goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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They Can’t Win

A friend asked me last night if I would take a Syrian refugee family into my home. It was not a quick answer but I will explain to you:

  1. Refugee resettlement programs do not ask people to take families into their homes. They ask for help being a local friend, a person to help them maneuver in their new world. To help set up the apartment, which the organization finds, with furniture, which the organization helps find. There is some outlay in money, to buy a list of basic toiletries and some groceries to start the pantry, but for the most part the host’s involvement is time.  Time to teach about the neighborhood and town. Time to teach about the United States and its freedoms, something refugees have not experienced. A commitment to help them become Americanized. How do I know this? I was one of two families that helped a Russian Jewish family settle in West Hartford, Connecticut several decades ago. I saw how the family learned English, got jobs, bought a house, had a new baby. I saw them become almost indistinguishable from the thousands of other residents of our town with one exception: their pride in being New Americans was evident. And they practiced it. They took the time to be informed and involved. They voted and they volunteered on community projects.  Why did they do that? Partly it was in their own nature but it also was something I tried hard to nurture in them.091715-naturalization_PIT4057
  2. I am Jewish. Asking me to take in a Muslim family who comes from a nation that promises to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is a ridiculously senseless question. But I paused, and finally said yes. I would help a family get resettled here. I would teach them not only what being an American is like, but what being a Jew is like. I would teach, as I have learned by going to church with my husband, that we have more commonalities than differences and as soon as we all realize that, peace is possible.god-everywhere
  3. I am Jewish. I know my history. He had no recollection of ever hearing about the St. Louis, a ship full of Jewish German refugees in 1939. Most of the passengers had applied for refugee visasto enter the United States. It was well known what atrocities were happening in Europe. But the ship was turned away and ended up returned to Germany, and the passengers went to the death camps. We Americans have this blood on our hands. We righteously stuck to quotas, ignoring the horrific conditions that the refugees were fleeing. This situation was not unique.  Even children, as Chris Christie declared so vehemently today, were not wanted.
  4. 1939 poll
  5. I asked him questions about his own family’s migration to the United States. What had prompted it (famine) and who had some (a young male adult). He brushed away the similarity to the many young men feeling Syria, saying all of his great-grandfather’s family had died of the famine.  Three-ImmigrantsHe said the current situation shows that Muslim men do not value their families. I told him how my maternal grandfather had left the shetl in what is now Poland and made his way to New York City, earning money as a tailor, and then sending for his sisters within the next few years. I pointed out that many women and children are fleeing. He chose not to respond.

So, my answer to my friend was yes, I would help resettle a Syrian family. That’s what a good American citizen who loves this nation does. That’s what someone who refuses to be terrorized decides to do.  That’s what someone who understands that they have an inherent ability to help teach new ways. That is what someone who is willing to take the time and make the effort to move off my own comfort a bit does to help ease pain and suffering in the world.

Is there potential danger? Oh yes. There are ways to minimize it that people trained to work with immigration and terrorism have experience and expertise to propose. It is beyond the scope of what I personally can do. But I also know this: I have more risk of being hurt or killed by someone angered by my opinion who is home-grown here in the United States, than I have a chance of being hurt or killed by a terrorist.  The angry people in this country who seem to be unable to work to a common goal need some help. That solution is harder than the one dealing with refugees.journey-to-resettlement-in-the-united-states

 


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Does it Matter if it is not True or Accurate?

In the past week there has been a lot of controversy over one Presidential candidate’s life story, especially what has been touted as being offered as a full ride to West Point. I will consider that if General Westmoreland did chat with Ben Carson he MIGHT have said “you should consider applying to West Point….it is free, you know” or some such.  However, it is unknown if there was even a direct meeting. The big question is WHY did this story get fabricated and why don’t people who like Carson see it as an indication of a potential issue with the man owning his responsibility.

WHAT??????????????

WHAT??????????????

Also in the last week we have seem an absolutely ridiculous reaction by the Christian right because Starbucks decided their holiday cups would be plain red.  As an attack on Christianity this is pretty weak. I wonder if the penny counters at Starbucks considered they could use the same red cups for Valentine’s Day.  But it is amazing that this “attack” is the removal of snowflakes or snowmen or penguins. These are NOT symbols of Christmas and if the Conservatives believe it so, they need to get to church more.truth-new-hate-speech1

On a less widespread scale I have seen the proliferation on Facebook of quotes from our Founding Fathers to illustrate a significant point. These quotes are very easy to check for accuracy. What ensued recently after I pointed out an error to one poster was challenging-he said it STILL was a good quote. When I mentioned that people tend to put more credence on a statement depending on who says it, he deleted my posts.053014_Gullibility_Blog-230x300

Another reaction happened when I posted a statement that three Republican candidates recently attended a Christian conference and said NOTHING when one of the speakers called for killing all gay people. When I pointed out that anyone who supports these candidates are either of the same mindset or are not thinking at all, I was chided that the Democratic candidates have flaws. NO kidding. THAT was not the point though.  The issue is that we have some people commanding national attention who are so scared about homosexuality that they want to kill them all. Sounds like Nazi Germany…and they also were very Conservative.

The erroneous issues are not just from the Republicans. And that is important to understand.  Hold yourself up to a standard where YOUR word is true, your comments are based on truth and accuracy and THEN expect our leadership to do the same.

We say we hate lies. We’ve been lied to many times before. That is why you MUST take the time to research and know the backstory yourself. If you rely on anyone else to tell you what to think, you are culpable. fool Kierkegaard

 


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You’re Going To Die

Funny things happen when mortality hits me in the face. The last time, about 12 years ago, I was so sick with meningitis I didn’t even think about it until I was better. This time I have “something” wrong and the docs are trying to figure it out.

Am I gong to die? Probably not today. But yup, will sometime.

As will you.death-quotes.-Die-like-a-hero-going-home

So many people are AFRAID of dying. Other than I want to stick around to watch my kids mature and I have a few more things to do, I’m not afraid. Whatever your belief system, if you have faith in a religion, you have been told what the pathway is at the end of this life. So why be afraid? mark-twain-death-quotes-the-fear-of-death-follows-from-the-fear-of-life-a-man-who

The funny part is that some people think that just because they have a faith inspired belief in what happens upon death they don’t understand that that is not the common concept.  One very well intentioned 14-year-old once told me he was particularly worried about me because I am Jewish and have not accepted Christ as my Savior.  Because of that, he warned me, I would be going straight to Hell.  When I told him that Hell is a Christian construct and I was a bit concerned about any religion like his that had to use a stick like that to try to get their members to comply, he was confused.

So what do you expect? Is it scary? Why?

Me? I’m just going to try to keep on keeping on until my time arrives. My belief system is that good deeds done here and now is the way to live. What good is a promise of heaven if you never helped others lives here to be better? And so….onward.to the next adventure.To the next adventure


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A Bit/e of Heritage

So, for those of you not quite up on the smaller books of the Tanakh (Old Testament to many of you), there is one that comes into play this time of year. The Book of Esther tells the story of how the Jews, once again, were doomed to be exterminated, this time by a King’s advisor in ancient Persia. Esther, is the hero, saving her people. We celebrate by reciting the Megillah, the WHOLE MEGILLA (for you language buffs who like to know the derivation of slang) and drowning out the villain’s name, Haman, each time it is mentioned with noisemakers called gragers.  In Israel this day is also one for dress-up in costumes. It is a wonderful light-hearted festival, following a solemn day of fasting.purim

The food related to this festival (there ALWAYS is a food) is the hamantaschen, a triangular filled cookie in the shape of Haman’s hat. (Think those tri-cornered hats always shown with pictures of Revolutionary War clothing, and you’ll be close.)

So, while I was preparing and baking the hamantaschen I got to thinking. (Uh oh, there I go again.) Here are some of my random thoughts:

  • Just like Christianity incorporated social customs in the scheduling of some holidays (i.e, Christmas for the winter solstice) some people took this Jewish holiday of celebrating how one woman was so very important to developing a International Women’s Day just about the same date. Check it out.
  • There are differences in the cookie dough depending on your family’s region of origin. My mom’s recipe is a light cookie dough. I’ve eaten others that are thick and chewy, almost a sweet bread.
  • One of the fillings I enjoy is poppyseed. I use a can of the prepared Solo fillings but would like to make it from scratch….as soon as I find a local poppy grower…uh huh. IMG_4485
  • A second filling is made typically with stewed prunes and raisins, sweetened with honey and chopped nuts added. This year I used a spicy (flavorful, not hot) plum preserves I made from fruit I gleaned last summer at the historic Hoover Minthorn House in nearby Newberg. As a child President Hoover often stayed with his uncle there and wrote about eating so many plums that he suffered….hmmmm….a level of distress. Anyway, my plum preserves just got an addition of local hazelnuts and it was ready. Just don’t eat too many and you’ll be fine!

    Hoover Plum Preserves with hazelnuts

    Hoover Plum Preserves with hazelnuts

  • Graham’s favorite is made from apricots, sweetened a bit with honey. A nod to the Mediterranean origin of the holiday, it adds a bright color.IMG_4488
  • I remember Sam does not like one of these fillings so much, but since I can’t remember which, I will mail him a box with all…he can share with his friends

and finally: food brings us together, crosses lines of current knowledge between peoples. Keep your mind…and your tastebuds…open to new experiences.IMG_4490

 


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I’m Confused

Please forgive me before I say something that might offend you, but I am really concerned. Unlike you, who was raised in your Christian faith, I have only been attending church for the last eight years since I have been married to Graham. I am not a Christian, as you know, but Graham feels the desire to attend a church service and as long as I am respected, I will attend with him. I believe in God but I do not feel I need to be in a certain building listening to a regular series of words to connect with that Higher Power. I go to church with my husband out of my love for him and I do enjoy the thoughts and prayers that are expressed and getting to know that community.

However, I also believe I listen more than most people.  It is new to me, not a rote recitation. I listen. I think about what I hear.  And I recognize the root of much of what I hear in the Jewish tradition. After all, that’s where Jesus got it.pay attention

I have, admittedly, been attending what some would consider “liberal” churches. After all, I probably would not have been respected for my nontraditional belief system at any other. So, I also admit that my learning about Christianity is from that viewpoint. I have attended church almost every Sunday, sang in the choir until our move to Oregon, and participated in many book discussion and Bible study groups. In fact, the organizers usually ask me first and then invite Graham, knowing my participation will lead to pretty lively discussion. And, I guess, that is also a hallmark of a liberal church-discussion, not acceptance without any questioning as a mark of faith.

So, since I question, here are some of mine to my conservative Christian friends:

1. I have been hearing for 8 years that Jesus reached out to all the disenfranchised. Why are you so disdainful of the homeless and the hungry? Why do you say they deserve the hardship they have?  Why do you lump them into the same group as the people you complain are taking advantage of the system? And if I misunderstand you, what have you personally done to help? Saying you understand they are lost and need help and acting on that statement are two different things.compassion

2. I have been hearing for 8 years that Jesus caused quite a ruckus in the Temple smashing the tables of the money lenders. If we understand that they were taking advantage of the rules in place, the system, to charge ridiculously high fees just because they had somehow been given an exclusive place of commerce and if we follow the teaching that they were doing wrong, why are you supportive of the billionaires that continue to have huge earnings while paying their bottom line workers low wages? What is the difference? Why are you still shopping in those stores and not helping in the campaign to raise the minimum wage so people working two to three part time jobs can actually afford to live?money-cross3. I have been hearing for 8 years that Jesus urged people to simply follow two commandments: to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. So, I don’t believe you need to be a church goer to love God; however, I do believe you should not be spouting “I love God” without walking the walk. And that means acting out the second commandment.  Maybe you don’t love yourself so well?  For example, if you are still eating processed foods, you don’t love yourself well, because you are contributing to health problems.  If you don’t verify facts before repeating emotional support for statements issued by sources at one end of the political spectrum, you don’t love yourself well because you are not trying to improve your education.  So, maybe clean up your self-love and then you will have the energy, health and ability to think about how you really can love others.

lovethyneighborasthyself

4. I have always heard the Ten Commandments. Christians got that from us, but the Christian Bible changes them a bit compared to the Torah. (Nothing like rearrangement of the original source to point out to literalists that their viewpoint is not accurate.)  So you holler “Thou shall not kill!”  and call a zygote a person in argument against abortion. But you are comfortable with the death penalty, despite known miscarriages of justice.  You also care nothing for that baby, once born, if it happens to be born into a family with stressed intellectual, financial and emotional situations.  How can you reconcile your concern for the unborn but not for the living?pro life anti

5. I have been hearing for 8 years that my attendance in church means that I am searching. Maybe I am, but not for what you may imagine. So many people are waiting for me to get baptized, to be “saved.” You will continue to wait. I do not see a better way there, merely another way. What I search for is the sign of humanity in the people I meet everywhere. Some are there at church. Some I meet in other places and they never set foot in church. I have met others who practice other religions and some that are disenfranchised because of people’s behavior so disdain a relationship with any church. Searching will be lifelong. When I stop trying to seek knowledge, I will be part of the walking dead.Soul-Searching_art

So, back to my point. I am confused. Some of the people I have met in the churches I have attended with my husband are wonderful people, reaching out to others, and I am proud to consider them my friends. And there are others, too too many others, in all kinds of churches and temples, and mosques, who are full of righteous indignation that their way is the ONLY “right” way. Your pathway confuses me because you seem not to practice what you preach, nor walk the walk you talk.faith-meets-world-cover

If love is the way, act it. Don’t tell me you’re beating me up for my own good. No thanks.

 


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Mature Love

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

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

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

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

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

Dubrovnik Ivo and Sam hole in the wall

Ivo spending one on one time with Sam

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


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The Next Stage

Death. So final. At least from this perspective.

Why are so many people afraid of dying?Life-is-pleasant.-Death-is-peaceful-quotes

Judaism does not particularly get into an Afterlife, so it leaves it open to personal interpretation. The strong message is to do good deeds while living. In fact, there are 613 mitzvot that are required by texts in the Torah. That is the Old Testament for you Christians, so if you are really good Bible thumpers (literal followers, take heed) these are for you, too. Death may simply be a cessation of life, or there may be a Heaven, or there may be a rebirth.

Christianity, on the other hand, promises you Everlasting Life.  There is some teaching that good deeds are not important but there is also a bunch of good deeds that are needed to be done by a good Christian and even an admonition that without good deeds, faith is dead.  However, for the believer, death should not be feared.

The promise of eternal life refers to the soul and that is a commonality in most religions as well as New Age concepts.  Other religions also have concepts of reward or rebirth. Basically….this stage where we are now is only that, a stage…a short visit in the continuing growth of our soul.affirmation447

So, back to the basic question. Why are people so afraid of dying?

A huge change. Not knowing what will happen. Not knowing how it will feel. Sort of like me moving from West Virginia to Oregon…..well, almost Heaven to a beautiful place.

I subscribe to a daily email that is a very positive word from The Universe and want to share today’s email with you:

The top 10 things dead people want to tell living people are:

1. They’re not dead.
2. They’re sorry for any pain they caused.
3. There’s no such thing as a devil or hell.
4. They were ready to go when they went.
5. You’re not ready.
6. They finally understand what they were missing.
7. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the moment you arrive.
8. Don’t try to understand this now, but life is exceedingly fair.
9. Your pets are as crazy, brilliant and loving, here, as they were there.
10. Life really is all about love, but not just loving those who love you…

They also wanted you to know that they really do show up as orbs in some of your photos,  but so does water. Quite a talkative bunch.

Interesting to consider.Tattoo-Love-Life-For-Eternity