goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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It is a HAPPY Anniversary

Today, as Graham and I celebrate our 14th anniversary, I ponder the pathways of my relationships. I happily acknowledge that some in my age range are well into 40 or more years of marriage. While I have never experienced this kind of “growing old together” relationship, I have learned a few things.

A lasting relationship is based on respect. I once was married to a man who said things like “There are two kinds of people: math and science people and English and history people. Math and science people are smarter.” and ten minutes later, “Will you please help me write my report?” And ten minutes later, “I hate to write complete sentences. That is so dumb!” I can laugh now, but you who live with someone like this are not laughing. You know.

A lasting relationship is based on some overlap of interests. I learned to cook from my mom and, as soon as they could sit steadily, I positioned my babies on my kitchen counter to participate. Being married to another person who enjoys cooking has given us a common area to explore. If we have a dinner party, we split the workload. If we want to have a fun project, we explore a cuisine we have never attempted before. And, in a day-in-day-out lifestyle, it means the humdrum duty of the family’s meal prep can be shared with no one person burdened day after day to come up with appetizing temptation for all. That sharing of duties, in itself, can save a marriage. And while your partner may not fully understand you, having common interests and activities build other pathways to closeness.

A lasting relationship is based on the knowledge that lust is not the same as love. We crave intimacy. We need touch. We sometimes confuse a satisfactory “itch-scratching session” with another person as a deep emotional bond. Sometimes we rinse and repeat for years before we might swear off sex because it has failed to be THE way to know who to trust. That’s also not a way to find love. It was the long distance of 350 miles that required me to build intimacy with Graham by sharing thoughts, hopes, and dreams; physical touch was of course not possible. It seems to me that most relationships build with talk until we get comfortable enough to move to physical intimacy, but many never take the time to build that emotional intimacy further.

A lasting relationship is based on giving each other space and allowance to improve personal goals. I once was married to an abuser. The short leash was one of the issues that burned hot and made me very aware that the man was an unhealthy partner. I became aware of how important it was to have my own time and space to work on my own interests. A healthy relationship is one where the desire to share time together is balanced with personal time.

A lasting relationship is based on the understanding that each person will always try to bring positives to the relationship. In the human condition, it is reasonable to expect some days don’t go so well. The way each person deals with stressful issues can affect relationships even when the partner has nothing to do with the problem. When one person flows into an emotional whirlwind and only emotes anger or silence, the relationship is in trouble. The other person is buffeted by a storm of emotion and yet, any offer of an ear and an effort to listen tends to diminish over time when that emotional assault is not balanced. Learning to communicate calmly in a time of high emotion is almost impossible. Know when to call for a personal time out and expect your partner to respect that, but get back to the issue. Something swept under the rug and never discussed ends up becoming a mountain that you will trip on again and again.

A lasting relationship is based on wanting a lasting relationship. Bring the best YOU to the relationship. Know what you need and know what you can provide. Talk about that. After failed marriages, I asked Graham “What kind of husband will you be? What kinds of responsibilities will you assume? What kind of time will you give me to nurture our relationship? And then, I asked him what he expected his wife to do and be. He was surprised but then he realized that in failing to think this way before, he also had not discussed with that prior partner what the hopes and expectations were. He understood that while the pathway may not be smooth, at least a basic agreement of roles and responsibilities helps sets some kind of guidelines.

A lasting relationship is based on recognizing that your partner is flawed. No one, even me myself and I, is perfect. After my first two marriages, I recognized I had to do better identifying and analyzing those personality traits of my partner that might irritate me. Sure enough, it does not eliminate my feeling of annoyance, but it does wake me up to the realization that I had recognized and analyzed it and decided it was not “too big a deal.” So, it is not fair for me to pitch a fit at this late date. There are ways to present a way to help reduce any irritant, of course. Knowing how to talk calmly about sensitive issues is so helpful.

So, here we are at FOURTEEN. For me, I am close to my 17 with a prior husband, but there it was 7 good years and 10 dying with cancer years, so in a way, I am “ahead” at this point. I like to also think I am “ahead” with the way Graham and I have learned to talk about uncomfortable things and while there will always be “something”, I do have high confidence that we will continue to walk together in a lasting relationship.


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Time to Do-Over

We are all guilty. Right now it is so easy for me to look at YOUR behavior, your opinions, and know how you need to change your ways. I suspect you have the same thoughts about me.

I read articles bashing Trump and the people who followed him. And the ones who STILL are supporting him. There are two things here.

Can I get there safely?

NUMBER ONE: I know I was not the only person who had observed Trump’s behavior as a real estate developer and reported he is a flawed business person very early in the 2016 campaign process. If one reason people were going to support him was that he flashed a lot of gold and said he was successful, lots of other people pointed out the bankruptcies and sleazy practices of not paying subcontractors, causing small businesses to fail. The choices made during site selections in his business gave a view to how he feels unconcerned about people and how his actions affect them. We knew Trump without even studying him deeply. We warned you. You had already stopped listening…and analyzing. You made excuses. They didn’t make sense then (My favorite is “They were business bankruptcies, not personal ones.”) You chose this. You own it. You now are dealing with it in ways I can’t even imagine.

NUMBER TWO: As long as we see that arrested white demonstrators and rioters are treated significantly differently from demonstrators in BLM actions last summer, we understand there is a long road ahead of us. We are beginning to hear words of apology and something else. I don’t know, it may be my ears as well as their words, but the message is just not contrition. Claiming to have been conned will, at best, provide the grounds to recognize these people are not capable of analytical thought and should be removed from ANY and ALL leadership positions. Special educational sessions, call them civics, call them therapy, seem to be needed.

In other places and times, including now and here on Earth, there are camps that have been set up to “retrain” people who “need” retraining. These are prisons. Not what I am talking about.

Something ahead….start analyzing.

We have lost our sense of community. I hate saying Mom may have been right when she moaned in the 1970s “This ‘Do Your Own Thing’ movement is going to bite us someday” but Mom, I’m ready to concede that one to you. We broke some of the social conventions in the 1960s and we still have many more to free, but what has resulted is a cacophony to many.

Instead of hearing all the beautiful individual voices of any given group, many hear the overstimulation of too much choice. Their longing for the “good old days” simply means that recognition of so much new stuff to learn is hard and they are being stubborn. (Sorry. Just think back to how many hours kids would be able to play if they did not fight the concept of getting homework done first and you’ll get the point.)

Apply logic.

Back in the days when I was walking grocery store aisles, it was often fun to see someone staring at the shelves, trying to decide which of the many options was the exact right one to provide that perfect taste note for them. My wicked side usually would offer a wide arm sweep as a suggestion, but choice, as delightful as it can be, is really really hard for some people. Just the act of CHOSING results in stress.

So, to make that one choice, many people lock down hard. And refuse to go back to the grocery store to try another brand when they find a sour taste in their mouth. Oh, they often forget to read the label, too, to check for ingredients that may not sit well in their gut.

Since the political turmoil ratcheted up during Obama’s tenure as President, I have often wondered how we would function if all political parties were disbanded. All of our voter registrations become “unaffiliated”. Campaigning is limited to a period of time of 6 weeks before each election day. Primaries are coordinated to be held one day nationally. Campaign spending is limited to $10,000 for localities, $50,000 for state races and $5 million for national races. That’s it. Chose your marketing carefully.

Find your pathway, apart from the crowd but select the right speed for proper management.

Let them tell us who they are in 6 weeks. Clearly. Answering questions until those questions stop because people feel they finally heard what they needed to. Include fact-checkers that have been accepted by all BEFORE it all begins. If someone is found to be lying, they get a warning. The second time, they lose 10 percentage points in the voting. Hahaha, I doubt that can happen, but it will be what hurts them, isn’t it? What do you think? Convince me: yes or no?

We are seeing posturing in Congress to protect re-election options. Those people are not serving their constituents. They are serving themselves. I have mixed feelings about term limits because some serving do seem capable of staying on their message long-term. Bernie is one example. West Virginia loved their Byrd. Understanding that there are certain benefits to congressional reps building relationships with other people across the country or, ever hopefully, across the aisle, we need to permit them some bit of time more than the minimum of two years. Why not a two-term limit for each house? Convince me: yes or no?

We can do better. We must.

The promise just does not happen without including everyone
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We ALL Believe

We ALL believe we understand what this nation needs.

We ALL are fools.

Since when have YOU fixed a problem that even began to approach this magnitude? You know that uncle at your Thanksgiving table you can’t talk with? If you can’t talk to him, you think you can talk to soemone even more adamant they are right?

And it’s not HIS fault. It is HIS fault. It is also YOUR fault. And it’s also not YOUR fault.

It is ALL of OUR failures.

“When they go low, we go high.” Nope, that didn’t work.

“Just say no.” Nope, that didn’t work.

Your C is high school biology (what? you never even took biology but you think you understand DNA?) does NOT provide you with any expertise to correct anyone else’s understanding.

Your medical degree from the school of hard knocks does not qualify you to tell me public health experts are wrong.

There has been a lot on us. Eight years of an African-American President was enough for some people. Four years of an orange-toned President was also enough for some people. A highly infectious new illness that is still confusing doctors was also more than enough for millions of people. We are not the same as we used to be.

ALL of us.

If you think you are fine, trust me on this: you’re not and please go to the front of the line to get help.

My best advice is to go home, listen. Read. Turn the channel! Read another aspect. Think. Calm yourself.

Let the people who need to act out with high energy to destroy, rip apart, tear down get it out of their system.

Then, if you can demonstrate behavior control and a calm tone of voice, we can start to work. Ready? Don’t come and join the workers until you are ready to roll up your sleeves. This will take all of us.


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Family Values

We have a revolution happening in my family. One of my adult children is now houseless, by choice. And she is working and healthy without any bad habits, so what is going on?

What has happened is the result of thoughtful decisionmaking: how she and her partner choose to spend their hard-earned money. They also have a very different view of what they want in their life than I had developed at the same point in my life, and they are wiser in many ways. They want to make sure that “work-life” balance looks more like “work<life”. They want to enjoy their lives. They are outdoor enthusiasts and being able to work hard and then take time off and play hard is their joy. Dropping $2000 a month for a bedroom and shared kitchen, living room, and bathroom is not their idea of what is important.

Instead, after a minor minivan rearrangement for sleeping on trips, they seriously started looking for a Sprinter van and converted it for living and trekking. After a year or so, they had some better ideas, sold that one and are now in the middle of renovation on the next Sprinter van.

While this is “tiny house” living in an even smaller space, this is not an inexpensive project. Electrical provided three ways, clean and dirty storage for water/etc, insulation to keep it comfortable in heat and cold, all the cooking and food storage and prep requirements, this time a composting toilet and a shower arrangement, a platform for comfortable sleeping (he is 6’2″) while providing storage underneath for bicycles and more. This new home is jam-packed with all that will be needed.

I was asked to help with window coverings. Let me add this right here: I can sew but my skills are limited to “nothing fancy” and I also knew that they deserved something better than “mommy” level sewing, as this is definitely becoming a business for them. I told her I would go slowly…..and I did. I also only needed help from the sewing machine technician twice…..the machine will get tuned up after this and prior to the next big similar project. Live….and learn.

One more aspect to understand about van living: most areas do not have permitted areas for parking overnight. This is part of one of the societal changes we need to adjust as more and more people are forced to live houseless because of the current economy. So, those window coverings need to address the issue of privacy, of course, but also for stealth living as well as basic insulation. The windows must be covered tightly so no light escapes. We use rare earth magnets to hold the panels to the metal on the window frames.

First, Lisa carefully drew templates for each window with heavy paper. Some windows shapes were similar, but some of those had minor differences. For example, the front passenger and driver windows have the same shape but are reverse images.

Then, she obtained and roughly cut out the sizes needed for the insulation. This is batting with a heavy fabric on one side and about an inch of the loft of the insulation. She labeled them appropriately for each window (i.e., R2 for the 2nd window on the right) which helped me understand where each belonged. I then could take the rough cut and, using each window template, trim to the exact size and shape needed.

Lisa and Josh live in California. I’m in Oregon. Fabric selection was next. They came through heading to the Olympic National Park to trek and we hit one of Portland’s major fabric stores. Carefully, and thank goodness Lisa has a head for numbers and organization, she and the cutter helped me by cutting each window panel section piece, instead of just giving me the raw yardage and me trying to figure out the cutting. We needed decorative fabric for the interior side and plain fabric for the side that would face the windows and show from the outside.

We bought a lot of fabric. I found some seam binding there and ordered more online, obtained thread that was the perfect color, and got started.

My first step was to sort all the pieces so I had each window’s components together: the pattern, the batting, the plain fabric, the decorative fabric.

Then, I sewed pouches for all the magnets. By placing them in pouches that are attached to the material, the magnets will stay in place. Magnet pouches were placed in corners and along long straight edges.

Next, the seam bindings and the magnet pouches were sewed to the plain panel.

Then, placing the insulated batting and the decorative fabric in place appropriately, pinned closely, the topstitching on the seam binding edge closes the window panel.

In preparation for their next trekking adventure, a raft trip down the Colorado River in January, Josh and Lisa zipped through Oregon in an effort to hook up with a friend to learn some river rapids reading skills. We met them at an REI where they picked up one more needed item and brought the two window coverings I had completed. We identified issues I knew, others that needed attention, and I brought those two panels home to rehabilitate.

One point was the small round magnets, as strong as they seem to be, are compromised a bit with the fabric. We ordered more magnets, this time rectangles, that will more easily attract to the car metal frame. We hope.

They will be coming back for another river lesson in a few weeks. That will be the time to see if I am part of the next Sprinter van conversion or not. Photos to follow!

Image may contain: tree, sky, car, outdoor and nature


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On My Mind Today

I’m having trouble writing in a calm tone today…there are just so many things going on that are hollering for something better.

The son of a friend, a chef in his 30s with a young son and loving wife, in good health, died suddenly at home this week.

The niece of a friend, together with 2 other high school friends, went for a ride together and all are now dead, thrown from the vehicle despite seatbelts.

The President is taken to Walter Reed Hospital because of a positive COVID infection and now, a few days later, says he is feeling better and planning to return to the White House. No one has said he is testing negative, of course. Everyone understands that this is way too early in the illness for him to be “better” but no one is adult enough to contradict him and order him back to bed. It’s gotten to a point that nothing that is announced from the White House can be considered truthful and reliable.

The desire for making a personal choice the highest rule of the land seems to stop people from noticing the strong correlation between unmasked events and infection outbreaks. Can you say Spring Break? How about Sturgis? And one recent superspreader event, the Rose Garden announcement? Can you notice people not thinking?

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source: US Today

A candidate in a local election against an incumbent who has provided good service has been identified as an enforcer for compliance with rules of the Church of Scientology. Can she even serve equitably when so few are in agreement with her church policies? What is her real reason for running?

Another candidate for public office campaigned really hard to fight for a DEQ air quality sensor here in our city because perhaps someday there might be a reason to expand to automobile emission testing. So, during our wildfire season we have no way to know our local air quality, but must extrapolate the data from sensors 25-40 miles away. This man is proud of the way he “protected” us from maybe fees in the future and sees no reason why anyone needs to know if the air is unsafe.

Some people on various Facebook pages dedicated to food processing don’t even read any recipes when they start putting food into jars. The questions indicate a complete lack of any understanding about the food safety requirements.

A lot of people on freeze-drying Facebook group pages are thrilled about the candy they are processing, saying they eat it as fast as they preserve it because it tastes so good.

Residents still resist recycling – The San Francisco Examiner

I can’t help but notice on trash day that my neighbors have a lot of take-out boxes and piles of plastic overflowing their large bin. I wish I could help them reduce their monthly bill to Recology by teaching them how to sort their trash at the very least and then to refuse all the single-use plastic next.

Recent surveys of the US population reveal that about a third of people are tuned into Qanon and hoping that yes, we will be rescued by aliens and all will be announced in October, no, wait, now the big reveal is in March. Stay tuned, obviously.

Other surveys of the American population disclose that about half are now drinking or drugging daily. As personal ownership of weapons rises, most new gunowners are not taking any safety instructions, and assaults at home are rising.

Gun-Rights Advocates Claim Owning a Gun Makes a Woman Safer. The Research  Says They're Wrong.

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Meanwhile, I’m wondering why we are even trying to maintain a “normal” educational curriculum right now. This is the time to introduce Life 101 to include lessons on growing food, cooking and preserving; on sewing and ironing and doing laundry; on car maintenance; on household maintenance; on general small electrical repairs; on art and music and dance. This is the time for those of us close to the coast to teach about tides and sealife, including time for beach cleanup and plastic trash collection. Others can do to nearby rivers and streams and learn about the difference in those ecosystems. This is the time for matching older teenagers with adults who are working in a field that the youngster has expressed interest.

This is also the time for a huge survey of homes here in our town to identify which are not fully occupied. Those homes occupied by one or two elderly people who no longer can easily do the maintenance required may benefit from a match with a younger person or couple who can rent a room and provide some younger energy for daily life. Those homes that are sitting vacant may be able to be added to a housing program for people who currently can not afford to pay for indoor housing.

This is also the time for neighbors to join together to plan their 2021 gardens, so participating families can grow different foods to share with all in their circle. This is the time to arrange for seeds and jars and lids before the seasonal requirements run the stores empty.

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We can’t sit in the doldrums. We have too much good work to do to help raise everyone.


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Popularity Contests and the Consequences

I admit it. There have been times in the past when I looked at my ballot and realized I had NO idea about the candidate. I had not read anything about that person nor the one running opposite. How was I to choose?

How about you?

Do you just vote for a name just because it is familiar? It’s familiar because of massive advertising, perhaps. The issue of money in campaign marketing and how elections have changed significantly since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision comes up each cycle, but when money from outside the state is injected into local elections, the issue becomes of even greater concern.   Do we want people who live in another place in the world influencing our life in small rural towns?

Suppose you see some tv personality is running for office?  We have a number of politicians who achieved popular appeal because they were in your face daily or weekly or at the box office.  You are comfortable with them; after all, you invited them into your home on a regular basis as an entertainer. At what point do you begin to think that entertainment equals competency in other areas?  Can you even speak about that candidate’s stand on issues?

Some of these people have had a surprising ability to be thoughtful and careful in their representation of the people who elected them.  Unfortunately, most of the others just continue on their way without much effort at learning things that were outside their scope of experience.  We can easily name several of these in both political parties.  And you voted for them?  Because you saw them on tv? Really?

We have a new face on the local political scene. She is presenting herself to the public as a candidate for mayor and has been doing an amazing job marketing herself on social media with lots of posts, mainly supporting local restaurants and shops around town. She also started presenting the state’s daily infection report and very mixed messages about compliance with the governor’s mask-wearing order.   Her following is growing.  Comments are glowing, lauding her for being “fantastic”.  But there is no direction being given.  And no one says specifically what is so “fantastic” about her other than she volunteered to pick up trash, as many others do in Mac.

She has recently offered a survey with restricted choices to see what people’s attitudes are about “bullying”, possibly because she is beginning to feel “bullied”.  Most people will feel the survey is great, but the survey is poorly designed and does not offer a full range of responses nor permit any comments from anyone.

And no solutions offered  But that is not even the most important thing people need to recognize this coming campaign.

Between the pandemic and the civil rights demonstrations, many of us recognize that there are things that MUST be fixed, such as equal access to affordable health care as well as equal access to affordable housing. And yet, a whole segment of this city feels anyone who is needy is flawed, but NIMBY is just not going to be a viable option any longer.  (Even the current administration recognizes that as bankruptcies and foreclosures occur, the number of people who will become houseless will be rising over 45% next year.  Abd the current administration, being who is in charge, is doing nothing to prepare for that.)  This coming influx was not caused by anything any government official did either here in McMinnville, Yamhill County, nor the state of Oregon. We need leadership to help us come together to help our neighbors. 

In the coming months, we have a real choice, people. We can continue narrowing what is acceptable and end up with a community that has chosen to fail.

Or we can stop right now and agree there are times like now, in the midst of several crises, that we MUST pull together to survive.

What are we waiting for?  Your action is needed. Your vote counts.


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I Tried to Understand….and Have a Glimmer of the Concept…You?

I think ALL of us can agree on one thing: our American society is sick right now.   So much finger pointing is going on about the causes, but there are some truths that can’t be ignored.

One is on male anger: our young boys are taught to “man up”, to suppress their natural dismay and fear and unhappiness and learn to be stoic. And the hurts build up until it festers.  Some people turn inward and we have a lot of teen depression and anxiety. Others, unfortunately, turn outwards and access a way to strike out. Such are mass murderers nurtured…..and it is all of us who parented that one. Because we are part of the society that encourages this way of raising boys. Today there was another shooting in Texas with 5 dead and 21 injured..and it was a young white male who is the (now dead) suspected perp.

The other is white male privilege. I read an opinion piece I urge you to read. It’s long and you might want to close it down. I urge you, instead, to read it in bits. Take it in. Share it. It may not resonate with you but when I read it, I had a few insights of enlightenment. Perhaps you can, too.

Christianity and the Cult of Trumppublished by Utne Reader, was written by Miguel A. De La Torre, from Burying White Privilege.  

It is apparent to anyone who is not a white male that the white guys have access to many things that people of color and women generally have to work harder to achieve. And we know pay scales are different. We know perception of why people act the way they do is different based on color and gender. This article develops the historic reasons why. Image result for being a member of a group and outsider

The ONLY time I ever was close to a position that the white males of the USA enjoy was the summer of 1972 when I went to Israel. It took a few weeks there when it hit me: most people around me were Jewish. It was the first time in my life that I was in the majority. I was no longer an “other”.

While I had entered the identifiable group, I was only on the fringe because I did not have the language nor a lot of the modern cultural knowledge, but, once learned, I would be there.  I propose to you to consider the experience you had when you visited the country  where your family’s heritage is based. You may not been able to speak (fluently) in that language and you would not know the day-to-day societal norms, but you could learn them if you immersed.  If you have never gone to the “old country” nor ever really learned any ethic cooking, dances, or stories, if your family has lost its cultural heritage and you just “know” you are part Irish, for example, you probably will not be able to access this point of insight.  It is NOT the feeling you get when you are on your 5th green beer on St. Patrick’s Day and just looovveeee everyone in the bar.

That feeling of “belonging” to a group that is in the majority and has a strong voice in the society gave me a sense of calm……and I had not recognized prior that I was otherwise anxious. That anxiety increased greatly when I lived in the Bible Belt and was very definitely an “other” much more than when I grew up in the ethically and culturally diverse New York metropolitan area.

So, without even going into the God-given rights as discussed in Christianity and the Cult of Trump, I could see that white men subconsciously feel safe. Since they have been the predominate group, they have the power.  And when I felt for the experience I had, the feeling of being IN the group in Israel, I could finally grasp just what white male privilege is.

 

Image result for white male privilege

Part of the pushback by angry white men MIGHT be because  it sounds like they are being considered “inferior” because of skin color and that is an impossibly hard concept to swallow (and yes, ironic as hell).  No, it’s not your skin color……it is your attitude. But your skin color gave you access and so your attitude is that everyone has equal access, which is not true.  Once you wake up to the difference, we can begin the job of healing this society.

The second insight I received reading this article was related to religion. As you know, I am Jewish but married to a Christian. For twelve years I have been attending church with him, learning about the stories and practices of this faith. And what I have learned has taught me that Jesus was all about teaching love by actions. He tried to simplify things, since people then like people now seem to have issues with reading long and deep. He acknowledged the Ten Commandments but basically said it comes down to treating others the way you want to be treated. That really should be simple enough for people to understand….but it is not.

I told my husband I would go to church with him but only as long as people respected me. His answer, “If they don’t, we’re in the wrong place.” So I was embraced by people at Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Pueblo, Colorado for my introduction. The people at Huntington, West Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church asked especially for me to participate in study groups because my point of view would be different and would lead to more interesting discussion. Now in McMinnville, Oregon at McMinnville Cooperative Ministry, a blended Lutheran-Methodist church, I am participating in actions to help the community and even though I am not baptized, I am recognized as a full member of the congregation.

Simply, the exposure I have had to Christianity has lead me to understand that we are all imperfect but should be striving to BE LIKE JESUS.

In contrast, the Christianity I saw on full display living in the Bible Belt was, for the most part, significantly different.  When I first moved to Nashville in 1975 I was greeted “Hello! Welcome to Nashville! What church do you belong to?” in one continuous breath.  Sunday mornings were the best time to go grocery shopping (except the beer was inaccessible until noon, not a big problem for me.) because people either were in church or sleeping in; basically not going out in public if not at church so not to be identified as “one of those”. It also was when I learned not to expect to schedule anything on Wednesday night, as many had midweek church suppers at the very least.

So, if they were so tuned into church life, why was there so much anger towards “others”?

I worked for 18 months (way too long) in an office in Vanderbilt Medical Center where the electronic medical equipment was repaired and kept running at peak efficiency.  The assistant director was a guy in his late 30s who proudly told me he was an elder in his church. He also told me that all the other people who thought they were Christian were not. He belonged to the XYZ Christian Church and others went to Southern Baptist or Church of Christ or some other denomination without “Christian” in their name. Ergo, they were not Christian.  He said all this with a straight face.  Image result for my god is better than yours

This same guy stumbled into work bleary-eyed one morning shortly after his second child had been born. I asked if the baby had kept him up. No, it was another problem. At his church.  Apparently, one of the Sunday School teacher positions had to be filled and the congregation had been asked for volunteers. Two men had offered but they just could not be considered. Why? He was hesitant to speak it….I wondered if he knew his indoctrination was not quite right and that caused him distress? He finally said that the two guys were “a couple.” I responded with “What’s the problem?” He was shocked I didn’t automatically “get it” and asked “Would you want one of THEM teaching your kids?”  I kept calm and asked him if the Sunday School has a curriculum that the teachers use to teach the religious training they want the kids to get. Yes. I asked if any of the curriculum included getting naked and touching each other. NO!!! “Well, then,” I repeated, “what’s the problem?”  He stomped away in frustration. (I seriously hated using that argument because it feeds the convoluted concept that homosexuals are pedophiles even as we hear at LEAST once a month about some ordained Christian minister being caught in incest or some other inappropriate act with a minor. And THAT gets no discussion so it really is a GREAT example of white male privilege.)

The next morning the boss stumbled in again and I played coy and again asked if the baby was ok. Yes,….it was “the other thing.”  Turned out, after kids were asleep and his wife also and he was just drifting off he clearly heard a deep resonant voice (James Earl Jones?) “Love your brother!”  And a few seconds later, it was repeated, “Love your brother!” I asked him if God had ever talked to him before and he slowly said ” noooo”. So then I told him the message was pretty clear…..and was he going to approve hiring the two volunteers for the teaching spot. He didn’t want to. So, I pushed a bit, “But God told you to LOVE YOUR BROTHER and I think God would be okay if you just let him teach the class.”

I have no idea what eventually happened there.  I would prefer to think that those guys found a better church family, one that could respect and love them as Christ taught. (Is it considered teaching if teh lesson is not learned?)   But this was only one of many many incidents related to the need to make everyone believe the same that I experienced and for many, I was the one they were trying to change.

These experiences, when compared to the ones I have had at the churches where I attended, have been significantly different and when Miguel A. De La Torre wrote in his essay Christianity and the Cult of Trumphe mentioned that Christianity as practiced in the South IS different from Christianity practiced elsewhere in the USA.

I want to interject that I know there are “liberal” churches in the South, just as there are “conservative” churches throughout the country.  In the 21 years that I lived in Tennessee I had five active Christian friends who walked the walk and loved me as I am with no “need” to fix me.  And I have also met others in other areas of the country who very much want to “save” me.

The point Mr.De La Torre wrote and I sensed is that when a culture has a majority population with a similar mindset, it influences the mores of the area.  So, with a pervasive attitude in the Bible Belt that the fundamentalist spin is the ONLY right way to Christ, it makes everyone else an “other”. That means the unchurched, the nonChristians, and so many others need to be fixed or made to leave.

I very much felt like an “Other” in the South and there are a few people around me that may try also.  Because white men essentially run this nation and the conservative Christian church has learned how to make their voice heard, we are all immersed in this struggle.  The first step is to stop denying it.

 

 


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Aim for Information NOT Confirmation Bias

Seven years ago, about a year before we planned to move from West Virginia to Oregon,  I got deeply involved in helping establish The Wild Ramp, an indoor year-round local food market. Among other things, I visited the farms and other food producers basically to get their stories to tell consumers, but also to verify that they were raising or producing the yummies they brought to sell at the store.

For a person who grew up in the paved part of the Garden State and one who earned a degree in urban planning, finding myself knee deep in mud was one of my earliest experiences and I immediately bought muck boots for later farm visits. I am a quick learner…at least in some issues. 2014-10-07 10.48.42

I believe the first farmer’s patience with me and my questions helped establish my process: I spent an hour asking questions sitting usually at the kitchen table, and only then did we walk the farm and I got to see and take photos.

Because I knew next to NOTHING about farming (other than going with my grandpa into his chicken coop when I was 3-years-old was a terrifying experience which he sure could have made easier!) I asked tons of questions. I may not know a lot but I am curious.

“What’s the issue about corn fed versus grass fed” was a question. “What kind of cows are these?” was another. (The answer to that was also enlightening: “Well, ” the farmer slowly answered, “they’re black.  Angus are black, so I guess we can say they are Angus.” And my response: “So ARE they Angus, or are you riding a marketing message?” was answered with a smile.

So I learned something there and I later learned that perhaps it is not always just the breed but also the diet that helps make some meat tastier than others.

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The point is, I was not afraid to appear that I did not “KNOW”. In other words, it was okay for them to figure I was ignorant and it was their job to teach me. And almost all of the 70 farmers and food producers I visited were happy to give me the two precious hours of their work day. The later sales jump after the blog was written and read by the consumers was worth the work interruption.

So last night I again watched the debates. And I will watch the 2nd debate with the rest of the Democratic candidates tonight. WHY?

Because I am not going to rely on what news organizations chose to tell me. I am not going to read my Facebook friends’ comments as a basis for my own decision-making. I do find comments by people I know and even people I have no idea what their background basis is for their comment. This is our reality: people have various levels of evaluation tools and their decision making may or may not be similar to mine.

When I read restaurant reviews when I am searching for a place to eat in a location I have not fully explored, I have no idea if those reviewers’ taste buds are similar to mine. I have no idea if they value food without additives, as I do.  Same kind of issue when I hear how people love or pan a movie. How can I know if any person making a comment is aligned with my values on what entertains me?

Even more important is the much more rigorous and important evaluation for the next President of the United States.  A crummy meal or movie may, at worse, provide a wasted couple of hours or a tummy ache, but typically not more than that. Playing passive on the evaluation of candidates can provide for poor leadership that will affect me…and you…and the world.

So, it’s all theater. I made a comment on Facebook as the debate started that the narrator sounded like he was introducing a sport event. But this is NOT the time we chose one winner and all the rest are losers.

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Source: Apple Podcasts

Each person standing on that podium last night had something that was important to be heard. Each one.  How would you know if you don’t put your own mind to work?

Do I think they are all equivalently experienced for the job of President. Hell no! But they have their viewpoint and it may overlap someone else’s, including your own.

Let’s be careful not to throw support to one candidate so early that we don’t listen. Let’s be careful to listen and evaluate how we feel about the various solutions to issues posed.

And let’s remember that the way the government is working now will not change much without some huge changes that are, unfortunately, needed to be made by the people who currently would not want them changed.  For example, we have clearly seen the damage to the election process that the Supreme Court decision about Citizens United caused.  By permitting money to be equivalent to free speech, and corporations defined as “people”, we have seen that our government is now being controlled by megawealthy corporations and people. Very few people. And the rest of us, working (or not) to make the changes have a tough uphill battle. How can that be changed to give the governing of this nation back to the people? Listen to how the candidates suggest changes and see if they align with you.

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Source: UMass Dartmouth

Above all, quit sitting back and only using your voice to armchair quarterback. Get out there. Locally, you can have some huge influence in the way your city or county runs.  On the national level, if you like a candidate, get involved. Give an hour a week…..that certainly is not too much of a drain when you think of what gets decided that will affect you.

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Source: Waupaca Rotary Club

 

 


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Walking a Divergent Pathway

Growing up in the New York metropolitan area provided an introduction to the diversity of the world.  It seemed, at least from my juvenile perspective, that people just sort of understood there were differences, but no one was pushing their way as the only way.

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Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

In elementary school we all decided the Protestant kids had the easiest time of it. While the Catholic kids left school early on Wednesday to take a bus to Catechism downtown, and we Jewish kids were taken by our parents to once a week Hebrew School, the other kids just sort of grinned and enjoyed their week day freedom after school.

 

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I moved to Nashville in 1975. This is the buckle of the Bible Belt and it was a cultural shock to me in many ways. Besides learning that the only way to eat green beans was after they had been simmered with raw bacon for at least two hours, I also quickly learned that it was a welcoming question to include, with “what’s your name” the query “what church do you belong to?”

While I first interpreted it as a way to invite me, I gradually understood it was a way to identify the tribe.  Who was in and who was out.

These were very very real experiences I had:

“My church is the only CHRISTIAN church because it is the XYZ Christian Church. The others are not Christians. They are Baptists or Methodists, not Christians.” (my supervisor, mid-30s)

“My church is the only RIGHT church. All the others are wrong.” (14-year-old in the boy choir who belonged to a congregation of 50 people.)

“You MUST take Christ as your Savior! You could have died and been in Hell for eternity.” (after I had recovered from bacterial meningitis, a 45-year-old wife beating neighbor)

“We can’t have THOSE people teaching our children at Sunday School.” (same supervisor, discussing that the only volunteers to respond to the call to fill a vacancy, a homosexual couple.)

“Jesus was a Christian” (10-year-old who attended a fundamentalist church).

When I got into discussion with people who I now understand were Episcopalian, they cautioned me that no one is perfect. That acceptance of all people also includes acceptance of their flaws.

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That is a truism, but I need not follow the advice of people I feel do not align with me on ethical and moral terms.

Image result for come as you areI started going to church with Graham 12 years ago. I told him I would attend as long as I was respected and he said the very right thing: “If they don’t, we are in the wrong place.” So, until we came to the McMinnville Cooperative Ministry, we attended Episcopal churches in Pueblo, Colorado and Huntington, West Virginia. We also started here in Mac at St. B’s but did not feel the community connection we both enjoy. Jeanne Rahier invited us to sit with her one Sunday at the Coop  and after the Christmas music program at St. B’s fell way short of what Graham enjoyed for celebration, we decided to make the switch.

I think most of the pastors have enjoyed my questions and my comments. Certainly, the members did as I was often asked to be part of a study group because they knew my perspective would allow for more interesting discussion.  I participated in the “Inquirer’s class” and the Priest  completely misunderstood and told me I could be baptized afterwards. When I told her it was not my goal she was surprised I was “merely” interested in learning.

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source: CCA

So, why am I not jumping over after 12 years of exposure to Christianity, especially when I no longer actively go to Temple any longer?

Two main reasons:

  1. To keep my mom’s voice out of my head, I have been focusing on the similarities. I think that was one reason the Episcopal church was comfortable. It has a great deal of ritual. It took me a few Sundays to see the “game plan” so to speak, and once I did, I recognized the patterns. In a way, I understood the root of the practices in a way most of the regular people in the congregation did not. I knew the Church had developed from the Jewish faith and while practices vary from denomination to denomination, there are clear signs of the origin of most practices being from Judaism.  I will say that the Episcopal church never considered me a member while the Coop has. And that makes me feel that the energy I put in to being part of the community is accepted and appreciated and I feel included.
  2. I just don’t understand and can not accept on faith two big doctrines of Christianity: that we are born with “original sin” and that once we accept Christ, we “live forever”. These issues are, I believe, part of the root of the problem with the fundamental branches. Original sin is the stick to demand behavior compliance and the carrot is baptism.   As I was told in Nashville by more than one poor excuse for a proselytizer, they “had their ‘get out of jail free card’ already.” I don’t expect people to be perfect, but I don’t expect people who think they have the ONLY right pathway to be SO damn flawed.

I believe EVERY religion’s fundamental branch has this problem; that they believe in a very narrow and strict interpretation and anyone who questions it is considered to be on the outside and not worth being a part of their community.   In our fear and concern about fundamentalist Islam, we have been quick to be concerned about sharia law. And yet EVERY fundamental branch of every religion has similar rules controlling behavior.

Image result for religious requirement for women to cover their hairAnd many rules relate to controlling women. Have you noticed that ALL religions have long had a tradition of covering women’s hair? Pretty sexy stuff, hair.  Or women and men pray apart? Or clothes must provide certain coverage and women must appear modest.  The common theme is men have problems concentrating on the spiritual realm when women are around.

Women, including women in the South, have long adapted to restrictions on behavior. Many are broken down and fall into line, often being the most vocal and angry that other women disagree. And there are many who disagree, but they remain quiet, in order to keep a “happy home”. And a few, thank goodness, still have a backbone and a voice, but like all protesters everywhere, their plight is not easy.

My first job out of college was for the Tennessee Supreme Court. In 1975 the Old South was still very strong in those halls. All the justices were men. White men goes without saying but is important to say. As a recent grad, I was the flunky, but I was able to take on the tasks they assigned me well and a new project related to upgrading the system how to count court cases was given to me. The opportunity to attend a conference in San Jose, California was offered by my supervisor but had to be approved by the Big Boss. I was 23-years-old, living on my own 1000 miles away from my parents, but he was not happy with the idea of a young woman travelling across state lines on her own. He actually mentioned the Mann Act.  So, as I had learned in the 2 years I already had lived there, I knew the game I needed to play. I connected with a friend of a friend who lived in California. They offered to pick me up at the airport and have me over for dinner one evening. And so, the Big Boss felt better since I had “family” there.  I never saw them again, but I did get an amazing recipe for the pasta sauce they served me. The big take-away, however, was I learned in this instance to act like a Southern woman. All smiles and all duplicitous behavior.

There is an amazing pathway to enlightenment that is not difficult.  It requires each person to have the desire and freedom to learn and reason through things. To be permitted to question and gently guided to better understanding through neutral discussion of alternative options. There are ALWAYS more than one way to solve a problem. Without that inherent capability, people become sheep to be lead. Image result for education opens doors

Sheep are herd animals, generally perceived not to be smart because they follow enmasse what the leader directs.  I personally do not understand why the Christian Church preaches that good believers are good sheep. I do understand the symbolism of Christ as the Shepherd, but I see that in any choice with farming, there is a wide range of farming styles and management. And some of the preachers and pastors and priests and rabbis and imams are very rigid in how they control their flock.

Why am I not going to Temple any longer?  A number of issues, least among them the distance to the closest one.  I was a teenager when I was told after I asked a question that I “should know the answer already.”  That was poor management of this growing soul. And later, when I turned to the Temple I WAS attending regularly for help through a crisis, I was ignored. That is not my community.

And so it goes for many people in the United States. Probably we Baby Boomers were introduced to religion before we could walk much more than current children and so we learned our baby Bible stories.   But somewhere along the way, we slipped off and few every have examined their faith with adult questions. And many found the setting too restrictive. And so, we have many who state they are Christian but behave in a way that would cause Jesus to weep.


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Okay, I know I’m a Bit Weird but…….

I know I march to a different drummer most of the time. I stay pretty busy, even in the past couple of years when I was in a lot of pain needing joint surgeries and eye surgeries. It’s been a long haul and I am pleased at my physical healing.  But I recognize I am not “back” yetImage result for different drummer

My energy level is not where it had been. Compared to most people, my activity is high and I am involved in so so much. But I am sleeping more. Needing to sleep more. That’s okay. Early to bed and not so early to rise, unless I have to set my alarm. (That is one joy of retirement.)

But I used to wake up, for over sixty years, early, often before dawn, eager for the day. I knew what I needed to do. I had figured out how long it will take me to do each task and what all I can get ticked off the “to do” list.  (You don’t so that? Chalk that up to one of our differences.) Image result for household chores

Now, though, I am sluggish. I put off getting out of bed. (one more game of sudoku….is anyone still playing that game besides me?)Image result for sudoku

But here it is 9:43 on a Saturday morning and I have stripped the bed, run the wash,  made coffee (very important job in this household), grated carrots and got them into the dehydrator, put a bag of cut veggie ends I keep in my freezer into a dutch oven to simmer and make veggie broth (you can do this too!), checked emails, signed a petition, checked to see where the “emergency” protest marches are close by on Monday (Portland and Vancouver), wrote someone to ask her to do something I know she won’t want to do (hi PF!), and now yakking up my latest itch in my head. I think I’m doing okay this morning, eh?

So, I think we have two basic categories for people. Planners and reactors.

Planners are people like me, who understand the tasks that they need to do, basically, their responsibilities. They accepted these responsibilities. They know how to achieve them and they know how long the task will take, all things moving well.  Planners also have contingency plans. They understand that not all things move well all the time Other issues come up that have to be considered and people have needs or wants and sometimes as much as the task is important, it is necessary to put is aside, because, well people.  People win over things.   But everything gets done because there is a plan.

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(source: Blue Ridge Tutoring.) I used to plan like this on paper. Now I keep my calendar on my smart phone.

Reactors are people who, to me, seem to come in sometime after the movie has started. They are not there (physically or mentally) to set the stage, plan the action, decide on the actors, let alone direct the action.  These are all decided by others and the reactor is sometimes in a position trying to catch up, figure it all out. Off balance much of the time. Stressed by what they don’t know is coming, but they know something is.  And although there is not as much work product as the planner can get done in the same amount of time, the stress level is high.Image result for movie screen

Someone recently asked me what I do. I started telling them about Can-Do Real Food and how, in the off season (not much harvesting right now) I’m probably only putting in 30 hours a week. During harvest, between end of June and the end of October, I end up putting in about 50 hours a week.

LOGO jpegThey said, but you also are involved in Zero Waste McMinnville. Yes, and like the overachiever I have been since I can remember, where I once volunteered to write a blog once a month about garbage and the environment (you’d be surprised how much there is to share how each of us can make some small changes that will have huge effects), I am now in charge of the Facebook page, put together a website, provide marketing dissemination for all Zero Waste McMinnville events, and somehow I also am on the Events committee because i spoke up with a suggestion. (teaches me, eh? probably not…….) And, because of the public response on social media, a team of us are putting together an amazing event that I sure hope becomes an annual success, the McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival.  So all that also takes about 10 hours a week. Or more. Right now, it’s about 20 hours a week just on the arts festival. (Good thing we’re off season at Can-Do so I CAN do.)

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source: Mostly Inspirational Chit-Chat

So, I am busy staying busy and I recognize that I have not been outside to check out how the apple tree was trimmed by the contractor. I have not gone out to trim my raspberry canes, I have not straightened up spaces that are mine (my office and my storeroom) that got really messy over the past year because of my pain and inability to move easily. I have stuff to do……..and that problem with my energy keeps me in my desk chair in front of my computer……..

I’d ask for someone to help remind me to get my butt in gear but everyone else I know has their own level of busy and certainly won’t eagerly take on a task to manage me. LOL I also suspect that a few of the people offering to “help” may have some ulterior agenda. (Beth will do it…..)

So, yes, I am wired differently than most people. I admit it.  If you want to increase your energy level (you do not have to go as nutso as me) maybe the suggestions in this article can help you.  I get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, drink 3-4 tall glasses of water daily, try to cook whole foods to avoid additives that might affect my body (like artificial sweeteners and preservatives), keep my mind-altering recreational enjoyment to end of the day (when I am finished with my responsibilities), and pay attention to my body when it reports it needs attention (yes, we go to the pool exercise class AKA “geezer aerobics” 3 hours a week).

Source: Freepik

One area where I have not been a success is the financial world. But I certainly know I am not alone there. We are “paycheck to paycheck” like most people and yet, I also count my blessings. And we have many. So while there are stressors, there is no reason to be stressed out. The choice is mine. And so it goes….