goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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A Good Kind of Tired

Just home from helping at the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries Saturday morning breakfast where we served about 300 people this morning. It feels good to sit down but this is a good kind of tired.2014-07-19 08.59.15

The hungry are are our neighbors, as I wrote yesterday for Yamhill Valley Grown after visiting Heart 2 Heart Farms where farmer Tyler Boggs distributes free produce to anyone who wants it.  Some of the produce is a bit tired and best fed to his animals, but Tyler realized much of the food was in great condition and several hundred people show up each Friday to gather what they want.

I went yesterday to see the activity and took advantage of the offering to bring 4 huge totes of fruit to the church. At 7:00am my first duty, assigned by this week’s head chef and pastor Mark Pederson, was to prepare a fruit salad.  IMG_3401

About 8 volunteers arrived at 7 to help with the prep. They chopped potatoes and onions, broke and beat the eggs, shredded the cheese, prepared the pancake mix, formed sausage patties and all the things that needed to be prepped for the meal.  IMG_3403

Others arrived around 7:30 to prepare the dining room and for some quick training to newbie volunteers.  Then it was 8:00a.m. and the doors were open and I joined the serving line.  Other volunteers arrived to help with the dish washing and others would arrive later to help with the overall cleanup.2014-07-26 08.26.42

At the Coop the people come in and sit at tables covered with cloth and chose their breakfast from the menu. The servers then bring the orders up to the window where several of us load the plates or take-out boxes.  As we dished up the plates the servers would bring them to the appropriate person for their eating pleasure.

The people who come to eat are treated with respect, no questions asked, no prayer service requirement.  Take-out boxes are offered for those at home who could not make it in for the meal.

bath towel storageToday we had a big bang for a start. It seemed, when I looked out at 8:00 that all the seats at all the tables were full, and sure enough the orders came in fast and furious and we soon fell behind. Dishing as quickly as we could, the last of those 8:00 a.m. eaters finally got their plates around 8:20. And the orders kept coming in pretty steadily but at a more manageable pace.2014-07-26 08.25.25

Things slowed down about 9:30, a half hour before the official end of serving at 10. By then the fruit salad was gone, the hash browns were all eaten, but there were plenty of scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes and a delicious peach and blueberry cobbler Mark had prepared.2014-07-19 08.59.21

I know I enjoyed my breakfast very much!

Helping at the Coop or another soup kitchen is a way to return appreciation to the community. People who enjoy meals can also volunteer, as can people who are not even members of the church.  We get volunteers during the school year from Linfield College but during the vacation breaks everyone who shows up has to work a bit harder because we don’t have enough hands.  If you can help, you are very welcome to join in. Contact Lauri Muller at compassionfund@gmail.com or call 435-890-4214.


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The Fine Line

McMinnville caught our attention as a place to live when we were doing our research for a number of reasons. Graham first read about one of the local chefs who had spent several years in Italy learning how to make charcuterie and now runs the Fino in Fondo salumeria….he makes salami. Then Graham became aware of how this region excels in making pinot noir wine and as one who suffers gladly from oenophilia, he was happy to try to meet the challenge of the 100+ wineries in this county alone. east to cascadesMeanwhile, my research determined that this region of the Willamette Valley is truly a garden; among the vineyards and farms growing grass for seed and others growing most of the nations’ landscaping plants, there are many many farms producing food.  I hoped to replicate my involvement with The Wild Ramp in some way.  In addition, as a city planner, I appreciated the effort that a group of people in McMinnville had made to turn the downtown around. Once a strip of many vacant stores in the mid 1980s, the street now is tree lined and vibrant with boutique shops and services, almost all locally owned and operated.Dec 6a

McMinnville doubled in size since the 1970s and more people continue to move here. A license plate perusal in the parking lot during the Saturday morning breakfast served by the Cooperative Ministries identified many out of state cars. In talking to one family, one of the church members was told that the news that McMinnville serves free meals every day has spread, and many homeless people are finding their way to this town.

This creates a bit of a dilemma.

I am on a small committee investigating ways to help the business owners on our main street, NW 3rd Street, with the “loitering” problem that exists.  Some hang out on street corners, panhandling. These people are well known to locals, as they have had their spots for years and their stories are known. One Vietnam Vet just waits until he collects about $20 and then buys his wine and rambles back home.   Some hang at the library, but many have no interest in the benefits of what a library offers, so a lack of proper behavior gets them banished. Some hang around downtown, blocking shop entrances, making comments to young women, and smoking any number of substances.

St BHeart2Heart foodIt truly is amazing to hear the services that are available in this county for people who need assistance. There are meals available every day of the week, for example.  The St. Barnabus Soup Kitchen serves dinner four evenings a week; it is not unusual for over 300 people to be fed.

Meanwhile, one of the farmers I have met, Tyler of Heart2Heart Farms, has made a tremendous effort to collect edible  fresh produce from area sources and have it available for free for those in need. He just collected enough through crowd sourcing to buy a large truck to help collect and transport the food to his farm. All he asks is a few hours of volunteer work in exchange and he tells me that few offer to help.

My concern is that we have forgotten how to teach people to fish and we are providing fish dinners so often that many have no desire to learn the skills to manage their own pathway. In our effort to provide a hand and a safety net the actual message, as spoken by the California man in the Cooperative Ministries parking lot, is McMinnville is a place to go to be taken care of.

It’s a fine line between helping and enabling.

fishing4

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ADDENDUM: A friend has suggested that this post seems to be a bit judgmental about the homeless. That was not my intention.  At an earlier time of my life, when I was home with the baby and my husband suffered a stroke while undergoing surgery for brain cancer, I was in a tough spot. No income. My landlord was the amazing spirit in those days, telling us the last thing we needed was to worry about the rent. He permitted us 6 months free rent until the social security disability kicked in and we could once again start paying. I have no idea what it did to his own finances; I just know without his offer, we would have been out the door.

The blog, however, is a bit judgmental about the programs offered here in McMinnville. I believe what began as a way to help people through a bad time may have become a regular routine for many. I believe the need is still there. I just think there has to be another way to help people out of the hole they are in.  Some of the people who take advantage of the meals offered in this town may never be able to have anything close to a lifestyle where they can support themselves, but there are others who were working, became unemployed and for a number of reasons  have not found another job. Those are the people I think might be able to be helped with a different kind of assistance. There are plans underway to do just that; it is just some time off in the future before it becomes active.

 


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Out of This World

When we mention to people here that we moved in September from West Virginia the typical next question is why? Why did we move clear across the country to McMinnville, Oregon. Graham usually makes some kind of comment that he heard there was a winery nearby. (We now live in the middle of one of the amazing wine producing areas with over 100 wineries within 15 miles of our house.)

Domaine DruhinI did a lot of research before we decided on McMinnville.  One thing that really excited me was the availability of a lot of local food. In the seven months we have been here we have established direct relationships with farms for our proteins and produce. There is a farmers market ready to open for the season this week,  a year round farmers market and also a service that delivers farm fresh food to your door.  market Sept 26 2013

Additionally, the downtown business district is vibrant. It wasn’t always that way, though.  However, since the McMinnville Downtown Association formed in the late 1980s the street’s appearance has improved with trees, lighting and sitting areas, the stores are all occupied and there is a lot of business. DSC_0007

The Downtown Association sponsors a number of events that entice tourists. DSC_0030This weekend was the UFO Festival, held annually to commemorate the sighting of a flying saucer by a local farmer in 1950. It is an affair with lectures ranging from ufology to  astrophysics, but much of the attendance revolves around the parade.

May 17 2014 UFO Days

My three, of which I am very proud. LOL

Yesterday, after Lisa made sure we were all dressed in some kind of costume, we headed downtown for the 1 mile Abduction Race.

This was the last obstacle before the finish line

This was the last obstacle before the finish line

Sam expected to win and was in a good position but a middle schooler  was in front the whole way and he decided to let him come in first. He remembers well how that feels and knew his need to win was not as important.  Lisa was well behind in the pack but finished despite an asthma attack.  Her costume had people talking as they thought at first she was naked. She had had her gold unitard painted when we first got there.DSC_0012

But her costume was mild compared to most.  We had been told EVERYONE wears a costume but it became obvious that actually most people wore regular clothes. DSC_0097DSC_0120DSC_0139There seemed to be three levels of costume wearers: people who purchased something at the event to add a touch of alien whimsy;

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~people like us who put together something fun, even if it was not alien-related;DSC_0102

DSC_0107and peopdsc_077le who spent a lot of time and/or DSC_0202money on alien attire.DSC_0154

The parade lasted over an hour with bandsDSC_0251 and floatsDSC_0287 and lots of  groups. Anyone in alien costume could join in. What fun!!

This girl was part of a TaeKwondo group

This girl was part of a TaeKwondo group

Pet parade was held later in the day.

Pet parade was held later in the day.


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Love Your Neighbor

The people here in McMinnville, Oregon, our new home since September, do an amazing job feeding the hungry. Four evenings a week the Episcopal Church, St. Barnabus, serves dinner. Other days are covered by other churches in town.  Typically, each meal serves about 300-350 people, including take-out meals.  The annual total at St. Barnabus is very close to the population of this city, 33,000.  The need is high, even here in Oregon where the economy seems to be so much healthier than West Virginia where we had been living.DSCF5875

Imagine my reaction when our tour in India included a Sikh Temple.  After receiving head coveringsDSCF5873 and removing our shoes,DSCF5874we wandered around admiring the architecture, bathing pool,DSCF5881 and listening to the chanting, which had tonations that reminded me of Torah chanting. (Something to look into, as the Sikh religion is about 500 years old and when the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE the people moved west into Europe and east into Asia…would be an interesting study to understand the influences of how the Sikh religion started.)DSCF5887

Then Arvind lead us into the soup kitchen and we learned they feed the hungry three meals a day, a total of 22,000 people each and every day. DSCF5905

We saw volunteers chopping vegetables DSCF5906

baking the chapati DSCF5899to serve with the vegetable curry simmering in huge vats. DSCF5898

Don’t get hung up on the fact that this work is done on the floor; yesterday’s blog should have brought you up to speed that the concept of sanitation is very different in India. Focus, instead, on the service being done.  Pretty amazing.


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Apples Apples Everywhere!

So, a few days ago I noticed this on my Facebook feed from Jana, one of my new Oregon friends:   October 23 So apparently 10 gallons of apples make 8 quarts of applesauce and 15 pints. Now to do another branch – no kidding I seem to have that many apples on the trees.

I immediately responded that I would be glad to come over and pick some apples and would make her 3-4 pies as a trade. She responded with a very hearty positive response and so Lisa and I went over on the 28th and picked and picked and picked. She told us to clean the trees…asked us if we needed a ladder…..and sweetened the pot by letting us also glean the tomatoes left on the ground when they removed the plants.  We did a pretty good job on her trees, but did leave some behind as we had filled 8 bags and had no more room in the car!!!!

aToday, Lisa and I got to work. First, Lisa sorted through all the apples to separate ones with some bruises for first use. The others can store nicely in the unheated storage room in the garage.ba

Apples to be used were put in for a wash in the sink. You can see that these are organic apples and although there were some skin blemishes, we had only about 4 gallons of compostible waste when it was done, including cores.cA

Then, I used the apple corer I found when I unpacked all our kitchen odds and ends when we arrived here in Oregon (something that Graham had acquired long before me and must have been in a place I never noticed when we lived in West Virginia).  I can’t say I ZIPPED through the task but it sure was a lot faster than coring and paring slices from each apples. e

I mixed up the spices with the apples.fa

My mom taught me how to make a great no-fail pie crust (recipe included in Taming the Wild Ramp: Reachable Recipes for Real Food, available for sale at The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia. If you live in Oregon, holler.  I have a few copies with me.)H

The pies turned out great.J

I bagged them with instructions for baking and they are now in the freezer, waiting for Jana and her family to join us at our table for dinner on Sunday evening.  The pies will be enjoyed!K

And I still have about 5 bushel of apples to process! Thank Jana!!!!


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Toe in the Water

My past work experience causes Human Resource department personnel to cross their eyes: I am not a square peg to fit into a square hole. And so, most large companies toss my resume into the circular file and I never hear from them.Confused-Look2-225x300

And yet, any job where the person deciding on hiring recognized I brought a diversity of exposure to a wide variety of industries, regions of the country, and responsibilities understood they were not getting just the “XYZ” they are looking to hire but a personality with experience and a brain.

butterfly-fly-away-freedom--large-msg-12663724094I have best enjoyed the jobs I had where some attention was given to training and then the freedom to fly was granted. I have also liked being the boss.

I have owned my own businesses over much of my working life. For twelve years I was co-owner of a residential real estate appraisal service. My partner and I had to make a decision to expand or to stay small. We grew to a staff of twelve, and then decided quality and service were more important than the potential profitability of a huge endeavor.

Moving to McMinnville  also moved me back up into the world of “looking for work.”  Graham and I thought if I could find a job with benefits the whole health insurance issue probably would be a lesser concern. But two factors helped us rule out that lifestyle: 1. The State of Oregon is one that has gotten its act together with the offers under the Afforable Healthcare Act and 2. We like me to have a flexible schedule.corporate-vs-freelance-cartoon

I really like working from home. When we looked for housing we knew we would dedicate one of the bedrooms to be my office where I could do my writing, my books and my sewing. It is my space and only occasionally do I have to nudge the cat out of my chair.Tiny Bug Oct 25 2013

When I was researching where to live I was intrigued by what I read about McMinnville. Its downtown merchants had formed an association in the 1980s to help turn around the downtown shopping district. When we walked the street in July we noticed only three vacancies and two were undergoing renovation. It looked pretty healthy.

We learned that another section near downtown, the Granary District, is undergoing revitalization from an “ag-industrial” center to one with small shops, many with specialty foods.

And one other thing I noticed was that most of the marketing I could find was wine related. Lots and lots of wineries here. Some of the best wine in the world. And many tasting rooms, which bring people to McMinnville and other nearby towns.  But little coordinated marketing for the shop and restaurants and lodging here to get those wine tasters to stay a bit longer, shop, eat some wonderful local food here, and spend the night.

I want to help. But I know that no one likes the new kid on the block saying “This needs to be done.” So, I really really really tried not to say too much too soon.

If you know me personally, you are not surprised that I only lasted a few weeks. But I went back and visited with the Director of the McMinnville Downtown Association and she appreciated my concept.  She also had no money to pay me.  She did offer support in letting me introduce myself to the membership and offer assistance.MDA logo

Today I posted my first blog about the Chaplain’s Pantry Caterering both in my CreationsByBG blog as well as the MDA blog. I have appointments with two other MDA members as well as an organization which is farm related and I am very excited about the potential for helping them grow there.

Good things….slowly slowly slowly…..send me words of patience please!!!