goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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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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Pursuit of Happiness

Long ago I knew a man who wanted things, and so he would arrange to take them. Secretly. Sometimes other people would get blamed and he would not care. His pursuit of happiness was severely flawed as it not only did not take into effect the feelings of the owners of those stolen things, but the restricted freedom or life changing events that affected those that took the blame. He didn’t care. The Declaration of Independence provided him an inalienable right to pursue happiness and damn everyone else. Him first. Only him.

He’s not alone. There are many other flawed people who have “me first, the hell with all of you” attitudes.pursuit-of-happiness-2-728

And so, here we are, a nation that has been driven to division based on religious expression, women’s rights, the rights of people of color and sexual identity and expression and so much more.

The fundamentalist mindset is that anything else but their expressed beliefs are evil and must be stopped.  Al Qaeda and ISIS are doing that by murdering thousands. So far, it has not come to that here in the United States with our own citizens. But the time seems to be coming and not from Middle Eastern terrorists. This will be home grown.

Are we in for a civil war because some people believe THEIR pursuit of happiness depends on others being subordinate? Am I to be murdered because I have posted about my food preservation business and they want my stored food? Am I to be murdered because I have been outspoken about equal access to rights for all?  Am I to be murdered because I am a Jew?

There are a lot of challenged people in our communities. People who want what they want and have no ability to work out a plan to achieve it. They may be the poor, the people who are on public assistance and eat at soup kitchens. They may be the homeless with problems that are rooted in drug abuse or mental instability. But most likely the ones who have the largest problems are people who are living a life of struggle and they don’t know why.Pause Pursuit-Of-Happiness

These people are inhibited by their inability to self educate, their inability to develop a plan of action, their inability to consider the effects and consequences of their actions. These challenged people are our neighbors, our friends on Facebook, our childhood friends. These struggling people are angry and listen to the voices of Trump and other conservative talking heads that fuel that anger.

The pursuit of happiness is an “unalienable” right. That means it is the desire to be happy that is natural. The Decalration of Independence does not say “happiness”. It says “the pursuit of happiness.”   We are born with minds and talents that we may use to pursue happiness.  Many of us have had our minds and talents squashed and skewed in ways that make it hard to recognize that a path to happiness is one we must make on our own and together. Not through divisiveness but with cohesion and community. And it is not instant gratification but the actual working towards that goal that brings the greatest happiness.pursuit-of-happiness work


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Journey to Another Land

I went to Texas last week to visit my wonderful sister-in-law and discovered I was definitely not in Oregon any more.

First I want to start by staying Oregon is not the liberal bastion it appears to be from the outside. I learned, once I lived here, that the major cities (Portland and Eugene, for the most part) are liberal, but the rest of the state, including where I live is pretty conservative. So, I am quite used to hearing local discussion about open carry and whatnot and gun ownership in Oregon is only slightly below Texas’s rate.

The first thing that hit me reading the Austin newspaper the next morning was that most people blamed the Oregon girl who was murdered for her own death. Even though the suspect is a troubled youth and he overpowered her and strangled her, the pundits believed if she had carried a gun she would have been able to protect herself. (This is a major difference between Oregon and Texas and not because the victim is from Oregon. It is because Oregon believes you do not blame a victim for a crime.)

And some of you are nodding but she was too young to be carrying. So even if she had an interest in having a personal weapon, it was not yet legal for her to carry one.

To me this stank like blaming the woman for the rape, not the jerk who overpowers her and assaults her.

Why are conservative men so full of doublespeak?  They want to protect their daughters from raping Islamist terrorists but blame other women who get attacked by the boy next door?  One out of six women are victims of rape or attempted rape in this country.  And men?  About 10% of American men are the perps, and over half of them blame the woman. Over two-thirds of all sexual assaults are caused by men known to the woman. Over 50% are white. And over a quarter are married. What is wrong with you guys?sexual-assault

Rape is not sex. Rape is assault. Get it out of your pea-picking brain that a woman who looks attractive is NOT asking for it. Use your self control.

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The other issue that was apparent was open carry. This is also related to the death of the Oregon student on the University of Texas campus, which, as a public college, has to permit guns on campus as it is the state law. But we saw, walking through areas of Austin and then in more conservative areas a couple of hours away, signs not permitting people to come into the establishment with their weapons. Private stores, colleges and organizations can opt out of the state’s open carry allowance.

The idea of guns in a bar or winery or brewpub just does not make sense. While some people can agree that guns and alcohol don’t mix well, the point is you have no idea of who is carrying and what their anger managament control may be, especially as they begin to be affected by alcohol.

Still, some shops that do not even serve food had the no guns allowed signs posted at the entrance.

 

Who’d a thunk it that some in Texas do not want to see a repeat of the old wild west.  But I still prefer Oregon where pedestrians can cross the street without fear of being hit by a car….because life just seems to be valued in all ways there.


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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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My Father’s Daughter

My dad probably had a file at the FBI because of his quiet but steady leadership activism in civil rights in our town in New Jersey. I really don’t know what he actually did but I do know that lots of people came to meetings at our house at a time when our neighborhood was all white. The visitors stood out.

My father also was active pushing for a new high school and it was an uphill fight because even back in the 1960s no one wanted more taxes.  But together with a group of parents, many who taught at Rutgers and others, like my dad, who had a college education, they prevailed and a new school was built in time for my oldest sister to attend prior to her graduation.

We think about legacy most often as the money and things of financial value we will leave to our children, but let me suggest that this penchant to take desire for change and move into some level of action is one of the legacies my father gave to me.  Other people bang away on their computers expounding their anger, but few actually get involved in a way to try to help fix the system.legacy

It took me a while to grow into it. I think I started waking up about 8 years ago when I became aware how so much of our food system was tainted with chemicals. Preservatives that kept hot dog rolls from molding, even after a month, caught my eye in the mid 1980s, but I was still unaware of the additional chemicals we all ingest when we eat conventionally raised proteins and produce. GMOs are another bugaboo but simply, pesticides and herbicides cross into our bodies.  As their use increased so did, coincidentally, a lot of autoimmune issues, digestive issues, and behavioral issues.

Politics were of minor interest to me. I read the pamphlets from the League  of Women Voters and watched the presidential debates on tv. (My daughter Lisa graduated from her high school in Constitution Hall, the location of many early debates, and I discovered it had no air conditioning.)  But it wasn’t until the 2008 election that I really started doing my own research about the candidates.

I also noticed arguingduring that election season that people who had been close friends no longer were willing to talk to me. They had their political viewpoint and were offended by mine. I never have understood why friends in particular can’t talk through the issues. How else can we understand the “other side”? Surely someone with whom we have a shared history and knows us can explain better than some unknown pundit.

A little over a year ago I met a man running for the state legislature from this district.  We got into discussion and I challenged him to explain himself;  he responded and we chatted. I saw he had knowledge and ideas for improvement for local_issuesseveral things in our community that affect our quality of life. I liked his demeanor, I liked his viewpoint, so I put my action into gear and helped the campaign one day a week.

Getting involved in a local election provides significant information about your town. It actually is a scale where your viewpoint, your opinion, counts.  And yet, few people bother.

Some people vote for President and little else. Some vote for other positions but rarely understand who the candidate is and if it is the incumbent, if they have done a good job.  We complain about the people in Washington not doing their job. Make sure you know who your Congressional representatives are, how they have been voting and work for them if you like them, or for their opponent if you don’t.  Know the same about the people in your state capital, in your county, in your city. Be concerned about the schools even if you don’t have school aged kids. The children are the ones who will be leading this nation day after tomorrow.

Getting involved is actually something each good citizen should be doing.  What legacy will you be leaving?get involved

 

 

 

 


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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.
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  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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A Glimpse at the Conservative Mindset

Today as I headed to my car to offload items needed for work (I do my professional canning in the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries’ commercial kitchen) I stopped to chat with a car going out the entrance into the parking lot. I wanted to ask him if he had ever read Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman in the late 60s, but he started the conversation in a different frame of mind.

“Do you see all the homeless sleeping here?” he asked, aggravation in his voice.

“Sure did,” I answered, “and I feel bad for them….it is 43 degrees now at 8a.m.. No one chooses to sleep out in cold weather if they have an opportunity for a warm and dry bed.”

“Well, it’s a damn shame. I see them smoking. If they quit smoking they could save their money and get a place to live.”

I told him how our experience just two years ago cost us almost $2500 in first and last month rent and a security deposit. “That’s a lot of time not smoking to save that up.”Savings-target1

He countered, “Someone needs to do something about it.”

“Who do you think should do something and what should they do?”  I asked, keeping my voice as neutral as possible.

His agitation increased, “I don’t know but someone needs to! I’ve lived here for 50 years and it wasn’t always like this!”

“I know,” I murmured, “there are a lot of problems now that did not exist 50 years ago, even 5 years ago.”

“Yeah!” he was urgent. “There weren’t all these hispanics. All these gay people.,…they stayed hiding then. No niggers too. No druggies.”

Okay, it was apparent he believed that the people who were suffering were at fault but if I hadn’t realized it before it was clear he was a bigot.  I kept my voice calm, “We here at the Coop do what we can to help them and there are others in town who also are working hard to try to get them off the street. But, ” I added, “I also agree things are not what they used to be.  I wonder why their families are not helping them.”

Oh I got an earful then. His own daughter, age 35, is living on the street. He won’t let her come home because she has a Latino boyfriend and if “he came over I would have to shoot him. So she choses to live her way.”Homeless-Sign

No wonder, I thought.  So I added some fuel to get him thoughts.

I asked him, “I wonder why children, like your daughter don’t learn good work ethic from their parents, like you.”

Ahhh, turned out although he had worked some in his adult life he had been an alcoholic. and his life had not been a smooth path. His wife left him and she was a fool with the next man, according to his judgement. He said he had another daughter in prison.role-model-6-728

So, I pushed my point, “So perhaps you did not quite show them the kind of way to be a productive member of society, to learn how to nurture relationships to help the people close to you through hard times?”

He glared at me (perhaps I was lucky he only glared) and suggested “Someone needs to do something!” and he drove out…the entrance. See, the rules do not apply to him, after all.

I hear and read a lot of comments from the conservative people on my Facebook feed that we need to return to the way America was in the 1950s and early 60s.  I remind them, first of all, we all were pretty young then and our viewpoint of the way society was then was not an adult perspective. Any analysis read now that puts it all in a golden perfect society seems to forget that women were considered to need to be at home and let their husbands tell them what to think,  that Jim Crow laws  existed throughout the South and in many other areas, the Cold War provided pretty constant fear of annihilation, the McCarthy hearings in Congress  served as a Communist witch hunt,  that Jews and other minorities were restricted from country clubs, some schools and some neighborhoods.  It was NOT a golden time for most. Just white Protestant men.

So now, who is leading the charge to bring America back to those days. White men.accept

And they complain….and blame the victims. They have no ideas for solutions, but say “SOMEONE” needs to do ‘SOMETHING”  but not with their tax money and since they do not participate in civic volunteer activities of that sort, not with their personal effort.

I did not get to ask him my punchline, “Do you consider yourself a Christian?”  Most bigots do. Pretty amazing.  Maybe they read a different Bible than I do. They certainly do not follow the teachings of Christ.