goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Mature Love

In the past few months several of my friends, all mature adults, have gotten married. It has been amazing to watch their joy, knowing the pathways they traveled to be able to trust this love will work, this love will abide, this love will be real and lasting.  chrles and vicMature adults know well the stresses of life and especially treasure their partner to make the pathway sweeter.

We grew up with the fairy tale, mostly of some guy rescuing some girl, and “they lived happily ever after.”  No explanation. No mess. No kids. No information.  Meanwhile, we grew up in our childhood homes, some with loving parents but many of us got mixed messages at best. I know I was told the man is the boss and yet, I saw my dad all so often bend to the wishes of my mom.  There is no magic one size fits all method. Patti and Leslie

Watching my friends decide to marry and then celebrate that with a meaningful ceremony is a blessing. Yesterday about 50 of us gathered in  the late afternoon sun along the waterfront of Gig Harbor, Washington.  The ceremony, which lasted about an hour, included spiritual and religious33 references from many sources. It included children of the betrothed, themselves young adults. It included a number of friends who came forward to light another candle to share some symbolic enlightenment of experience.

I think, if the adults have done their work, a mature marriage can work much better than one entered in the hot naivety of youth. Building the foundation: becoming friends that can talk about anything without either party’s ego being bruised helps the new partnership face the normal ebbs and flows of life with all its financial issues, health issues, aging parent issues and more that will arise. 40

While I was immersed in the joy of the celebration yesterday, I was also feeling my heart pulled far to the east to my friend Carol in Croatia. Her beloved Ivo is dying. After meeting as young adults and living their lives on separate continents, the spark between then revived a few years ago and Carol made a decision to leave California and retire in Croatia. They have been living together, in their 70s, not allowed to marry. There is nothing the heart was missing in the love between them. And now, Ivo is about to move on. My heart is with Carol and Ivo…they found the joy of life together and they will reunite again in time.

Dubrovnik Ivo and Sam hole in the wall

Ivo spending one on one time with Sam

Life is short. Spent with the wrong person it seems to be everlasting hell. Spent with the right person, time flies and joy abounds.


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Would You Go?

This past weekend was Graham’s 50th high school reunion. I promised to go when he went to my 40th last year in New Jersey and I fully planned on it but a couple of things were obstacles. One by one they fell, and so, we purchased the tickets and the die was cast.  We were on our way to Dallas.

The attitude I had about my own reunion is we really should be over high school pain by now. No one is who they were at age 18.  I had a good time.

My attitude about Graham’s reunion is I could really have fun and I did.IMG_4059

I went up to about 5 or maybe 6 or 7 people (well,  maybe 10) and greeted them enthusiastically. I gushed, calling them by name because of the name tag “Oh XXXX, I haven’t seen you in FOREVER!!!!”   They looked at me, puzzling my name on my tag (without a high school yearbook photo) and 100% slowly said, “I recognize your face but I don’t remember your name.”  It was funny but I let them off the hook after that.DSC_0032

I really did have a good time, though. I searched out people sitting off to the side or maybe with someone else with a photo-less name tag. That clued me in that they were also a “married into” the school family and they, perhaps, were not as gregarious as I am.

I learned a lot: that carrying a handgun in a purse while shopping at the grocery store is necessary-but that person could not answer why. That there is no way small farms can compete with large industrial farms because of the economies of scale-but that person could not address the issues of animals fed hormones and antibiotics so he changed the subject. That there is no reason to expect anyone to give service back to their community-and anyone who thinks it  is a good idea is a commie liberal.

Graham did warn me that most people were ultra conservative there.

I met some of his old friends and I think we made a number of new ones. Two class members that he did not know offered us hospitality and we stayed with them two nights and they drove us to the Saturday event in a 1931 Ford Model A. Very very nice! We hope they will visit here so we can reciprocate. They were terrific!DSC_0025

I met one woman who said she enjoys my blog (thanks Karen!) and one who my husband excitingly told me was the first woman he kissed.  He introduced me to all his friends, male and female.

We headed to Austin the next day to visit Graham’s sister and enjoyed our time with her also. We met a new friend of hers and she told us she appreciated us coming out of our way as the drive was 3.5 hours each way but I told her from Oregon, Dallas and Austin are the same neighborhood.

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When I made phone calls to ask people to attend my reunion last year I heard a lot of people say they didn’t have good memories from high school.  Others said they had nothing in common with “those people”. Well, if given a chance to attend, especially if you have moved away and never really see old friends, try to go. As I said before, we are not the same person we were as a teenager.  There have been a lot of living and hopefully learning since then.  You may be surprised who you see and how you feel about them.


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Valentines Day and High School Reunions

How do you measure friendship?

As children it was easy…how many valentines did you receive.  Oh, wait, that really wasn’t true friendship, was it?

In high school , did you eye the popular kids and wonder why you were so out of step? Do you refuse to go to high school reunions because you had nothing in common with those people then and would not find anything worth talking about to them now?real friends

Get over it.  No one is the same as they were then. A high school reunion, particularly once you get to 25 years and more, can be very interesting. At my 40th reunion last year I asked people to tell me one thing that had happened that they never expected. The answers were revealing: Only one person talked about his job and it was more about the travel he was able to do than the work itself. A couple of people told me how a significant illness made them realize what was truly important. And many people told me about family relationships, good and bad, but mostly about how they never expected close connections to people to be so important.

Friendships are rare. You know I am not talking about the number of people you connect to on Facebook. I am also not talking about the number of people you actually say hello to when you see them. (If you don’t say hello to anyone, that may be a sign of the reason you might not have friends.)

I’m talking about the kind of friendship where you can call someone to help celebrate joys and to help hold your hand in times that are difficult.  To come to a meal, whether it is steaks on the grill or a delivered pizza.  To share photos of a trip. To complain about the kids or the spouse and know it will stay private. To drive you when you have a scary doctor’s appointment.  To pick you up at the airport to save you the parking fees.friends-26

You have these friends because you are an equivalent friend to them.  You accept people for who they are. You listen to their stories and understand, because you felt that way in the same situation. You connect.

If you don’t have this kind of connection with one or several people, let me make a suggestion.  Change your routine. Instead of spending time at home alone, check out what groups meet in your area. Chances are there will be one or more that appeal to an interest you have. Volunteer to help somewhere. Groups like soup kitchens, art museums, libraries, elementary schools, community recreational sport leagues all need volunteers.making_a_friend_by_sabrane-d31kg96

Once you get out of your cocoon, you will begin to connect with people. Having something in common is the way a friendship grows. Go for coffee. Explore the farmers’ market together. Ask the other person questions abotu their family or their interests to get them talking. Be a listener. Accept them for who they are.

Love them. Be a friend.


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Breaking the Model

Unless we make an effort, we do what we have seen as kids. It’s one reason I took parenting classes, but that’s another story.  I did not want to be the kind of host my mother patterned. She was so nervous that things would not be perfect enough that life was a bit intolerable in our house the day of a dinner party.

In my prior marriage with Sam’s daddy, his best way to pitch in was to help clean the house and then take the kiddos out for a couple of hours so I could do the food prep without any “Mommy, I need you” kind of distractions. That worked for us.father-and-children

With Graham, we split the tasks nicely.  We clean first, often to music.  The house is straightened and cleaned, altho perhaps not to my mother’s standard. It is clean enough that our guests will not contract any disease or illness eating at our table. Black_and_White_Cartoon_of_a_Maid_Whistling_While_She_Works_clipart_imageHe is a pretty darn good cook, so he tends to do the entree and side while I prepare another side and the dessert. Today I am also preparing the appetizer.

strawberry ice creamThe ham is in the oven. The sides (baked tomatoes and a corn strata) and appetizer (baked brie with smoked blueberry jam I canned) are prepped and ready to pop into the oven at the right time. The dessert (strawberry-rhubarb pie with strawberry ice cream) was prepared yesterday.

It is a truly wonderful thing to break bread with friends. Try it sometime. Pizza works just as well as this home-cooked meal. Do not let your concern over your cooking skills keep you from entertaining your friends at home. It is a lovely gift of friendship.Hospitality-is-not-about....-682x1024


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Life is Too Short for This

He told me I was worthless.  I knew I was pretty together and he was a troubled person. I tried to speak to him. He was silent.

He told me dinner stank. I knew I was a pretty good cook and it was very edible. I asked him what he would have preferred. He was silent.

He told me he was going to divorce me. I told him I was pretty tired of him throwing that one out in the air and he was not to bother to say it again. Just to act on it if he truly felt that way. He did nothing.Depression stock

He told me I was repulsive. I knew my added five pounds was not great, but better than his added 20. I told him he didn’t look so good himself. He yelled more.

We went on a belated honeymoon. I bought a new negligee, hoping for a new beginning. I asked him if he would like to take a walk on the deserted beach in the moonlight. He raped me.

portrait-of-a-worried-girl-sitting-on-the-beach-with-the-sea-in-the-backgroundThe next night when he made his moves I told him I wanted him to make love to me. He hit me.  It was the first time and I swore to myself it had to be the last.

I threw on some clothes and left the room, sitting on the beach 30 feet in front of our room for 3 hours. He never came out. He was snoring when I finally went back in. The next morning I told him we needed help. He said he was fine. That I was the problem.

I was 23-years-old and I knew I deserved better than this.  But I was stuck in a place still trying to “fix” it.  And on it went, for another few weeks, until I finally had the strength to call a friend to come get me and told him to leave the house so I could pack. He grinned, grabbing the car keys and headed out.

He was not happy when I filed for a divorce.  I had nightmares for months.

Now, I hear that this football player beat his fiancee unconscious, dragged her out of the elevator and has just been kicked out of the NFL. Supposedly he is in counseling since this is his first offense (that is known). I wonder if the woman, who married him after this attack, is also in counseling.cycle of violence

I have several friends who are in marriages where they are emotionally abused and sometimes physically threatened by their spouses. They stay in the marriages for a number of reasons that usually include the needs of the children as well as the financial dependence on that spouse.domesticviolencekids

Life is too short for living that way. We try to get to know the other and yet many people never develop the ability to truly talk, to share happy or sad, with their partner. We mistake lust for love and then we hide behind silences and forced smiles, trying to put on a facade to fool others.

No one is fooled. Your kids are not fooled. Your friends are not fooled.

They are confused.

 


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Passages

A couple of my friends lost a parent in the last week. As my peers age, it is a normal part of life to face the illness and care of aging parents and their inevitable final passage.

With losing a husband to brain cancer after a ten year battle, I have had some experience to be able to offer a few words of what worked for me. Perhaps it might for you.

Be a realist

  •  Try to understand the cause of the illness. If you are reading this, you have access to the Internet and there are countless websites that can provide explanations that you probably can understand.  Do some reading in order to ask the doctors good questions.  Not knowing causes more stress than you need.
  • Fight (yes FIGHT) for good follow-up care, whether it is physical therapy or a home health aide.  Do not accept a guilt trip from anyone that you should be able to provide all care.  Even if you are a trained nurse, you are not able to be on the job 24/7.
  • Understand when things start to slide downhill that at some time, death will occur.  Trying to ignore it won’t make it not happen. Nothing you did or didn’t do caused that. The body gets awfully tired of the pain, the inability to take proper nutrition, the confusion. Recognize that this is not about what you are going to be losing, but making the time the best goodbye you can.

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Be prepared

  •  Doctors have a tendency to refer the patient to hospice very close to the end. This is a horrible disservice not only to the ill loved one but to you. I guess the doctors think it mean admitting failure, but being realistic about the illness and the probably outcome will enable you to persuade for earlier admission. Hospice is a wonderful helpful system set up to care for the ill person in their own home or perhaps in a residence. They provide palliative care, keeping that person comfortable and always acting with high respect. They also help YOU with the emotional turmoil as well as practical issues that are part of this stage of life. Hospice will typically enroll a patient if the doctor indicates end of life will occur within 6 months. That’s a wonderful amount of caring that can be extended if the loved one lingers on.
  • Use this time to make pre-arrangements so there is no need for intense decision making when the person passes. In fact, before your loved one gets so ill, it might help you to understand if there is anything s/he prefers. Many people can’t talk about death easily. Let me assure you, talking about it does not make it happen sooner.comfort love respect

Keep grounded

  • If you have a spiritual connection, relax in it, even if only a moment here and there during the day. As one wise woman said to me when I asked if there were special prayers, “Don’t worry about the words. He knows all the words.” Take some time to complain, to cry, to be angry. It is okay. It is normal.
  • If you have some friends, now is the time to call on that friendship.  Not everyday. Not for long hours. But ask for one to bring a home cooked meal, do a run to the grocery store for you, sit with you and have a glass of wine and a hug. If any friends are very special, ask for a relief hour so you can go get a haircut or gas up the car or just drive over to the park to watch the sun set. If you are used to doing for others, it may be hard to ask for help. Don’t be concerned; the time will come later on to help others again. Now it’s time to let others love you.
  • Take care of yourself. If you are not eating well and not getting enough sleep, you too will get sick. Your immune system is already being attacked because of the stress. This is the time you need to love yourself a bit more.

You know the final day will come. We just don’t know when. Trying to move from a position of pending loss to one of making it the best goodbye you can will give you more peace than you can ever imagine. Hugs.

 


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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