goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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I’ve Always Wondered

I’ve always wondered how people going through an upheaval actually emotionally dealt with the hardship of seeing their world as they knew it collapse and assume there was nothing they could do but hold on and ride the waves.

Sort of how it feels now.

  • We have two unstable national leaders playing a game of chicken.
  • We have a Congress that seems to forget who put them there.
  • We have a series of natural events coming fast and furious with hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires needing attention.
  • We have a huge segment of our population who is hiding as much as they can, not earning a living, because they are on a list to be removed and sent away.
  • We have Germany perhaps having their first elected fascists since the destruction of the Third Reich coming this weekend.
  • We have Britain’s Prime Minister trying to delay the departure from the European Union because since the vote more people know its a bad idea.
  • We have the US involved in wars We the People know little about.
  • We have military veterans coming home in emotional states that clearly show that war is hell and they were not prepared for it.
  • We have a segment of our population who seem to think they are above average while they line up with the rest of the sheep to support the 1%.
  • We have two major political parties that are dysfunctional and do not remember that this nation’s Constitution begins with We The People.

I could go on and on.

So, I have always loved to read and reading fictionalized or nonfiction accounts of how individuals live through a major crisis has given me concepts to consider.

  • The Scout motto, Be Prepared, makes sense. Have skills and equipment that will help survival opportunities improve.
    • While Preppers may have the message right, it seems difficult to store 3 or more months of food, water and other supplies.  Many of us can at least have a supply of food for two weeks in our homes. I know many people who don’t keep a “pantry” with some staples. Time to wake up, everyone. It does not take a war to have an emergency when stores will not be supplied with your favorite treats. All it takes is a storm and a loss of electricity. A highway blocked. A bridge too unsafe to cross.
    • Start thinking NOW about how you will prepare food if there is no power.
    • Make sure you also store water, toilet paper, medicines, and first aid supplies.
    • I don’t need to tell you to store your weapon and ammo, but people, remember safety especially if there are children around.
    • And, by the way, your lack of preparedness does not make killing me or anyone else to get to our food and supplies an ethical or moral right. The time to think about protecting yourself and your loved ones is now. And might does not equal right.
  • Build a network of people you can trust. These are people who have complementary skills and common goals.
    • So many people have no close friends and are estranged from their families because of emotional battles that may truly be pretty insignificant if you thought about it dispassionately. Time to try to heal those wounds.
    • While many people disdain the concept of church, it does provide for an extended “family”. If you are not involved in some kind of organization or activity with other community members, it is past time. No man is an island
  • As the Governors of several states have recently done during hurricanes, martial law most likely will be imposed.
    • Recognize that the Internet and our cell phones most likely will stop Communication will have to resort to meeting with people face to face and talking.
    • ATMs will not be accessible and banks will be closed. Money will not be the currency of trade.
    • Most likely there will be  restrictions on movement. Gas will be in short supply and expensive.

Now, I sure hope saner heads will prevail in this building concern with North Korea. We will not do well with a nuclear war.

I hope We The People have a better memory in the next election and actually participate and vote to remove Congressional representatives who fail at their job. No one should be returned to office who has not demonstrated their responsiveness to their constituents.

I hope anyone in places where there can be warning of a coming devastation like a wildfire or a hurricane can calmly and safely get their loved ones to safety. As hard as it is to lose “everything”, no matter how precious they are, they are THINGS. You can rebuild.

I hope people in places where devastation has occurred can remember they are part of the Family Of Man and will open their homes to provide shelter and sustenance to people who have lost everything.

I hope you feel compelled to speak to your morals and ethics when others are showing their fear in hatred to a minority. When we remain silent, perhaps out of fear that we will also be attacked, we condone the attack.

I hope you know first hand how cooperating with others may not bring you the riches you dream of, but allows you “enough” as well as the ability to understand we each need “enough”.

 

I pray that any loved one serving in the military comes home safe and sound, and if not, you stay patient to give them the succor they require. As difficult as it is to lose the someone you knew to a altered person, love can help bring them around. A sense of trust and safety can provide the way.

I urge you to start digging a bit deeper for information that shapes your opinions. So many of us do NOT read across the spectrum nor any news sources from overseas, but those are the only ways you can know if the information you are being fed is accurate. Also, if what you are reading is using inflammatory language, if the article tells you what to think, it is an editorial, not a news article. News articles must explain who, what, why, where and how and leave you thinking.

As for the political parties, the ONLY way we can gain change is for everyone to get involved. Simple. And please realize that the place your voice REALLY counts is on the local level. You want to see changes, get involved in your town.

 

 

 

 

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Economic Patriotism

I heard the term “economic patriotism” on NPR a couple of days ago.  The discussion was about how the term was used politically over time but it did not seem to come down to the “man on the street” level.  I can bring it there I think and I also think you can live with it.buy Locala

We are climbing out of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Some areas of the country are still feeling pain. Some never really get to fly in good times so their “normal” is lower than other areas’ “good”. Regardless, if your area has some sense of economic development, you perhaps are seeing more signs of business activity, more job openings, more people enjoying going out to the movies, to restaurants and similar optional opportunities for spending.

Whatever your political leanings, you can help the economy in your area become more robust. Each time we shop anywhere we are throwing money into the vast world of business. When you go to the grocery store, for example, and buy your week’s worth of groceries, whether you spend $20 or $200, you are contributing to the world of business.  If you shop at a national or regional chain, like Kroger (some affiliates are Fred Meyer here in Oregon, Kings Sooper in Colorado and Ralph’s in California) or Wal-Mart, very little of  the money you spend there stays in the community. If you shop at a locally owned grocery store (IGA or even one not affiliated with that network) then more of your money stays right in the community. If you shop at your local farmers’ market and buy directly from local food producers, ALL your money stays in the community.shoplocala

That works for other goods and services also. Today I had to go downtown and used the one trip-many errands practice to pick up shampoo in the small local grocery store that has healthy products and also stopped in at the local office supply store for copy paper. I thought afterwards about the price I paid for that paper instead of saving about 50 cents by driving about 4 more miles to Staples. I probably paid a little bit  more than the cost of the gas (in my Prius anyway) but I knew I was saving time. I also was putting money into a locally owned business, a better option for the local economy than the national office supply store chain.

This is economic patriotism. This spending an extra 50 cents to help the local economy can add up to a HUGE difference if each of us would do it.shop mom and pop

When I was in West Virginia and involved with The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington we once figured out in a given week the average expenditure in the market was $15. We also estimated that if 10% of the town’s population would spend that average $15 a week in the market, the return to the farmers would be over a million dollars a year. While The Wild Ramp Market is extremely proud that in the two years of its operation over $400,000 has been given back to local producers, the difference of what has been and what could be is amazing.

It means YOU need to step up. You need to show you want this nation to be healthy. Your buying patterns make a difference. Are you willing to be considered a patriot?  Can you put economic patriotism into practice?shoplocal

Can you switch from consumerism as dictated by advertisements on the television and in magazines to locating and supporting locally made goods. In your area there are people who are passionate about producing high quality goods that would make superb useful items in your home or as gifts. There can be great pride in knowing your purchase can make a huge difference in someone’s economic health.

I’m not talking charity. I’m not talking giving money without getting something of value. I’m talking about buying American made goods. I’m talking about buying locally. Can you be a patriot?

 

 


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Aiming for Decadence

My raspberries are slowing down a bit so I have begun to get more thoughtful of how I plan to preserve them. While my first batch of jam ended up too watery, it made an absolutely wonderful raspberry sauce so I decided to repeat that. I discovered, though, that I had tossed the recipe since it had “failed” its intended goal.  A bit of internet research later, I was busy simmering and, following my sister’s suggestion, filtered out the seeds.  But I got to thinking. (Rousing chorus of “uh oh” now)DSC_0001

I started preparing my tried and true hot fudge sauce recipe from my Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream recipe book. It takes almost 2 hours to prepare and is worth every second.

DSC_0002So then I had a finished batch of raspberry syrup and a finished batch of hot fudge sauce. Checking a few  recipes for proportions, I set up 5 bowls for Graham to taste test: 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5 with raspberry being the increasing proponent.DSC_0003

When I laughed at him going back for a second taste, he assured me scientists take second measurements. Boom

1:4 won and I have now canned 8 half-pints.

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And of course have a pint jar in the frig for immediate consumption. Have to be sure it’s tasty, you know. All part of the experiment!

Brownie sundae with homemade vanilla-blueberry-strawberry ice cream and chocolate raspberry sauce

Brownie sundae with homemade vanilla-blueberry-strawberry ice cream and chocolate raspberry sauce


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Where are We Going? Who Are We Becoming?

Is your inbox as full as mine? It seems that everyday there are more and more petitions to sign, new concerns to investigate, horrors to try to fix. It’s too much. There are too many things that are not right with this world. And it seems like everyone wants my attention and help.online-petitions-movement-010

Each of us has only so much energy. How do you select which concern gets your attention and effort?  I am assuming you are involved in some way to fix something in the world that you know is not fair, is not right. If you are not, if you are completely self absorbed without any thought to your world and the creatures that live on it, you are missing an opportunity to grow. Being a part of the society in which you lives gives you the chance to help make it better, and that makes what affects you better.

Here are things that bother me:

1. FOOD: The food we eat today in the United States is not the same as it was when I was a kid. Farming has become a booming industry during the past 40 years, and as such, efforts are made to produce more food faster to make more profits. That mean chemicals are used to keep bugs and weeds away, to help animals grow faster, to make all the tomatoes look pretty so you will buy them.  But what is that doing to our bodies? There has to be some correlation, no matter what the USDA tells us, between all those chemicals and the increasing obesity, diabetes, and other health issues we have. You are what you eat…and you can make a small change that can have a huge impact.veggies

The most recent farm census indicates that 91% of all farms are small. That means that not only does most of the food you find at the grocery store only come from a new farms,  most farms in the US earn less than $10,000 after all the hard work they do.  That means that your local farmer, the one who is passionate about raising healthy food to eat, has to work another job off the farm to provide enough money to the family to live. That means your local farmer is not being supported in what s/he does well. If each of us spent only $15 a week buying directly from a local farmer through a farmers market, CSA, or direct sales, the shift would be profound.  And the food will be healthy for you, better than what you find in the supermarket. And YOU will be healthier. There are local farms everywhere, even in major metropolitan areas. Go to Local Harvest to find available healthy food choices near you.

2. ANGER: “I want what I want when I want it and I don’t give a flipping care about you. You get in my way, and I am going to get you out of my way, whatever it takes. You say you believe in something different, you are so wrong, have no sense, I can’t even be bothered to speak to you calmly to discuss our differences. I don’t care. You’re just wrong. And an idiot.”  Sound familiar? I sure hope it’s not you with that attitude, but maybe it is. Why are people so angry? Why have we moved, as a society, to more polarization?  And how can that attitude mesh with people who believe they are good people, religious people with strong moral convictions?  I read something a year ago that anger and lack of self control have increased dramatically in the years that GMO foods have been on the market and consumed. That there is some chemical component (and it may be the absorption of the herbicides more that the GE itself, that is the cause) in our food that is causing this to happen. Back to #1 to change that in your diet.anger_management

Regardless of the cause, it has to stop. We have become a society where few assume responsibility for their actions. From the time the jury awarded a million dollars to the woman who put the hot McDonalds coffee cup without its top between her legs while she was driving , people have started to blame others for the choices they make. Each action you take is a decision, even if you spent zero time thinking about it. Each action you take has consequences. Own up.  Think about how your actions are going to affect your life path as well as other people. Be considerate. Back when I was in first grae my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, rewarded us for self control with one of those little sugar hearts with sayings on them you find at Valentines Day. What little treat can you use to reward yourself when you are nice, when you control your temper?

3.  GUNS: This whole “Obama is going to take them away from you so you better buy a gun now while the buying is good” seems to me to be a great marketing strategy by gun manufacturers.  And lots of people who might never consider havign a gun have fallen for it. Seriously, for all of you who think you will need to protect yourself from a government running over your Constitutional rights, how many of you voted in this past primary?  How many of you participate even at a local level in your government?  If you don’t at least i.e.,vote or work locally to make your town or city better, you are not doing your part as a good citizen to make the government run the way you would like.  Sitting on your butt bitching is not participating. It goes back to that anger issue.feel safe

My concern is that it won’t be people versus a horrible government that gets into a gun battle. It will be angry people versus angry people.  It doesn’t take much imagination for me to see that if we get into a shortage (i.e.,water, food, electricity) that we are in for some bloodshed here as people with guns will be going to get stuff they want and people with guns will be barricaded protecting what they have.

4. EDUCATION: We have become a society which has definitely dumbed down. We have short attention spans. While we holler we are the best nation in the world, only 30% of our population reads. Oh, we have a higher literacy rate, but not a literacy lifestyle. When companies like Wal-Mart put up signs like this walamart-expressit signifies the problem on two levels—that selfishness I talked about above (see #2) as well as the fact that some people can’t read the word “fifteen”. Really? So we watch tv and listen to the talking heads telling us what to think and get angry. We know what the latest movie is and which movie star or singer has done whatever.  But do we know how to take care of ourselves? To better ourselves?  Most people can’t develop a plan of action. We know we don’t like our lifestyle and the fact that we don’t have enough money but we can’t come up with a budget or a way to improve it.

New curricula are developed which have major flaws.  New tests are designed to show that children are learning but those kids can’t read, can’t multiply, don’t know the story of our nation’s history.  Many of us would find it impossible to past the test that naturalized citizens have to take.  We say we are proud to be Americans but many of us have no idea what that really means. Yet our education system seems to be falling further and further behind while the costs are rising higher and higher.

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These are just a few things that are really bothering me.


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We Want to Fix It

I don’t know about you but it seems we Americans feel superior to just about everyone else and act like we know the “right” way to do things.  And we get ourselves deep into trouble with that attitude much of the time.

On the trip to India there were several things I noticed that jumped right out at me and my first thought was “Why do they do that?” followed by “If only they did what we do” and that was followed by “There must be a reason I don’t understand.” I moved in the right direction I think.

 

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First thing was on the bus ride from Delhi to Agra. It had rained lightly that morning and Arvind pointed out to all of us that the wheat was being harvested and it was a very bad time for rain, as it could cause it to mold. Over the course of the week we saw other fields in various stages of harvesting. I have no idea how this crop yield was compared to past years but I did ask a lot of questions about rain and irrigation and why this and why that. Arvind didn’t know, but I asked a local farmer who happens to be from Delhi since I’ve been back in Oregon and got some answers.

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This photo is actually of grass being trimmed at the Taj Mahal but it appeared that the wheat was being harvested the same way-just too far from the highway to get this good a photo.

In West Virginia and in Oregon I have seen a number of plastic collection barrels connected to building downspouts, the better to collect rainwater and save it for use later during dry months. India has long had an agricultural economy and about 75% of its rainfall occurs during the monsoon season.  Typically expected from June to September, the area where I traveled can experience about 20-40 inches of rain in that time.  I wondered why some water was not captured for use in other seasons when the dry weather limits crop production.

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Narenda Varma of Our Table in Sherwood, Oregon told me:

Traditionally, most of the farms in that area would have been dry-land farming.  However, in recent decades (since the so called “green revolution” was implemented in many parts of the world), much of the agriculture has moved to high-yield varieties that are not suited to dry-land farming and require a lot of irrigation. Part of the green revolution implementation involved the government convincing farmers to switch to the new varieties and provided funding for the installation of wells as well as subsidized diesel to run the pumps. The result has been a disaster because the new varieties require a lot of fertilizer and water both of which have contributed to massive salination and destruction of the soil as well as precipitously falling water tables. 

As for rain-water harvesting, it is generally impractical to store water at the scale needed for commercial agriculture in a climate like India (or Oregon) where we have concentrated periods of heavy rain followed by almost drought-like conditions. Storage in tanks or ponds is very expensive and requires a lot of land which most small land-holders don’t have. The best solution would be to increase the water-storage capacity of the soil by having high organic matter content in the soil but the green revolution varieties have resulted in the exact opposite result so the soil doesn’t hold water as well as it used to (or could) thereby exacerbating the problem.  It’s a complex issue but one that is depressingly familiar to agriculture all over the world in the last 50+ years.

Thank you Narenda for helping to clarify that. One more example of why one size does not fit all.

The water issue is complex in India…more on that later in another blog.

Another issue that was hard to understand was the amount of trash everywhere.  It appears that trash disposal is handled in two ways: 1. There are vacant lots which are considered to be dumps and anything can be thrown there and 2. Anything can be thrown into gutters or any moving body of water.DSCF6450

What this means is there is trash almost everywhere. Oh sure, not in the nice areas of Delhi near the government center and monuments.  Not at the World Heritage sites and other places where tourists go. But just outside, fair game.

As we drove between cities I missed several photo opportunities that have stuck in my mind. One was a dry riverbed, littered with debris. The other was a huge dump, close to the highway, piles reaching up 20-30 feet in the air. And the rest of the town was clean. That town was making an effort.DSCF6537

It appears from reading other comments on the Internet that if a city has a municipal waste collection system it does not resemble anything we are used to here in the US. We are, once again, spoiled in the regard that we put our trash or recycling bins out at the curb once a week or so and a truck comes by and removes the offending debris. It is then whisked away to some dump that is screened from our view, with rules to control vermin and protect ground water from pollution.

On the bus, we almost all expressed an immediate dismayed response to the trash we saw. But, as I mentioned above, we also had our “ah-ha” moment when we realized that we have no right to expect to impose our standard on the people of India.  While we can recognize that they are living in environments that would make us uncomfortable, there is a lot more information to learn before we can understand why their system is not cleaner.  We have to recognize we just do not know all we need to know to judge.


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The Crystal Ball is Clear…to Those Who are not Blind

When Al Gore presented An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 most people were in denial about global warming. How many people do you know (maybe yourself?) who completely misunderstood the term and scoffed when the first huge blizzards happened.   How many people are still denying that there are climate changes going on with massive devastating storms, polar ice cap melting, and resulting rising tides that have cities all over the world’s coastlines, including New York, trying to come up with plans how to stop the flooding.

Greenland 3

I took this photo in 2010 of Greenland….it USED to be all snow covered!!!

In the past week I have been reading about how climate change is already resulting in changes in food production which will lead to shortages and rising prices.  There has been an international conference meeting in Japan, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and their discussion is not easy to accept. The picture they paint is bad and something that is hard to consider.

But it is time we take our head out of the sand. The changes ARE happening and they WILL affect us. bury-your-head-in-the-sand

Oh sure, by the time the huge changes happen I will be dead, but my kids won’t be. So how selfish can I be?  It IS inconvenient to make changes.  I am a creature of habit, as you probably are.

So, there are a number of things you can do….small changes that should not be difficult that will make your own contribution to the problems reduced tremendously.

Let’s start with what you eat.

If you are eating out at restaurants or buying the meat you eat at the grocery store, unless it is raised organically, you are part of the problem. Big time. Most Americans’ meat (beef, pork and chicken) are raised in huge confinement facilities.  The EPA reports that failures to properly manage manure and wastewater at CAFOs can negatively impact the environment and public health. Manure and wastewater have the potential to contribute pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones and ammonia, to the environment.  There’s so many more reasons not to eat meat from those animals, but we’re sticking to environment today.

cattle

The meat you buy at the supermarket comes from here.

Now this next step takes about 15 minutes…think you can spare that in order to help make a change for your kids?

If you don’t already know where you can purchase locally raised meat year-round, go to Local Harvest and read through the farms and farm market section for your zip code. Then call one of the farmers and start the discussion.

Isn't this more the image you want for the meat you eat?

Isn’t this more the image you want for the meat you eat?

Some local farmers will sell in small quantity. Some require you to purchase a half an animal as a minimum. That will bring down your costs amazingly, but if you don’t have the freezer space, get together with some friends and make the purchase together.

No excuses now.

Your world environment thanks you, your taste buds will thank you, your body will thank you, and the local economy will thank you.  What legacy will YOU leave your children?

 


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Using ALL the Carrot

My daughter Lisa came to visit for a bit and brought her juicer with her. While I had read about the nutritional value of juicing, my personal experience included only a few weeks of carrot juice back in the 1970s and occasionally enjoying the juice produced by Charleston’s Mission Savvy and sold by The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington.Mission Savvy juices

Lisa quickly started keeping our produce drawer in the refrigerator well stocked, and then well used. Graham is our main cook in the family and he was told not to put the trimmings from veggies into the compost but into another container for juicing.

We have had interesting concoctions. For example, as happy as I was when I purchased brussels sprouts on their stalk, after using the whole stalk in one juice we learned it produces discomfort in the tummy caused by gas. Not to be repeated in that quantity.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

We like adding beets not only for sweetness but they color the juice a pretty purple. And carrots also add sweetness. Lisa uses the whole carrot, including the greens.

One morning we looked at the pile of pulp taken from the juicer and put into the compost and I started to wonder if there was any other possible use. I quickly found a recipe for carrot pulp-orange marmalade. As it needed 3 cups of carrot pulp, it took a few days to collect that and finally, with all the hoopla of the Thanksgiving weekend slowing down, I was able to process the batch.

I found an easy recipe on Mother Earth News from 1977 by Peter Ditzel. I needed to add a bit more water but I did not need to add any pectin.  I was disappointed it didn’t turn out as bright orange as the photo on the Mother Earth News recipe, but it sure is yummy. This recipe yielded 6 pints of marmalade.

Carrot Pulp Marmalade Recipe

3 oranges
4 cups of water
3 cups of carrot pulp (only carrots, no greens)
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 cups of honey
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 package of store-bought dried pectin

Peel all three oranges and cut the rinds into very narrow slices. Cook the slices in four cups of water until they’re tender . . . then let ’em sit at least seven hours (or overnight).

Once the peelings have had a chance to stand for seven (or more) hours, add the carrot pulp to them and boil for 10 minutes. Next, chop the oranges into a bowl and remove all seeds. Then introduce the oranges, lemon juice, honey, and ginger to the pulp/peelings mixture and boil for 20 minutes more.

If — after 20 minutes — the marmalade has begun to jell on its own . . . terrific! Pour the mixture into hot, sterile canning jars and seal. Otherwise — if the jam hasn’t thickened-you should stir in the dried pectin at this point. (I don’t know why, but sometimes you’ll need the pectin and sometimes you won’t. All I can say is, when in doubt . . . use the pectin.) Boil the pectin-enriched marmalade for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, but continue to stir for an additional seven minutes. Finally, pour the marmalade into hot, sterile canning jars and seal.carrot marmalade