Travel~Writing

Near is Far

Every trip to the Oregon coast delivers rejuvenation and revelation. It is a timeless place that both evolves and remains the same. It is a ‘tween place grounded and un-grounded where ether meets substance and our dreams meet reality. I love it so.

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Traveling has taken on a new meaning for me and many, many others. I had trips scheduled to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Rome that have been put on hold.

But I keep holding! Waiting for the day that we can all travel again safely. Meanwhile, a trip to our fabulous Oregon Coast will do nicely. It really is one of my favorite destinations and I feel blessed to be close enough to visit it often and safely.

My son and I drove over to Lincoln City, Oregon for a two night stay. We had Lunner (lunch/dinner) at Gallucci’s Pizza. A favorite pizza place with thin crust pizza and fresh ingredients and a full bar isn’t bad either.

Galluccis

The view from our third story oceanfront window was a non-stop visual art show. I Highly recommend Nordic Oceanfront Inn for cleanliness, quiet, beach access, video rentals and even though the pool/sauna was closed, we peeked at it and can’t wait to return when it is open. They have fridges, microwaves and coffee makers in every room. Plenty of towels and a DVD player. No Pets. Book directly from their website for the best rates.

walking

We slept with the windows wide open each night and slept to the sound of the waves. It was soul restoring.

Moonset

We started the day with a walk on the beach and repping Salty Skateboards, my son’s skate team.

salty

On the way home, we drove down the coast to Newport bayfront and had lunch at our favorite brewery, Rogue Bayfront Public House. My son the skater wanted to try out their new brew in collaboration with Dreamland Skateparks The beer Dreamland was developed for the skateboarders and skateparks.

My favorite Rogue brew is the Chocolate Stout Nitro with a smooth, rich and deep flavor of chocolate and coffee.

Rogue

Notice the Rogue Dead Guy pin on my son’s hat. We are long-time fans. His Dad and I used to drive over to play trivia at Rogue back in the day!

hat

Our trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop in at Jambo’s for some hemp seed lotion that smells like Nag Champa.

Jambo

 

A Guide to Looted Art During WWII

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Painter on His Way to Work, Vincent van Gogh 1888

I did a thing. And I really like this thing I did.

I am taking a Reference class in my graduate program for my Masters in Library Science. It is a lot of work! But I kind of fell in lust with creating Lib Guides. Lib Guides are basically a subject specific resource guide. A library resource guide=Lib Guide. Aka: Subject Guide.

The one I created is online and one page but has a range of resources, including  books, articles, databases and films. I also threw in some visuals of the art. My subject is art that was looted during WWII.

When I first started the guide I had included, “by the Nazis” in the title but there were actually a lot of people involved in the looting that extend way beyond the Nazis. Some collectors, gallery owners and museum personnel were involved in helping the Nazis steal, transport and store looted art.

Here is my LibGuide. I hope you all enjoy it.

Ignoring Tribal History in a Contemporary Exhibit

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On 10/26, 2019 I visited the Open house at the Oregon State Archives, Salem, OR, and was supremely disappointed at their new exhibit Rust, Rot, & Ruin, which documents the beginning of key industries in Oregon through the boomtowns founded by gold mining, logging, farming and ranching,  and other mining. Some of these industries produced company towns, which have since become ghost towns, largely abandoned by the original settler families who made their wealth off of these natural resources.

The text has few, very few, mentions of Native peoples and Chinese people. There is a panel on the Chinese laborers and one section of a panel on native peoples of the coast.

Lewis and Clark did not “occupy” the Oregon coast, they had a log cabin, Ft Clatsop, well inland from the Columbia River. They did visit the coast as far south as the Nehalem area, and drew a…

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Women’s Work

The buzz of the day is literally: wage inequality.

Michelle Williams delivered a moving plea at the 2019 Emmy Awards televised last night to end pay inequality between women and men in the workforce.

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Getty Images.

The struggle is real. It has been for over a century.

When will it end?

The book, Now Hiring: the Feminization of Work in the United States, 1900-1995, by Julia Kirk Blackwelder discusses women entering the work force after WWI and the circumstances that influenced women to earn wages, the types of jobs available and unavailable to women and the wage gap between male and female workers. Influences such as marital status, age, gender, race and ethnicity all played a part in women earning wages. The book follows the labor of women through most of the 20th century however many of the same issues face women wage earners today. Recent news has placed a spotlight on the remaining gender-based wage gap. Employers are still following hiring practices that began during the 1900’s over a century ago.

In the 1900’s five million women in America worked for wages and one out of five workers were female. Hiring practices were based on ethnicity and race, gender and marital status, discrimination by employers kept some jobs just for women but also kept some jobs out of the reach of women. Regardless of economic considerations these factors played a large part in determining women’s decisions of “whether, when, and where to seek work.” [1]

The work force structure of the female labor force looked like a pyramid, with 12% of male professionals at the top, then 5% clerical workers, %5 sales workers, 34% factory or manual laborers and at the base 44% hotel maids and laundry workers etc. Based on these numbers it can be seen that the majority, 78%, of women earning wages in the 1900’s worked in manufacturing or service-related jobs. Through the influence of economic factors and discriminatory hiring practices based on race, gender and marital status, female workers earned approximately fifty cents for every dollar earned by a white male. Even though the wage gap has lessened over time it remains throughout the twentieth century and into today. [2]

Flash forward to 2019 and current statistics that involve a major national corporation, Kroger, which operates the local Oregon and Washington Fred Meyer stores. According to the local UFCW 555 union, women have been disproportionately hired into lower-paying jobs. According to the data 68% women versus 32% of men work in schedule B jobs with a pay difference of $3.50 per hour. The most common male employee wage has been 27% higher at $17.20 than the female employee wage at $13.50. The discrepancy only increased as wages got higher and female employees became older. The average male employee age 45-49 makes $1 more per hour than a female employee same age, but it increases by 50% at age 55-59 and again another 50% at age 60+ with a combined wage gap of $2.25 per hour. [3]

UFCW555 is currently asking citizens to boycott Fred Meyer operated by Kroger until the gender-based wage gap disappears.

The feminization of work has deep roots in the early 20th century. The wage-gap based on gender, ethnicity, marital status and age is an economic force that belies a foundation of power propagated and held by those who dominate through Nationalism and Imperialism.  Historically this foundation is protected as a fundamental right,  deserving to be held by men who “serve” others; politicians and those who financially support those politicians. Until this foundational system is dismantled the battle over equal wages will continue.

If you are looking for more than a 5 minute read…here is a great report, What is the Gender Pay Gap and Is It Real?

 

[1] Julia Kirk Blackwelder, Now Hiring: the Feminization of Work in the United States, 1900-1995, Texas: Texas A&M University, 1997, 11.

[2] Ibid. 12.

[3] UFCW555, “The Women of 555,” accessed September 23, 2019, https://www.ufcw555.org/the-women-of-555/

Bibliography

Blackwelder, Julia Kirk. Now Hiring: the Feminization of Work in the United States, 1900-1995. Texas: Texas A&M University, 1997. Google Ebook. Accessed September 22, 2019. https://books.google.com/books/about/Now_Hiring.html?id=fxYTDEpDObQC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

UFCW555. “The Women of 555.” Accessed September 23, 2019. https://www.ufcw555.org/the-women-of-555/

 

Where to Stay in Rome?

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A more accurate question would be, which neighborhood offers most what I need and want? Finding an apartment long distance online from the U.S. is never easy, especially when many apartments for rent in Rome are not posted online or if they are, they rely heavily on follow up in person.

I began my apartment search online months ago and only recently came to the conclusion that a short-term rental is the only solution until I can be physically in Rome and look at apartments for long-term rental. There are a couple reasons for this decision. One: I couldn’t even illicit a response to my inquiry from an agency. Two: (And the reason for number one),  much of the business conducted in Italy is in person and relationship based. Word of mouth or knowing someone who refers you is HUGE. I started by striking up short online conversations with rentals, asking questions and discussing my plans once I arrive in Rome.

Initially this seems awkward and over share but if you keep in mind that it isn’t strictly business in Italy but rather fueled by a genuine interest in the person doing the business then it will seem rather normal after a bit. Even if I decided against renting their unit many have expressed for me to contact them after I arrive in Rome if I need a rental. This is GREAT for any future rentals.

It is also molto importante to research the different neighborhoods in Rome. They are all unique and offer different types of community. Do you like a busy, lively neighborhood always awake and full of activity? Trastevere, historical Centre and parts of San Giovanni are good options. Do you want a slightly upscale, mostly suburban and green feel? Monteverde is your neighborhood. If you like lots of food choices, I hear Testaccio is the place, complete with famous open air market. Pigneto is hip, bohemian, artsy and a bit sketchy looking on the surface but a great place for artists, art lovers and creative types. I chose Garbatella because it is close to where I want to go (under an hour is close in Rome), the architecture is a mixture of Baroque, Roman and Art Noveau, it is set up in more of a neighborhood feel with lots of courtyards and green spaces, it is quiet and non-touristy. Each neighborhood has markets, bars and cafes, the differences are in how they are arranged and the people that live there.

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View at sunset from our apartment rental in Siena.

Apartment amenities in Rome are standardized according to Italian standards. The most common apartment found in Rome is what would be defined as a one bedroom in the U.S. but in Rome it is often listed as three bedrooms or rooms. Italian rentals include each space as a room. So a kitchen, living room and bedroom are three rooms. Bathrooms are counted separate. When doing an online search for apartments, search by beds. Keep in mind the rental will count the living room sofa bed as a bed. So the most often found rental in Rome is LISTED as a two bedroom. It will consist of a combined kitchen/living room with sofa bed and a bedroom and bath. Less commonly found is the three bedroom apartment which would be either a separate kitchen and living room with sofa bed and a bedroom and a bath or combined kitchen/living room and two separate bedrooms and a bath. These apartments are more often found further away from the center of Rome and the tourist areas. The further out the apartment the less expensive it will be and the more space the rental will have. Space is a precious commodity in the center of Rome.

I have learned there are some standard amenities you do not need to ask about in a furnished rental: balcony, heating and usually a washing machine. Most apartments have a balcony but many do not show it in the photos. Heating is also always standard however if it is important to you to be able to regulate it yourself you need to look for individual heating. Heat is generally not turned on in Italy until November 1st and some are controlled by the building. Most furnished rentals have a washing machine either in the kitchen, bathroom or sometimes on the balcony. It may be hidden behind a cupboard door. There will not be a dryer. Almost all clothes in Italy are line dried. In the thousands of rentals I have looked through I have only found one that had a dryer.

Always ask about the following amenities: wifi, air conditioning, oven and how many beds. Ovens are not standard with kitchens. The stove or hob will be two burner (kitchenette) or four burner often gas fueled, (which is great when the breaker flips). Also if you want a bath tub vs a shower, I have found bath tubs only exist outside the central part of Rome in the larger rentals. Air conditioning is expensive to run in Rome and most Romans do not use it believing that it can make you sick. The rentals do offer it for tourists but read the reviews to see if it works well enough to cool down the space. BECAUSE.. this is huge…

Electrical is much different in Rome. As an American I am used to as much electricity as I want being at the flip of a switch whenever I want it. Could I sound any more entitled? Once again read the reviews but also just go with the knowledge that you will most likely need to operate one or two electrical appliances at a time and breakers will flip. Air conditioners take a lot of electricity and they do not cool to the level of sweater-needed cool we are accustomed to here in the States. If a breaker flips just flip the breaker back and unplug some stuff. Go forth knowing that your electrical imprint has just been reduced and enjoy it. Funny side note on how I learned this tidbit of info. I was cooking and the power went out in our rental in Siena. I called the manager in a panic. He called out the electrician on a Sunday during a storm no less. Only to find that I just needed to flip the breaker back on.

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Rome 2013

Always, always read the rental reviews. I cannot stress this enough. The ad may say wifi but in the reviews you will find out: if the wifi is consistent, can only be accessed out on the balcony, is shared with the next door neighbor or s o o o o o o slow! The rental I had in Siena claimed it had wifi however it was a renovated ground floor villa built in the 1300’s and wifi could not penetrate the stone walls. We spent 3 months sitting in the garden at night and in the rain to access our laptops!

Reviews will also tell you if the shower leaks all over the bathroom each time (always open the window in the bathroom, trust me), if the owner comes into the apartment to show other potential renters while you are out, if the rental really is close to public transit, if there is a lift (elevator) and more. Remember to the people of Rome close to a location can mean less than an hour by metro!

I am posting this information in response to the hundreds of reviews that I have read where renters are unhappy with their rentals and it effects their highly anticipated vacation. It all comes down to what is important to you. I don’t mind a leaky shower but no oven is a deal breaker. A little research and an adjustment of expectations can go a long way to making your stay, whether long or short, a happy one!

I am happy to help out with any questions or tips.

 

Studying in Roma

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I was recently the honored recipient of a scholarship to study for my MA in Art History in Roma.  I jumped at the chance to return to Italy and this time for 2 years! My days are now filled with Italian language study, booking hotels and trains, packing up my house and basically closing out one life to begin another. It is a slightly humorous and sometimes precarious balancing act between embracing the last little bit of time in my current life and the utter cliff jump of disconnect that I welcome with anticipation that is my future life. My life has always been blessed with abundance and fortune and although I have had some trials in the last six years since I was last in Italy, I know that once I set foot back in the country of my heart, I will be renewed and the many fountains of Roma will nourish me. I will take the passeggiata and languish at the outdoor cafes over a glass of vino all while feeling the blessed life. Life gives to you what you give to life. La Dolce Vita!

Here are a few photos of the neighborhood of Garbatella where I will be living.

 

 

 

Fall Celebration

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Photo by TripSavy

 

I feel content and grateful as I watch the rain fall outside my bedroom window, all tucked up in bed streaming a movie. I just put a loaf of chocolate chip zucchini bread into the oven. My son just sent me pictures of his costume for a party he is going to tonight. Ah yes. Tonight is THE night, when all the Halloween celebrations happen. I am smiling as I remember all the parties I could not miss at his age and how much I love my plans for tonight at this age- working on a short story submission, eating bread, reflection and maybe a scary movie. The wheel turns.

Egg Gravy On Toast

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When I was sixteen I dropped out of school and went to live with my grandparents in Holbrook, Arizona at a Navajo Mission School. My gram was the cook for the boarding school students, faculty and staff. She had very little supplies to work with. The school baked it’s own bread (which was to die for). Rather it was baked by a man in thick spectacles down in the basement of the girl’s dormitory in a dark hot space but it smelled heavenly. The main source of food was government issued commodities that came on a truck once a month. The commodities were generic labeled food stuffs that came in industrial sized cans and bricks of cheese food that could be frozen for later use. The commodity food was sub-par but we never guessed because my gram could cook up dishes that had everyone coming back for seconds.

One of these dishes was egg gravy on toast. Gram didn’t have a pre-set menu, she just cooked in order of what needed to be used up first or what she had a surplus of or sometimes the only thing she had left for the month. I suspect that egg gravy was under the last category. A huge industrial sized pot of milk, flour, salt, pepper and chopped boiled eggs over trays and trays of toast.

Being a boarding school, many of the students skipped breakfast, choosing to sleep a little longer before their very long day began. On the mornings gram made egg gravy word would spread and we learned by mistake not to underestimate the numbers for breakfast on those days. Everyone came for egg gravy on toast and they came again for seconds and thirds. Second’s weren’t always allowed as portions had to be rationed but not for egg gravy. Gram seemed to know how to satisfy more than hunger but also the need to feel abundance.  The students would take a regular school issued tray and place a piece of toast in each partitioned off space then the gravy would be ladled over the entire tray. It was a magnificent sight to see the gravy tray and the faces of the students as they watched their overflowing tray of food while carefully navigating their way to an empty chair in the dining room.

I made egg gravy on toast this morning and even though it was out of almond milk and vegetarian fed free range eggs, I can still see gram standing next to the gas stove stirring a pot of gravy that was taller than her and smell the peeled boiled eggs. It is decades later, she has passed and every time I make egg gravy on toast I am transported back in time to a place that is full of smells, tastes and comfort.

What is a food that sends you back in time?

Egg Gravy On Toast

2 cups milk (any kind works, almond, coconut)

3 Tbl flour

sprinkle garlic powder (less than a 1/16 tsp) Really to taste.

1/2 tsp salt or to taste

1/2 tsp pepper or to taste

2 chopped hard boiled eggs

2 slices toast or bisquits

Combine milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper in pot on stove over medium heat. Stir constantly until it thickens. Add chopped eggs and pour over toast.

 

What A Wild Ride!

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Are you feeling a bit like you just came through the eye of the storm? Me too.

The recent full moon eclipse in my sun sign of Aquarius has really wiped me out emotionally, physically and mentally. I spent most of the weekend sleeping and eating. It felt like I was grounding out A LOT of energy, like years worth of energy.

All of the advice I read from the powers that are plugged into the cosmic soup reported that we all would feel a major shift and need to practice some down time and self care. I do take in the forecasts but also listen to my own peculiar rhythm of living.

What I noticed most about me during this shift was how calm I was during it all. I attribute this state to my recent decision to accept what comes and release as much control as my controlling nature will allow. I truly do believe that my own misery arises from my resistance to that which I cannot control.

Seems easy enough, just give up control or roll with the flow as they say. It isn’t easy at all. Giving up control may be one of the hardest things I have ever done and I am not even sure that it is done. Maybe, maybe not. See how I gave up control over giving up control?

Love yourself today. Feed your body good food. And rest. The world will sort itself out without your worry. Maybe, maybe not.

Up For Grabs

The MeToo movement has made and continues to make major waves in the world. Victims of sexual assault and abuse coming forward with their accounts has brought public awareness to a rampant undercurrent of sexual violence that women have lived with silently for centuries. Coinciding with this movement I have been on my own healing journey through counseling, engaging with how my own boundaries have been crossed in my past and sexual assault. It is incredibly powerful and healing to put sexual assault or misconduct into words both written and spoken.

As a young girl I witnessed my brother on two separate occasions with two different girls pull down their pants. I was 9 yrs old the first time, he was 8 yrs old.  My brother opened the bathroom door too many times to count while I was using it. When we were adults in our 30’s and a group of us went on a cruise to Mexico, he pulled up my skirt and exposed me in front of our group of family and friends and all the surrounding guests on a cruise ship.

I didn’t do or say anything about the abuse. Ever. Neither did the family and friends that witnessed it. It was normalized. I grew up with my boundaries being assaulted every. single. day. It was normal to me for my brother to do whatever he wanted to me. I won’t even begin on the verbal and emotional abuse that happened daily as well.

This is sexual assault. I had to look up the definition of sexual assault in order to determine if it indeed was sexual assault. That is how prevalent and accepted this kind of behavior between a male and a female is in this society. How prevalent and accepted it is in my family, community, and society. I have been socialized to accept someone pulling up my skirt, pulling down my top, grabbing my chest, grabbing my butt, pinching my butt, grabbing my vagina, pulling my hair (oh he just likes you sweetie), throwing things at me. Violent acts. Sexual assault.

Not just in the United States though…this link is an account of someone being groped, skirt hiked and more in the U.K.  Here in Australia.

All the stories are the same, entitled, predatory acts of violence towards women that HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES. 

This is a global problem.

My own 15 minutes of research brought up more stories of the same kind of sexual assault as mine, all of them being treated as nothing more than everyday normal occurrences.

Here is a woman’s account of a man lifting her Skirt on the New York subway while on an escalator. She reported it to the Metro Police, read it to see what happens. Nothing.

My sexual assault happened 18 yrs. ago. I have no legal recourse now. My brother is a Major in the United States Army. How many people do you think he has done this to in the last 18 yrs.? That is just one of the questions that I ask myself. I am also sickened that men who sexually assault women are in positions of “power” in this country. These positions hold titles that automatically associate the bearer with prestige, integrity and honor, to which none of these describe my brother or any perpetrator of sexual assault.

Trust me, if I had legal recourse I would be pursuing it. But I have other recourse. I will use my voice. My written and spoken words will validate and seek justice. We can all stop this kind of sexual assault by calling it what it is and never staying silent or treating it as normal. No matter when it happened, say it, write it, tell everyone.