Monday, January 20, 2020

We cannot all be famous

Well, we cannot all be famous. I was surprised when my second oldest granddaughter asked me, "Who is Michael Jackson?" Hm. That was a few years ago. Now I have grandkids who are the ripe old age of seven. Every famous person I know now will be history to them. And, many will be forgotten.

I grew up with a mother who loved piano sheet music. In fact, I have most of it now. Mom would play her ragtime versions of old songs and sing along. I grew up with a history through music. The sheet music alone told me of the times. Perhaps that is why I hate to part with any of it. The famous people of her time are lost on me except for a few. Now there is more modern technology, allowing the introduction of more people to larger audiences. As I cannot remember my parents' idols, I have no idea if any of mine will be tucked into the memory of my kids. I am on the fringes of everyone's lives except my very own.

In my query as to famous people in the past, I decided to pull out some of current-day famous people from Ohio, a state that has had a plethora of big names throughout history. We have Neil Armstrong, Hallie Barrie, Steven Spielberg, Toni Morrison, Luke Perry, John Legend, Sarah Jessica Parker. Here are a few from Dayton: Allison Janney (West Wing, Mom), Martin Sheen (West Wing), Chad Lowe (Pretty Little Liars). The list of presidents, sports figures, inventors, etc., is much too long to mention, but you get the point. We all knew that Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, Annie Oakley, Lowell Thomas, etc, came from Ohio, but how many of the new ones do you know? My grandlittles will not remember them. It is the way of life, isn't it?

I try to listen to the music of my grandkids just as I did for my children. Now I find myself singing Baby Shark and Wonky Donkey. I want to know about their favorite books. Dogman is Nolan's, while Emma likes anything about horses. (Now I have Baby Shark in my head!)

Well, we cannot all be famous. We move on and gather all the famous names and events from our youth to now as will our children and grandchildren. Sometimes I marvel at time, how it quickly captures so many names, places and things. Then I marvel at how many of them I forget. We cannot all be famous to everyone forever, but we can certainly be memorable in our own families.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

For the love of the farm and the farmer

Farms. They are everywhere. They are lifelines of all countries. I remember as a child hearing how the Brethren Church sent young people to other countries to show them how to farm. And, a calf or goat could be sent to a settlement to provide milk and meat, a way to start a herd for those too poor to buy meat or with no means to obtain it due to isolation. Feeding a world.

I have lived in three states, Ohio, Wisconsin and Oregon. In every one of those states, the farmers are appreciated. Of course, there is no finer soil than that in Darke County, Ohio. Wisconsin provides wonderful dairy products that are sent throughout the world.

It is a misnomer that farmers are not appreciated. More than ever before, we know that the land is important. We know that new methods and products are needed to protect the farmer as well as the consumer and the wildlife that lives off it, hides in it and rears their young in its trees and soil.

My lovely state of Oregon is the number 1 U.S. producer of hazelnuts, crimson clover (which is absolutely gorgeous), three types of grass and red and white clover seeds, sugar beets for seed, potted florist azaleas, Christmas trees, rhubarb and blueberries. It is number 2 in production of Kentucky bluegrass seeds, pears, peppermint, spearmint, Australian winter peas and Dungeness crab. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is a great site to check out these fact. Oregon is a specialty-crop state with over 220 recognized commodities. There are more than 34,600 farms and ranches covering about 16.4 million acres. An average farm is 474 acres. And, don't forget the wineries. Oregon has 725 statewide with 500 in the Willamette Valley, which is where we live.

With the changes in weather patterns, farming will change. Conservation and cooperation is a priority. New ways of farming and perhaps even considering new crops will be the change. More food will be needed for livestock and people. Water is already causing some areas to be abandoned for farming. Irrigation will not be enough. Hardier plants will be developed. Land will be more precious. The farmer is not forgotten. The farmer is our lifeline.

We see farmland and forests being eaten up by real estate developers. I remember when I was a child that one of the future soothsayers said that one day people would live on top of each other. Indeed there seem to be more apartments than I ever thought possible.

Farmers and farmland are priceless commodities. Their needs and causes are taken up with those of us who use our voices and our votes. I am a farm girl and proud of it. Thank you, farmers.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Open each petal one by one

Paul Simon describe it best in "Sound of Silence": And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never share. And no one dare....disturb the sound of silence.

A very real thing happens to many people after the first of the year. In case you did not know it, January is considered the month when people are most depressed. In fact, the third Monday is called Blue Monday. I know it is a difficult month for me. A let down after the holidays always finds me. Memories of sad events that took place during the holidays seem to linger after the first of the year. Dark stormy weather does nothing to help with my winter blues.

Depression is very real. I had no idea what it was when I was a kid. In fact, no one ever talked about feelings or expressed them for what they were. Sorrow, hurt, difficulties in life, (and the list goes on) were never shared. My examples were all considered strong people. In retrospect, I find that they failed their daughters by not expressing their feelings. People could be grumpy and angry. Maybe they were silent and off to themselves. I know I spent long periods of time alone with my thoughts. I never would have thought to share them. (I know, hard to believe I had such a problem.) 

I first realized what depression was after the birth of each of my two children. Each time I was at a bad place, trying to swim upstream. I did not ask for help nor did I admit the struggle I felt. Then I began writing. That I could do. The words were just for me, but this tool gave me insight. When I went through a terrible divorce, I found that I needed help beyond myself. And, in that reaching out, I found my strength.

In working with troubled teens, the biggest hurdles I found were in helping kids open up about their feelings. Anger would rage. Drugs might come into the picture. Some kids came to me with bruises on their bodies. They had no one to go to whom they could trust. I got it. I felt that way most of my youth. I learned a great deal from the depths of my feelings and by moving around this country. I learned that I could change from what I learned as a child. I found that I could only have healthy kids if I was open and honest about the feelings with which I dealt.

It is a time of year to understand and help others. January is a tough month. You are not alone if you are feeling down. Seek someone to talk to. There is no shame in admitting that the load is too heavy. In fact, you are doing yourself and your families a favor. If you know someone who is depressed, open a dialogue with that person and help him/her find their own help source. I like the following quote by Goldie Hawn. I leave you with this:

The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.”