Tag: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2015, Part 1


There are only two holidays of the entire year that I like. Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. I love Thanksgiving for the tradition of making a big feast in celebration of and gratitude for abundance. I’m not fond of its origin story, though, because I call bullshit on the Europeans putting themselves in any kind of heroic light when it comes to their bloody invasion of this land. They were absolute evil to the people who were already here. Nothing will change that. I suppose the one salvageable part of the Thanksgiving story is white people actually acknowledging the help and kindness they received from the Native Americans they encountered. Still, it always leaves me feeling sick with the aftertaste of colonial self congratulation. Taking Thanksgiving away from its mythical origin and culling from it the ideals it purports to celebrate makes this is a holiday I can completely endorse and fully enjoy.

Food + Gratitude = Satiation of Body and Spirit

I will say that the American tradition of stuffing yourself until you’re practically sick is gross. It’s very Early-Roman of us as a nation to go way overboard with the abundance of food part. I may be fat, but I don’t over-stuff myself on Thanksgiving, ever. That people treat that as a goal of the feast is weird and stupid. Just eat smaller portions, people, and you can have some of everything.

Here at our house we rarely make traditional Thanksgiving fare. Often we make a vegetarian stuffing but it’s been years since I made my mom’s yam dish, or since we’ve made gravy, or mashed potatoes, and I’ve never made a green bean casserole in my life and the one time I ate it was when my Michigan relatives came to visit and they made it from canned green beans and all I could think was “Really? People get excited over this?” Most years we’ve made a completely vegetarian dinner. But in the last two years we’ve made chicken because Max, for the first time in his young life, actually cared about what food was being made. So for the third year in a row we’re having chicken, Max’s favorite meat. We’re making grilled chicken with a savory blueberry sauce from Chef John’s Food Wishes blog. We’re having roasted beet salad with walnuts and feta and lettuce. And we’re making fondant potatoes (also from Food Wishes, Max’s favorite recipe site). and I’ll be making cheese and mushroom toasts for snacking on. Dessert will be little sour cherry turnovers using the first harvest of sour cherries from our own tree.

I have been working really hard at my part time job in the past month. Especially the past two weeks. It’s been kind of brutal – but overall a good thing. Now I have 4 days off. I’m so pleased I kind of want to stay in my pyjamas and watch tv all day from my couch. I’d end up regretting it though. Sour cherry hand pies don’t make themselves. Later today I’ll make a list of all the things I feel grateful for, as I generally do.

To all of you celebrating today – you have my warmest good wishes for a wonderful day.

A Thanksgiving List: 2014 Edition

window view GJ

It’s Thanksgiving today, my very favorite holiday. I don’t like how it originated so I don’t celebrate its origins (celebrating the abundance the first illegal immigrants stole for themselves from the current citizens right before obliterating them all with firepower and disease, lies and savagery)

women in waders

Helloooooo Colorado, baby! What I wouldn’t give to see this calender full of men in waders and their underwear. Not because I like to see men in their underwear, I don’t, but because I’m a seeker of balance in the universe.

The reason I love Thanksgiving is because it’s a day previously set aside to gather with loved ones and be thankful for whatever it is you have, however little or much. Like all holidays, it comes with a sting to those with no food and no shelter and no family. Unlike other holidays, it’s easy to include the wanderers, the lonely, and those with less than yourself. It’s easy to gather people in and share. It’s secular, it’s classless, and if you embrace the spirit of it instead of the origins of it – it’s raceless too.

Naturally, the beauty of this day has been increasingly diminished and swallowed whole by the nasty materialistic voracious appetite of Christmas. Just another proof of the evil that happens when a country embraces its political structure as a religion. Capitalism destroys everything sacred eventually.

I will not let all that bullshit ruin my enjoyment of this day. Those of you who participate in shopping today and tomorrow are temporarily dead to me. I have no space for anyone who shits on something meant to be simple, peaceful, and un-materialistic.

Here, then, is my official list of things I’m thankful for right now.

An Exhaustive List of the Things I’m Thankful for Right Now:

Kitchen faucets. That’s right, a lot of people in the world do not have this simple luxury and when you don’t have one you discover just how awesome having a kitchen faucet is. It’s fucking brilliant to have running water in the same room you prepare your food.

Coffee, bitches! I’m thankful for coffee. Hurts fewer people than the dirty diamond trade does but is still a luxury I enjoy that’s very hard on the planet. If I had to choose between having diamonds (what?! I love diamonds! Just because I have very few of them and don’t mind having very few of them doesn’t mean I don’t “ooh” and “ahhhh” when I see a really fine piece of diamond jewelry) or keep drinking coffee, I would pick coffee every time.

My little family.  I like having a small family. Today it’s just me, Philip, Max, and my mom with a short visit from one of my closest friends, Chelsea. We rarely cook the traditional foods and we eat late. We do what we want. I love my little family so much!

My friends. I am rich with friends and that is something I never take for granted. I’m not always the best friend a person could ask for but I truly do my best to be there for mine when I’m not mired in my own crap. Thank you all who stick with me even through the thick black mud of chronic depression!

Wild turkeys. The appreciation is mutual as they can sense I don’t picture them in my oven slathered in butter roasting in their own juices. We have a lot of wild turkeys here in Santa Rosa and I love them. I look forward to seeing them and when I do I stop and chat. It’s nice not caring what other people think. Turkey’s are huge fascinating birds that could claw your eyes out with a single swipe. I mostly think none of you deserve to eat such majestic birds if you aren’t brave enough to look a wild one in the eye and catch it with your bare hands. They also make hilarious sounds. Seriously, any day I run into the wild ones is made infinitely better by them.

Having a job. I don’t want to have to have a job outside of my home and my writing. It’s okay if my bosses see this. It’s  natural to wish that I could spend all my time doing the things I most want to do. BUT – we were in a pretty bad way recently, trying to keep up with bills and necessities. I even went a few days without coffee just to save some money and getting work in this economy is really tough for old broads like me. I’m so thankful I got a job working with excellent coworkers.

My potato-doneness-checking fork. The thing about having OCD, even a mild case of it as I have, is that objects can become singularly important in your daily life without you meaning for it to happen. I have a potato-doneness-checking fork now. I didn’t before. It makes me laugh at myself, which is good. I tried using a different fork to test the doneness of my potatoes and couldn’t. That’s right: COULDN’T. A lot of aspects of having OCD aren’t funny, but this one is. I have a dedicated potato-doneness-checking fork, DO YOU?

The Daily Show. I’m really mad every time they go on vacation. Because I’m selfish and need them to help me laugh through the horrors of the world I live in. They take an unconscionable number of vacations.

Social Media. That’s right, I’m thankful for social media. Without it I wouldn’t have access to so many other points of view outside my own and those of my small community. I wouldn’t get to hear about the issues and struggles people experience in different parts of our country, from different cultural backgrounds, and to hear directly from people of different races and nationalities. My understanding of my fellow human beings is greater because of this direct access to other people’s personal stories. I have done a lot more listening in the last few years than ever before. My life is richer for it, my ignorance slightly less appalling.

Water. You all know I love beer almost more than life itself, but a little known fact is that I also drink a lot of water. A LOT. I love drinking water. I have a pitcher through which I filter it. So many people in this world do not have access to clean water. Many people have limited access to ANY water. It’s one of the most important life-giving resources and I recognize how lucky I am to have constant access to it even living in a state that’s in the middle of a major drought.

Television shows. I still don’t have cable but we have Hulu, Netflix, and Acorn. Between these three outlets we have access to a lot of television shows. I love television. You people who proudly claim to not watch or like TV, good for you.* These days most television shows are, in my opinion, better than most movies  being released. Right now I’m re-watching The Gilmore Girls. I’m about to be temporarily burnt out on it so I’ll probably start rewatching Fringe. I woke up thinking that the perfect show for Thanksgiving is the last season of Fringe. Post Apocalyptic fiction goes really well with a day of thanks.

My mums. My mom is a wild and rare person. She’s creative, loving, and has a generous spirit. She’s also really weird and to keep things real – she has been known to drive me a little nuts from time to time. I can tell you that I have also been known to drive her nuts from time to time as well. Today is her birthday. I am thankful to my mom for raising me with a broader sense of spirituality than most of my peers were raised with. I’m thankful that my mom accepts that I’m different from her and is gentle with me regarding my foibles and shortcomings. I’m thankful that my mom has embraced Max’s weirdness too. That she spends time with him on his terms and they laugh and enjoy each other. I’m thankful that my mom loves Philip so much. Sometimes it’s really irritating, but mostly it’s wonderful. I’m thankful that my mom helps us out in every way she can. I’m thankful that she’s one of the biggest fans of my novel. I’m so fucking lucky to have the mom I have. Happy birthday mom!!!! I love you!

Dental floss. BEST INVENTION EVER. Maybe better than electricity. I would rather live by gas lights and candles than live without dental floss. This is the number one modern product I intend to stock-pile if I ever get crazy enough to start stock-piling things against the possibility of an apocalypse.

Avocados. Perfect food. I miss them. I haven’t had one in weeks. I am having withdrawals now. I need some fucking avocado back in my life! WHY ARE THEY SO EXPENSIVE RIGHT NOW?

Beer. I wish it was the 12th century when people were sometimes paid in ale because water was so undrinkable (you know, because of all the dead bodies floating in it and such). I don’t really wish it was the 12th century. That was not a nice period of time. The architecture was pretty great. The clothing was pretty weirdly cool. One of the worst times to be a woman, though.

A still house. No, not a still. Oh, sorry, I’m stuck on the medieval theme now. People used to have still houses where they dried their herbs, brewed alcohol, made medicine. Cadfael had one. Fictional characters get all the best shit. I am kind of turning my office into a still house. Sort of. Maybe this coming year I’ll clear out more craft stuff to make more room for herbs and dried flowers and potions.

Books. One of my first loves in life. Books are still one of my very favorite things and I’m thankful that people still write them, all kinds of them. I’m thankful people still read them. Not just fiction but nonfiction. We need our histories and our instructional books. We need all the road-maps to our humanity that books preserve for us. Book burning is one of the most evil things humans can do. Snuffs out shared knowledge, stories, perspectives. I want more diversity in books, more of the whole world in books. Books are powerful. If they weren’t, people would never burn them.

And now it’s time for me to get dressed and clean the kitchen and make some food. This has been my meditation of thankfulness. I hope you all have a fantastic day, full of love, shelter, food, and friends.

*Also, stop being pretentious whores.

Love and Gratitude is in the Minutiae

you have to see itIt is one of my life goals to avoid fetishizing things.  Somewhere between indifference and exaltation lies a healthy medium of interest, excitement, inspiration, and humility.  I believe in the cathartic power of complaining as loud as rejoicing.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  I can recognize the sham it is compared to the real history.  If one is thinking of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans connecting over a feast it is impossible not to observe that there is nothing for Native Americans to celebrate in this – being wiped out by European diseases and slaughter.  Being displaced and oppressed and beat down.  I don’t celebrate the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving.  The Pilgrims, were the worst thing that ever happened to North America.  I celebrate the hope that the future history of mankind might resemble our dream of it.  We all sit down at a table and share knowledge, food, camaraderie, an exchange of cultural stories and understanding.  Thanksgiving represents what humankind could be if we weren’t all selfish douche-bags.  It represents my hopes for peace and racial and cultural understanding and love without homogeneity.

You are at my table right now.  You all shine here, in all your different skins, your different cultural experiences, and your personal stories are more filling than the food we share.  You can sit at my table even if you come empty handed.  No matter how little I have I will share it with you as long as you sit here with the same spirit.  I’m going to share with you the things I’m thankful for and I invite you to do the same if you like.  But silence is an acceptable contribution too.

One of the things that has kept me alive during the hardest times isn’t acknowledging the big things that make me lucky.  When the only thing you think you want is to be dead, a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning can be the beautiful thing that keeps you alive for a few more minutes.  This is how I’ve learned to measure my life.  This year I have huge things to be thankful for, but I’ve already paved my path with gratitude for that good fortune.  Today I’m going to pay homage to the little things.

Love and gratitude is in the minutiae:

The hummingbirds that visit my salvia and agapanthus take my breath away.

Clean sheets.  The fact that I can have clean sheets when I get off my lazy ass and change them.

Crooked teeth.  I’m so thankful for crooked teeth.

Black tea with cream and sugar because it reminds me of Mrs. Stemple every single time I drink it and I can think of no higher honor than being like Mrs. Stemple as I grow old.  Guess I better master making oatmeal cookies.

The shrew I met in the rock retaining wall around the bay tree in our garden in Ashland brought me into an exquisite microcosm of life.  Before I met the shrew I honestly didn’t  believe that a mammal could be that tiny.

Bleeding hearts and how they always make me think of my mother, her generosity, her wildness, her empathy, her charm.  No mystery why she loves them.

The moment I realized I was different from my peers and embraced it.  It was the day I buried some cigarettes I begged off a stranger and buried near the holly tree with some mint jelly.

Music.  All of it.  Classical concertos, folk, death rock, alternative, rap, disco, the romantics, big band, blues, Mariachi bands, jazz, pop, opera, Gregorian chants, and gospel.  I like some of all of it.

I’m thankful for brand new sponges.

Dreamless sleep.

Toast with homemade jam.

An exchange of spontaneous bright wide smiles with strangers.

I’m thankful that none of my three parents are boring.


I’m incredibly thankful not to be allergic to onions or garlic.

That I have, so far, woken up after every bad day I’ve ever had.

The brilliance of plumbing.

The feel of a sword in my hand.

That I was born knowing who I am.  That part of who I am is not giving up no matter how often I threaten myself that I’m going to.

I’m thankful for salt.  Especially pink salt from Utah.

Stumbling through life and realizing that everyone else is stumbling through it too.

I’m incredibly thankful for modern medicine.

Gold finches celebrating life on hot pokers.

Perfect forks.

The way a medium felt tip pen sounds scratching across a silky smooth page.

Quenched thirst.

Life, even when there’s nothing left but sawdust and stale popcorn.


The way awkward silences teach us how to live with everything that doesn’t need to be said.

I hope you all have a marvelous Thanksgiving!


I Bought a Dead Bird

beautiful gingerale


It’s 39° out this morning.  Finally some cold weather!  Nothing like a lot of other people are experiencing right now but at least it dipped under 40°.  I love it when my feet are cold enough to make me consider putting socks on.

I bought a dead bird for Philip and Max to cook tomorrow.  I am very uncomfortable going to meat counters and deciding on carcasses to buy for “food”.  This is how much I love my family, that I will do it if it means my kid broadens his food palate and takes an interest in cooking.  At least I won’t have to handle the bird myself.  I still haven’t gotten over that time I tried to make him wings and cut the end off of one and almost threw up.  Or the time my dad tried to make me cook a chicken for my sister when I was coming down from my first acid trip.  I was 16 and almost threw up.

I don’t remember my dreams from last night.  That almost never happens.  It’s so nice.  I  might get better sleep if it wasn’t so filled with anxiety dreams, total nightmares, or just plain disturbing crap.

The bell ringers are already out in force.  I told the Salvation Army bell ringer outside the grocery store that it was too early for that and he said “I know.  Happy holiday!” and because my first instinct is nearly always to be polite I wished him a happy holiday too but what I wanted to say is “Which one?”.  It’s everywhere though.  Everywhere.  This cancer that Christmas has become.  Harsh?  No.  It’s sucking up more and more days of the year and infecting otherwise totally reasonable people.  I haven’t been on Facebook for two days and still it’s everywhere.  I can’t actually escape it.  The horrible repetitive songs, the stupid emotionally manipulative sappy holiday clichés in commercials and movies and shows.  I can’t get away and the awful songs get stuck in my head like a death knell.  Three weeks of this shit is almost more than I can bear but now it’s four weeks and next year it will be five weeks.

And all these parents perpetuating the myth of an old man who sees everything children do and invites them to sit on his lap and tell him their dreams and sometimes gives them candy afterwards.  And parents willingly let their children sit in the laps of actual strangers dressed up as an old man whose only life goal is to run around watching children sleep.  So when I suggest that Santa is a pedophile I mean that he is the creepiest fake old man EVER.  If you caught any of those pretend Santas actually watching your children sleep you’d have them arrested.  Coming down your damn chimney?  Breaking and entering, people.  You know why Santa is so fucking jolly all the time?  I’m not even going to say it.

And I’m apparently the only one who minds Christmas encroaching on November.  It’s a lonely lonely feeling.  I have a few Jewish friends and you don’t hear them going on and on about Hanukkah which starts tomorrow.  Hanukkah is so much more mellow and meaningful than Christmas.  I wish everyone was Jewish.  I wish I was Jewish.   But not really, because I don’t DO religion.

So here we are.  The day before Thanksgiving.  It’s my  mother’s birthday today and it’s fitting considering that one of the things I’m most thankful for this year is that she’s still with us.

What I have to get done today:

Cube and dry a loaf of bread for stuffing

Make sugar syrup as a substitute for corn syrup for the pecan pie

Make pie crust, roll out, then freeze

Cut and sauté veg for stuffing

Finish writing chapter two

What have you got to do today?