goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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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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Momisms

MOM-izm. (noun) A statement presented as a grand truth by your mother, so it must be considered to be reliable and accurate.

I don’t know about you, but I wised up to some of my mother’s momisms pretty early. They just had an otherworldly basis, as if there was no place for them in the reality of the world I lived in. So, it became a bit of a test for me to see if I could knock them down.

A GIRL SHOULD NOT GET MARRIED WHILE SHE IS IN COLLEGE AS SHE WILL NOT FINISH!  My mom worked at a nurse at the local university’s student health center and met a number of young women. Some she “adopted” and I soon had a number of “sisters”. That was cool…the more to love the merrier. But R met A and he was in the Navy heading to JAG school and then to assignment somewhere. Mom was sure R would not graduate, especially when she got pregnant, but sure enough, she walked with her class and then went on to do great things Mom admired. Amazing what you can do when you have a plan.   Later, I got married before I graduated, and finished my bachelor’s degree on time, no problem. In fact, the new location lead to an interesting job opportunity I would never have had if I had not moved.

DIVORCE IS FORBIDDEN! I knew my Aunt E was divorced; THAT was not a secret. The reason was, though.  E and her daughter S lived with my paternal grandparents and other than their rooms being very crowded and messy, nothing was unusual, really. But when my own marriage became emotional stressed I had this wall of forbidden territory I kept bumping against. No  method of trying to reach his head or his heart worked and it wasn’t until my mother came to visit and noticed how rude he was, even to her, she said to me “I don’t know how you can stay with him.”  It was like a ray of sunshine on a dark dreary day. Thanks for changing the Momism, Mom.


NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE! 
Get real Mom. Teach responsibility. (Don’t just leave books out for me to “find” and read.) Teach about not giving yourself away. Teach about birth control. Teach about how magical sex can be if the partner is a person who truly loves you. But also remember to teach that sexual urges are pretty darn normal.  So, yes, I had my early escapade, and shamefully but wisely went to the health center to get my birth control. Hid it in the sweater drawer when I went home for the summer. (Surely there was no need for Mom to go into THAT drawer.) What fools we be, we who try to deceive. Yes, Mom, the pills were mine.  I was being playful, but responsible. And get out of my drawers!!!sweaters

 

THE MAN IS THE BOSS. YOU WILL TAKE CARE OF YOUR HUSBAND AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU. Only problem with that one was he didn’t have the same mom so he didn’t get taught the same lesson. (Of course, if he had had the same mom, we would have been into a different forbidden territory-LOL) A corollary of this was told to my oldest sister who, when she achieved her Masters in Nursing and discussed continuing to get her PhD was told she would emasculate her husband who had been “working” on his PhD for 10 years. My sister did not recognize this was a Momism; she thought it was sage advice, and so, she did not continue her education.  That marriage ended in divorce, because, as I indicated above, I broke the taboo in the family.boss

ADULT CHILDREN SHOULD LIVE NEAR THEIR PARENTS, TO BETTER HELP THEM WHEN THEY GET OLD. I was very very young when my paternal grandmother came to stay with us to recuperate from a heart attack. I do remember that she decided that I, at age 3, was too old for my favorite bedtime blankie and made it disappear.  I imagine my mom had issues as well because Grandma did not come back when she had a subsequent heart attack a few years later. Mom had my vote on that one, not that she asked.  When I ended up living 1000 miles away from my parents as a young adult, my mom asked why. I reminded her that she had taken us camping around the US every summer; that if she wanted me to be convinced that New Jersey was the center of the universe she should have never shown me the world.

sleep-walking-01CHILDREN NEED TO…….(PICK ANY) WAKE UP AND PERFORM WHEN RELATIVES STOP BY AFTER BEDTIME, GET ON THE PHONE AND TALK TO YOUR GRANDPARENTS EVEN THOUGH YOU VISITED THEM WEEKLY, GIVE KISSES TO PEOPLE YOU DIDN’T KNOW BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS SAID IT WAS WHAT YOU MUST DO…(the list goes on and on and on). One morning my mother told me that I had played my violin very well for the second cousins who had stopped by (we were just off the New Jersey Turnpike so it was a friendly pit stop) on their way home to Albany around 10pm. I was 10 years old and I’m sure it was no more than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but golly gee, I had no memory of it. What a talent! I could play in my sleep! This “late night” performing did not bother me as much as the enforced phone conversations and I never made my kids get on the phone. Interesting enough, they often wanted to. Amazing what free choice can do.

OUR RELIGION IS THE ONLY RIGHT ONE. Well, no. Simply, no. Since people started sharing their thoughts about their place in the Universe there has been over 3000 interpretations of man’s relationship with God. And all, every single one of them, was “manmade”.  (very few women have been involved in the major Western religions.) So, let’s toss out “my way is the only way” and get to the basics-teaching morals and behavior based on treating others the way you want to be treated. I dare say if we comply with that, as simple as it is, we will be happier as a people.

IF YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING I WOULD NOT LIKE, YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING IT.  Yikes, Mom…not fair! Although you smoked, it wasn’t pot. You didn’t cut school.  You didn’t hitchhike. (Well, considering how scary that one was, I never did it again.) You didn’t get mugged in the New York subway with your best friend. (And I couldn’t tell you about it because it was one of those days when I had skipped school.)  My mom’s voice was in my head when I started a misadventure but I always told her to be quiet, I had thought it through. So, when it came time to raise my own kids, I modified it. IF YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING YOU KNOW I WOULD NOT LIKE, BE SURE YOU WANT TO BE DOING IT.

It would be interesting to read my kids’ version of this essay. LOL

 

 


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Once Upon A Time

She was young and it seemed he had always been in her life. Years before he had dated her older sister and although she had ended it, the mom saw the guy had a poor home life and so “adopted” him, telling him he would always have a place at their table.  He came often, spending hours, bringing gifts, even to the little girl.

He was a war hero, a Green Beret. It was a time of divisiveness in the nation. The girl hated the war but she felt some pride that he took that challenge and faced something she could not even imagine. He showed her some shrapnel scars but told no stories.

The summer she was twenty he started making his moves. He kissed her in a way brothers don’t kiss sisters and it confused her.  She was off for the summer on a job and he wrote often. She found she looked forward to his letters and when he suggested she come to where he was working for the summer instead of returning home, she agreed.

The first night he made her comfortable and did not touch her. The next day he made small moves and by that evening, she was prepped. Things progressed and when he finally drove her home, he declared he loved her. She responded, as her mother had taught her, to the words of promise.

She still had two years of college to complete, but she had been taking extra courses all along and by taking classes that next summer, she was ready to graduate a semester early. They got married and he whisked her away to his home, 1000 miles from her family. It was an adventure.

She got a good job following her graduation. She sometimes had to travel and used a company car, as she had none of her own. He would not let her use the car, often taking his motorcycle and leaving the car sitting in the driveway.  She did not press for a key, as her mother had taught her that the man is the boss.

He’d come home angry. He hated his job.  Each day, as her mother had taught her, she would try to be pleasant, to ease him out of his foul mood. Days later, weeks later, months later, she tried different tactics to reach him. When she tried to be more reflective, speaking calmly but clearly that his action was affecting her, he got angrier.abused-woman

Each night, as her mother had taught her, she prepared for sex by inserting her diaphragm. Just about each night he would force his way into her unaroused body and she would send her mind somewhere else. She did have one niggling thought that if there had been any foreplay to get her aroused, maybe he would not take so long to climax.

He took her to a range to show her how to shoot a gun. He gave her his .357 magnum as the weapon to shoot. It was heavy but she aimed as he instructed and somehow hit the center of the target. She stopped there, handing the weapon back to him. For once she had the position of being the one causing confusion. It was clear he wanted to intimidate her. He never pulled the guns out again.shooting range

She discovered she had a breast lump during some rough sex. In the days before scans and needle biopsies she had a surgery scheduled and signed away her boob if the tumor was malignant. He told her not to come home if she was deformed. It was benign and he picked her up, making her wait a few hours for him to get her.

Finally, 15 months into the marriage, they took a belated honeymoon. She bought a new negligee and anticipated a walk on a secluded beach culminating in some reawakening of the passion he had claimed prior to the marriage.  He refused to go for a walk on the beach, ripped the new gown to shreds and continued as always. The next night, when she plainly said she wanted some love making, he hit her.

Immediately her head cleared. Suddenly she knew she could no longer be the compliant wife, the good little girl there to please her man. In that one strike she realized that he could kill her.

It still took another month before she told him to leave the house and not come back for 3 hours. She had been sharing what was happening with a girlfriend who came to rescue her. She moved out that day, New Years Day 1977 and started to get her life back.  She had nightmares for years, but over the years, she learned to rely on herself. That a man could be a good companion but was not the keeper of her life.wiser now

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We have men in this country who believe that women are playthings, not people with equal rights. That there can be no rape in marriage, that the man should just take what he wants. Some of those man who speak that way hold public office and at least one is running  for the Republican party nomination for President. He is highly popular and it confuses me that any woman could be in reality and prefer him.

Our daughters need to be taught that they are precious and deserve equal and fair treatment. Our sons needs to be taught that women must be respected and  treated with love. They all need to be taught that lust is not love and that choosing a partner needs to be based on behavior and actions, not words.


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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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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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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.


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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

 

 

Lessons

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A few years ago I took care of a 10-year-old while the mom worked Fridays through Mondays.  So after school on Fridays and Mondays and during the weekend, the girl would spend time with us. She wanted to do what she did at home, park in front of the television all day. What we did was involve her in all the things we normally did including food shopping and meal preparation, sewing, some light cleaning, and other normal activities including going to church.  We chatted at the dinner table and shared stories about things we had done that day.

We read together and played games and yes, we worked on homework also. She hated that.  She was not used to being accountable for doing her work.

One day the mom was also with us as we went somewhere in the car.  I was driving and I pointed to a road sign, one of those orangey-yellow ones that showed a curve coming up. I asked the girl if she knew why the sign was yellow.

Now this was the kind of question I had been throwing at my children since they were little to get them thinking, so I did not think it was particularly difficult.

Not only did the girl have no idea but neither did the mom. So I stepped them through the logic, asking the colors of the traffic lights and what the green, yellow and red mean. Once we got through the typical giggle that yellow means go faster and agreed it was a caution color, I figured they would get the connection. It didn’t happen so I simply said “yellow signs are warnings. Not hard rules but strong suggestions for safety.  So when you are driving and see a yellow sign, know there is a caution there, something to be careful about.”

Instead of the “oh” acknowledgement I expected, the mom got angry and shouted “Is everything a teaching opportunity for you?”

Yes.

I make enough dumb moves in my life. If I can avoid a repeat bad performance, I will. But there has to be some brain involvement to think about why things went less than smoothly. Otherwise, rinse and repeat will be the life activity, not the life lesson.

As a parent, I have the responsibility to raise my kids to be healthy functioning adults. To help them develop their own skills to be able to do what they need to do and to make decisions as wisely as they can. To love them enough to not always do what is easiest.  To love them despite their own stumbles in their choices. To love them enough to expect they will succeed, knowing I have done what I can to teach them life skills.traffic sign

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A friend of mine moved to Croatia after retirement. Her parents were from there and she had fallen in love with the country whenever she visited family. She knew her small retirement funds would stretch farther in that economy and so made the move.

Much of her experience is joyful. Much of it is similar to the life she would have had she stayed in California. But there are differences.

She often says that the Adriatic nation’s male dominant culture is where the US was about 50 years ago. Little boys seem to be raised that they are the correct ones, and she often sees adult women deferring to their 10-year-old sons.  She sees young women who feel they are unable to do what they want because of the roles society has given them.  What amazes her is that women are the ones who perpetuate this situation. They often are very angry and domineering to other women, trying to maneuver for a small bit of power in their restricted world.

When I hear this current contrast I remember the way I felt growing up wishing I was a boy not because of gender confusion but because I recognized, even as a 5-year-old, that boys could chose to do whatever they wanted but girls had to comply with more rules. I knew that was not fair, not equal. I wanted to be able to chose my own pathway.

And when I hear woman friends talk about statements their boys make that put women down and laugh because they think it is funny, I see we have not come so very far after all.equality-of-sexes-8-728~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Facebook has a lot of nonsense and a few bits of wisdom, I have seen a theme more and more recently, mostly posted by adults in the 50-70 age bracket. Generally it is a list of all the things we did as kids that kids today can’t/don’t do. We rode bikes without helmets.  Sat in cars without seat belts.  Got spanked. Had chores. Were respectful to our teachers.  Went to church.

The punchline: we turned out all right.

The concept: Kids today are not well behaved and as nice or respectful as we were.

What is missing is the understanding that we are the current kids’ parents. We raised them to be the way they are.

So either we didn’t like the rules we had as kids and changed our parenting methods in reaction or we just abdicated our responsibility without any thought.  We wanted to do what we wanted to do without any thought to the consequences down the road.responsible parenting

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Also on Facebook I get into some conversations with people who are strongly anti-abortion but do not want any sex education in the schools. They feel that this is the family’s responsibility and yes,  I agree, information about the maturation of the body is part of what parents should be discussing with their kids.

Age appropriate discussions should start when the kids are toddlers about touching and move on to making responsible decisions about all things through childhood. Before age 10 the understanding that their body will be going through a normal change needs to be started. Before age 12 kids need to learn that their body may get some feelings they never have had before and there are responsibilities to take on, things to know, so they don’t have unwanted consequences. They need to know about pregnancy and disease.

But many parents don’t have these discussions. Many feel it is “not the right time yet”. Many deny their own sexual feelings as a part of the human body’s system. Not discussed, it is secret and forbidden. Normal feelings are understood to be dirty and should be hidden.

And so, unless we empower the schools to step in, we have a problem. We have 12-year-olds who are sexually experimenting. We have 14-years-olds having babies. We have 18-year-olds with sexually transmitted diseases that will affect them the rest of their lives.

Abortion is a horrible choice. No question about it. But without education and availability of birth control, it is going to be a part of this culture with all its ethical and biological issues.sex ed~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Consequences. Life happens. You can’t control all of it. But with a brain attached, you can think through your options and develop strategies to avoid unpleasant repercussions. Learn your lessons early to avoid rinse and repeat.Rules of life

 

 

 

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The Connection Between Us

Each of us is the center of our own universe and yet we experience similar pains and joys. I have learned that the ability to share helps me ease the anguish and magnify the happiness. Does your pathway include sharing?

About four years ago I started visiting farms that had expressed interest in providing food to The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia. A new concept, The Wild Ramp combines the shopping experience of the outdoor farmers’ market with the ease of indoor shopping.  It is a year-round indoor local food market that has increased in appeal since its inception about 4 years ago.

Although I had one grandparent who had retired from running a chicken farm, my childhood in the New York metropolitan area was focused on suburban and urban living. I even got a degree in urban planning. So you can imagine just how tickled I am that I have become enmeshed in the local food movement.

When I started I knew next to nothing and today I know just a smidgen more.  But armed with my curiosity, I spent an hour or two visiting the farmers, hearing their stories and learning about their growing practices. I then wrote blogs to inform the consumers, the better to market that individual farm and its products and The Wild Ramp Market overall.

My visit to Mil-ton farm in mid June 2012 just prior to the market opening was a learning experience for me. Dad Tim was working off-farm at his day job. Mom Stephanie was home with the four kids, in charge of daily farm chores and home schooling and also working a part-time job. Grandma lived on the land as well, part of the extended family.

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My favorite often used photo from Mil-Ton Farm

One thing that immediately struck me was how curious the kids were. They came with us as Stephanie and I walked along, eager to show me things and be part of the experience. I learned a lot about that family that day and made a foolish assumption that all farm families were that cooperative and involved with life learning. No, as I learned over time, the Appletons are unique.

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Tim and Kellen working to renovate the shop

They all pitched in, even the youngest, helping renovate the shop space. They all helped other farmers in the Wild Ramp extended family of farmers as there were calls for help. The kids helped develop salable items over the seasons.

Vivian helping raise a high tunnel at The Potager, a Help A Farmer Day project.

Vivian helping raise a high tunnel at The Potager, a Help A Farmer Day project.

The Appletons walk the walk. Caring, loving, with high standards and expectations to strive for them. They have a strong faith in God and strong belief in the goodness of life.

But Tim just died, after a long and valiant experience with cancer. The Wild Ramp family is feeling this pain.

Personally, it brings my own loss of a loved spouse very much back into my mind. I can clearly imagine how Stephanie, a pretty strong woman, must be spinning in torment, trying to comfort the kids to provide them a sense of security while not quite really sure intellectually and emotionally where her footing will be in this earthquake. And the kids, scared of future loss, needing a lot more reassurance that all will be okay.kids

Although she might beg to differ today while everything is so raw, I know Stephanie and the family will work through this. The hole Tim’s passing  has left is a horrible learning experience for all, but they will learn to meld the pain of the loss with the rising spirit of his memory.Stephanie and Tim

The outpouring of love and prayers for this family is a testament to the goodness they have been as a part of the community. Tim’s legacy is priceless. We ARE connected, all of us.

 


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Okay, I’m Different—I Understand That

peach and walnut cutting board

One of Graham’s recent cutting boards.

Today was crafts day….both Graham and I are working hard, preparing for a market next Saturday. He’s working out in the shop (a garage? What’s that?) and I am sewing sewing sewing as rapidly as I can without needing to pull out stitches and resew.

My sister called and asked me if I had time for her to stop by. Of course. She wanted to see if we could talk to a good friend to design some earrings. I called, yes, and so we did. Not a big interruption for me, but what happened during that visit had me thinking…and when I get to thinking, I start composing another blog.

See, I met that artisan a few months ago and based on that initial 2 hour interaction, I invited her into our home for dinner and have been building what I hope will be a precious friendship. We have a lot of differences….her pathway that brought her to this here and now has taken her to places I never have experienced. Some seem pretty exotic to me, so I am eager to hear whatever stories she chooses to share.  And some have been downright painful and all I can do is offer a sympathetic ear and a hand to hold to let her know she has made it safely through.  But we also have some really profound similarities….and one is in the belief that we are here to do good and another is that sad understanding that few people have that goal. acceptance

She said something today that got me thinking. She had no idea who I was and there I was inviting her into our home, accepting her as she was. She said she is waiting for the other shoe to fall; for me to turn on her. That is her experience.

That apparently is also the experience several others I know and hold dearly also have had.  So, all I can tell them is I am me. As unusual as it may be in your life, I am who I appear to be.  I will be a friend to them as long as they don’t hurt me. And when they do, as soon as they do, the first thing I will do is go to them and talk. I will say, “when you did this to me, I felt this way” and hopefully we can clear the air.  If we can’t work it out, then yes, I cut my losses. I will not set myself up to be abused.  Been there, done that.

See, I am pretty disgusted at the number of people in my own life, let alone all I hear about, people who pledged and promised love and honor for life, that turn.  Perhaps, they never really cared.  It was perhaps some kind of game. “As long as you make me happy, I will stay with you and maybe make you happy.” The way I see it, that kind of person is rarely happy. They look for something outside themselves to take care of that.

It will never happen. And so, this is one way I am different. I know how to be happy. To set a goal that will offer enough of a challenge to make it interesting but within the scope of my talents and experience is an example of a fun time for me. I’ve been lucky to be able to get to the point in my life where this is more normal than unusual…and so, I am happy.  And different from most other people.different-3