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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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What’s the Goal?

They’re brain dead. Idiots. Bigoted. Racist.  And they feel the same way about us.

They listen to their tv news, read their schlock newspapers and believe in unfounded opinion articles as news. And so do we.

Not me! You declare. So, I ask you….whatever place on the spectrum you live, have you read “the other side’s ” news? Ever? Just to try to understand why they don’t know what you know?  Not even once? Once per day would be a good try.

I posted an article  on Facebook recently that asked people to state their opinion after reading it. I also emailed this to some friends who are not on Facebook, to ask their opinion.  The article, by NBC News, explains a study done by political scientists at Texas A&M.  I  am not going to summarize it here; it is THAT IMPORTANT that you read it for yourself.  What I will tell you is that most people did not respond, and those many who commented back to me had NOT read the whole article. One said it was too biased. Another said he knew that NBC was a liberal organization so he didn’t bother.

So, I just wonder who is pulling the strings? Who are the puppet masters?   Why are we allowing this?

I don’t feel like a sheep, following the leader blindly. I suspect you don’t feel that way either. And yet, for much of what is going on, we are experiencing a significant effort to keep us separated. To make us angry at people who don’t agree with us. To reduce them to less than equal status in our thinking….and then in our behavior.

Image result for people as sheep

source: RISE OF THE AMERICAN SHEEPLE: 10 Signs You’re A Sheeple

But we have had situations that have polarized us when, in truth, we really should all have a similar reaction. The horror of people being pulled from their cars and beaten. The rhetoric of our nation’s leadership making broad statements about a group of people based on…..pick one….color, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation….and many feel threatened instead of talking to people they personally know in that identified group of people to get first hand information about the situation.  The unbelievable situation where children are taken away from their parents when they enter the US illegally, and about 1500 have been “lost”. The lack of transparency on the actions of some government agencies whose actions beg answers. The science showing us we are essentially killing ourselves, ruining the planet’s oceans, air and more.  All these issues should really have a unified reaction by EVERYONE regardless of where they are on the political spectrum.

I think we each have a choice. We can continue sharing news that is phrased in ways to agitate and polarize or we can seek the truth behind the news and point out who the puppet masters are and why they want us distracted and separate. Follow the money is a truism.

When laws are passed to permit cars to hit protesters who are blocking a roadway, when peaceful protestors who point out the inequities of police treatment are distorted as demeaning the flag and the military, when the anger over abortion leads states to close clinics that provide all kinds of health services and screenings for people, when we incarcerate illegal aliens and separate their children from them and then “lose” some because of poor record keeping, and I could go on….we are being played. We are being made angry to uphold values we consider very important to the definition of what this country is.

Image result for car hitting people in the street VA

source: Mercury News, Charlottesville, VA

Both sides feel this way.

We need to stop paying attention to WHAT is being said and start asking WHY. And like a curious toddler, the WHY question needs to be asked again and again until we finally get to the truth.  And if, like an impatient parent, we are cut off from the explanation, as adults we know that is not right and we need to push some more.

Yes, there are people in this nation whose concept of what the United States should be would be to eliminate many of its current citizens and residents from being here.  They do not think beyond their discomfort and fear. They do not recognize that there are consequences to deporting or otherwise eliminating a class of people not “desirable”. They do not know the slippery slope they propose would, inevitably, include them. How can I suggest this? I’ve read my history. Not only Nazi Germany but many other countries where tribal factions, religious schisms, ethnic identification have resulted in millions dead.

Image result for genocide

source: http://genocidewatch.net/2015/06/01/sudan-making-money-off-genocide/

I am appalled when I see people threatening civil war if something happens they don’t like. They need to read. They need to watch some good films that will clearly show there is no winner in war, other than those who own the corporations who run the war.

So ask yourself when you have a reaction to something you read…..how can I bring THE TRUTH to people in a way they will listen, and join together?  This means no knee jerk reactions or you are fanning the flames.

Be smart. Let’s turn ourselves around.  What’s the goal?

 

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Our Heart is Sick

I start my mornings, when I have time, with a cup of coffee and the Internet. First, emails. Then, Facebook. I’m sitting here today in embroidered blue jeans and my tie dyed tee with fringes on its sleeves….about as “hippie” as my attire can get, I guess.  I select something from Pandora and find my attention caught by this music.  It got me thinking.

Thinking about the way our nation, our communities were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We were as split and splintered as perhaps no other time since the Civil War. It was a time, like now, when a person’s political stance fractured families and friendships.  Even in myself, understanding the sense of patriotic pride that pushed some guys I knew to enlist and go off to what was most assuredly a blood bath, I had trouble balancing that sense of pride with the horror of what the war was doing to the people in VietNam and more importantly, the people who came back damaged by their experience.  We were cruel to our veterans who returned and many remain burnt out to this day. Others were proud of their service and resumed life. Still others were angry at the anger and so the split continued.

There has always been a crowd chanting 

and others proclaiming

We talked about a generation gap but no one really worked on healing the other divide. And so we who were teenagers when college students who were peacefully protesting were murdered have now become senior citizens. And the divide seems to be greater than ever.

When I heard the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song Ohio playing on Pandora it made me pause and I then had a very disturbing thought…and that is why I turned here to try to find a pathway through it.

Today, if we had a similar shooting by a government ordered militia of four kids on a college campus who were peacefully demonstrating would it stop the atrocity that they were protesting?

And I don’t think the answer would be yes today. Not any longer.

When a man gets dragged out of his reserved and purchased airline seat and people start posting things that are not perfect about his life as a way to discredit HIM, someone has lost their values.

When grieving parents of a fallen soldier offer the Presidential candidate a copy of the Constitution and then they are attacked for not being perfect, someone has lost their values.

When Congressional Representatives refuse to meet with their Constituents during a recess when time to schedule town halls is normal, someone has lost their values.

When there is growing evidence that our President is focused on personal gain and benefits for his peers in the uber wealthy, and his supporters criticize the messengers, someone has lost their values.

When friends stop talking to long term friends because there are differences of opinion, someone has lost their values.

My mom called the Baby Boomers the “me” generation. From her view she saw a lot of young people who wanted to break with conventional behavior and do “their own thing.” She felt this kind of individualism would move us into a broken community and while there are many benefits for people pursuing their pathway even when unconventional, there is a truism that if the focus is ONLY on the individual, the community loses.

As I drove south last week to go to the Shakespeare Festival held in Ashland, Oregon, I passed through the beautiful green fields of the Willamette Valley. One town, Junction City is a conservative stronghold in this very mixed region. At the southern edge of town in front of  a tire dealership, the owner often posts political statements. This one caught my eye and I laughed. “Snowflakes ahead” referring to the city of Eugene, a very strong liberal community.

Being called a snowflake is a trendy insult used by conservatives generally against anyone who thinks individuals have rights.  They say we are responding this way because our feelings are hurt and so they belittle us.  They don’t understand that it is not our own personal feelings that are hurt but an empathetic response for members in our community who have been hurt.  To me it implies short-term issues and perhaps a lack of intelligence. I tend to feel irritated when someone refers to me as a snowflake because I have been this way for …hmmmmm at least 5 decades that I can claim to my own thinking and reasoning.

The problem, though, is not what my cohort is called, but the fact that people prefer to demean and detract instead of trying to understand.

It gets down to core values.

If you feel people who suggest you read something and think about it makes you feel dumb, you have a self esteem problem.

If you feel people who expect women/Blacks/Latinos/LGBTQ/handicapped to have equal access and equal opportunity are causing you pain, you have a vision problem.

If you feel that there is only one way that is right, you have a navigator problem.

If you feel that people who are not wealthy are better than everyone else who then is worthless and there for you to use, you have a humanity problem.

If you feel that the homeless have done something bad and deserve their hard times, you have a cardiac illness.

As a society, as a community, we are sick and most of all, it is our heart that needs to repair.

Can we do it?

All I know is that if something horrendous like Kent State happens today, I wonder if will we react as a unified community, realizing we ALL must move off our spots to work together?

The short answer is….no. We did not act unified about Standing Rock. We did not act unified about Flint. We did not act unified about how Congress is dismantling laws that hold corporations responsible to make sure the water they spill into and the air they emit into stay clean. We have not acted unified about the idea that our government has been influenced by anther country over an election (as we have influenced countless other countries’ elections). We did band together pretty well a few weeks ago about health insurance but the power mongers are still wanting more more more and this fight is not over yet.  We have not acted united about how this President ignores rules and conventions of his office.

The longer answer is……perhaps we can. If we don’t lose our way even more first.

What do you think? Your comments show you are thinking…a very good sign.


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Shaking Out the Dust and the Breadcrumbs

Spring cleaning…….big sigh. For those of you who know me personally, you know I am not a clean freak. But……..
The sun came out last week. That’s what it felt like here in the Northwest where the winter rains broke all kinds of records. The snow pack is healthy in the mountains and California’s drought is relieved in some ways. It was a dreary four months and although the rains are not over yet, the sun is out more days now and everyone seems to be more upbeat.

So, there is more energy and the task to straighten, to clean, can no longer be postponed.

Why is there is tendency for cultures to have this spring cleaning ritual?  After being cooped up with shut windows for months, it is refreshing to let the breeze in and even though it is not warm, the air in the house brightens. Historically, we heated our homes with coal, wood and kerosene which produce an amazing amount of soot and yes, the house would be impossible to keep clean in the winter. With the sunlight we can see those dust bunnies better….so time to get to work.

This habit has long been part of civilization. It may amuse many people who are phobic about Muslims that the Persian New Year is the first day of spring and Iranians continue the practice of “khooneh tekouni” which literally means “shaking the house” just before the Persian new year. We’re talking thousands of years of culture here, people.

And not only that, but in the Jewish religion we have an intense time this week cleaning. Monday evening starts the holiday of Pesach-Passover. All bread crumbs must be cleaned out of the house, and so, every corner, every nook and cranny, is wiped and washed and altogether freshened up.

Chinese culture has long had a practice of pre-New Year’s cleaning. So interesting that three ancient cultures have recognized this practice is needed to healthy living.

Perhaps some people may not like this tidbit of history-that something they do is a Jewish or Muslim or Chinese custom. However, the rest of us will enjoy knowing we are indeed a multi-cultural community here and we can enjoy all aspects of sharing. Now, if only I can find someone who just LOVES to share the joys of vacuuming.

 


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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

 


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Basic Knowledge

If you’re lucky, you had a least a handful of teachers who significantly and positively affected your learning. They stand out among all your teachers as being special and teaching you more than just the subject matter assigned. They taught how to understand the “WHY” of what you needed to learn and if you were REALLY lucky, they taught you how to continue to learn on your own without needing someone giving you assignments.

Mrs. Umholtz was one of those special teachers in my life. I learned a lot in that 7th grade class. I learned about the stock market by pooling my dollar in a classroom investment.  She taught us poetry and made us memorize some classics like The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (I know my friend Liz can still recite it!) and High Flight. More, I bet, but that’s all I can remember after 50 years.   I learned state capitals. I learned the changes in Africa as nations there were gaining their independence from colonial powers.  I learned how to research and write reports that included complete sentences and coherent presentations that the reader could understand.

I learned what many other kids and many adults never have: I learned how our government worked. We discussed each branch of government extensively. We had to memorize (oh yes, she was big on that) the names of LBJ’s Cabinet and learn  the responsibilities of the various Executive Branch departments.   We learned about how Congress enacts a bill and visited our statehouse in Trenton, getting an insider’s tour since one of my classmates’ dads was a Representative. We learned about how the Supreme Court, as the highest court in an extensive judicial system,  gets presented with appeals and goes through a selection process to only hear the ones that actually are about points of law.  branches-of-gov

Our world is spinning seemingly out of control right now. Arguments and fighting seem to be the way it goes now. Unsupported boasting is believed and causes distraction while changes are being enacted quietly in the self interest of the people who hold power, ignoring they are our representatives and we voted for them.

It seems in the past year my writing here on this blog has turned more and more to commenting about the social and political aspects of life here in the US and how disturbing issues are. Not only the causes but the fact that no fix is presented.  It seems we have become us versus them. It is hard to engage in any dialogue with anyone who does not hold a similar viewpoint.

Let’s start with some basics. Why not a system in our communities to educate all residents how the system works. What the community does to take care of the needs of all of us. But the basic understand must happen before we start arguing.

Can we do that?

And can we learn to present our opinion in a way that permits others to listen?

And please test yourself…..how much do YOU know about the basic issues of our nation?  This is the basic knowledge you should know.

 


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Secular Christianity in America

Believe it or not there are over 300,000 churches in the United States, with affiliation to about 217 different Christian Protestant denominations. While about 60% of people say they attend church each week, the number is really about 20%, thereby showing us the first crack: not walking the walk. After all, the Ten Commandments includes Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness…..in other words, DO NOT LIE.

So, what we have here is a situation where a lot of people claim they are Christian, but in reality do not even attempt to walk the walk. A lot of people claim Jesus as their Savior but few attend church any time other than Christmas and Easter and even then, attendance is not as full as in past decades.

America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a Secular Christian nation.

We have a lot of people storming the stores and knocking down anyone in their way on Black Friday to capture the deals, the better to pile presents under the Christmas tree.  We have people who know one verse and the chorus to Christmas carols but not the subsequent verses nor the story of the origin of the song.  We have a lot of people who have elaborate trees and lighting, not realizing these are traditions that are based in other belief systems. We have millions of people who truly believe the baby Jesus was born with cows looking over Mary’s shoulder and Mary, of course being perfect, did not have labor pains. Oh, they probably never thought of that.

We have people who stuff candy treats into baskets for their kids on Easter.  We have millions of kids who love the Easter Bunny and have no idea that anything else is being celebrated that day.

We have people whose comprehension of their religion is limited to the Sunday School stories they were told when they were little.  They don’t have the time or inclination for any Bible study and might really be amazed to try to reconcile the differences in the gospels if they ever did a side-by-side evaluation.

There are many people who believe there is a war on Christians because over the past few decades there has been a rising awareness that not everyone here in the United States is Christian. There are Jews. There are Muslims, There are Buddhists. There are Jehovah Witnesses. There are Mormons. There are (gasp!) atheists.  And in recognition of those other people, some communities realize that pushing JUST the Christian symbols is not the right thing. And so, Happy Holidays, which has been a saying that has been a part of American culture since the late 1800s, has recently become a nastygram to many. We have some people who believe snowmen on coffee cups are a sign that Corporate America is the Devil…it may be, but red and white decor is not the sign of that. starbucks-xmas-cups

Why are Christians feeling under assault where there is no problem?  I have no idea…maybe an inferiority complex that starts with color and sexual identity and goes on into church attendance and understand Jesus’ teachings.

Okay, who am I to be calling the kettle black right now? I am a secular Jew who has been attending church for 10 years with my Christian husband.  When he asked me if I would go with him I told him I would as long as I was respected. And his response was perfect, “If you are not respected we are in the wrong place.”

In the past 10 years I have attended 4 churches with him. One for 6 months when we were on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado was my big introduction. There the choir members welcomed us and helped me understand the rituals. I focused on the similarities of the mass and of course, it made sense; Judaism is the root. If any church misses the Jewish root in their practice, they are not practicing anything close to what Jesus did.

The next seven years was in a church in Huntington, West Virginia. There were a few people who were a bit hesitant accepting me, but over a short time they saw I was not there to mock. The priest, when I attended a class, misinterpreted that I would want to be baptized afterwards. I told her learning is part of life, but did not necessarily mean complete acceptance of doctrine.

When we moved to Oregon we started in one church but moved to another because there was a lack of music as well as no real warmth of community. We found it more comfortable with another congregation across town.

So, four different settings. I’ll bet you I pay attention more than many. It is rote to most other congregants.

I have learned enough to be “dangerous”. I have attended about ten different study groups where I have caused lively conversation because my viewpoint is different. I have been told we are all imperfect so I should not expect people to walk the walk all the time.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. But I do expect people who loudly and publicly profess to be Christians to at least be NICE.

In reality, I have met only a few people I feel live their faith. They exhibit true acceptance and understanding of others without imposing their viewpoints on others.

However, I have also been told I am doomed to Hell by more that I care to count. My husband has been pulled aside and told he is responsible for saving my soul.   This is not the message that wins. This is a message that alienates.

And it alienates more than me. It alienates other people who claim to be Christian but just do not do something exactly as someone else thinks they should. And so, people stop attending church.

Numerous studies in this country indicate the biggest reason that Christianity is losing membership, active or passive, are the behavior of the “do it my way or you are doomed” people, most of them fundamentalists.

And many of them do not know the soul of their religion. They can spout chapter and verse but can not find the love.

And so, pass the fruitcake. The eggnog is ready.  Christmas is here.buddha-love

 


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Fool Me Once……Wait a Minute…This is Happening Too Often

marionetteI hate being manipulated. When I know someone is pulling some strings, I usually can maneuver around that, anticipating my choices before it comes to a final showdown.

However, there are issues we normal people never know…until the Freedom of Information Act opens sealed files. And so, we find out that we were puppets once again. Case in point is The United States’ entry into World War II because of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. We were righteous in our indignation and because of the Japanese-German alliance, thereby could also attack Germany. That we should have been on that moral pathway two years before is something for another discussion. But here is a presentation of the facts that lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbor as I never heard them before.

The desire by those in power to further strengthen their wealth through trade and commerce, through acquisition of raw materials, has played out time and again throughout history. Just as our American government had us manipulating Spain with the explosion of the Maine in Havana harbor to start the Spanish American War. The goal always was to open more trade with other areas, notably, the Philippines.  World War I’s eruption has been told often about how major powers chose certain actions instead of diplomacy. And more recently, we remember the non-existent weapons of mass destruction that had George W Bush to convince many here that we MUST go in and take out Saddam Hussein. Look what that lead to. But Cheney got extremely wealthy, so I guess opening the Pandora’s Box of a loss of leadership is a trade-off the power elite accepts.

We have just weathered a campaign season where it became greatly apparent how easily people are manipulated. Few verify things they read and I have had more than one Facebook Friend tell me if it not her job to educate me. I responded that she needed to educate herself and she has stopped talking to me now.  She did not appreciate my posting facts to refute her emotionally laden editorial writing she posted as truth. It is important that EVERYONE wakes up NOW and slows down with their reactions to how the news is given. We MUST demand more information before our leadership takes us into a situation that will be dangerous to us all.

I remember back to the Gulf War II time when I cautioned we needed to verify before jumping into war. I was chastised by many that I was not being patriotic. Au contraire! It is a true Patriot’s role to help keep us in truth, justice, and what we were told watching Superman was the American Way.marionette-don-quixote