goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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The Pathway We Are On

As I go about my day, happy that we finally have some “free” time that we can pay attention to some delayed house cleaning, I found myself thinking of my friends who are on hard and rocky slopes right now. I want to send healing energy to

  • a man I have never met but I know of his good works. He suffered a devastating blow yesterday..maybe an aneurysm, the info on Facebook is not complete….and his wife and family and close friends are trying to hold him up through his pathway, in the hopes he circles back to them. I wish I could be there to nurture them as they help him.
  • a man I have never met but we connected through a mutual friend on Facebook and have been celebrating our commonalities and exploring our differences with love is also fighting a potentially life ending illness. His attitude is as upbeat as can be expected being in pain. I wish I was close enough to hold his hand, but he is not alone on his pathway, held by a loving wife.
  • a woman not too far away who seems to live under a dark cloud. She has had a number of hard blows in her life and the hits, unfortunately, still keep coming. I wish I had the means to make her dream possible, but I can’t do much to boost her pathway other than what seems to be empty hugs and platitudes.
  • another woman nearby who struggled to make her marriage work and was devastated this week when her husband moved out with no discussion. She knows I will be here as much as possible for her.
  • one of my sisters who after learning her landlord wanted to sell her longterm rental sought housing and lost first one and then seemingly a second house to purchase to unethical behavior of sellers. She finally has made her move and is in the throes of unpacking and finding a place for everything and sounds exhausted.
  • my other sister who also is figuring on moving and has to make considerable arrangements just to handle the packing and storage issue as she works out of town.
  • my children who have their own personal issues of delayed dreams as well as dealing with the turmoil caused by a family member. You always have a haven here.

There are so many people in pain, so many people whose pathways have so many roots and rocks tripping them.

People, realize we have no idea what strangers may be going through. Be kind.


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Family Ties

Following the Christmas holiday I don’t need to tell YOU that your family is……..well, challenged.  I have one myself. I had an aunt that my mother disliked so much she never talked to her brother but, because of family dynamics, I needed to allow her to sing her warble of some song I didn’t even know at my wedding.  I had another aunt who, in the 1950s got a (whisper here) divorce and all we ever heard was “don’t come running home to us if you have problems with your husband.” Not exactly a helpful life lesson.

So, we all have less than perfect families, and if we are true to form, we don’t do such a great job at parenting. We do what we know, so unless you have sought out a parenting class, you will have a tendency to teach your children in the same dysfunctional way you were raised.

In the interest of changing that here are TEN RULES TO BETTER FAMILY LIFE:

  1. Recognize that the reason you love your friends more than your family is because your friends let you do the shit your mom and dad won’t. That doesn’t mean that shit is good. It still is shit. Your parents literally cleaned up your shit as a baby and into your childhood, but  now it is time for you to realize that your actions have consequences and you really need to accept responsibility. When you grow up, your relationships with the long term people who are on your life path AKA your family, will improve.Illustration by Nate Powell.
  2. Let go of anger. We want to be RIGHT! We want others to know they are WRONG! Let it go. It is not a helpful manner of communication. If you really feel strongly that your little sister or your second cousin is on the road to perdition, sit down calmly, maybe with a cup of lavender tea (ha ha) and ask why they feel their pathway is going to bring them the life they want. LISTEN.  They probably will not come around, but at least you’ll understand better and maybe they will turn to you when they recognize they need to change their ways.being kind
  3. Look in the mirror. Recognize your own flaws. Now praise your skills realistically. Understand that each of us is made of the entire ability spectrum. You and your buddies are not the only ones who can do things right. Even your parents get it right some of the time.looking-in-the-mirror
  4. Learn from others. Yup, even that warbling aunt of mine probably had something worthwhile to share with me……hard for me to imagine but I am remembering her with a child’s memory. If you are an adult, you can go where I was unable to perceive.learning
  5. Look at your children. We watched Home Alone again this Christmas and a few things were obvious to an outsider that the family members did not perceive. Be fair when you think over your kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Don’t have them do what YOU wish you could have done as a kid if they are not interested. Help them develop their own interests. Help them learn to read and research. Your-Kids-Look-up-to-You-for-Guidance
  6. Look at your children again. Help them learn life skills like cooking, sewing buttons and hems, how to wash laundry and iron to press a shirt to make a good appearance,  and how to swim.  A man who expects his wife or girlfriend to do all the cooking does not realize the stress that constant task causes. More importantly, he never sees her face light up in pleasure when he prepares her a nourishing meal. A man who can cook is sexy.LifeSkills-750
  7. Look at your children again. Teach your kids to change their oil and their tires. You may not be that proficient yourself. Learn it together. Your daughters too.  Watch your tendency for sexism. Let your sons and daughters learn they can access the entire array of  arts and skills.Nike-Voices-Feature
  8. Tell stories to your kids. Turn off the television and the electronic gadgets. Have one evening a month (or more) when you gather to share the stories of your childhood. Keep it as upbeat as possible. Your baggage with your parents need not be their baggage.  Tell about adventures you had when you were tested and succeeded. Tell about times you thought you could do something but failed and how you responded to that experience. Let them tell stories too. Use a talking stick to pass the right to talk around the circle. talking stick
  9. Explore together. Food is an excellent vehicle for exploration. Move away from what you know. I remember when we visited England for the first time and I asked for bangers and mash at a pub because I had read about it in numerous British stories,. The server paused and then said, “You know that is nursery food?” In other words, for little kids. That was okay, since it was a new experience for me, but it is not okay for you to turn to mac and cheese every few days. Time to learn new tricks. You are an adult now. You have control over your gag reflex and will not barf into your plate. Really. Taste new things. You need not repeat if you honestly do not like it. But your world will open when you explore the amazing variety of flavors from all over the world. 11646-learning-culture-through-food-mexico
  10. Realize, if you change your ways, your birth family members may make some snarky comments. That’s when you get to practice your smile and say, yeah! I’m doing great and I’m proud of my kids! And mean it.keepgoing


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Okay, I’m Different—I Understand That

peach and walnut cutting board

One of Graham’s recent cutting boards.

Today was crafts day….both Graham and I are working hard, preparing for a market next Saturday. He’s working out in the shop (a garage? What’s that?) and I am sewing sewing sewing as rapidly as I can without needing to pull out stitches and resew.

My sister called and asked me if I had time for her to stop by. Of course. She wanted to see if we could talk to a good friend to design some earrings. I called, yes, and so we did. Not a big interruption for me, but what happened during that visit had me thinking…and when I get to thinking, I start composing another blog.

See, I met that artisan a few months ago and based on that initial 2 hour interaction, I invited her into our home for dinner and have been building what I hope will be a precious friendship. We have a lot of differences….her pathway that brought her to this here and now has taken her to places I never have experienced. Some seem pretty exotic to me, so I am eager to hear whatever stories she chooses to share.  And some have been downright painful and all I can do is offer a sympathetic ear and a hand to hold to let her know she has made it safely through.  But we also have some really profound similarities….and one is in the belief that we are here to do good and another is that sad understanding that few people have that goal. acceptance

She said something today that got me thinking. She had no idea who I was and there I was inviting her into our home, accepting her as she was. She said she is waiting for the other shoe to fall; for me to turn on her. That is her experience.

That apparently is also the experience several others I know and hold dearly also have had.  So, all I can tell them is I am me. As unusual as it may be in your life, I am who I appear to be.  I will be a friend to them as long as they don’t hurt me. And when they do, as soon as they do, the first thing I will do is go to them and talk. I will say, “when you did this to me, I felt this way” and hopefully we can clear the air.  If we can’t work it out, then yes, I cut my losses. I will not set myself up to be abused.  Been there, done that.

See, I am pretty disgusted at the number of people in my own life, let alone all I hear about, people who pledged and promised love and honor for life, that turn.  Perhaps, they never really cared.  It was perhaps some kind of game. “As long as you make me happy, I will stay with you and maybe make you happy.” The way I see it, that kind of person is rarely happy. They look for something outside themselves to take care of that.

It will never happen. And so, this is one way I am different. I know how to be happy. To set a goal that will offer enough of a challenge to make it interesting but within the scope of my talents and experience is an example of a fun time for me. I’ve been lucky to be able to get to the point in my life where this is more normal than unusual…and so, I am happy.  And different from most other people.different-3


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There’s Something in the Water

Something is going on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

filesI grew up in an all-white neighborhood. It’s not that way now, but it was back in the 1950s and 1960s. My dad got our neighbors all in a tizzy when he would have meetings about civil rights in our dining room. Cars would park at our curb and “colored” people went into our house. There probably is a file in the storage area of the FBI with my dad’s name on it and that makes me proud.

Vacant prior to demolition, one of three buildings in the complex.

Vacant prior to demolition, one of three buildings in the complex.

Same dad: when I was selected to play violin in our all-county-orchestra, so was one of my friends.  She lived in one of the 8-story apartment buildings which was the model in the 1960s for low income housing. I have to assume that phone conversations between my father and my friend’s mother occurred, because each week we would park, go into the building and up the elevator to get her, returning her a few hours later the same way.  I do not remember being afraid, because I was with my dad, and after several weeks the crowd comments changed from something a bit challenging to ones of encouragement for the music.

In 1978 I moved to Memphis, Tennessee to work with an engineering/planning consulting firm. Everyone took lunch at the same time and most people used the 45 minutes to leave the building.  I often brought my lunch and sat eating about once a week with three women who were my age.  They were the company “gofers” and were surprised I would sit with them. I was, after all, white and they weren’t. I was, after all, educated, and they weren’t.  When I found out one woman had never learned to swim we arranged for her to come home with me overnight, and I taught her in my condo complex pool. She was actually shaking before we got there. I assured her I wouldn’t let her drown. No, she was more concerned that the white people would be ugly about her getting into the pool.

This is what she knew.

This is what she knew.

In more recent years while my son Sam was running track for his high school, Graham and I enjoyed the 5-hour meets by becoming the team photographers.  The other athletes got to know us and trust us over each season and as the years went on, those in Sam’s class cohort because more and more friendly with us old geezers. Two guys in particular came and spent time in our home and one even went on a road trip with us. They shared stories about their lives that opened my eyes. While Sam could go anywhere for his practice runs, these young black men had to be very careful selecting their routes if they ran alone. They were stopped just about every time. They were stopped driving their cars at least once a week. They were pushed and shoved and treated in ways that made no sense at all, especially considering the courtesy they always showed and the way they spoke. 1a  before meet  run

We white people have NO idea how bigotry is so alive and well. Well, maybe you do, because you feel the hate. If you say there is no bigotry, you don’t know what you don’t know, but you can take steps to model tolerance and brotherhood. “Tis the season to start.

 


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Celebrate Without Going Broke

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Check out these other suggestions by the MadHouseAdvent-activty-

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

 


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This Year

This year…….even though my three children will not be at my Thanksgiving table I feel blessed with the company, a full gathering of intelligent people who will provide stimulating conversation and appreciative noises about the food.

This year……even though I still do not have a job despite applying to over 30 in the past year I feel blessed because we still have enough with a warm well maintained shelter and food for sustenance.blessings jar

This year….even though we have aging bodies and diminishing vision and hearing I feel blessed because we are able to move and do and enjoy life fully.

This year…..even though we live in a time of divisiveness where it seems to be more important to be the loudest one making a point I feel blessed because we have the freedom of speech and we can wait until the windbags finish their rant and then speak softly and sanely to those who can listen.

This year……even though people who can afford to make better choices are eating chemicals that cause them to get sick and then having to spend time and money trying to get well I feel blessed because I woke up to this about five years ago and the “six month experiment” has worked and we do feel better than we did then.blessings

This year……even though I rarely see people walking the walk I feel blessed because I surround myself with people who make the effort.

Thank you for being part of my life.