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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I Care—How About YOU?

I just returned home from 3 hours making phone calls for a candidate to the Oregon House of Representatives. I met Ken Moore at the McMinnville Farmers’ Market 3 weeks ago. He asked us to vote for him and I did not ask him what party he represented. I don’t chose the best person that way,

I asked him to tell me what he felt were important issues that he hoped to address if he got elected. He asked me if I wanted to hear his views on education. Of course!

He thinks (and I do also) that is it pretty appalling that Oregon’s graduation rate is only 86%. It makes me wonder why so many kids quit school. But Ken wants to be a problem solver. He wants to make improvements while being careful not just to throw more money at the situation.  He has seen where local businesses can not find employees and one actually provided the equipment and trained the teacher so the students could learn a skill that would make them employable. It is private-public arrangements like this that Ken wants to pursue.  He also wants to reduce classroom sizes because a teacher who is struggling to address the needs of 30 students will miss connecting with some. Be-Informed-Sticker-(6619)

Now I wouldn’t know all that if I had not taken a few minutes to talk with him.  And now that I give 3 hours a week to his campaign I am amazed at the number of people I call who REFUSE to talk with me. They tell me they have no concerns. (I doubt that.) They tell me they don’t get involved in politics. (But perhaps your involvement, by simply informing your elected representatives what you think, might make a big difference.) They tell me they don’t care. (Really? Is that why you were so angry?)ignorance

So many people believe that the existing government is a mess. Some people will vote the party line, not knowing at all if any of the people they will support actually have opinions that complement theirs.

Wake up people! We live in a democracy only because the PEOPLE (remember, WE THE PEOPLE?) use the opportunity they have to share their opinion.Be-informed-vote

If you chose to sit and be silent, the issues you complain about are your own fault. Apathy will not make improvements. It gives power to people who are thrilled you chose to be silent.


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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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The Fine Line

McMinnville caught our attention as a place to live when we were doing our research for a number of reasons. Graham first read about one of the local chefs who had spent several years in Italy learning how to make charcuterie and now runs the Fino in Fondo salumeria….he makes salami. Then Graham became aware of how this region excels in making pinot noir wine and as one who suffers gladly from oenophilia, he was happy to try to meet the challenge of the 100+ wineries in this county alone. east to cascadesMeanwhile, my research determined that this region of the Willamette Valley is truly a garden; among the vineyards and farms growing grass for seed and others growing most of the nations’ landscaping plants, there are many many farms producing food.  I hoped to replicate my involvement with The Wild Ramp in some way.  In addition, as a city planner, I appreciated the effort that a group of people in McMinnville had made to turn the downtown around. Once a strip of many vacant stores in the mid 1980s, the street now is tree lined and vibrant with boutique shops and services, almost all locally owned and operated.Dec 6a

McMinnville doubled in size since the 1970s and more people continue to move here. A license plate perusal in the parking lot during the Saturday morning breakfast served by the Cooperative Ministries identified many out of state cars. In talking to one family, one of the church members was told that the news that McMinnville serves free meals every day has spread, and many homeless people are finding their way to this town.

This creates a bit of a dilemma.

I am on a small committee investigating ways to help the business owners on our main street, NW 3rd Street, with the “loitering” problem that exists.  Some hang out on street corners, panhandling. These people are well known to locals, as they have had their spots for years and their stories are known. One Vietnam Vet just waits until he collects about $20 and then buys his wine and rambles back home.   Some hang at the library, but many have no interest in the benefits of what a library offers, so a lack of proper behavior gets them banished. Some hang around downtown, blocking shop entrances, making comments to young women, and smoking any number of substances.

St BHeart2Heart foodIt truly is amazing to hear the services that are available in this county for people who need assistance. There are meals available every day of the week, for example.  The St. Barnabus Soup Kitchen serves dinner four evenings a week; it is not unusual for over 300 people to be fed.

Meanwhile, one of the farmers I have met, Tyler of Heart2Heart Farms, has made a tremendous effort to collect edible  fresh produce from area sources and have it available for free for those in need. He just collected enough through crowd sourcing to buy a large truck to help collect and transport the food to his farm. All he asks is a few hours of volunteer work in exchange and he tells me that few offer to help.

My concern is that we have forgotten how to teach people to fish and we are providing fish dinners so often that many have no desire to learn the skills to manage their own pathway. In our effort to provide a hand and a safety net the actual message, as spoken by the California man in the Cooperative Ministries parking lot, is McMinnville is a place to go to be taken care of.

It’s a fine line between helping and enabling.

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ADDENDUM: A friend has suggested that this post seems to be a bit judgmental about the homeless. That was not my intention.  At an earlier time of my life, when I was home with the baby and my husband suffered a stroke while undergoing surgery for brain cancer, I was in a tough spot. No income. My landlord was the amazing spirit in those days, telling us the last thing we needed was to worry about the rent. He permitted us 6 months free rent until the social security disability kicked in and we could once again start paying. I have no idea what it did to his own finances; I just know without his offer, we would have been out the door.

The blog, however, is a bit judgmental about the programs offered here in McMinnville. I believe what began as a way to help people through a bad time may have become a regular routine for many. I believe the need is still there. I just think there has to be another way to help people out of the hole they are in.  Some of the people who take advantage of the meals offered in this town may never be able to have anything close to a lifestyle where they can support themselves, but there are others who were working, became unemployed and for a number of reasons  have not found another job. Those are the people I think might be able to be helped with a different kind of assistance. There are plans underway to do just that; it is just some time off in the future before it becomes active.

 


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Out of This World

When we mention to people here that we moved in September from West Virginia the typical next question is why? Why did we move clear across the country to McMinnville, Oregon. Graham usually makes some kind of comment that he heard there was a winery nearby. (We now live in the middle of one of the amazing wine producing areas with over 100 wineries within 15 miles of our house.)

Domaine DruhinI did a lot of research before we decided on McMinnville.  One thing that really excited me was the availability of a lot of local food. In the seven months we have been here we have established direct relationships with farms for our proteins and produce. There is a farmers market ready to open for the season this week,  a year round farmers market and also a service that delivers farm fresh food to your door.  market Sept 26 2013

Additionally, the downtown business district is vibrant. It wasn’t always that way, though.  However, since the McMinnville Downtown Association formed in the late 1980s the street’s appearance has improved with trees, lighting and sitting areas, the stores are all occupied and there is a lot of business. DSC_0007

The Downtown Association sponsors a number of events that entice tourists. DSC_0030This weekend was the UFO Festival, held annually to commemorate the sighting of a flying saucer by a local farmer in 1950. It is an affair with lectures ranging from ufology to  astrophysics, but much of the attendance revolves around the parade.

May 17 2014 UFO Days

My three, of which I am very proud. LOL

Yesterday, after Lisa made sure we were all dressed in some kind of costume, we headed downtown for the 1 mile Abduction Race.

This was the last obstacle before the finish line

This was the last obstacle before the finish line

Sam expected to win and was in a good position but a middle schooler  was in front the whole way and he decided to let him come in first. He remembers well how that feels and knew his need to win was not as important.  Lisa was well behind in the pack but finished despite an asthma attack.  Her costume had people talking as they thought at first she was naked. She had had her gold unitard painted when we first got there.DSC_0012

But her costume was mild compared to most.  We had been told EVERYONE wears a costume but it became obvious that actually most people wore regular clothes. DSC_0097DSC_0120DSC_0139There seemed to be three levels of costume wearers: people who purchased something at the event to add a touch of alien whimsy;

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~people like us who put together something fun, even if it was not alien-related;DSC_0102

DSC_0107and peopdsc_077le who spent a lot of time and/or DSC_0202money on alien attire.DSC_0154

The parade lasted over an hour with bandsDSC_0251 and floatsDSC_0287 and lots of  groups. Anyone in alien costume could join in. What fun!!

This girl was part of a TaeKwondo group

This girl was part of a TaeKwondo group

Pet parade was held later in the day.

Pet parade was held later in the day.


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Toe in the Water

My past work experience causes Human Resource department personnel to cross their eyes: I am not a square peg to fit into a square hole. And so, most large companies toss my resume into the circular file and I never hear from them.Confused-Look2-225x300

And yet, any job where the person deciding on hiring recognized I brought a diversity of exposure to a wide variety of industries, regions of the country, and responsibilities understood they were not getting just the “XYZ” they are looking to hire but a personality with experience and a brain.

butterfly-fly-away-freedom--large-msg-12663724094I have best enjoyed the jobs I had where some attention was given to training and then the freedom to fly was granted. I have also liked being the boss.

I have owned my own businesses over much of my working life. For twelve years I was co-owner of a residential real estate appraisal service. My partner and I had to make a decision to expand or to stay small. We grew to a staff of twelve, and then decided quality and service were more important than the potential profitability of a huge endeavor.

Moving to McMinnville  also moved me back up into the world of “looking for work.”  Graham and I thought if I could find a job with benefits the whole health insurance issue probably would be a lesser concern. But two factors helped us rule out that lifestyle: 1. The State of Oregon is one that has gotten its act together with the offers under the Afforable Healthcare Act and 2. We like me to have a flexible schedule.corporate-vs-freelance-cartoon

I really like working from home. When we looked for housing we knew we would dedicate one of the bedrooms to be my office where I could do my writing, my books and my sewing. It is my space and only occasionally do I have to nudge the cat out of my chair.Tiny Bug Oct 25 2013

When I was researching where to live I was intrigued by what I read about McMinnville. Its downtown merchants had formed an association in the 1980s to help turn around the downtown shopping district. When we walked the street in July we noticed only three vacancies and two were undergoing renovation. It looked pretty healthy.

We learned that another section near downtown, the Granary District, is undergoing revitalization from an “ag-industrial” center to one with small shops, many with specialty foods.

And one other thing I noticed was that most of the marketing I could find was wine related. Lots and lots of wineries here. Some of the best wine in the world. And many tasting rooms, which bring people to McMinnville and other nearby towns.  But little coordinated marketing for the shop and restaurants and lodging here to get those wine tasters to stay a bit longer, shop, eat some wonderful local food here, and spend the night.

I want to help. But I know that no one likes the new kid on the block saying “This needs to be done.” So, I really really really tried not to say too much too soon.

If you know me personally, you are not surprised that I only lasted a few weeks. But I went back and visited with the Director of the McMinnville Downtown Association and she appreciated my concept.  She also had no money to pay me.  She did offer support in letting me introduce myself to the membership and offer assistance.MDA logo

Today I posted my first blog about the Chaplain’s Pantry Caterering both in my CreationsByBG blog as well as the MDA blog. I have appointments with two other MDA members as well as an organization which is farm related and I am very excited about the potential for helping them grow there.

Good things….slowly slowly slowly…..send me words of patience please!!!