goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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How to Be a Pin Cushion

I have no memory of the event but my mom said that when I was playing with my hula hoop, a popular craze in the late 1950s, she noticed I was having trouble breathing. Diagnosis: asthma. Protocol: allergy shots.   Family history has recorded me, at age 4, saying if they got rid of our boxer, I was leaving too, so the boxer stayed.Girl_twirling_Hula_Hoop,_1958

allergy-shot-doc-400x400So I started my first series of allergy shots then. I had a few years of reprieve but sometime in my teens I went through a shot series again. I had another series around age 30 after 2 pregnancies and then again around age 40 after a 3rd pregnancy. Finally, here I am again, in my graying years, enjoying being a pincushion again.

Part of the reason I have needed so many series is because I have moved and have been exposed to new regional allergens. Part of the reason is that, as a woman, my body chemistry has changed a bunch: puberty, childbirth, and menopause all do a number on hormones and other internal chemical interactions. One of the joys of being a woman.

Sitting the requisite half hour to make sure I don’t have a reaction (I never have and hopefully, never will other than minor itchiness at the shot site) I have had a chance to observe and interact with other patients. Most are adults, but there have been a few kids. One girl cried out once when she got her shot and I assured her that her arms will become numb after a while. Since then she has been more stoic even though I know it must still bother her.

allergy reactionAllergic reactions are caused by the body’s immune system recognizing an exposure to something as an attack. Sneezing, excess mucous flow and tissue swelling are all ways the body tries to expel or repel the offending allergen. Why I inherited this gift from my father and neither of my sisters did is one of the mysteries of hereditary influences.

indoor-allergensAnd environmentally I can reduce factors that can affect me. We sadly found new homes for our two young dogs several years ago. We kept the aging cat primarily because no one would take the little monster darling. She is now about 14 years old but I suspect she will live well into her 20s just to spite me. We bought an artificial Christmas tree. (My allergist was surprised I was having issues at age 50 with that. I told him I had recently married a nonJew and it was my first couple of years with a real Christmas tree that helped me correlate the issue with major sinus problems.) I had other family members do the lawn mowing and vacuuming.  Those were no-brainers.

food-allergies1_0A bigger step was to eliminate certain whole foods and all artificial foods from my diet. That meant no more packaged foods. This was about the time I started visiting farms in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio as part of marketing local foods.  I learned a lot about the food that is sold at the supermarket and how so much of it, even much of  the produce which looks so healthy, is full of chemicals. Those chemicals, dyes and the herbicide and pesticide residue that remains in the food and can not be washed off, can cause the body’s immune system to react. food al;lergies

If you are having allergy issues either as a continued lifelong event or as a new annoying event in your life, get to know your allergist to reduce your reaction to many of your allergens.  Read about the food-allergy connection and run a two-month trial, eliminating all chemicals from processed foods you eat. See how you feel after that amount of time. I hope you can feel better like I did.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 


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Walk on the Beach

I think my posts about India are about done and I will be moving on to other topics now so I thought sharing some photos taken a couple of days ago when my sister Laura, my son Sam and I walked on a beach south of Newport, Oregon might be a nice switch.

Sam wanted to take a selfie of the two of us on his phone.

Sam wanted to take a selfie of the two of us on his phone. Laura caught us with my camera.

Laura got into the spirit of hamming it up.

Laura got into the spirit of hamming it up.

A friend of mine takes wonderful photos of waves and birds and other natural things. She lives further south in Oregon and heads to a nearby beach regularly for her shots. I visited her a couple of months ago and she showed me how she captures and then edits her photos and I try to replicate the process but still have a ways to go. Check out her blog to appreciate how her skill is so much better.DSC_0043

The seagulls were enjoying some peace and quiet

DSC_0100until Sam started to chase them

DSC_0099DSC_0025DSC_0027The Pacific Ocean in Oregon does not usually attract a lot of swimmers, even in the heat of summer, because the water is typically cooler than the Atlantic, which enjoys the benefit of the Gulf Stream. Still, I had to put my feet in and they acclimated quickly.  The patterns of the shallow water over the sand caught my eye.DSC_0011

Sam needed to climb, even though he was only wearing flipflops. He is a boy, after all.DSC_0073

 

The tide was really low, the lowest Laura had ever seen in all her walks on this beach. A lot more was uncovered than she usually sees.

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So, an hour walking the beach, we headed to our favorite restaurant in Newport, Local Ocean, and then visited the resident sea lions basking on the old docks.

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I live in a beautiful state where the Coast is only one of the many wonderful ecosystems available to explore.

 

 

 


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We Want to Fix It

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with what you eat.

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

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The meat you buy at the supermarket comes from here.

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

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

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

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

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

No excuses now.

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

 


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Why Bother to Recycle?

There is no question about it. The Left Coast is much more in step with making steps to be more environmentally aware than anywhere else where I have lived.

Visiting Burlington for Sam’s entry into the University of Vermont very much raised our awareness of the steps people can take. I posted some photos on Facebook during our orientation visit in June, 2013 where we saw trash centers that had multiple barrels for recycling and composting. Trash is termed “landfill” and perhaps that is a good term to use to get people to understand where it all is going.IMG_2145 I also mentioned how the campus had banned selling water in bottles and offered numerous water stations where people could fill there own bottles, thereby reducing the use of plastic on the campus.

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When I moved to Huntington, West Virginia I opted for recycling pick up and was surprised, but willing, to pay for the service. That service was poor, however and we cancelled after months when many pick-ups were no-show events. That company closed and the City was able to establish more recycling centers to make it more convenient for drop-offs. However, most people in Huntington, as well as when I lived in Nashville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and West Hartford just don’t bother to recycle.

When we called WOW (Western Oregon Waste) to set up trash pick-up in McMinnville we were asked a number of questions to determine the size trash can that we needed.  The service fee between a small and large bin was $5 a month so we opted for the large bin. We also requested a large recycling bin (no extra charge). Trash is picked up once a week; the recycling every other week. Watching the pick up last week was interesting…the truck pulled up to our can placed near the curb, extended the arm, lifted the can and dumped its contents into the truck, and then moved on. The driver and another worker in the cab never got out and the whole pick up took less than 10 seconds. Clat_recyc-trk

As you can imagine, we had a lot of boxes for this move and although I posted the empty boxes on Freecycle, I only got one response who took a few small boxes. We also loaded up a friend’s truck, as he plans to move the end of this year.  However, we still had quite a bit of cardboard.

flyingThat needed to be taken to the recycling center.  It is a huge place on a at least 10 acres of land. One part of it is used by the city’s trash and recycling trucks and the other two parts were open for residents to drop off…and pick up…recycled items.

There is one large area for yard debris and building materials. This is the area where residents can go buy compost or wood chips or even stone for walls.DSCF5563

Another area was where I dropped off the microwave that died and the mass of cardboard. Bins are available for glass (sorted by color), other paper products like books, textiles (I saw clothes and household linens), motor oil, car batteries and more.DSCF5564

One benefit of having a place to bring large items that are not usable is that people’s yards are not trash piles.  Another benefit is that those items that are brought in for recycling are in turn processed to be reused in another manner.

Recycle these items at The Recovery Zone:
No Charge:

  • Office Paper
  • Newspaper, Magazines,
    Phone Books, Cardboard
  • Tin & Aluminum
  • Plastic Bottles
  • Glass Bottles & Jars
  • Motor Oil
  • Car Batteries
  • Electronics, including computers, VCRs, printers, Computer Monitors, Televisions and
    stereo equipment.
  • Scrap Metal
Fees Apply:

  • Appliances
  • Refrigerators & Freezers
  • Clean Lumber
  • Car & Truck Tires
  • Antifreeze

Fees apply for some WOW
Customers*

  • Yard Debris (bring to NW Greenlands)

*Some cities have opted to include these services in their residents’ trash rates