goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Blueberry Bliss!

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way 
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day: 
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, 
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum 
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!
Robert Frost
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You know that much of “blueberries” that are in processed foods are not real???? There is no excuse to be eating some chemical wanna-be when the REAL DEAL is fresh and ripe and ready for you most places in the U.S. right now!!!

Luscious sweet juicy blueberries. Some of the early varieties are ripe. Earliblue bushes at the Beach Family Farm in Sherwood, Oregon are loaded!!!  So are the 3-year-old Duke bushes.

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If you’ve never picked blueberries before it is very very easy.  You pick the (ready for this?????) the BLUE berries.  In the photo above you can see some are light green (not ready), some are white (not ready), some are light purple (not ready) and some are blue (READY!!!)

It doesn’t take long to pick. At the Beach Family Farm you are given a bag lined bucket and a web belt to hook around your middle. It has a grommet which holds the bucket clip so you have both hands free for picking and the bucket is easy to reach. More berries in the bucket. None on the ground!! Maybe one or two in your mouth.  $2/pound is the same price they have charged for three years and less expensive that the other UPIck farms in the area.

Daily hours are 9:00-4:00, Wednesday through Sunday. The Beach Family Farm is located at 27626 SW 147th Avenue in Sherwood, Oregon about a half hour southwest from downtown Portland.  Anyone who lives in the southwestern suburbs are within a very very few minutes of yumminess.

Blueberries, by the way, are one of the easiest fruits to save. You can pick a bunch, eat some fresh and freeze the rest for later use. The people at the farm will be glad to give you instructions.DSC_0001

http://www.beachblueberry.com/                                                                                                  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beach-Family-Farm
(503) 625-6314
9:00-4:00, Wednesday through Sunday                                                                                                                                                     27626 SW 147th Avenue in Sherwood


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Do You Think?

Someone on my Facebook feed today wrote something that has me perplexed.

She actively posts articles pertaining to her beliefs regarding religion and politics and although we often have different viewpoints our discussion has always been done with cordiality. But a little while ago she wrote that she did not have time to check all the facts on the posts she forwarded. She said there is so much information out there she has to be satisfied with what she thinks is valid. facebook like dislike

The reason she said that is because I had posted, once again, information that showed that what she had posted was not accurate. I actually had not written anything myself, just posted the source.

See, when I read something that appeals to my sense of greed or outrage I IMMEDIATELY try to verify it.

This incident brought to mind something that happened a few years ago.  I knew a women who had a 5th grader who could not add, subtract, multiply or divide. She could read well but not answer questions about the content. She would could not find things to do and had be kept busy with supervision or would just sit and stare. This child was perfectly able to sing all the Justin Beiber songs and had memorized facts about her favorite actresses and singer. Her mom felt there was nothing wrong with this situation. It appeared that mediocrity was acceptable.   Closed-Sign1

It seems to me that there are many people who are similar. The desire for knowledge, for information to analyze seems to be missing.  The ability to analyze facts and think things through is not a common trait. People are accepting everything a talking head may spew without any question because much of it resonates. Others are not even aware there is anything they need to know about current events.  Getting by is good enough. They’re not happy but have no idea why or how to work on changing things because those thinking skills have never been developed. So, they hide with drugs perhaps, to keep from feeling miserable or maybe just “bored”.

Life is too short and offers too many choices to leave them to others. Be involved. Be a thinker.

“I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading.”     – John Adams


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Cupping a Cuppa

Having recently moved to Oregon, we are happily finding that we are on many of our friends’ summer vacation itineraries.  We take our job as host of the Rankin B&B seriously and try to thoughtfully plan our visitors’ time here to not only show highlights of the area but match those destinations with our friend’s  interests and hobbies.

We have a family coming soon who has no interest in tasting wine or any of the other alcoholic beverages this region offers.  That set me back for a moment or two but I polled my local friends and added their suggestions to my list of locally prepared foods with tasting rooms.  I am now sure we will have more places to visit than we will have time when they arrive!2014-06-13 09.47.39

One friend who lives in Newport told me that one of the local roasters runs their business a bit differently. On Fridays at 9:30am Caravan Coffee offers the opportunity to blind taste two coffees in their weekly public cupping activity.  We were offered to first smell the freshly prepared grounds and describe what nuances we could sense. 2014-06-13 09.42.47Then the hot water was poured over the grounds and we waited a few minutes for the grounds to release their flavor. 2014-06-13 09.52.48 Finally, a third table had been set up with see if we could distinguish between the two coffees.2014-06-13 10.01.35

We were given the opportunity to taste coffee from Brazil and another new one from Thailand. The distributor was there and told us how the Thai government had recently restricted cutting of the teak forest, which the locals had been doing to sell the wood as well as clear the land for rice planting. By introducing shade grown coffee his organization is helping to stimulate the local economy.Caravan-Info-graph-700x1024

Caravan Coffee is one of many coffee roasters in the Northwest but their statement of sourcing is a bit different than most:

  • A member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (Since 1998).
  • 100% Arabica coffee.
  • Only source Specialty Coffees.
  • Certified Quality Grader & Certified level 1 & 2 Roasters Guild whom only chooses ethically sourced coffee for our roasting.
  • We have direct-relationships with some of our farmers and are actively pursuing more.
  • Certified Fair-Trade coffee.
  • Certified Organic Coffee by USDA.
  • The Proprietor and Roastmaster have personally visited several farms from which their coffees are sourced.

The coffee is available at the shop and tasting room at 2750 East 9th Street in Newberg and online individually or as a member of the Coffee Club.  If you are a serious coffee drinker, this may be worth your time checking out!hand_picked_club_subscription-510x600


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Time Off

Thanks to my sister Laura giving me a special gift to celebrate 60 years, Graham and I enjoyed a brunch cruise on the Willamette River in Portland.We’d been on a dinner cruise a few years ago on the Ohio River out of Huntington, West Virginia with our friends Deb and Milt Hankins, so I sort of expected something similar.Willametterivermap

Not being super familiar with Portland yet we drove in early to give ourselves plenty of time to find parking (2 blocks away for $5)  and maneuver around the Rose Festival which had the riverfront area blocked off for concerts and rides and other fun fair activities.DSC_0058

We made it to the dock in time to chat with the captain who, while chomping down a commercial donut, told us how terrific the food is. (And it was pretty good!)  Missed that donut photo for you, though!DSC_0005

DSC_0002DSC_0035aThe cruise headed upriver, which is south from downtown Portland. The gray overcast cleared and we ended up with beautiful blue skies.  Activity on the river shows how much people enjoy having this playground. DSC_0002a

Development along a riverfront can tell you something about the way a City considered its access to a natural resource. While we did see one industrial business, it is only fair to tell you that most of the commercial and industrial development in Portland is along the Columbia River, not the Willamette.This has left the shorelines free for recreational and residential development for much of what we passed.OMSI (Science Museum) includes a submarine built after WWII

OMSI (Science Museum) includes a submarine built after WWII

I particularly enjoyed the floating houses.

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And of course there were plenty of mansions.

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As we returned downstream the number of bridges became apparent, from the aged Sellwood Bridge which is past time getting replacedAll bridges are given a safety rating from 1 to 100. The Sellwood Bridge rating is a 2. Would you drive across it?

All bridges are given a safety rating from 1 to 100. The Sellwood Bridge rating is a 2. Would you drive across it?

to the new Portland-Milwaukie light rail bridge which will provide a river crossing for mass transit, bicycles and pedestrians, but not automobiles.dsc_0014

We caused one lift bridge to disrupt traffic,but turned back south(upriver) before the next one.DSC_0052

Both Graham and I noticed some downtown construction features-a rooftop tree planted plaza and solar arrays over one roof.DSC_0064aDSC_0064  There are a lot of things about Portland that are truly admirable! The respect for the natural resource of the Willamette River that flows through the City is one great example.

 

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High Value Travel: Private Tour Guides

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.                                                                                                           Warren Buffet 1930- , American Investment Entrepreneur

 

I met Carol through the internet in 1996. She was a travel agent in California and soon began to provide service for my boss who flew somewhere just about every month. He was surprised I was using a resource located so far from Nashville and had me switch to the agency used by Vanderbilt.  However, when they overnighted a changed ticket instead of messengering it the two blocks, he learned the definition of value. Carol cared about him and providing her service for his monthly travel, and so she was responsive and easy to get along with. He agreed to switch back to Carol and she provided all his travel arrangements for the five years he and I worked together. I got to know her quite well over that time and visited her in California on two separate trips. 

She retired seven years ago and moved to Croatia. Although her parents had emigrated to the U.S. before she was born, she had been there to visit family several times and it felt right to her. Her hope was to provide individual tour guide service to people visiting Dubrovnik  but found many of the cruisers who didn’t already feel they could just see the place on their own opted to purchase a land tour arranged by the ship. It takes some work to find an alternative to a package someone hands you. And at first comparison, the price may not seem advantageous.

So I want to talk just for a bit about the way hiring a private tour guide can make a tremendous difference in the quality of a visit in a new place or as a way to explore areas of a place that are “off the beaten path.”

Just recently my daughter Lisa and I enjoyed a week in India on a group tour. As soon as I learned the itinerary I hired a private guide for some “free time”. It cost $225 for two guides and a car and driver and I was the one who finally called it quits after 8 hours. What a wonderful time we had getting to see non-tourist areas. If you have been reading my blog (if not, just go back about a month in the postings)  you already learned about how they listened to what we wanted and immediately figured out how to show us the real side of what living in India looks like. DSCF6128

About seven years ago, on a circle tour of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, my family visited Mesa Verde National Park. We stayed in a bed and breakfast that hosted Elder Hostel programs. Elder Hostel, now called Road Scholar, is an educational tour program geared mostly to people over the age of 50. I was intrigued by this b&b’s affiliation because it offered private educational programs as well.????????????

We hired a delightful archaeologist who took us on a 3 hour hike on BLM land. With her expertise we walked among ruins and learned more about the Anasazi people who lived in the area than anything the National Park Ranger told us later when we went into the park. I paid $150 for the five of us and it was worth every penny in the new appreciation each of us took from the experience.honeymoon 234

Three years ago one of my sisters presented my daughter and me with a surprise 4 night trip to Paris. She had found a steal of a deal (I’ve shared how to find those types of travel opportunities in a prior post) and was happy to take us. I decided that we needed to really get a feel for back street Paris and searched the web looking for tour offerings. When I found Richard, I knew I had what we wanted.

Shopping in a market in the Marais with Richard

Shopping in a market in the Marais with Richard

cooking_class_mushrooms_cookingRichard Nahem grew up in New York City but moved to Paris when he fell in love with it on a visit. His sense of adventure, eye for detail and love for the unexpected is what prompted me to hire him. Read through his blog to see what I mean.

We paid him 195 euros for 3 hours of back street tours 2 of the 3 full days we were there. In addition, Richard can arrange for cooking classes and also day tours outside of the city, especially to the nearby champagne wine growing area. Please go to his blog to his website about his tour service. Marais Palace family

Finally, Carol Sosa is available for walking tours of Dubrovnik. This town, called the Pearl of the Adriatic, is on the itinerary for many cruise ships. Visitors have between 4 and 10 hours there and yet, it was interesting to watch the kind of activity many chose the nine days I was there. I saw lots of people walking the main street eating gelato and going into the tourist shops and I saw long lines of tourists following a leader holding an electronic microphone. The sound quality was so poor that only the first ten people could probably hear and understand. However, there were easily 25-40 people trailing behind the guide. These tours usually cost between $25 and $40 per person and lasts maybe an hour.

Cruise ship tour group crowds around guide

Cruise ship tour group crowds around guide

In contrast, here are some things we did with Carol taking us on a private tour.green market2

Ivo working as a guide at the Fortress.

Ivo working as a guide at the Fortress.

Dubrovnik back streets3

old city pharmacyCarol has spent the past six plus years getting to know the secrets she can show to a small party. She has found out the shops that have authentic items made in Croatia, not tourist trap purchases found in some of the main street shops. She charges 70 euros per person for 3-4 hours and your tour is tailored to your specific interests. Read her blog to learn more about her.art

In a nutshell, a personal tour guide can customize the trip for YOU. While you can find tour programs that will give you great overviews (several years ago we enjoyed the boat trip on the Thames in London), and a group walking tour can give you tremendous value usually in one hour (like the Ghost Tour we joined in Oxford on that same trip), only a private tour for you and your immediate group can be geared to your interests and specifically address issues you have.

For example, when my camera died on our walk in Paris, Richard was able to take us to an electronics shop that had great prices, and we not only felt assured we were safe making a purchase there, the experience became part of the “getting to see how real Parisians live” experience.

So, consider hiring a personal tour guide, maybe not every day or every place you visit on a trip, but at least once to expand your awareness of what makes that location, the place that interested you enough to plan the trip, so very special.

 


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Massage Envy

About 17 years ago my coworkers in the Vanderbilt Laser Sight Center presented me with a gift certificate to a local spa for my birthday. It took me almost a full year to work up the courage to redeem it and when I went into work the next day I demanded a raise so I could enjoy massages on a regular basis. That didn’t happen but they gave me another gift certificate for the next birthday and after that I managed to squeak out the funds from my budget.

I was going through a rough time in my life.  My husband Dave had been diagnosed with brain cancer and I was slowly losing him. Sam was a baby and Dave had charged me with the instruction to keep life as normal as possible. Balancing the needs of a small child, a dying husband, work and my own health was a challenge and the monthly massage was the only time that was ME ME ME. I treasured it.

And so, massage has remained a part of my health regimen ever since. I have been fortunate to find practitioners who had great hands and wonderful technique wherever I have lived.

When travelling it can be tempting to take advantage of the spa, especially when prices are so much lower than here in the States. On the India trip several people who were part of the SmarTours group enjoyed massages at our first hotel in Delhi and told about the experience in glowing terms. So when Lisa and I checked into the next hotel in Agra and learned we could have an in-room massage for about $20, we scheduled one each!

It had been a long hot day so we each jumped in the shower to present less sweaty bodies. The husband and wife team arrived as I was just finishing, and laughingly told us it was not necessary to be clean. That should have given us a clue we were in for a slightly different experience.

My massage therapist here in Oregon no longer works at a spa but comes to our house with his portable table. Lisa and I were surprised they didn’t carry anything….and they at first suggested we would lie on the floor.  They grabbed the towels from our bathroom and spread them on the beds, though and soon the massages started.

There are several schools of massage and the one I am most familiar with is Swedish Deep Tissue.  The technique, Indian Ayurvedic, seemed to involve a lot of short fast strokes that were only on the surface. I have no idea if there are long term benefits of this method but other than getting very lubed up with the massage oil, I can’t say there was any “ahhhhhhh” feeling after.massage

In fact, after they left the room, Lisa and I looked at each other and   laughed for about ten minutes. The joke was on us, but we were only out about $50 total.

 


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Faces of India

Take a look at the people of India……their faces, their pride…their lives.

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Street food vendor in Agra market

 

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Volunteer in Delhi Sikh Temple kitchen preparing food for 1100 people a day

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School girls leaving Ghandi shrine in Delhi

 

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Snake charmer in Amber Fort in Jaipur

 

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Little girl who started following us in Jaipur

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Craftsman in Agra inserting semi-precious stones into marble

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School boys, courtesy of Nancy Leung

 

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Sikhs at Temple in Delhi

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Doorman, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Jaipur woman, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Receiving the blessing, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Guard at Unknown Soldier, India Gate, Delhi

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kids on a team, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Shop by the road, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Street food vendor, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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On a motorcycle, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Climbing up, courtesy of Nancy Leung (I think this is the winner of the being ready at the right time prize!!)

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Wedding guests, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Groom, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Little girl, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Sweeper, Amber Palace

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Roadside hangout, courtesy of Nancy Leung

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Philosophical discussion, Sikh Temple, Delhi

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Mother and son at wedding

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Nancy Leung and her husband Richard on an elephant at Amber Fort, Jaiput

With special thanks to Nancy Leung who was on the SmarTours trip with her husband Michael. Her superior camera and eye captured many of the shots here and as noted in other places in my blog.  After spending hours editing, she graciously shared them with all of us, to use as we would like.