheard me tell him it had eggbeaters and margarine. (Yikes, have I come a long way with food since then!!)  The second guy, when he requested a cheese cake for his birthday said I better not make it low fat. Of course I did and of course he loved it.

But it was the request for a chocolate cake that was the best. It was end of the summer and the zucchini had been growing well. So, to make something fun, I made a chocolate zucchini cake. The guys chowed down quickly, stuffing it in. Until one guy said, “Hey! What’s the green stuff?”

Funny how people are. Once they know that something different is in the yummy dish they were enjoying, they suddenly have second thoughts. Do you?

Zucchini Fudge Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients

For the cake:
1 pound zucchini
2 tablespoons sugar
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon flour

For the glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I use liquid tapioca)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions

For the cake:
Adjust rack to center position of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously coat a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan with baking spray (the kind that includes flour).
Using a box grater or food processor, grate the zucchini (you should end up with approximately 3 cups). Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and place in a large colander set over a bowl. As you prepare the rest of the batter ingredients, the sugar will draw the moisture out of the zucchini. Occasionally press down on it to squeeze more water into the bowl.
Finely chop unsweetened chocolate, place in a bowl, and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds; stir. Heat in additional 15-second increments, stirring after each one, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together eggs, sugar, melted chocolate, melted butter, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth. Mix in drained zucchini. Turn mixer down to low and stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by all of the sour cream and then the remaining flour mixture. In a small bowl, toss mini chocolate chips with tablespoon of flour. Add to batter and mix until just incorporated, taking care not to overbeat.
Evenly pour/spread batter into prepared pan, place in preheated oven, and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow it to rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning it out onto the rack to finish cooling.
For the glaze:
In a small pot, melt butter over low heat. Remove pot from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until they are melted and combined with butter. Stir in corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Immediately pour glaze over warm cake, gently spreading it so that it trickles down sides. Allow cake and glaze to cool completely before slicing.Zucchini-Fudge-Bundt-Cake-with-Chocolate-Glaze-or-Chocolate-Zucchini-Bread-by-Five-Heart-Home_700pxZoom

 

Recipe from FiveHEARThome

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/07/12/zucchini-fudge-bundt-cake-chocolate-glaze-or-chocolate-zucchini-bread/


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Special Gifts

In Perrault’s version of Sleeping Beauty, there are seven fairy godmothers. The youngest one grants the baby princess the gift of being the most beautiful girl on the world; the second, being as spiritual as an angel; the third, to do everything with admirable grace; the fourth, to execute every dance with perfection; the fifth, to have the singing voice of a nightingale; the sixth, to strum marvelously any musical instrument. Then a fairy who wasn’t invited curses the princess and the seventh fairy (who was hidden beneath the curtains) steps in and saves the princess.Sleeping Beauty movie image Walt Disney

The concept of being given a special gift at birth may seem to belong in fairy tales but I have become more and more sure that I was gifted also. Certainly not by a fairy godmother, as no one has re-entered my life to continue bestowing similar gifts, but something in my being received this ability.

No, not beauty, not grace (I laugh that klutz must be my middle name), and certainly not dance, but I have a sense of direction.

Okay, big deal you retort. Well, call it spatial awareness, but I usually am not lost even if I don’t know where I am. Let me explain.

This is Lisa in the same spot many years later...she was not even a figment of imagination at the time of the tale!

This is my daughter Lisa in the same spot many years later…she was not even a figment of imagination at the time of the tale!

When I was four years old my family went on a camping trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. There we took a ranger hike up Cadillac Mountain. The ranger was adamant about staying together when it was time to hike back from the summit, as people could easily stray off the path and get stuck on a cliff, needing to be rescued at great expense. Well, sure enough, we scattered when we got to the bald summit to gather wild blueberries and after a while it became apparent that our family and a few others had been left behind. Well, there I was 4 years old, but I read some trail signs and said, this way and lead them down. Sure enough, the ranger came running back for us when we were near the bottom, but from that point on I was nicknamed the “Trail Finder” in my family. My usual assignment after that was to find the car in the huge shopping center parking lot.

As I am still very much exploring this new place we live, I can say, okay, let’s take that road, and then turn and turn again as we meander among the vineyards and farms, and we will end up where we need to be. Sure, I have the GPS as a back-up but rarely need it.  My inner compass keeps me moving in the right direction.compass

Only two places have ever confused me. One was easily rectified. When I climbed out of the subway in Manhattan I sometimes turned the wrong way to walk to my destination. No big deal; a short block later with the numbered streets I could easily turn around if need be.  lost

The other place was more of a problem. It seemed that something geological under Huntington, West Virginia threw off my inborn compass 180 degrees. Oh sure, I could intellectualize the direction analysis, doing something like….”okay, the park is that way…oops, I’m usually exactly opposite so it is this other way.”  And that could make it right.

The irritation there was I have I NEVER have to intellectualize it outside of Huntington…I just KNOW. Sitting here in my office I know the window to my right is facing south-southwest. Yes, I have seen the sun sweep across the sky, but I also saw that at my house in West Virginia and could not just “know.”gifted

So, I feel gifted. Yeah me!  How about you? Do you have a special talent that just comes naturally with no real effort?

 


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Making Connections

Graham and I have been in Oregon for almost a year. We arrived September 1, moved into our rental house about a week later when the truck arrived and I made my first new friend here when I posted our  boxes to be picked up on Freecycle.  Jana needed a few boxes to store books and we sat on the porch rockers for about an hour sharing stories. Hearing I wanted to learn to can, she invited me to her farm and under her tutelage, I learned to make and love tomatillo salsa. DSC_0012

Shortly after that Graham’s high school buddy Charles (they reconnected on Facebook a few years ago) who lives in Salem hooked us up with another friend and Tina taught us all how to pressure can tuna. I was very much enjoying the bounty that this area offers!

Shortly after that I attended a meeting of farmers in a nearby town and started making connections with this region’s complement of wonderful farmers.  And so it went. Over these past 11 months we have made some wonderful new friends and our circle continues to grow. But it never would have happened if we didn’t take a first step out. DSC_0001

This past Thursday we attended a gathering of people primarily because we knew the host. One of the farmers we have gotten to know and love, Ranee Solmonsson of Sunshower Hill Farm was hosting an event. She said she would be speaking about her farm and Heidi Lindell of Yamhill Valley Grown also would explain how the farmers in this area connect with consumers.  I work with Heidi, visiting farms and writing the Yamhill Valley Grown blog.

It turned out to be a great evening,   organized by Om Sukheenai of Chehelem Insurance Associates as a way for people in the community to network  The people who attended were people who have businesses in the region between McMinnville and Portland and wanted to share their passions.   They included Nicole SensabaughBookkeeper, Cristina YenA Yen for Chocolate,  Mary Beth Mac NultyStudio 601,  Paola RoselliTravel Agent/ Alpaca Rancher,  Jeanne BiggerstaffBiggerstaff Vitural Business Assistance,   Carr BiggerstaffOwner of Biggerstaff Vitural Bussiness Assistance,  Heidi LindellYamhill Valley Grown,  Lynn DeraniaPolar Bear Yogurt,  Maggie YuSherwood Family Practice,  Saj JaivanjeeArcher Vineyard.  Vida IceArbonne InternationalGraham told about CreationsByBG and his woodworking and I spoke more about my passion to share information about the bounty the local farms produced and get more consumers on board.

DSC_0003DSC_0006We gathered first on Ranee’s deck where she presented a few edibles prepared from food her farm produces, and a bit of wine. We then enjoyed the evening by sitting in a circle on the grass, enjoying getting to hear about each other passions and then to share.

The synergy I saw, the connections being made was amazing. Here we had 15 people; some knew each other a bit, some not a all. By the end of the two hours we had several connections being made for new business opportunities, and more importantly, for new friendships.DSC_0007

So many people comment about the fact that we have made so many friends here already. The secret to replicate that is to GET OUT. Leave your house and act on your passions. Find people with similar interests and make time to make the connections. Talk and listen, share in the knowledge and excitement about life. DSC_0012