goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Learning Along The Pathway

When I was growing up my Dad would often drive into town and pick up the Sunday New York Times. As I got older I enjoyed reading not only the magazine but I started perusing the classified, looking for my “someday” job and apartment. Oh, the dreams I had of what could be……and then life took another pathway.

I’ve had a checkered past. I earned a degree in geography and urban planning, but  my first job out of college was for the Tennessee Supreme Court in the court administrator’s office. They were starting a judicial PLANNING division and so, since I had a degree in urban PLANNING, I was hired. It was fun but as I realized I was getting further from my education, I looked for and moved to the planning job.  For three and a half years I actually worked for a planning and engineering company and really enjoyed it. But again……life took another pathway.

There was a death in my husband’s family. His mother asked us to move to Connecticut to take care of the estate issues. We lived in the house rent free and would until it was sold. One of my tasks was to determine the market value of the property and in doing so, we listed it for sale and boom! we needed to move within a couple of months. I was looking for work as a planner but we were in the middle of a recession then and jobs were scarce. So… life took another pathway.

I started working as an real estate agent for the broker who had listed the house. While I did well, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Showing houses was a challenge because I did not know the area well and there were no apps with a talking GPS (hey, no cell phones at all)  in those days so I had to rely on paper maps, all the time portraying an image of competence to the buyers.  That was stressful enough but the part that made me more uncomfortable was listening to a homeowner extol the cost of the renovations he had made when it looked like a piece of incompetent amateur construction.  And then Baby #1 was born and I no longer wanted to put in the long hours needed in that kind of sales position.  Once again…. life took another pathway.

 

When I told the broker I was going to let my sales license go he persuaded me to start an appraisal division of his company. I built the reputation and business started coming in nicely and then I needed to hire some staff. The broker told me he was moving to California and was selling the real estate business, including the appraisal division. I said no way, it may be your name but it was my blood, sweat and tears. He very much understood and so, I soon owned it. I got a partner who had the bookkeeping kind of background and so we went on, growing during the 1980s real estate boom to 12 employees. (Although I planned longer, I only was able to take off one week when Baby #2 was born.) And then there was another blip in the financial market and property values started to decline. Where there is no room for a second mortgage or a current home value did not support getting the mortgage refinanced, there are no appraisals. We closed the business and…… life took another pathway.

By this time I had had baby #3 and no income. My husband got laid off. We ended up moving from Connecticut to Tennessee where I stayed home with the baby. Then my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer and after surgery, radiation and chemo I got a job at Vanderbilt Medical Center, working for one of my husband’s eye doctors. I had looked for a managerial position at Vanderbilt and when HR asked me what salary I wanted I thought about what I had made in the good years in Connecticut and then made a “cost of living” adjustment and said $30,000. They laughed…too high apparently. Anything lower would not help the family so I changed my resume to administration instead and ended up taking that first position as an AA for $18,000. I figured if I was not going to earn enough money I might as well not be in charge of anything. And so….. life took another pathway.Image result for vanderbilt university medical center

After five years of learning eye health jargon, things changed when the doctor in charge left. My position was eliminated but I was not, so HR moved me to another place in the hospital. The boss was, to put it nicely, a challenged individual. I left and move over to the university side of Vanderbilt to the Department of French & Italian. More new things to learn and master. And then my husband died and there I was a widow with a young child. Graham entered my life and I sure made him work to woo both of us. And there I was again….my life took another pathway.

My kiddo and I joined Graham when he went on sabbatical to Colorado for six months. I thought a start together in a neutral location would be good. We made friends and when it looked like he might be offered a job there I started looking for work. I had a sweet sweet double interview with the statewide blood bank and they offered me a position for a beautiful salary. I came home from that interview to be told we were moving back to West Virginia.  Ha ha…guess what….. my life took another pathway.

Looking for work in the Rust Belt was a challenge. I finally was hired as a practice manager for a financial adviser. Since it was a start-up I accepted a lower than desired salary with the promise of bonuses that would boost it to the sky (dream on, eh?). That never happened. After three years of building that business into something sustainable, I asked for a $10,000 raise and he basically countered with 50 cents an hour. I resigned. This time, definitely my choice…..my life took another pathway.

I started to build up my book selling business that I had been running on a small scale for about 12 years to provide additional income. I was able to match that prior salary for the next two years while having the time to also get involved in the farm-to-table movement and helping build The Wild Ramp. All the time, we were planning for my husband to retire when my kiddo left for college and so……my life took another pathway.

We moved to Oregon just about four years ago. I applied to about 50 jobs, making sure each cover letter and each resume was custom tailored to each specific job. I never heard from 46 place, but had four interviews. One had the grace to tell me I was overqualified and they were sure I would be bored and quit. I countered with an comment (I had nothing to lose)  that at this age I would love a job I could do with one hand behind my back. But no job was offered. (Ageism is one more hurdle to getting a job that needs to be fixed.  Date of birth information can no longer be asked, but they can and do asked for education information, including year of graduation. I think you agree, most of us complete high school at age 18, so extrapolation is easy.) So feeling ready to do anything….. life took another pathway.

I took a summer job as a farm hand. Yes, me. I never ate so much ibuprofen in my life but I did it and learned a lot more. In all my effort with The Wild Ramp I had probably visited 100 farms and had heard their stories. Now I got to get a (very small) taste of the life farmers live.  And the experience confirmed something I already suspected: I am not a farmer. But I need my farmers (we all do) and respect them highly. And so, taking a plunge……my life took another pathway.

I started up the commercial food processing business, Can-Do Real Food, to support local farmers by preserving their surplus produce by canning and dehydrating. (This gives the farmer another income, provides consumers a way to have a taste of the local summer harvest any time during the year, and reduces food waste.)  When we moved to Oregon I learned to can, so I had one year of canning at home. Other people have forgotten more than I have learned but it has been a pretty amazing experience. You can read more about it at the Can-Do Real Food blog. 

In the past year I had been dealing with a knee that has been injured but there is nothing surgical that can be done to fix it. It forces me to walk a bit wonky which has now affected my hip joint on the other side. I am in a new world of hurt and so…..I suspect my life is about to take another pathway again.

Through all these years (63 and counting) I have received continual education. The first part is one we all are fed K through  12. The next was the narrowing down of a field of study (college). And since then, through work and seminars and conferences and self teaching, the learning has continued and increased.  I urge everyone I love to never stop exploring, never be afraid of change.

I know jargon related to the legal profession, the medical profession, the academic profession, and now food processing (and government regulation thereof).  I wonder what’s next!  Whatever it is, I strongly doubt I will ever live in New York City!

 

 


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How to Be a Pin Cushion

I have no memory of the event but my mom said that when I was playing with my hula hoop, a popular craze in the late 1950s, she noticed I was having trouble breathing. Diagnosis: asthma. Protocol: allergy shots.   Family history has recorded me, at age 4, saying if they got rid of our boxer, I was leaving too, so the boxer stayed.Girl_twirling_Hula_Hoop,_1958

allergy-shot-doc-400x400So I started my first series of allergy shots then. I had a few years of reprieve but sometime in my teens I went through a shot series again. I had another series around age 30 after 2 pregnancies and then again around age 40 after a 3rd pregnancy. Finally, here I am again, in my graying years, enjoying being a pincushion again.

Part of the reason I have needed so many series is because I have moved and have been exposed to new regional allergens. Part of the reason is that, as a woman, my body chemistry has changed a bunch: puberty, childbirth, and menopause all do a number on hormones and other internal chemical interactions. One of the joys of being a woman.

Sitting the requisite half hour to make sure I don’t have a reaction (I never have and hopefully, never will other than minor itchiness at the shot site) I have had a chance to observe and interact with other patients. Most are adults, but there have been a few kids. One girl cried out once when she got her shot and I assured her that her arms will become numb after a while. Since then she has been more stoic even though I know it must still bother her.

allergy reactionAllergic reactions are caused by the body’s immune system recognizing an exposure to something as an attack. Sneezing, excess mucous flow and tissue swelling are all ways the body tries to expel or repel the offending allergen. Why I inherited this gift from my father and neither of my sisters did is one of the mysteries of hereditary influences.

indoor-allergensAnd environmentally I can reduce factors that can affect me. We sadly found new homes for our two young dogs several years ago. We kept the aging cat primarily because no one would take the little monster darling. She is now about 14 years old but I suspect she will live well into her 20s just to spite me. We bought an artificial Christmas tree. (My allergist was surprised I was having issues at age 50 with that. I told him I had recently married a nonJew and it was my first couple of years with a real Christmas tree that helped me correlate the issue with major sinus problems.) I had other family members do the lawn mowing and vacuuming.  Those were no-brainers.

food-allergies1_0A bigger step was to eliminate certain whole foods and all artificial foods from my diet. That meant no more packaged foods. This was about the time I started visiting farms in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio as part of marketing local foods.  I learned a lot about the food that is sold at the supermarket and how so much of it, even much of  the produce which looks so healthy, is full of chemicals. Those chemicals, dyes and the herbicide and pesticide residue that remains in the food and can not be washed off, can cause the body’s immune system to react. food al;lergies

If you are having allergy issues either as a continued lifelong event or as a new annoying event in your life, get to know your allergist to reduce your reaction to many of your allergens.  Read about the food-allergy connection and run a two-month trial, eliminating all chemicals from processed foods you eat. See how you feel after that amount of time. I hope you can feel better like I did.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 


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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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Noticing, and Adjusting, to Differences

We’ve been blessed with a wonderful reception here in Oregon.  When we moved here the end of the summer we started building a circle of friends who have introduced us to places that would enrich our lives, taught us skills that enable us to enjoy the bounty that Oregon provides, and welcomed us into their homes.tree

As we headed west, we carried with us so much of our years in West Virginia.  The people and places there continue to be well loved and we are so very thankful for the contacts on Facebook who help us remain connected.

Making a move like ours need not be 3000 miles to have similar feelings. Whether someone moves across town, across the state, across the country, or even to another nation each of us carry some sense of what makes us feel comfortable. It is when those comfort zones are rediscovered in the new location that a sense of building new roots can start. Likewise, if it takes a while to replace what is missed, it takes longer, unless a decision is made that not all places need be alike.

I once had the wonderful opportunity to work in Europe for 6 months. While I had never had Germany on my personal bucket list of places to visit, I never turned down travel where expenses were covered by someone else. I looked forward to what I could learn while being vigilant because of my heritage and understanding the history of the place.  It was a wonderful time and I learned a lot.clock display

beerBut one of my travelling companions for the job, I’ll call him Bubba, had a very different experience. During our first evening ordering dinner in a restaurant he was impatient, used to the way restaurants provide pretty quick service here in the United States.   The drink orders came fairly quickly, but he was dismayed to find out that the beer was served at room temperature, not ice cold. I pointed out that the glass was about a liter of beer and would have been room temp anyway by the time he got through with it. But that was the least of the issue that evening. After we put in our food orders we waited about an hour before the first dish was presented. It was mine, and as we are used to all plates appearing together here, I waited.  After ten minutes I told my companions I was going to eat while it was warm.

Bubba then pounded the table, hollering “schnell!”, the only word of German he knew and the source of that had been from the tv show, Hogans Heroes. Of course, the service on our meal slowed down, as the Ugly American had to be taught a lesson.  But Bubba learned, instead, that he would not tolerate this cultural difference, and for most of the three months that he was there, he ate at the local McDonald’s. He went home for Christmas and refused to return to German to finish the work. He would not tolerate anything different from “home” and so lost a wonderful opportunity to enhance his life experience.

With the homogenization of American culture I knew so much of what I was used to would be found here in Oregon. Living in West Virginia prepared me for living in a small town in a rural area in many ways. Although McMinnville has almost everything I need, If I now need to drive a bit (here, maybe 20 minutes) to get to a more densely populated area where more shops are available, I have learned to tolerate that.  We just plan those kinds of trips because driving into the suburbs of Portland means more traffic and I am loving living in a small town surrounded by farmland.

Basically, it comes down to a choice on how each of us faces life. Do we stay in the nest we grew up in because it is too scary to fly away? Is the concept that this home nest is the best place in the world based on actually evaluation of other places? Or is exploration something that can provide exciting stimulation and help build a sense of flexibility while building a new


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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!!!


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Time Travels

Something weird is happening to me. I look at the clock, like right now at 7:48 a.m. and think: it’s coming up on 11 in the morning on the East Coast.   Last night I wanted to call someone at 8p.m. and had to remind myself that they might already be in bed, asleep.

Except for the years in Tennessee and six months in Colorado, I have lived my entire life in the Eastern Time Zone. This awareness of the time difference is not new to me, of course, but its in my face presence is. timezonemapdateline

This may have grown into a concept that being on the East Coast meant I was one of the first in the U.S. to wake, to get moving, to fill my day. Now that I am on the West Coast, it seems I am “late”.

I have always liked to be not only “on time” for an event or an appointment, but perhaps 5 minutes early. In college I ran late  once and preferred to skip class than walk in 10 minutes late. (Not a wise choice, Sam.) Being late, or having to wait because someone is late, is one of my pet peeves.  Having a smart phone to fill time while I have to wait helps, and I used to carry a book with me before.

What is the value of time?  What value do you put on your time? At what level are you aware of the activities of people around the globe based on time zones? Anyone else or is this just one more of my idiosyncrasies?time


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Can’t we just get along?

Right-left. Democrats-Republicans. Locavores-Fastfood junkies. We have so many differences.  But we are not the only ones who struggle to communicate and get along.

Years ago, when Sam was a very little boy, we went to the Nashville Humane Society and he selected a kitten that had been tagged with the name “Tiny Bug.” I tried to convince him to chose an adult cat; not only would we be really rescuing an animal but we could see its personality better. But no, Sam chose a kitten.

I had high hopes that I could socialize the animal to be friendly, maybe even playful. She disdained any toys we presented to her.  She slunked away and hid whenever visitors would come into the house.  Basically, she just wasn’t a dog.

Over the past few years as my asthma became a really bad problem we had to make some difficult choices. We got an artificial tree. We found homes for our two young dogs. But the cat, no one jumped to take an elderly cat with a personality problem. Maybe her name should have been Greta Garbo.quote-i-never-said-i-want-to-be-alone-i-only-said-i-want-to-be-left-alone-there-is-all-the-greta-garbo-68263

In our housing escapade here in Oregon we were invited to stay with Neil Clark as long as needed until the moving truck arrives and brings our things. He also offered that if Tiny Bug got along with his cat Intoit (always “into it”), then he would keep Tiny Bug and I could be allergen free in our new home.

Intoit is not a cat; he is a dog that is just shaped like a cat. He came running to see who had arrived, sniffed and licked, and just generally smiled whenever we called his name. He wanted to be with us.INtoIt

We opened the bedroom door, permitting Tiny Bug to venture forth and sure enough, she gradually made her way to the living room where Intoit greeted her gleefully.

Her snarl was immediate. Her back raised and she hissed, Meanwhile, Intoit tilted his head and whined in a plaintive tone. It was clear to me he was saying “Come play with me.”

She jumped on him. We got them separated.

Since then they have sat near each other, Tiny Bug studiously staring at something AWAY from Intoit.

I suspect she will be coming with us to the new house.

Now, can we humans do better?