goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


8 Comments

The Power of Place

Where you live may be an accident of birth or may be a life path decision made to get an education, grab a job opportunity or to follow your heart.  Whatever the reason for the WHY of where you live, the power of that place affects the HOW.

I know I am not unique but there are not many people who have moved around the country as much as I have.  I was born and raised in New Jersey, about 40 miles from New York City, at Exit 9 on the Turnpike and about an hour from the Shore to speak the vernacular of that place.

My parents took us camping each summer and we traveled the country.  I learned very easily that the United States has such a grand variety of ecosystems, terrain, cities and also there is beauty all over.  There is a place that will appeal to your heart.   I also learned in all my moves that the place you live has an influence on you.

For people who have never moved away from the place where they were born and raised, this kind of discussion may not be understood. Many feel that the place where they live is the best place on earth, and it may be. But how do they really know unless they have ever lived anywhere else?born in state map

This influence, this Power of Place,  comes from societal attitudes and whether you would call them good or bad depends on your own morals and life choices.  If your education has taught you there is only one right way and you are living it, you may be comfortable, but are you right?  If you believe the way most of your neighbors believe, it feels good. If you find yourself surrounded by people who are just….different…..you have to work to balance fitting in and holding on to your soul.

I’ll give you an example.

When I moved to Nashville from New Jersey in 1975 I stood out as a foreigner because of my accent. People, with their genteel Southern ways, called me a Yamn Dankee. Didn’t fool me for a second that they didn’t want me there.  But I slowly wore on them, like after a visit back home, eating my lunch sandwich on a bagel. “Whatcho eating yo lunch on a donut for?”  By the time I moved to Memphis in 1978 for a better job I was bringing five dozen bagels back each time I flew to visit my parents.  And when I moved back to Nashville in 1994 we had to throw away the idea of starting a bagel shop when we saw all the franchises around town. It had changed from a population of 500,000 to over a million and many were transplants like me.  No more polite veneer.  Nashville, while keeping a few treasured icons, had morphed into just one more homogenized American city with national chain stores and restaurants and common unpolished behavior.

What makes a place livable for you? Do you like it that people around you think like you? Do you like that there is diversity in your area that gives you a chance to learn new things?  How about the cost of living?  How does your area compare to others? Would you consider moving just because you could live more comfortably somewhere else?Price-Parity-2012I think most people would not move….they would rather stay in the place they know and complain. Such is the Power of Place.


5 Comments

Making Connections

Graham and I have been in Oregon for almost a year. We arrived September 1, moved into our rental house about a week later when the truck arrived and I made my first new friend here when I posted our  boxes to be picked up on Freecycle.  Jana needed a few boxes to store books and we sat on the porch rockers for about an hour sharing stories. Hearing I wanted to learn to can, she invited me to her farm and under her tutelage, I learned to make and love tomatillo salsa. DSC_0012

Shortly after that Graham’s high school buddy Charles (they reconnected on Facebook a few years ago) who lives in Salem hooked us up with another friend and Tina taught us all how to pressure can tuna. I was very much enjoying the bounty that this area offers!

Shortly after that I attended a meeting of farmers in a nearby town and started making connections with this region’s complement of wonderful farmers.  And so it went. Over these past 11 months we have made some wonderful new friends and our circle continues to grow. But it never would have happened if we didn’t take a first step out. DSC_0001

This past Thursday we attended a gathering of people primarily because we knew the host. One of the farmers we have gotten to know and love, Ranee Solmonsson of Sunshower Hill Farm was hosting an event. She said she would be speaking about her farm and Heidi Lindell of Yamhill Valley Grown also would explain how the farmers in this area connect with consumers.  I work with Heidi, visiting farms and writing the Yamhill Valley Grown blog.

It turned out to be a great evening,   organized by Om Sukheenai of Chehelem Insurance Associates as a way for people in the community to network  The people who attended were people who have businesses in the region between McMinnville and Portland and wanted to share their passions.   They included Nicole SensabaughBookkeeper, Cristina YenA Yen for Chocolate,  Mary Beth Mac NultyStudio 601,  Paola RoselliTravel Agent/ Alpaca Rancher,  Jeanne BiggerstaffBiggerstaff Vitural Business Assistance,   Carr BiggerstaffOwner of Biggerstaff Vitural Bussiness Assistance,  Heidi LindellYamhill Valley Grown,  Lynn DeraniaPolar Bear Yogurt,  Maggie YuSherwood Family Practice,  Saj JaivanjeeArcher Vineyard.  Vida IceArbonne InternationalGraham told about CreationsByBG and his woodworking and I spoke more about my passion to share information about the bounty the local farms produced and get more consumers on board.

DSC_0003DSC_0006We gathered first on Ranee’s deck where she presented a few edibles prepared from food her farm produces, and a bit of wine. We then enjoyed the evening by sitting in a circle on the grass, enjoying getting to hear about each other passions and then to share.

The synergy I saw, the connections being made was amazing. Here we had 15 people; some knew each other a bit, some not a all. By the end of the two hours we had several connections being made for new business opportunities, and more importantly, for new friendships.DSC_0007

So many people comment about the fact that we have made so many friends here already. The secret to replicate that is to GET OUT. Leave your house and act on your passions. Find people with similar interests and make time to make the connections. Talk and listen, share in the knowledge and excitement about life. DSC_0012


Leave a comment

New Americans

About 25 years ago my family was one of two which helped a new immigrant family get settled into their new life in Connecticut. Jane and Igor, along with their daughter and his parents, were Russian Jews who seized the golden ticket to the United States when Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union,  decided to try to encourage its Jewish population to emigrate.  Israel and the US were the major players in receiving these people, who often had had no exposure to the religion.ImmigrationReform

Jewish communities around the country worked to help these newcomers get settled. Apartments were located, furniture and furnishings were donated. We were asked to contribute about $100 and were given a list of toiletries to purchase and place in the apartment. The other family bought some food staples.

Over the next year we worked together to tag team so we would remain in steady contact without overwhelming them. Over the months they started to show us places they had discovered in our own town. That was when we realized the system worked.  “Adopting” an immigrant family was a way to help them get settled without a huge burden on any one of us or society overall.

Igor and Jane both got jobs as computer programmers within 6 months of their arrival, accepting positions below the level they had last worked in Russia but soon were making progress as their English skills improved. The young girl went to elementary school and within a few years had no trace of a Russian accent. The older parents were retired, slow to learn English, but made efforts to participate in activities at the Jewish Community Center and received a small monthly stipend that was part of the government’s immigration program for this group.

I remember an early discussion with Jane. I realized no one had discussed birth control and we knew that in Russia, abortion was used pretty regularly as a way to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Jane’s English was pretty good but she did not have the vocabulary that you can imagine would be used in this kind of discussion. It went somewhat like  this:

Me: Jane, I was thinking that you and Igor might want an American baby.

Jane: (turning red) Oh yes, but not right now.

Me: You know how not to have a baby right now? (handing her a Planned Parenthood pamphlet)

Jane: I will read this with Igor!

A couple years later, when I moved from Connecticut to Tennessee, the family had purchased a home and Jane was expecting their American baby.  In time they received their American citizenship and were active members of their community.

~~~~~~~~

Today we are amazed and horrified at the number of children who are coming over our southern borders. The United States has always been a magnet for people all over the world who want a better place. While many people here are stuck in economic stress, the tolerance for these illegals is low.

The contrast between the organization that helped the Russian immigrants get settled and the current system is dramatic. Surely we can develop a better system.immigration-economy-new-465


7 Comments

Wealthy Beyond Measure

Make new friends but keep the old; One is silver and the other’s gold.

I learned that song in Brownies and it must have made a lot of sense to me as a 7-year-old because I have friends from prior chapters of my life.  My best friend from 6th grade is someone I can rely on always to be there for me. Other best friends in now far away former places I have lived maintain contact through the joy side of the Internet and we sometimes get to visit in person.Liz and Graham dancing

When I first joined Graham he was taking a six-month sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado and we made some wonderful friends there. Anne and Barring just left this morning after two very full days to continue their summer exploration of the Pacific Northwest before returning home.  In the seven years since we left Colorado to return to West Virginia we have seen them twice and after basely skimming the surface of the wonderful attributes of the Willamette Valley on this short visit, they promise they will return to Oregon again.Barring and Anne at winery June 11 2014

It is difficult for some people to make friends.  Some simply because they don’t recognize the signs of a mutual interest that could serve as a base for deeper communication and friendship.  Friendship is not an instantaneous event and although I may have almost 300 “friends” on Facebook, many are people I have never met but we connected over some commonality. Whether that relationship builds to a true friendship will only be borne out over time. A few I think might; several others are not probable and the majority are in between. Being realistic of the term “friend” on Facebook is a sign of maturity.

It is also difficult for many people to maintain friendships when someone moves. I once worked for a wonderful woman who I am sure I will not offend at this moment because I sincerely doubt she reads anything I write now. I made a decision to move that had nothing to do with her.  She maintained contact for less than six months, and then, silence to every email, letter and phone call I made. It leaves me wondering how she is, and what the hell happened?  But I have to leave it behind. It was, after all, her choice.

This Patty Loveless song may sum up the pain many people feel when someone leaves.  For those, the pain of the leaving may get confused with anger at the person who left instead of maintaining contact.Friends

The internet and many cell phone plans make it easier than ever before for long distance friendship to continue. They are different, of course, then when people live proximal, but as my friend in New Jersey and these recent visitors from Colorado show, when there is love, there can be continuance. Forever. And so, I am wealthy beyond measure.


Leave a comment

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!

 

 

 

 


3 Comments

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.


5 Comments

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!!!