goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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How to Say Thank You

Someone died. And I got a cornea to fix a vision problem. 

Each of us has the opportunity to think ahead to a possible situation where we might not be able to live, but can donate parts of our own bodies that can make someone else’s life better. Thinking this way does not make your death happen. It makes a precious gift happen if and when. What a legacy. Go to this website if you already do not have it marked on your driver’s license.

Years ago I lost a husband to brain cancer. At the time the shit hit the fan I was quietly told by the neuro-oncologist that we had 3-5 years. Well, he lived 10 years and the doctor really had no idea how. The last MRI, done about 18 months before his death, showed that this incurable cancer had not grown. For some reason, his brain chemistry caused it to act differently. It was that summer I decided and got things in place to donate his brain when the time came. Heading to a neurological research program, perhaps whatever he had in his brain chemistry could be identified and help someone else. I wanted to make lemonade out of the very sour lemon we had been given.

Perhaps this concept is not so hard for me because I appreciate the sentiment of Thanksgiving.  While I don’t count my blessings daily, I give thanks after we return to our driveway after a road trip, when we have a good day at the farmers’ market, when one of my kids has a wonderful achievement. Thank you. Thank you Lord. Thank you God. Thank you Man in the Moon. It doesn’t matter who receives your thanks. It’s recognition that we are not alone.  And the One who is honored hears it all.

Being part of society means I chose to be active. I offer skills and energy within my capability to issues I feel are important.  As I age perhaps the working parts are not as usable to someone else as if I had died early. But letting them harvest whatever can be used is one more way I can give back to my community. 

When we feel this connection to others, our world is safer. When we feel we can have an impact, our world works smoother.


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The Road Ahead

We have a choice, as we do every time we elect a President. We can uphold the United States as a wonderful example of a democratic republic that can change heads of state calmly and smoothly,Image result for smooth transition of leadership or we can have tantrums wanting our own way and fall down into a despotic third world nation experience where the people who perceive a loss of power fight anyone who they believe thinks differently from them.

In the last few weeks there has been an escalation of threats of a “revolution” if Trump loses the election. Organizations and individuals who have publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton have received death threats. A gun shop in Las Vegas is advertising a sale on guns before Hillary is elected. There just is a lot of anger and threats.

Republcian Congressional leadership who have publicly indicated their dismay with their candidate are now promising to block Clinton is she wins the Presidency.  They are promising to freeze, not to work through the things that need work, but to do nothing. That is not leadership in a sane direction.

It could happen. We did it once before. Civil war. This time, though, there is nothing organized or goal for the people who are losing their emotional stability. And yes, if you decide my words and actions are worthy of killing me, you have lost your mind. Is this kind of activity like in Aleppo what will make us great? Image result for aleppo

This nation was established to better the situation in the Old World, where power was held by very few. For hundreds of years people in this country could achieve much, change their lifestyle, improve upon what their parents had. Only recently has this reversed and there are clear signs why.

The people who have made these changes include, among many others, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. His claim he has never held public office does not mean he had no influence. He is one of the players of power and has been for years. So, right now, regardless of who wins the Presidency, not much is really going to improve for many of us and for some of us, things will get a lot worse. The only winners, the same ones as the last few decades, the very top.

Now, I remember my parents complaining about how things were going downhill back in the 1970s. They did not like the attitudes of the “hippies” and protesters against the war in Vietnam. My parents longed for much of what they knew in their younger days. But they also were active in the civil rights movement, clearly recognizing not only that the treatment of African-Americans had long been bad, but actually doing something about it.

So, now, I am carrying the mantle of service. I call out unethical and unequal treatment when I see it. I remind my friends on Facebook that if something appeals to their sense of greed (free something fantastical that is too good to be true) or anger (Hillary did this or that or Donald said this now) that they really should verify before jumping on a bandwagon that will later prove to have flat tires. Image result for first they came for the socialists

And I don’t just sit here bitching and moaning. I am involved. I volunteer in a number of community activities including helping a local candidate in his run for the state legislature.  If we want a better world we each need to be involved. Think globally. Act locally.Image result for doing instead of talking

And, I suppose, I have said enough to irritate the most unstable of people who might be making a list of who they need to take down. A friend told me to back down and stop being so vocal. Nope, I’m sorry. If we don’t speak out early and often, the snowball grows. I will not be quiet.  Another friend told me to arm myself. And I wonder, how much bigger a weapon can I get and use before someone else uses theirs. If that is to be, it will be. I will not live my life in fear.

I will continue to try to appeal to your brain, your intellect, your heart, your conscience. I will try to get into conversation with you to understand your viewpoint and share mine. Image result for buy guns now

I just don’t see many people willing to do the same. That is sad, and yes, a bit frightening.

 


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I Feel Lucky

It’s a pretty busy time, but when is it not busy in my life?  Anyway, it’s busy and I like it that way.

Today I had an appointment with my allergist to go another scratch test for some of the standard issues here. I had to be off my antihistamine for 5 days and boy oh boy I didn’t know how effective it was until now. The pokes were easy compared to my memory of the scratch tests as a kid. One of my arms got red and swollen quickly. (Thanks, Cat, who is now 15 and will probably live to 25 just to spite me.) But as soon as that was over I swallowed my antihistamine and rubbed some anti-itch cream on my arm and felt better in a half hour. I sure feel lucky.

I then headed over to the kitchen I rent at the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. We had the first of two tests as  part of a special project for Can-Do Real Food. One of our farm partners, Keeler Estate Vineyards, has some wine that is not permitted to be sold because of some form that was not filed years ago. So, we offered to see if we could turn it into wine jelly. They gave us bottles of Pinot Noir (a red) and Pinot Gris (a white) and that jelly tasted awesome. We cookeda little more of each down and mixed with sea salt to make a culinary salt as well. I get to play with yummy food. Boy oh boy, I feel really lucky.pinot noir and pinot gris april 4

This weekend I am hosting a handcrafted artisan fair inside a pavilion at the local county fairgrounds here in town. The story of how this all got started points more to my Pollyanna attitude than my realistic view of life, but it is coming together despite a couple of setbacks. Good thing, since it is only 4 days away. We have an awesome and eclectic group of talented craftspeople.  I am going to have a great weekend spending it with artists who show their love with their abilities.  I am so darn lucky.Crafts Fair poster WEB

I got 27 emails from candidates today, most, of course, begging for money. You know, this political hoohah can be very annoying. But you know what else?  We have a system that permits us to be involved. Especially if we don’t like it.  I met a candidate a couple of years ago and after talking with him decided I would help a bit. He’s campaigning again and there I am. It is rewarding and comforting to see an honest person who is very much interested in the issues of the people in this area try to make a difference.  I feel lucky to know how to get involved and help try to make this government work for the people.

My husband Graham probably did not fully know what he was getting when he asked me to marry him. We just celebrated our ninth anniversary and were able to take a few days away “at the coast” (Oregon speak for “down the shore” which is New Jersey speak for “go to the beach” everywhere else). So despite his cold we enjoyed the beautiful sunny blue skies and warm days. He humored me to head to a good viewpoint for a sunset photo too and we headed to Tillamook cheese factory on the way home so we could get some cheese and, of course, ice cream. I know I am lucky.IMG_0679

So this evening we ran a quick errand to Lowe’s to pick up something we needed for a wood craft Graham is making for this weekend. Afterwards we stopped and he put up two signs about the artisan fair. I was off the road with the flashers on and when Graham came back to the car I planned on pulling a u-turn to head home. But there was a car, and then another and then another….three police cars, so no u-ey. I drove a tiny bit and pulled into the grange parking lot to turn around. One of the police cars also pulled in…and turned his lights on. You can imagine the expletive deleted that I was thinking. I figured we might get a ticket for putting the signs up. Nope, he wanted to check we were okay and did we know we had a taillight out? We denied it and promised to get it replaced and headed home. Oh yeah. I feel lucky.

In reviewing my day I realized I left off the very best part. I heard from each of my three kids today. I feel very very very lucky indeed.

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It Could Be You

So many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, stressed to pay all the bills we have and concerned that something may happen to shake your world. Losing your job would do that. Getting seriously ill also would do that. Few of us have enough in savings to ride through months of being unemployed.  Taking a minimum wage part time job won’t help.

cant-pay-bills-on-timeSo then, what happens? You can’t pay your rent or mortgage, your power gets turned off after a few months and you manage to get it paid by going to one of the churches who has a Compassion Fund for things like that. You go to food panties to save on grocery costs and then to soup kitchens to get a warm meal as often as possible.

So then, what happens? You stop answering the phone because you know the calls are from debt collectors.  The day comes when you get the eviction notice.

So then, what happens? You can’t or won’t turn to family or friends.  Either your relationship with them are not healthy or they are as financially stressed as you were.  Or you do approach them and they welcome you, for a time, and it becomes a cycle of a few days on the couch and then you move on. Your appearance deteriorates as your emotional health is shaken to the core. It is just about impossible to think clearly to find your way out of this quagmire.

So then, what happens?  You retreat. You run and hide. You might be using drugs or alcohol to blunt the pain. You find yourself on the street.

You think it can’t happen? That everyone you see wandering the street pushing shopping carts full of their belongings muttering to themselves can’t be you?

Yes, some of the people on the street have mental illness. Yes, some are using drugs and/or booze to blunt the pain of their situation and the addiction adds to the problem. Yes, some are lost souls. But not all. In fact, not most.

All are people with a need to have some basics: shelter, food, and love….yes love.

We have places that in the name of “family values” are making laws to run the homeless out of town.  Those may or may not be the same towns that also had sunset laws mandating that all the “colored help” must leave the town limits by sunset. Fear and bigotry in the new age.

colddogI see a lot of postings on Facebook not to leave pets outside in the winter weather. A good, heartfelt warning to many people who own dogs but keep them tied up outside.  A reminder to people who feed stray cats but prefer them outside.  We feel for the helpless, the four- legged creatures who rely on us.

Find some compassion for the two-legged homeless.homeless-in-snow

There are solutions. Salt Lake City, for example, crunched the numbers and it became clear that the cost to the city per homeless person was running about $20,000 a year. When abandoned housing was converted into apartment space for the homeless, the cost dropped to $7,000 per person per year and reduced the number of homeless on the streets by 74% since 2005. New York City and many other cites have program to put housing first. THEN the social assistance programs to help with health issues, job training and more.

Here in McMinnville, there is an organization with the acronym of CWISH: Community Winter Inclement Shelter Help.  We heard about it last year but this year Graham has gotten involved as one of the three coordinators. Five area churches open their doors on a schedule to provide warm and dry shelter during the winter.

This morning in Portland, Oregon

This morning in Portland, Oregon

The current cold front started two night ago and so, one of the local churches has hosted 12 and then 15 people the last two nights. Families are welcome. Women and men are offered safe, warm and dry shelter.  They will continue to host tonight and tomorrow night and then pass the baton on to another of the participating churches. Volunteers are needed to be at the church in four-hour shifts from 8pm to 8am.

This is a band aid but efforts are being made to come up with a better solution. Once again, I am glad we chose to move here. This is a town with a heart.

What are you doing?

 


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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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Wired

Some years ago I saw a photo of a customer service representative working at his computer outside at the base of a pole with multiple wires hanging down in haphazard fashion.  It was the contrast between the modern aspect of the international service a computer permits with the antiquated electrical supply. And we thought the worse thing about customer service from India was the accent!

Within minutes of our arrival at the first Delhi hotel, Lisa and I hit the street heading to a fabric store we had heard about. We made a quick stop at an ATM a few blocks from our hotel and that is where I noticed that the wiring from that long remembered photo was not unusual.wires

On the last day, as the bus drove the long hours from Jaipur back to Delhi I noticed some electrical distribution lines that also were considerably different from the lines we have in the US. DSCF6560

In a country with a huge population and an aging infrastructure, there is a lot involved in the new Prime Minister’s promise to bring electricity to everyone in India. Good luck, Narendra Modi!