goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Buy American

Early in my blog writing a woman who I really didn’t know messaged me “don’t yell. No one listens to someone who is shouting at them.” Or something like that. She became one of my best friends and I trust her judgement often and always.

But it is apparent that many people don’t listen to anything that involves thinking and change.

I will try again, though. I am Taurus = stubborn.

So we have the start of the growing season here. The earth is warming and food crops are being planted. In large mechanized commercial farms, much of planting can be done by machines with one worker covering a large field. And some food crops can be harvested mechanically also.  However, many require hands-on. And that needs a work force.   Part of our national history is the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial and now a post-industrial economy.  Almost 200 years ago most people living in the United States were involved with farming. You can see what has happened over time. 

In the past twenty years more and more of these farm jobs have gone empty until filled by migrant workers. Many are Latino and here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon we very much recognize that our vineyards, orchards and large commercial food farms need these workers.

It’s hard work. I know. I took a farm hand job three summers ago. Me. At 60 years of age, overweight, arthritic and with a bad back. The high school worker was heading back to school in August and the farmer needed someone until the end of the season. I never had done this kind of work and my body let me know. But this is not impossible work. So anyone who can walk, can bend, can use their hands, can do this work.

However, it seems that in most areas of the country, white people do not want to do this work so much. And so, others fill in. They are not taking jobs away. They are helping feed us. Some are not legal workers. 

Trump ran for President hollering (hey! he yelled and people listened……or maybe they didn’t, but that’s a different blog) that it was important to put America first. That we needed to get rid of all the bad hombres and that has translated into all people who are here without full legal status, no matter the agreements in the past.  Trump supporters have not yet woken up to the fact that when the work force is removed, something will happen.

In this case, it means the food raised here on large farms in the United States most likely will not be successfully harvested. One farmer we know lost his work crew last year when the blueberries matured early. His strawberries matured late. All that is because of the weather. But it meant his picking crew went off to attack the blueberries, which are easier picking than strawberries. He lost thousands of dollars and many of his strawberries rotted on the plants because there was no one to pick them.  This situation will happen again more and more in more places, not necessarily because of the weather but because of a shortage of willing workers.

Trump’s policies are convincing many people without family roots to head back south to their native lands. The risk of imprisonment and deportation is high. So, many people are leaving. There are also many people who are not leaving because they have been here for 20 or more years. Part of their family was born here. Others may have legal status.  The undocumented workers are still here, but there are fewer than before and many are not taking jobs because of the risk of being arrested.

As this situation will exist in the coming months everyone, including Trump and his supporters, are going to feel it. They may be cheering now, but the time is going to come when they realize there may have been a better way. They’re already feeling it in southern California and in Florida where harvests happen several times during the year.

How?

  • Prices will go up. To keep your business and their profits supermarket chains will contract for produce from other countries.
  • Flavor will go down. That long distance produce gets harvested a bit early, a bit green or immature, to give time to the transportation process before it starts to rot. Flavor just does not develop that way. If you buy produce from overseas, you miss the flavor of how it really should taste.
  • Farmers here in the United States will not be able to continue to farm. Or at least to farm food. (Much of the Willamette Valley farmland is used for wine grapes, hops, hazelnuts and landscaping plants.) Farms will fail financially, and the land will go fallow. That will have a ripple effect on the economy, too.

So, Southern and Central California are where the bulk of supermarket produce is grown. And harvested. Or not harvested…and then not shipped to your grocery store. 

So, why do I say BUY AMERICAN when I also am saying food raised here in the US is going to have smaller harvests and higher prices?  Because if we don’t support American farmers we are going to see our food production, like our manufacturing, move offshore.

There are ways to buy produce at affordable prices but it means a commitment to change your shopping pattern. Only you can decide if giving your children and grandchildren a chance to buy American food is important.

Am I exaggerating? Unfortunately, no.  I remember my parents complaining that it was getting harder to buy American made when they replaced our black and white television with a color model in the late 1960s. At that time, Magnavox was only one of a few and they are still in business today.  All the other tvs that are manufactured here are by Asian corporations who have built factories here to save on shipping and other costs.  How did this happen?  Simple-we consumers like to buy based on price, not patriotism.

Yet I bet you believe you are a patriotic American.  Demonstrate it by investing in America’s economy.  This is a consumer driven industry! Buy locally raised food. Go to a website like Localharvest.com to identify when your farmers markets are, where the farms are near you that offer CSAs, where you can pick your own produce. Perhaps this whole discussion is meaningless as most Americans do not eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but if you do try to eat in a healthy way, this will affect you unless you also grow your own food. 

And get those teenagers to take summer jobs working on farms….they’ll buff up, tone up, and get a great tan!

 

 


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What About You?

I’m going to be 62 years old this year. I don’t feel old, most of the time anyway, but I know that I am on the downhill slide now. For anyone around my age, do you remember the TV show One Day At A Time?  The mom, played by actress Bonnie Franklin, goes off for a quiet moment when her daughters have thrown her a birthday party. She looks in the mirror trying to cope. “Middle aged now”, she moans. She was turning 35.

retirement_iaheadSo, here I am pondering my “retirement”. Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog for a while know I started a new business last summer and I am really excited about it. Can-Do Real Food  captures the surplus produce from small farms nearby and preserves the fruit or veggies by canning. Local consumers are responding well and some of the farmers have completely sold out and I am conserving some in order to start the outdoor market in May.

So, I am working, but golly gee, I really am not, as most new businesses, making gobs of money.  Any income I generate goes right back into the business so we can grow. That’s the way it is, because I certainly am not independently wealthy.  So, realistically, we are living on my husband’s retirement and the income he produces as an adjunct professor at a nearby university teaching two courses a year.

I got to thinking about living on retirement income, since it is time for me to make a decision about my Social Security. Some of the Presidential candidates are declaring doom and gloom about the Social Security System. They like to use buzzwords to scare people, like Ponzi Scheme and delayed retirement age. In reality, people my age have nothing to worry about. We will get 100% of the benefits we have accrued through our many many many many many (many) years of working.  Also in reality there are ways to improve the way the funds are secure so no one has to worry much.social-security-benefits-application-form-glasses-calc_573x300

But there is one other reality that needs attention. Social security does not provide ENOUGH to live on.  Oh, if your income was higher than mine all your working life, your payout will be higher. It just won’t be anything like the amount you have gotten used to if you typically spent all you earned.

I’ve been hearing for at least 40 years that each person needs their own retirement account as well as social security. That was the reason why IRAs were introduced in the 1970s. But people are NOT saving. Very few people near retirement age have managed to save more than $50,000 in retirement assets.

So, we have a problem. We have Baby Boomers, the largest age cohort ever born in the US, in or Floridagreenmobilehomeapproaching retirement. Some are living in homes purchased during their earning years but many are renters and some are even homeless. The proliferation of RV parks and pre-fab home construction all across the country point to the need for less expensive housing.

So how do older people manage?  Many need public assistance. Some live with family and combine incomes. Some even move overseas where a monthly social security check can adequately provide for rent, utilities, food and a few other items, especially in a country where medical care is available and comparatively inexpensive. However, this move also results in isolation from family and funds might not extend to provide for visits back here to the US.

So,  in comparison, my husband and I are okay. We’re still able to work and we’re doing things we love. Our energy is pretty good and we just take it slower on those other days. We have access to decent health care and we do as much a preventative lifestyle as we couch potatoes can.  But we are not living the way we did when we had income flowing in from jobs. We have learned to cut back and be okay with less. plan ret

Now, you people in your 20s and 30s and 40s, it is time you check on YOUR retirement savings plan. You can not rely on Social Security the way the government is playing with it to fund wars. You will need to provide for your golden years. If you haven’t started, start. And talk to a good professional, or even meet with a few to find someone who can explain all those acronyms to you and will be patient and caring to help you get to a secure end zone phase of life.


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Let’s Do It Better

Each year, the second Halloween is over, we get bombarded for 6 weeks with the need to be big consumers. The commercials on tv explode, teasing us into believing we just NEED that thing we never thought about five minutes before. The printed ads in the local newspaper or mailed to us via bulk rate paper our house  with colorful pleas to spend spend spend.christmas-shopping-chaos-560x360

If you believe them, Christmas is just not complete without the latest gadgets including technology for toddlers, more boots and clothes for the ladies, more tools for the guys, more makeup and perfume, more ties, more more more.

This year, do it different…..and do it better.

First of all, know your budget and stick to it.

Secondly, make a list of the people you want to purchase for.  Think about their interests, their hobbies, the things that make them happy. Start listening to them NOW if you haven’t been paying attention all year.  And be wise….the latest in fashion accessory for your fashionista may be out of style in a few weeks. Aim for classic to provide long term value.Stress-Free-Christmas-Gift-Master-List

Third, aim for the best quality you can afford. Better to buy ONE gift and one small stocking stuffer than a large volume of junk.  Let’s start teaching about the value of gift-giving as the living symbol of the three wise men.

Finally, buy local. Yes, I know,  it is less expensive to hit the major big box stores. But this year, let’s think about the effect of where we spend our dollars.  Big box stores are national chains with corporate headquarters unlikely to be in your town. So the only employment benefits are probably low paying, possibly minimum wage and maybe also part-time to avoid paying benefits to full time employees.  Many big box stores have corporate deliveries of items from a regional warehouse that does not typically make purchases in your town, so basically for each dollar you spend in that store, only 5-15 cents stays in the local economy.local this holiday

Meanwhile, down on Main Street and in small neighborhood shops you have stores owned by your neighbors. They’ve been there maybe for decades, but probably not.  Our shopping choices killed many downtown stores as we shoppers opted to head to the mall instead.  Many shops are small with eager entrepreneurs who lost their jobs in the recession and are trying to find a way to make a living. The dollar spent there basically gets spent almost in full in your community. shop craft fairIn addition, there are numerous holiday markets and bazaars at this time of year. If you are lucky, you have one in your area that features artist, artisans and craftspeople who produce all the items they sell by hand. Their skill, their talent provides you an unique gift of high value, one of a kind, for that special person on your gift list.  The prices at these markets range from $1 to over $500. I know, I run a holiday market and I see eager craftspeople work hard all year to produce their love in a tangible way. My job is to tease the shoppers to at least come take a look. 

simple gift

Unique might scare you. If you want to be just like everyone else, unique is not for you. But if you are your own person, walk your own walkway, want to stand out from the crowd, this is the place for you.excellence of a gift

 

 


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Changes in our Lifetime: Air Conditioning

If you are of an age, anywhere above 40, you most likely remember living through the summer without air conditioning. Growing up in New Jersey we had some warm spells but the reason we finally got a window unit when I was in high school was to help filter the air to help with my allergies.  It was the ONLY time my sisters wished they had allergies like me……

Each summer from the age of 3 until 16, I traveled with my parents on camping trips around the United States. We slept in a huge heavy canvas tent for years which eventually got replaced with two smaller lighter tents. In 1965 we got our first camper van that snugly slept all 5 of us plus our two boxers. Sometimes we enjoyed setting up wherever we wanted to stop, like crossing the Nevada dessert. Dad pulled off the highway (no interstate expressways in those days) and followed a dirt road a ways, making sure we stayed between the highway and the first rain culvert.  The idea of a camper van opened up new areas to us.our van on daytona beach fl

But we never went to the Deep South because, in the summer, the heat and humidity made things pretty uncomfortable. We visited some areas on trips during school vacations in December and the spring, but no full exploration without air conditioning.

I moved to Nashville in 1975 and my exploration of the Deep South really started.  My first car did not have air conditioning and I would jump in the condo complex pool after my late afternoon drive home. In the summer Memphis often was 90/90…90 degrees and 90% humidity. My hair in those days best resembled Bozo the Clown because of the damp. It was years before I finally got a style that was good for my curly hair and stopped fighting nature for that straight hair look that I never could achieve.

Until air conditioning spread throughout the South is was a laid back place. I lived there in the mid to late 70s and returned to Nashville in 1994. The difference was amazing. During those two decades, air conditioning had given the once sleepy culture a vitality it had not had – ever. There is a reason the South had a reputation for being slow….it was. You HAVE to move slower in the kind of weather that lasts for months and months.heatindex

Once air conditioning became widespread there was a new migration of people in the US. Many people moved south to areas that welcomed them and cities grew. Nashville had a population of 500,000 when I lived there in the late 70s and over a million 20 years later. And that population was much more diverse with people from all over the globe, not just the nation.  This influx of diversity resulted in some new cultural norms in the South,

For example, when I worked for the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1975-1978, a pretty conservative work place, I stood out as a “foreigner” because of my Yankee accent.  (In those days they called me a “Yamn Dankee” and smiled, thinking they were not being rude, bless their hearts.)  I used to fly home to visit my parents and bring back bagels. One day one of my co-workers asked me why I was eating my sandwich on a donut.  I introduced them to bagels and soon I was “importing” 5 dozen each time I flew back from New Jersey to Nashville. In 1994, when we returned to Nashville, it became very apparent things had changed…at least on the surface.  I saw  bagel shops all around town. More surprisingly, I saw many many many multi-racial couples. However,  people were no longer as “polite” as they had been before. They expressed very clearly the things that had changed that they hated. Very few thought the change was good, but they sure did like their air conditioning.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years. At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years.
At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

 

As this climate change happens and various areas of the country experienced a hotter than typical summer through it all most of us have our air conditioning.  Can you imagine life without it?  Would you live where you do without air conditioning to keep you comfortable in the hot summer weather?  We are pretty spoiled.

 

 


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Bombardment: No Wonder We Are Stressed Out

Dying polar bears. Hundred of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Damage from oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundred of thousands of acres on fire in Alaska. Bee colony deaths. Monster hurricanes.oil-spill-beaches

Shootings in churches, schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. Road rage. Burning flags. Burning churches. Love the sinner hate the sin translating into willingness to quit a job instead of follow the law. Lynchings over race and sexual orientation. Surplus military vehicles coming to your town as local police equipment.armored police vehicles

Items sold in grocery stores as food that have no natural nutritional value.  Adults who have never eaten a nectarine. Children who only eat canned fruit and can not identify the real thing. Chicken shipped to China for processing and then shipped back to American supermarkets.cildhood obesity

Trade deals with other countries that are secret. Jobs outsourced from the US. Shoppers who stand in line for hours at big box stores for a sale instead of supporting locally owned stores on main street. People who claim they are patriotic but buy cheap foreign made goods.sale line

Mandated national academic policy. Children who watch television 6 hours a day. Adults who watch television 6 hours a day but don’t have time to cook from scratch. Active children given drugs instead of fun outside.  Organized recreational sports with angry parents.kids-watching-tv-blog-size

People who never spend time in nature. National parks crowded with people in air conditioned RVs. Trash thrown out of cars. Lack of recycling programs and attitudes. Yards junked up with old tires, old appliances, overgrown weeds.  Water bottled for sale from a drought-stricken area where farmers can no longer irrigate the crops that feed us all.food gorws

Children joining the military because patriotism/economy is so bad can’t find a job/can’t afford to pay for college and finding themselves unprepared  in situations where they learn war is not a video game. Traumatized vets coming home and unable to maneuver through the rigmarole of policies and practices of supposedly helpful agencies, maybe also spiraling downward with drugs used to quiet the noise in their head, abandoned by families because of emotionally unstable behavior, ending up on the streets.homeless veterans_infographic

Growing number of homeless. Feeding the hungry illegal in many towns. Not in my backyard attitude of many communities instead of recognition that poverty exists everywhere. Rinse and repeat through several generations.  Assumption all are druggies and abusing the system.hunger in the US

On and on. Anger. Hate. Fear. Me. Me. Me. My rights. My privilege is more important than your need.

Those of us over 50 recognize how much the US has changed since our childhood. While some long for the good old days of the 1950s, they don’t recognize it is not because of what was or was not happening all those decades ago but because we were children. We had no real knowledge of what was really going on and we basically had no responsibilities.  Of course life was simpler then-we were children and naive.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it's an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it’s an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

There has been no idyllic time. Ever. For each era  where countless people had prosperity, countless others were diminished through economic or legal policies.

Some people recognized that something needed to be done to fix those policies, so all people could have the opportunity to strive to that level of prosperity held by others.  What happened over time was that some people just could not be helped and other people began to realize their own position of power was diluted and started working for equal protection under the law.not being bullied

The turmoil we now experience is truly nothing new. Even the hate, which seems to be pervasive, is really nothing new. There is a lot of fear and we are being manipulated by those in power to keep us off balance and fearful. Fear of anyone different from us, whether in color, nationality, citizenship, education, economic standing, residence style, education. Having fear of anyone who is different, people huddle in groups of like-minded friends. They rarely bother to know anyone outside their narrow group, and so the fear…and the hate….continue.

We enjoy diversity in parrots...why not in people?

We enjoy diversity in parrots…why not in people?

Why? You certainly don’t like it this way, do you? The ONLY person whose attitude you can control is your own. Start. Set an example of good. Of calm. Of rational thinking. Of sharing ideas calmly. Of living the Golden Rule-TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.Golden Rule

 

 

 


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We’re Closer Than You Think

THEY want us to be fragmented. THEY don’t want us to realize that we have so much in common that we join against them so they continuously feed us news about how we are fighting each other.

It’s time to stop listening to THEM and start listening to each other.

For example, I know you love your guns and I know you have the right to own them. I also know that since Obama became President the NRA and gun manufacturers have had a massive campaign telling you that your guns would be taken away from you.  Hasn’t happened, has it?  So, take a deep breath and join in the discussion the concerned people are having about all these damn killings. We non-gun owners don’t want you to lose your gun. We want the guns that are “out there” kept out of the hands of 3-year-olds (and 8-year-olds offered inappropriate experiences at gun ranges) and we do want a control on the guns getting into the hands of people who use them to express their anger, like estranged spouses or stalkers with restraining orders.  I think you want the same thing. You want this to be a safer place. Join the discussion. We’re closer than you think.gun-safety-poster

Another example: we hear the unemployment rate is way down, and I suppose that the way the government collects that data, it is. But here on the street we feel something otherwise. My own search for a job in the 18 months we have been in Oregon is a pretty good example.  I have a pretty diverse background and years (and years and years) of experience so I have applied to about 50 positions. I have had four interviews. Yup…and the rest? Some never even acknowledged receipt of the application.  Few sent a message about thanks but no thanks. So, I have stopped looking and am starting my own business. I guess that means I am not counted as unemployed any more. But the reality, of course, is that there is still no income generation flowing into our household budget yet.  So, what’s the problem? Well, in my case it may be ageism, the last bastion of discrimination. They can’t ask birthdate any longer but they do ask date of high school graduation. Duh. let’s see, estimate 18 years old at graduation and age 40-some years. Uh huh. Old…into the trash. Or, “too” experienced. One person actually told me I was overqualified and would be bored. No, damnit! It would be easy! I could do it with one hand tied behind my back, letting me shine for you. (okay, bitch bitch moan moan….deep breath move on)  The point is that current government policies (some good, some bad, some indifferent) have resulted in corporations moving their workforce out of the United States (without any consideration other than their profits to what that does to the local or national economy).  Some places have become so automated human personnel have dropped tremendously in the past few decades. And small business owners hire part-time workers at low wages in order to avoid taxes/fees/whatever. Some places have an amazing revolving door with their new hires but still have not caught on if they just raise the salary and be more discriminating in the expertise of the people they hire they could get someone who could do the job.  Pay a bit more so the worker can have ONE job to help the family manage and have energy to come to work refreshed and eager each day.  Offer decent time off for illness/vacation/personal time so the worker can actually get some things done to maintain their own health, for example, thereby being able and willing to be at work with full attention to the job. I know you feel the same way. We’re closer than you think.

technological-unemployment

Technology and Unemployment: The Future of the Labor Market and … pennpoliticalreview.org

Just about everyone I know has grave disappointment in the education our kids are getting. Schools are testing like crazy and scores are supposedly showing improvement but many people can not read (even this chatty kind of writing) and most can’t do simple math. Life skills? I heard recently from a friend who is the director of a social service program at a local church that she is starting a cooking class for very young kids because in many families there are three generations who do not know how to cook and the household has no cooking equipment. How about being able to present and listen to both sides of an argument? By teaching kids how to debate both sides of an issue you help teach them to listen to two sides of an issue.  You know it is hard to listen to people who rant and rave , but a calm presentation of the “other” viewpoint can be a mind opener. You know I listen to you and I know you feel the same way. We’re closer than you think.EmilysQuotes.Com-purpose-reason-learning-score-test-mistake-failure-education-intelligent-Jeannie-Fulbright

I volunteered to help with a state legislative campaign this past fall after meeting the candidate and listening to his position on the issues. I offered to make phone calls to ask people what they thought was the biggest issue facing the state and here was my experience. Each evening I worked I made 200 calls. I reached 20 people. I spoke with five. The other 15 told me things like they “don’t discuss politics” (wait a second–this is the time to do it-I promise NO argument!), “it’s meaningless what I think” (only if you don’t share it), “I always vote the straight party line” (and how has that worked for you in the past?).  I understand that with the Koch brothers buying candidates who will support their agenda, many people feel that national politics no longer is representative of what they think. (Suggestion: don’t vote for those candidate and yes, you CAN find out who has contributed to their campaign.)  I understand that even on a state level the massive amount of money that is now allowed to pour in influences the decision making. On a local level, we still may have time to grab and hold on to our government…but only if you move now.  There is a lot a grassroots movement can do, but you have to move now. There is a groundswell demanding that state legislatures call for an amendment to the Constitution that will overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision. Your voice is needed now. I know you feel the same way. We’re closer than you think.citizensunited

THEY want us to be fragmented. THEY don’t want us to realize that we have so much in common that we join against them so they continuously feed us news about how we are fighting each other.

It’s time to stop listening to THEM and start listening to each other.

 

 


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Celebrate Without Going Broke

When I went into the doctor with a raging sinus infection seven Januarys ago we came to the conclusion that I was allergic to the mold that naturally forms on real Christmas trees once they are cut. The doctor was a bit surprised that I was just discovering this at my advanced age. He laughed heartily when I explained I had married Graham and was only now celebrating Christmas. We switched to an artificial tree and breathing remains undisturbed.

I wanted all the sights and smells I had heard about, read about, seen on tv and in movies. I wanted the plaid dresses with black velvet. I wanted the aroma of real pine, not some sprayed chemicals. I wanted candlelight and fire in the fireplace and all the bells and smells. I was ready to be a full fledged Christmas consumer.

By making decorations or bringing home natural items from a walk in the park to decorate the tree, you can save lots of money

By making decorations or bringing home natural items from a walk in the park to decorate the tree, you can save lots of money

When you add Christmas to 8 nights of Hanuka you end up with a lot of gift giving. Graham felt challenged. I quickly explained I had always done gift giving much as many families do-one large and several small. So this year, for example, he will buy me 8 pairs of socks and we bought a meal saver for safely freezing food.  As for me, most of the gifts I will give are items I have personally made, including the canned items I put up all growing season, baked yummies, and some useful sewn items. While all have costs associated with them, by preparing all year the cost is spread and does not hit the budget all at one time.2014-06-22 18.45.32

The whole concept of gift giving has really gotten extreme, as you yourself know. I am managing a Holiday Bazaar at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds December 13 and 14. By limiting the vendors to people who hand craft their items, we will have a vast array of jewelry, soft goods, food items, furntiture, toys and more with an array of prices from 50 cents to $500. By reminding consumers to get out of the mass produced buying frenzy at the local mall and keep their spending in the local economy, I am also suggesting they buy unique items for their loved ones.??????????wreath3??????????IMAG0309
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earrings2IMG_4324chestblackberry jamimage (7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even so, this may stress some budgets. I have been seeing more and more suggestions on how to make this season special with your family but not break the budget. I’d like to share some.wine and cheese traya

Can’t spend any money? Hand write (yeah, remember how to do that?) a letter to each member of your family. It doesn’t need to be long, maybe one page. Recount a memory or tell them something you look forward to doing with them. Share the love.The-Power-of-the-Handwritten-Note-in-Marketing

Check out these other suggestions by the MadHouseAdvent-activty-

Now, go and sin no more racking up credit card debt! ENJOY the season!

 


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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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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?