REALLY? YOU THINK IT’S A JOKE? by Beth Rankin

REALLY? YOU THINK IT’S A JOKE? by Beth Rankin

I’ve never been a light hearted soul….things just are not right so much of the time that it concerns me.

That’s not to say I’m not a happy person or enjoy a good laugh. I AM a happy person who is pretty positive but I don’t laugh easily. Most of the time, it seems that things other people think are funny just don’t hit me the same way.

Recently, in an effort to still try to talk to people who have viewpoints on the conservative end of the spectrum I have begun to respond to comments they make, particularly if the reaction of their other friends is laughter and the issue is not funny to me. If the meme or comment is a putdown, so the joke is at someone’s expense, I am the stick in the mud who points out that it is not funny. That perhaps they forgot to pull on their Christian compassion before making fun of someone. (I only say that because they post a lot of Bible quotes and also how important it is that Jesus is in their lives.)

Generally, my comments are not appreciated. No surprise there. Someone who uses humor at other people’s expense generally is not comfortable being told, even when calmly and with quiet language, that their choice of words is not healthy. I suppose it is only a matter of time until I am unfriends. Not a biggie, but it will be sad because the more we stop talking to each other, the sooner we will forget we have more commonalities than differences.

Being told to “lighten up, it’s only a joke” is something I’ve lived with. My last blog I told about my husband. This time, the story is about my second husband.

Before I go further I want to say this marriage produced two beautiful children who are now healthy adults, participating in society and enjoying life. Despite all the angst that resulted in that marriage I would never say or feel it never should have happened. I am blessed to have those children.

The differences between that man and me, our views on what life can be and our ways of aiming for our goals were very clear. Still, I can appreciate a few things he gave me that were gifts of insight I never would have made because I just did not think the same way.

For example, when my dad had been living with Parkinson’s disease for ten years and no one would talk about it, he called us out on it.

For example, I had been fighting my naturally curly hair all my life trying to make it straight and he suggest I get it cut well so it would be acceptable to me.

For example, when he asked me if I like to dance and when I said yes, pulled over to the curb and pulled me out to dance to the radio on the grass.

But those were few and far between. Life with him was usually off kilter at best and downright fearful of what I might find when I cam home when things were at the worst.

See, he is mentally ill. His diagnosis has changed over time but he never worked to “get better” because he argued the therapists wanted him to change. Well, duh. What you’re doing is not working Maybe a change would be a good idea?

And his favorite expression, after he would denigrate me was “I’m only joking.” Sorry, forgot to laugh. In fact, instead of not laughing I had to work hard to stay calm because of his fragile mental state.

It was clear that he thought only of himself and how the world revolved around him. He is unchanged to this day.

Now, I do not know this Facebook friend well enough to know if she also has some issues so making jokes like that helps her cope. No idea. But I won’t stay silent. I will not be, nor will I permit someone to be, the butt of a joke.

I read something else today on Facebook, also from a person whom I don’t really know. But I do know one of her adult children and that gives me a lot of insight about her. She noted that in times of recent crises we saw people ignore any political, religious, or racial differences and just pull together to help each other. She suggested we live this way.

 

Think about how much better we would be if Congress, for example, sat down and “Yes, too many innocents are being killed. Let’s talk together to see if something we who have the power can do to make this country safer.”

How much better we all would be if instead of saying it is their own fault, that we pitch in to work with the homeless to provide safe housing and health care for what ails them.

How much better we all would be if we all could have a living wage with a 40-hour job. Then we could afford housing, put food on the table, and not have to run from our issues into drugs or booze.

How much better we all would be if we all could teach how to earn instead of how to pass a test. If we could all understand that not everyone is going to make an A and perhaps there are other skills the ones who have trouble in school could handle well.

How much better we all would be if we decided on what we wanted to be when we grew up and didn’t have to pay for the education to attain that for the rest of our lives.

How much better we all could be if we stopped putting other people down. If we chose to recognize when someone makes us uncomfortable it is a learning opportunity, not a joke–and continue the discussion.

“IT’S DARK AS A DUNGEON…” by Ernie Tucker

“IT’S DARK AS A DUNGEON…” by Ernie Tucker

COAL MINING IN EASTERN KENTUCKY AND WEST VIRGINIA IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE CENTURY

UNDERGROUND COAL MINE

Here is what coal mining was like before the coming of power-driven equipment. It was a labor intensive, dirty, dangerous job. Cave-ins and explosions were a constant threat. Water and rats were always present. A six-day work week with ten-hour days was the rule. Miners went to work before dawn and didn’t emerge until after dark, seeing daylight only on Sundays. Permanent injury was a possibility. Black lung disease loomed in the future.

Why, then, did so many men take up underground mining as a profession? First, it was a job, and there weren’t many jobs in the region. And, it was a macho-man’s world. Fearlessness and physical strength were much admired. Claustrophobia was not tolerated. There were no sissies in the mines. It was a hard, dirty, dark, physical, man’s world.

COAL MINER

The end product in our region was the relatively soft bituminous coal. The tools and devices used in those times were simple and few. The miner began with an auger, a six-foot long hand-held drill about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, sharpened regularly by the blacksmith. Using a hand crank built into the auger, the miner drilled a deep horizontal hole into the coal seam. He was often working on his knees in our shallow seams of coal. The auger rested on an iron breastplate worn over the chest for added leverage. A “real man,” I was told, was able to run that bit all the way into a seam without taking a break! That would have quickly separated me from the pack.

The hole was then cleared with a scraper, and a charge of black powder was gently shoved to the base of the hole with a six-foot tamping rod tipped with brass to prevent a spark. Next, a “needle,” a pointed iron rod about six-feet long and 1/4 inch in diameter was run to the back of the hole to puncture the paper-wrapped powder charge. Waste material was then packed tightly around the needle with the tamping rod. Sliding the needle gently from the hole left a small tunnel leading back to the powder. A 6 x 1/8 inch rocket-like “squib” was then placed in the hole and lighted. It shot back into the hole, setting off the powder. It sounded like a shotgun blast.

Using a pry bar, a pick, a shovel, and bare hands, the coal was broken up and loaded onto a small cart and pushed on wooden rails to the mine entrance. Waste material like slate or clay was not permitted in the cart. A miner was paid by the number of “clean” carts he filled in a day. He marked his carts with his own numbered brass tags. Even with all the danger, dust, dirt, disease, and long, hard hours, I never heard an old miner complain. Mining to him was the best job in the world, the United States the best country, and his state and town the best places on earth to live.

I’m not at all sure their women felt the same way. I asked a waitress friend where her family was from originally. She said her grandfather was a coal miner in West Virginia but had moved to Ashland, Kentucky many years ago to work at the steel mill.

A COAL MINER’S WIFE

It seems that her grandmother had tired of the cave-ins and explosions that happened all too often, and after one more such incident, she confronted him and said, “I’m leaving!” And he, in good Eastern Kentucky-West Virginia fashion, replied, “Well, alright.” She said, “I don’t think you understand! I’m leaving, and I’m leaving the children with you!” As he grabbed his coat he said, “Where are WE going?” They moved to town and, we think, lived happily ever after.

[Ernie Tucker is a retired college professor, and his articles appear regularly in Columnist with a View. He lives in Ashland, Kentucky where he encounters some of his past students daily. He is also an avid collector of antique automobiles, tools and ephemera. You can contact Ernie at:  ernie.tucker@kctcs.edu]

 

NO, MY DIVERSITY DOESN’T HAVE TO TOLERATE YOUR BIGOTRY by John Pavlovitz

NO, MY DIVERSITY DOESN’T HAVE TO TOLERATE YOUR BIGOTRY by John Pavlovitz

Some days I think people choose to miss the point.

In the weeks following the election, those of us opposing the coming Administration and protesting what we see as very problematic Cabinet appointments and flag-raising political maneuvering, have received a similar scolding from Conservatives as we engage in debate on the issues. It’s an attempt to call us out for our alleged hypocrisy:

“I see, you’re all for diversity unless someone disagrees with you! Apparently we don’t get included in that! You Liberals are so tolerant!” they say.

Well, they’re partially right.

The commitment to diversity and equality means demanding that everyone gets a seat at the table; that each person’s inherent worth is recognized there, that no one is devalued or excluded based on fixed and fundamental part of their identity: skin color, gender, nation of origin, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

This means that we declare every human being equally valuable. It does not mean we treat all behavior equally:

If your opinion directly endangers people based on those essential parts of who they are–we’ll pushback.

If your worldview permits you to treat someone as less deserving of civil rights or it discards their basic humanity–your worldview is a threat to true diversity.

If your evaluation of another makes you more tolerant of their mistreatment or less outraged by hate crimes against them, that’s a fundamental problem.

Active discrimination and violence don’t get a seat at the table. They don’t get proximity to do further damage to people.

For example, a gay teenager and a Baptist preacher are both invited into genuine community and both welcomed into conversation, but if the preacher insists on the inherent depravity of the teenager, if he or she cannot see the teenager as fully equal to them in the eyes of God or the Law, this is a barrier to diverse community and an assault on the teenager’s very identity. The teenager’s place at the table is terribly altered by the preacher, not the other way around.

Diversity will always err on the side of the marginalized and always be an inconvenience to the privileged because diversity seeks justice. It demands benevolence for those who are not experiencing it.

The contention for the past year has been that all political perspectives are valid, but I won’t consent to that and it’s a matter of personal safety. No individual groups of white people are explicitly, measurably endangered by a Progressive platform, they receive the same consideration. But I can illustrate the specific ways people of color, immigrants, Muslims, women, and the LGBTQ community are less safe and less represented by the coming Administration, which is already by its conduct, a movement of exclusion.

 

JOHN PAVLOVITZ, AUTHOR

Friend, I can respect you and seek to understand you, while declaring your actions or those of politicians you support, completely reprehensible. I can criticize your conduct or the results of your behavior without attacking your worth. That’s how this works.

If you believe people of color are simply inferior to white people, you’re going to have to work hard to stay at the table.

If you claim LGBTQ to be abominations, you’ll have to do better.

If you believe Muslims are likely terrorists, you probably won’t feel welcome at the table for long.

And so no, it isn’t at all hypocritical to champion diversity and to confront injustice simultaneously. They are fully collaborative and integrated movements.

All people are welcomed at the table but bigotry isn’t, so save the allegation that its acceptance is a requirement for me.

Equality demands decency toward humanity’s diverse gathering–and it’s what I demand.

 

AVAILABLE THROUGH AMAZON.COM OR LOCAL BOOKSTORES

 

[The above article appeared first in John Pavlovitz’s STUFF THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID on January 12, 2017. Permission pending.]

 

HOW TO SAY THANK YOU by Beth Rankin

HOW TO SAY THANK YOU by Beth Rankin

BETH RANKIN

Someone died. And I got a cornea to fix a vision problem.

Each of us has the opportunity to think ahead to a possible situation where we might not be able to live, but can donate parts of our own bodies that can make someone else’s life better. Thinking this way does not make your death happen. It makes a precious gift happen if and when. What a legacy. Go this website if you already do not have it marked on your driver’s license.

Years ago I lost a husband to brain cancer. At the time the “shit hit the fan” I was quietly told by the neuro-oncologist that we had three to five years. Well, he lived ten years and the doctor really had no idea how. The last MRI, done about eighteen months before his death, showed that this incurable cancer had not grown. For some reason, his brain chemistry caused it to act differently. It was that summer I decided and got things in place to donate his brain when the time came. Heading to a neurological research program, perhaps whatever he had in his brain chemistry could be identified and help someone else. I wanted to make lemonade out of the very sour lemon we had been given.

Perhaps this concept is not so hard for me because I appreciate the sentiment of Thanksgiving. While I don’t count my blessings daily, I give thanks after we return to our driveway after a road trip, when we have a good day at the farmers’ market, when one of my kids has a wonderful achievement. Thank you. Thank you Lord. Thank you God. Thank you Man in the Moon. It doesn’t matter who receives your thanks. It’s recognition that we are not alone. And the One who is honored hears it all.

Being part of society means I choose to be active. I offer skills and energy within my capability to issues I feel are important. As I age perhaps the working parts are not as usable to someone else as if I had died early.

But letting them harvest whatever can be used is one more way I can give back to my community.

When we feel this connection to others, our world is safer. When we feel we can have an impact, our world works smoother.

[Beth Rankin, entrepreneur, business woman, social activist, lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon. She is a frequent contributor to Columnist with a View. The bulk of her writing can be found at:  www.goingplaceslivinglife. This article appeared in the July 23, 2017 issue. <comment-reply@wordpress.com>]

ALL THAT IS NEW….by Beth Rankin

ALL THAT IS NEW….by Beth Rankin

BETH RANKIN

Yesterday I realized that I have not written anything on this blog for about a month. Just now “what” to write hit me, thanks to a conversation on Facebook. No, for a change, this will NOT be about politics.

It is about my new life as a pothead. Well, actually not quite a pothead. One of my Oregon friends thinks I may be the only cannabis user in Oregon who is not driving under the influence. This may (does) have its pleasurable effects, but this is not a recreational activity for me.

I was a senior in high school when someone close to me (who will remain nameless and blameless) introduced me to weed. That definitely was recreational.

In college the drug of choice was booze and that was illegal enough thank you. But I was an RA and would knock on the doors of the rooms where smoking was obviously happening and instruct them on how to use a wet towel. That was definitely pro-user activity.

In the late-1970s I lived in a city in the South and a friend invited me to his family’s home to watch Superman when it was first shown on HBO. He lit up a joint and offered it to me. I enjoyed the show and I don’t remember if I was uncomfortable driving home after, but since there is no memory about it, it must have been fine.

In the mid-1980s a friend a I went on a weekend getaway to her family’s vacation home in New England without any husbands or kids. Another friend handed me a small gift, as it was my birthday and told me to open it when we got to our destination. Inside a Sucrets lozenge box, several joints. It was a chocolate weekend.

That is not all, but the gist of my prior life with pot. Not regular at all. Never enjoyed when responsible sobriety was needed. Definitely recreational. 

Since then I heard sometimes that people with cancer smoked marijuana and it helped. It helped with nausea was one thing and when we were dealing with nausea from chemo issues in the 1990s, the meds the doctor gave took care of it, so no need to search out the underground market…probably available next door, right?

And then we moved to Oregon and they already had medicinal cannabis. The dispensaries were established and things were regulated. The referendum for recreational use passed with 56% of the votes. I suspect there were as many “yes” votes among the Baby Boomers as there were in the Millennials.

The legal requirements for legal grow operations, laboratories for testing, kitchens for preparing edibles, and shops for selling had to be worked out, so it took over a year after the law was passed before the recreational shops were open.

Today, some shops sell only recreational pot. Some sell only to people who have medical cannabis cards. Some sell both rec and medical. The medical side has different record-keeping to meet the legal requirements of that early law. I prefer to go to a dispensary that sells both as I am, at this point in my life, using the cannabis to help a medical condition.

 

 

I have not asked my doctor for a medical card. It is at least a 3-step process including an appointment with another doctor and can cost $800 altogether for people like me (not a veteran, on disability and elderly–I’m too young. LOL) The benefit: no sales tax. In Oregon we do not have a sales tax…except on recreational marijuana. (It probably was THIS benefit to the state financial coffers that convinced the “weed is evil” side to vote yes. After all, they can enjoy thinking the stoners are paying for their sin.)

Since I do not use a lot of pot over the year a card would be valid, I did not think the little bit of additional in tax would offset the fees.

 

 

So when I realized the last bit of canna butter was used up, it was time to go purchase something. Asking three different friends which dispensary they preferred gave me three places to check out. (There are about eight within ten miles, but only one state-run liquor store. The dispensaries were not really busy while that liquor store is always crowded.)

Anyone my age who purchased weed in the 70s and the early 80s purchased a sandwich bag (ounce) for $10. The pot in late 1970 was $40 for the baggie and was a strain known as Acapulco Gold. The baggies had leaf, stems, and generally some seeds.

Now you can buy seeds, you can buy bud, sometimes you can buy leaf (shake), you can buy pre-rolls. You can buy extract, you can buy creams and salves. You can buy candy. You can buy infused products like tea or oil. The bud is the most popular. The strains sell for about $200-400 an ounce (that sandwich baggie) so most people buy a few grams, sort of like heading to the store for a six-pack.

Me, I bought half an ounce. I prepared the canna butter yesterday and the gingered pear bars are out of the oven now, aroma wafting through the house.

Why do I turn to cannabis? Two reasons:

Simply, I am in pain almost all the time now. My stupid ski accident at age 19 was exacerbated by the bacterial memingitis I worked through about fifteen years ago. The pain in the knee started the next year and the doctor assured me it was “only” arthritis. For years Advil was my help. Then I switched to glucosamine in all its combinations. When we moved here almost four years ago, I started getting acupuncture and that helped me be pain-free for ten days. But last June I twisted my knee and have minor meniscus and ACL involvement. Two doctors say it is “only” arthritis. But a year later, I am not back to where I was before the knee twist and now having sympathetic pain on my other leg because of my screwed up gait. Again, if you are about my age, you may be feeling some joints now, too. I hope not.

Second, my asthma. I have been concerned with the Congressional shenanigans. I promised it will NOT be a political rant, but I feel I’ve been on the “am I going to die because I can’t afford medical insurance” roller coaster. My two medications that help me breathe cost $1000 a month out-of-pocket. Simply can’t do that. Can’t afford it. And THEN I started hearing how inhaling pot helps asthma. That’s insane! People with lung disease like asthma can not smoke!!! That’s why I make edibles. Smoke pot to help me breathe? Yes, it dilates the bronchi; in fact, I read a medical research extract dumbed down for non-medical readers that said it was the THC specifically that helps the deeper sections of lung dilate also.

Being Oregon, I got into a short discussion about pot at the UFO Festival in May. The guy handed me a joint, telling me it will help. (Yes, I love Oregon). Over three days I tested the concept and, yes, within a short time I could draw a deep breath without any “pulling” tightness. The next morning, still good.

Then my friends stepped in with their recommendations. One vapes. One gave me a bong. Decision made.

So, why did I write this? Because medical marijuana is available in twenty-nine states, while recreational pot can be (or will be able to be once they get it set up) in eight states. And, of course, your neighbor still buys his from his co-worker’s cousin, just like he always has. In other words, marijuana is around you.

And, yes, there are people smoking to get high or stoned. Just like there are people getting drunk or pissed on booze. And just as others seek their escape in street drugs.

But there are more people of all ages using the beneficial aspects of cannabis for a medical reason.

 

I’M FED UP AND IT’S NOT BECAUSE I ATE TOO MUCH by Beth Rankin

I’M FED UP AND IT’S NOT BECAUSE I ATE TOO MUCH by Beth Rankin

 

BETH RANKIN

About ten years ago something happened. I woke up.

I became aware that a lot of people were writing about the changes to our foods that had been going on since the mid 1990s and about how some illnesses also had a surge in diagnosis since that time.

The  skeptic in me says coincidence does not necessarily show a cause. The cautious part of me decided I needed to prove it to myself.

Having read about how some of the genetically engineered foods kills insects that typically infiltrate plants like corn by causing their stomachs to rupture, I began to think how my daughter, born in 1994, started developing something like irritable bowel syndrome before she was 20 years old. The doctor at the college health center recommended she have a colonoscopy which I wanted to schedule with my doctor when she spent the summer with me. He said, no, 19-year-olds should not need colonoscopies, and we made an appointment to talk with him. After hearing her symptoms and the history, he urged her to repopulate her stomach with probiotics and her symptoms eased. Smart man.

As I read more and more I decided we would switch to organic foods where we did not know a farmer who grew a specific food item. We decided to have a six-month trial and surprise, surprise, we have continued this practice for at least four years now. When we follow our own rules, we feel better. But we generally do not recognize that until we travel and end up eating “regular” food. And then the uncomfortable issues start again.

A few months ago the Federal government approved chickens being sent to China to be butchered and then sent back to American markets. What with past issues with pet food and baby food, I am not comfortable with any of the food grown in the United States going overseas for processing. Especially since the USDA eliminated the “country of origin” labeling also!

CHINESE WORKERS PROCESSING CHICKENS

Today I read that the milk industry has petitioned the FDA to CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF MILK to include aspartameTheir point is that it would not need to be on the label and sweet things would be “healthier” without sugar. (Oh, and since so many people are now aware of the ill effects of that artificial sweeter, the FDA has approved changing its name to “Amino Sweet,” so watch for that on your labels!)

For those of us who prefer to know what is in our food, this is unacceptable. Personally, I really can not, nor do I want to, have a cow. (Pun intended) But it is getting to the point where the ONLY way to control what you are putting into your body is to source all your food from farmers you know. Farmers who tell you their growing methods. Farmers who are more interested in health than becoming rich.

I really am impressed by ALL the farmers I know, whether they grow with organic practice or even if they grow conventionally. Farming is hard work. Yields are highly dependent on a huge unknown–the weather. And generally, farmers do not make much income. Long hours, low pay.

And yet, most of the farmers I have met are passionate about what they do. They may be exhausted, but they have the drive to keep on growing food for us.

We are extremely fortunate in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to have almost all our food needs met by local farmers. We need to go a bit farther for citrus and for sugar, but the foods we personally eat and the foods prepared in the kitchen of Can-Do Real Food, we support our local farmers as much as possible.

There are tons of diets that claim to offer a healthier body. No one size fits all, but many can lead to better health. But above all, start cooking from whole foods and leave the frozen foods with their high sodium and loads of preservatives at the store. Not only will you discover what foods really taste like, but you will feel proud that you can nourish yourself so deliciously.

Can-Do Real Food provides you preserved foods that have been made from local food raised on farms that are certified organic, bio-dynamic, or naturally grown or farms that grow in the organic style. Our only products that come from trees that have been sprayed are the hazelnut butters. Although new trees planted in the past year or so are a strain that is resistant to insect infestation, the mature trees must be treated or there would be no crop of nuts at all. All other produce used to prepare the recipes in the Can-Do Real Food kitchen are raised without any chemical treatment for insects or weeds. You may opt not to buy our products, but it won’t be because of added chemicals.

CAN-DO REAL FOOD

LOCAL HARVEST 

NO ARTIFICAL ANYTHING!

[Beth Rankin lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon. An advocate of the production and processing of organic foods, she is the CEO of CAN-DO REAL FOOD. Rankin is also the publisher of a blog
“Going Places Can-Do Zero Waste” where this article first appeared on July 15, 2017. Readers are encouraged to check out her blog-site at:  http://candorealfood.com]