goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Better Friends

I’ll be 63 this year and so, my use of the Internet is not as vast and constant as my kids and their peers. I was introduced to the world of computers in my senior year of high school when I convinced my dad to let me skip physics and take the newly offered computer programming class. We learned WatFor, a kind of FORTRAN. Since the school had no computer, the teacher had arranged for us to use the computer lab at Rutgers. That was it, my sole education into computer language but it was enough to demystify the brave new world of cyberspace.

My kids got me to open a Facebook account and I now manage 4 other pages besides my own. They also had me open a Twitter account and I have never used it, believing that 140 characters just is NOT communication.  I recently signed up for Instagram and have received a notice that I have 17 followers but I have not posted anything. I wonder at that.

But let’s go back to Facebook since that is the bulk of my “talking” experience, beyond this and a few other blogs.

I have used Facebook to help market various activities. For example, when I lived in Huntington, West Virginia I was very much involved in the establishment of The Wild Ramp. I wrote a blog for the market and also posted on Facebook whenever I worked in the shop to inform consumers about yummies that were available.  I lot of people responded  to the things I wrote about and for The Wild Ramp. They were farmers, city dwellers, people who appreciated the effort made to grow healthy food and people who strove to improve their eating habits. The people who responded were from all walks of life and all aspects of the political spectrum.

By the time I moved to Oregon I had a lot of Facebook friends. Some in each place where I had lived: New Jersey, Connecticut, Tennessee, West Virginia, Colorado and Oregon. Many in other nations around the world. People with a myriad of educational backgrounds, living styles and financial comfort. We all had SOMETHING in common and celebrated that commonality, happy to have people to discuss things from different viewpoints.internet-friends-worldwide

But something changed when George W. Bush was running for President.  When I made a statement that I knew I could not handle the job and wanted a President who was smarter than me, a woman who had been friends for over 10 years and called me her sister, unfriended me.

It certainly got worse this election cycle. One by one most of my conservative friends chose to block me. They did not unfriend me; I know this because I received no message. I can’t say it was because they wanted to avoid confrontation; our earlier conversations included other friends of theirs who got downright rude. I was careful to post FACTS, not say anything like “you stupid idiots, why can’t you understand this?”. They said stuff like that but I didn’t.

But one woman told me that I often came across as better than them, because when they posted something I often posted something about the subject from a major and reputable news source. She said I was “preaching to them.” I countered I was sharing, just like they were. They preferred not to hear anything other than what fit their agenda, though.

So, I have fewer Facebook friends now….and the argument can be made that they were never friends but I have a problem with that.

Yes, they are not friends like someone I can trust will come help if I need a hand. But the people I have known on the Internet have often helped me through bad times with emotional support.

Yes, they are not friends like someone who has the same background as I do. Few people meet that level of requirement, and even the ones who grew up in New Jersey so we had similar factors in our formative years have different views on life.

I suggest they are different in one main regard. I believe they might not feel as sure about their concepts, their passions, their ability to explain themselves as I do and so they get angry and their word choices are full of that anger.   Perhaps my 8th grade English teacher who made us give a series of speeches did me and my classmates a wonderful service; we learned to explain ourselves to others. Maybe the skill of conversation has been lost (hey! why talk to your neighbor over the backyard fence when you can send 140 characters out into the world) and certainly the ability to present a persuasive argument was never learned by most people.anger-is-fake-power

I believe we ALL need diversity in our lives.  Different races. Different religions. Different nationalities. Different educational levels. Different IQ levels. Different physical ability levels. And yes, different political views.

However, as challenging as it is, it is discussion of those views that makes us better friends. Running away and cutting off difference of opinion results in people NOT knowing their neighbors. NOT understanding there is another way. Understanding there are other ways is not the same as changing your way, just hearing and considering.

Restricting your world to people who agree with you may be more calm, but it is not a world within reality.

Come back.  Don’t be afraid of differences. Sometimes you “score” a point. Sometimes I do. And we move to the middle. A place we all can be better friends.mahatma-gandhi-quote-the-difference-between-what-we-do-and-what-we

 


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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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He Said She Said

Even people who love each other have problems. Maybe it’s a Venus/Mars thing but I don’t think it can be explained that simply. Basically, many people just do not know how to communicate.  They know what they want to say but they forget to make time for the feedback loop…they forget to listen. They forget to check that they were heard correctly. And also, it seems, they forgot to stay patient.

Oh, we all say lots of words. No question there. I am a good example of the blah blah blah. But there is a difference between talking and communicating.

This past week was the county fair and I helped out for a few hours at the booth operated by the county Democratic party. It is set up with information about candidates running for ALL the races from President on down to dog catcher. Only kidding about the dog catcher, but down to the local level.county fair

It was pretty funny watching people as they walked by the booth. For some, we were obviously invisible, as if they had blinders on the side of their face closest to us.  For others, we must have been emitting some kind of sensory beam as they walked as far away as the sidewalk allowed. Cooties, I guess….just as well they stayed away.

Other more passive aggressive types hollered “Vote for Trump!” as they cleared our frontal zone.  I managed to suppress my “in your dreams!” or a more colorful response in the interest of community  fellowship.

The funniest part was when I walked down about five booths to the county Republican booth. It appeared to be a father and son who were there. The older one was in his 50s; the younger one maybe 20.

There was a banner “Make America Great Again” festooning the back of the booth so I asked, “So, how will we all make America Greater Now?” The answer, they proudly sang in tandem,  “Vote for Trump!”

Great, I said. Many will. And then what will happen?

Silence

“Oh”, I helped them along, “what has he suggested will make it better than it is now?”

“Get rid of all the illegals!” Dad shouted.

“How?”……pause….and then with more strength he opined, “round them up.”

When I suggested it might be hard to know where they are, they got stymied.Needle-in-a-haystack

When I told them that most illegals came in legally on visitor visas and overstayed their  permitted time limit, they did not know that.  But they rallied and said all foreign visitors would need to check in with the authorities as they moved around the country. I told them when I was working in Germany in 1981, before the fall of the USSR, I had to turn over my US passport at the place we stayed so they could report our presence to the police. I asked them if that was what they wanted here. They said only the foreigners would have to do it. Really? And how can you tell someone is a foreigner?  No answer.

When I asked how the illegals would be rounded up, they didn’t know, but it would be done because Trump said it would be.

I then dared to ask how getting rid of illegal farm workers would make Oregon great. They had no idea the role illegal workers play in this state, let alone the country.

Dad was very annoyed by that time and stomped off. I hollered after him that one way to make America great was not be a quitter and learn to communicate…give and take…listen and talk….then we could discover our commonalities and work together.communication-is-key

Son looked at me sheepishly. I guess the herd mentally was getting to him too.sheep Icelanda

 


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The Joys of Language

Most other nations in the world, except for the United States, consider learning another language not only normal but necessary. Their place on the world stage is enhanced by being conversant in their own native tongue but also French or Spanish or Chinese or English. We Americans who travel abroad are so used to finding someone who speaks English that most don’t understand that to be a considerate tourist it helps to know at lest a few basic words in that foreign language.

Well, tables are turned sometimes. It is pretty funny when you consider what regular English words mean in other places around the world.

InkTank has a funny article about ten English words that mean something very different in other nations.  Their #6 spoke to me, since I am a commerical food processor and make many jams and jellies.

6. Preservative  In France, a préservatif isn’t quite what you might expect. If you tend to have many conversations about jams and jellies, it might be useful to be aware that préservatifc actually means condom. In fact, many European languages have variations of preservative that all mean condom.no-added-preservatives-1030x1030

However, the funniest situation was something I learned yesterday.  First the back story.

Many immigrants, when coming to Castle Garden or Ellis Island, ended up with a family name different from the one they had known. Some names were changed by the immigration officer to make it Americanized or simpler.  Some people opted to change their names at that time.

We all know by now that Donald Trump’s grandfather changed their German family name from Drumpf. I assume the information about British slang was not widespread. The verb to trump has been used extensively across Britain to refer to the breaking of wind. It is especially the case in the North, in Wales and certainly in Norfolk,  simply  “To give forth a trumpet-like sound; spec. to break wind audibly (slang or vulgar).”25203695-SmCharacter-With-Fart-Cloud

 


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Synergy is Amazing

It is conference season now….a very good thing for the winter as I spend the growing season in the kitchen and shuttling raw produce from and finished products back to the farms involved with my business, Can-Do Real Food.

Two weeks ago I attended the Northwest Food Processors’ convention in Portland with my husband Graham and my friend Jana. They have both been an integral part of providing their own expertise to this process and there are business cards being printed as I write this that names them as Vice Presidents of the business. That and $3.50 will get you a latte. LOL

Early this week I joined my daughter Lisa in San Francisco for the Fancy Food Show. Lisa is a promotional marketer and has been hired the past three years to work for a vendor. She suggested I attend last year but it was scheduled the same as the Portland event. So this year I got to go and saying OMG! is a dramatic understatement.  Not only is it a visual and gastronomic orgy of delectable foods of all types, but the amount of expertise in those humongous rooms was vast. For the most part, if they were not chatting with someone who might mean business to them, just about everyone was very willing to spend 5, 10 or even 30 minutes talking with me, answering questions.

These are the goodies I brought home

These are the goodies I brought home

For example, we have been working to produce a culinary syrup made from raspberries and lemongrass. The raspberries had been frozen…..no issue there. The lemongrass had been dried and while we got an amazing flavor, the clarity was not pretty. I chatted with about 5 vendors who produce lemongrass products and got a variety of suggestions…..and one worked superbly. Three cases of syrup processed this morning!IMG_0363

I met one vendor that I revisited twice more to make sure I let him know how much our interaction meant to me and to say goodbye.  He did not have any food….basically he helps develop packaging and he said he will send me info but that was not our discussion, really. It started like this:

Me: Good morning.

Him: How are you?

Me: Fantastic…this is an amazing show!

Him: I am so happy!!!

We both cracked up. We sounded high and I guess we were. On the positivity that was around us. In the synergy that was flowing. The fact that we were in the middle of amazing food products and I, more than him, was slowly by surely, teaspoonful by teaspoonful, tasting my way figuratively around the world.

But what made this guy stand out is that is all the conversation was about. Choosing to live by finding and feeling the joy in life. When I asked what he does, he waved his hand a bit derisively saying, “pretty packages” .

I look forward to the info he sends.

 

 

 

 


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Family Ties

Following the Christmas holiday I don’t need to tell YOU that your family is……..well, challenged.  I have one myself. I had an aunt that my mother disliked so much she never talked to her brother but, because of family dynamics, I needed to allow her to sing her warble of some song I didn’t even know at my wedding.  I had another aunt who, in the 1950s got a (whisper here) divorce and all we ever heard was “don’t come running home to us if you have problems with your husband.” Not exactly a helpful life lesson.

So, we all have less than perfect families, and if we are true to form, we don’t do such a great job at parenting. We do what we know, so unless you have sought out a parenting class, you will have a tendency to teach your children in the same dysfunctional way you were raised.

In the interest of changing that here are TEN RULES TO BETTER FAMILY LIFE:

  1. Recognize that the reason you love your friends more than your family is because your friends let you do the shit your mom and dad won’t. That doesn’t mean that shit is good. It still is shit. Your parents literally cleaned up your shit as a baby and into your childhood, but  now it is time for you to realize that your actions have consequences and you really need to accept responsibility. When you grow up, your relationships with the long term people who are on your life path AKA your family, will improve.Illustration by Nate Powell.
  2. Let go of anger. We want to be RIGHT! We want others to know they are WRONG! Let it go. It is not a helpful manner of communication. If you really feel strongly that your little sister or your second cousin is on the road to perdition, sit down calmly, maybe with a cup of lavender tea (ha ha) and ask why they feel their pathway is going to bring them the life they want. LISTEN.  They probably will not come around, but at least you’ll understand better and maybe they will turn to you when they recognize they need to change their ways.being kind
  3. Look in the mirror. Recognize your own flaws. Now praise your skills realistically. Understand that each of us is made of the entire ability spectrum. You and your buddies are not the only ones who can do things right. Even your parents get it right some of the time.looking-in-the-mirror
  4. Learn from others. Yup, even that warbling aunt of mine probably had something worthwhile to share with me……hard for me to imagine but I am remembering her with a child’s memory. If you are an adult, you can go where I was unable to perceive.learning
  5. Look at your children. We watched Home Alone again this Christmas and a few things were obvious to an outsider that the family members did not perceive. Be fair when you think over your kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Don’t have them do what YOU wish you could have done as a kid if they are not interested. Help them develop their own interests. Help them learn to read and research. Your-Kids-Look-up-to-You-for-Guidance
  6. Look at your children again. Help them learn life skills like cooking, sewing buttons and hems, how to wash laundry and iron to press a shirt to make a good appearance,  and how to swim.  A man who expects his wife or girlfriend to do all the cooking does not realize the stress that constant task causes. More importantly, he never sees her face light up in pleasure when he prepares her a nourishing meal. A man who can cook is sexy.LifeSkills-750
  7. Look at your children again. Teach your kids to change their oil and their tires. You may not be that proficient yourself. Learn it together. Your daughters too.  Watch your tendency for sexism. Let your sons and daughters learn they can access the entire array of  arts and skills.Nike-Voices-Feature
  8. Tell stories to your kids. Turn off the television and the electronic gadgets. Have one evening a month (or more) when you gather to share the stories of your childhood. Keep it as upbeat as possible. Your baggage with your parents need not be their baggage.  Tell about adventures you had when you were tested and succeeded. Tell about times you thought you could do something but failed and how you responded to that experience. Let them tell stories too. Use a talking stick to pass the right to talk around the circle. talking stick
  9. Explore together. Food is an excellent vehicle for exploration. Move away from what you know. I remember when we visited England for the first time and I asked for bangers and mash at a pub because I had read about it in numerous British stories,. The server paused and then said, “You know that is nursery food?” In other words, for little kids. That was okay, since it was a new experience for me, but it is not okay for you to turn to mac and cheese every few days. Time to learn new tricks. You are an adult now. You have control over your gag reflex and will not barf into your plate. Really. Taste new things. You need not repeat if you honestly do not like it. But your world will open when you explore the amazing variety of flavors from all over the world. 11646-learning-culture-through-food-mexico
  10. Realize, if you change your ways, your birth family members may make some snarky comments. That’s when you get to practice your smile and say, yeah! I’m doing great and I’m proud of my kids! And mean it.keepgoing


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Are you Bilingual?

I grew up in the New York Metropolitan area  so currently I’m stumbling over going “to the coast” instead of “down the shore”.  But my largest indoctrination into another subset of American English was the 17 years I lived in Tennessee.

Right away I noticed that Southern speech was more “picturesque” with much more use of idioms than we used in New Jersey.  I remember my mother-in-law, when adding her effort to a community food drive commented, ” ‘Every little bit helps’, said the old lady who peed in the sea.”

Recently on my Facebook feed someone referred to the rain sounding like a cow peeing on a flat rock. Without checking, I knew he had Southern roots.southern slang

So, this past week I have been feeling puny and I think I finally understand the use of that word for “sick”. I just can’t do what I need or want to do…and thereby I am diminished.  Yup, feeling puny.

Here is an pretty funny video of Irish people trying to figure out the meanings of some Southernisms.

Few of us are as fully bilingual as some of the high school sprinters I got to know when my son Sam was running for his high school.  These guys always spoke to me in perfect English, and then I would overhear them talking to their cohort in another language. It had English words but I certainly did not understand that street talk or jive talk or whatever it is called. When I pointed out to one of the guys how perfectly bilingual he was and how that could be an asset for later employment he looked surprised.

Some people spend years in the American school system and do not learn to speak grammatical English. Some people claim to be pretty proud of their use of slang and swear words. This has to be by choice. A bad teacher here or there who might have their own idiosyncrasies of speech can not be blamed.  A choice to SOUND stupid IS stupid.

American English has constantly evolving slang. The “groovy” of the late 1960s is long gone from vernacular use but still understood. Yet “23 skidoo” from the 1920s left me pondering. Check out this website with lists from each decade. That would be sweet.

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