In place of my annual Black Friday rant about corporate greed, bad behavior and misplaced priorities, which now extends to Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to take a more positive route and talk about why I, and many others feel so strongly about this holiday.
While we all know that the story we were taught in school about the friendly pilgrims and indigenous peoples isn’t how the first Thanksgiving really went down, it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth celebrating.
OK, this clip from the Addams Family movie isn’t accurate either, it’s hilarious and I just love to watch it every year.
All kidding aside, the ideas behind Thanksgiving, gratitude and sharing are pretty darn awesome.
Oh yeah… and FOOD! Who doesn’t like food?
But what about that first thanksgiving and should we really be playing into it?
When asked if she considers Thanksgiving a positive thing, she replied, “As a concept, a heartfelt Thanksgiving is very important to me as a person. It’s important that we give thanks. For me, it’s a state of being. You want to live in a state of thanksgiving, meaning that you use the creativity that the Creator gave you. You use your talents. You find out what those are and you cultivate them and that gives thanks in action.“
And yes, she celebrates it.
Thanksgiving, unlike less secular holidays doesn’t bring up a bunch of religious debate. There’s no “war on Thanksgiving” (see comments from a descendant of those who were there above) there’s no requirement to go into debt and spend stupid amounts of money on items people don’t need in order to impress the neighbors.
We all eat, and sharing a meal makes it even better. Thanksgiving meals need not be expensive. If you like traditional fare, turkey is actually pretty cheap as are the side dishes. (and if you’re against turkey genocide, there’s tofurkey)
The focus on family, friends and gratitude it what draws me to this holiday.
It is far too easy to get caught up in the sadness, stress and challenges of our daily lives and the world beyond.
It is far too easy to forget what is good in our lives.
It is far too easy to forget to tell people how much they mean to us.
Thanksgiving is a chance to remember and celebrate the good.
We all have our own memories of the Thanksgivings we celebrated growing up. Oddly enough, in the dysfunctional house I grew up in, holidays were actually happy and not stressful unlike most of the rest of the year.
Thanksgiving in the early 70’s involved laying around after eating too much and watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. (you millennials can google that if you need to) It also involved me getting a few sips of champagne and getting yelled at for putting the olives on my fingers. I remember learning how to make the lead crystal glasses “sing” by dipping my finger in water and running it along the rim. I have those glasses (I still stick olives on my fingers too)
To this day, it still involves tuning in to a local radio station at noon to listen to Alice’s Restaurant.
and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without revisiting the now classic WKRP in Cincinnati “Turkey Drop”
As we grow older, move away from or lose our families, we begin to create our own traditions.
An increasingly popular trend is “Friendsgiving” either before, after or on the actual date. I have hosted my “Day After Thanksgiving Feast/Anti Black Friday Protest” for the last twelve years. I love doing it on Friday so more people can come. It also gives me the day of to “party hop” at other people’s events.
It is a commonly held belief that the expression of gratitude can boost one’s mood and outlook on life. That’s a good thing, especially up here in the cold, dark Pacific Northwest where seasonal affective disorder begins to manifest at this time of year.
For me, cooking a meal and sharing it with friends and chosen family is a show of gratitude for them being in my life, it’s a small way to give back. It’s a positive, happy thing; don’t we all need a bit more of that in our lives?
I am sad for those who are disenfranchised, discriminated against and have no hope for justice.
I am sad for those who lack the compassion to understand the realities of people with other life circumstances.
I am sad for those who live in fear.
I am sad for those who choose to hate.
I am sad for those communities who are now labeled “those people who bring it on themselves” because outside agitators, anarchists and others looking for an excuse to commit violent and criminal acts used their tragedy to do so.
I am sad for public servants whose profession has been tainted and whose jobs have become much more dangerous due the actions of those who use the job to have power over rather than serve others.
I am sad for local businesses and hardworking people who have suffered damage and loss.
I am sad for the families, friends and loved ones of those who have been hurt and killed.
I am sad that I am seen by some as the enemy.
I am sad that I am not likely to see a post racial United States in my lifetime.
I am sad that this, is the legacy we are passing on to our children 50 years after the Civil Rights Act was enacted.
“Postcards from the Mountain” is a collection of photographs of and poetry inspired by the Cascade and Olympic Mountains in the Great Pacific Northwest created by Tacoma writer and photographer L. Lisa Lawrence
Much of the book is centered around Mt Rainier also known as: Tahoma, Tacobeh, Pooskaus, Tacoma and Ti’ Swaq.
The book will be available in soft and hard cover (image wrap; no dust cover) versions. It contains 31 pages of photographs and poetry.
You can pre-order the book in either format, with shipping or local pickup.
You may also support a print run of the book and the purchase of an IBSN number so that it can be sold by Amazon by purchasing a ticket to the book release party which will be held on Friday, January 16th (Tacoma location to be determined) which is enough past the holidays that scheduling should not be problematic.
If you are not local/unable to attend the book release party, but want to donate to support the print run and IBSN number, you can donate in $10 increments (you can choose whatever quantity you like) from the drop down menu below.
I hope you enjoy the visual and literary journey through this magical part of the world.
Since Jackie is super awesome (and I know where she lives) I was able to swing by and grab mine after work instead of waiting for the reading on Monday. I am not known for my patience when I’m excited about something.
For those who don’t know what Creative Colloquy is, it is described as a “submission based literary site”. It’s so much more than that. It has become a community resource for writers of all genres. It is a gathering, support, laughter, tears, food & beverage. Most of all, it is community.
On the final Monday of each month writers and lovers of all things literary gather at B Sharp Coffee House in Opera Alley for readings by featured authors followed by an Open Mic.
I was excited to have my piece, “Covert Operation Calico” which I read at the May Creative Colloquy event included in the book since there were so many submissions.
This particular piece means a great deal to me, as the true story involved my dear friend, the late Houston S Wimberly III who sadly, passed from this world, far too soon just over two years ago. Having this story published is a bit of a tribute to him and our friendship.
There are 26 writers included in what promises to be the first in a highly successful series. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and in the case of at least one of the stories, you’ll wonder if the statue of limitations has run out.
But don’t take my word for it.
Stop by B Sharp Coffee House 706 Opera Alley in Tacoma on Monday, November 24th at 7:00 PM (you might want to get there early as it’s expected to be a full house) for a reading, to meet the authors and pick up a book. This signing is going to be a bit like a yearbook signing.
Oh, and for my friends who were waiting for a book announcement, this is one of two.
I’m hoping to have my book, “Postcards from the Mountain” ready to go to print at the end of this month. It will contain photographs and a collection of poetry written for the “August Poetry Postcard Project” and inspired by the Cascades and Olympics.
“Oh, we never lose power in my part of the Hilltop; there’s too much redundancy in the grid.” That, is what I always tell people. Actually, that is what I used to tell people.
In my twelve years of living in close proximity to downtown, first in the Stadium District and later a mere 1 ¼ miles away on the Hilltop, I’ve never lost power. Not once-not during our regular, epic autumn wind storms which like to fall on a holiday for a memorable namesake, aka the “Hanukah Eve Storm” of 2006, the Inaugural Day Strom of 1993 or the infamous Columbus Day Storm of 1962 (I guess now, it’s the “Indigenous People’s Day Storm”) or the wicked ice storms that occasionally plague our area.
Until yesterday. As I was coming home from work I got a text message from a neighbor I had been communicating with during the day “The power just went out”.
Having lived off the grid in a cabin with no electricity in my twenties and having spent time as a backcountry ranger and river guide living in a tent more often than in a structure, and still being an avid backpacker; it’s pretty easy for me to deal with the minor inconvenience of a few hours/days without electricity.
When I purchased my home four and a half years ago, one of the requirements I had was that it not rely solely on electricity. I had never seen an all-electric home until I moved up here where hydro power was so cheap at one time. It seemed silly to me to rely on a system delivered by flimsy wires in a place with wicked storms and lots of falling trees.
While not everyone is lucky enough to have a home with the ability to burn word, propane or natural gas, there are ways to safely survive a power outage, even in very cold weather.
The first trick is to look at it as an “Indoor Urban Camping Trip”.
Those of us who backpack regularly, are already prepared. My attic nest gets pretty darn cold, so I decided to have some fun and bring one of my sleeping pads and sleeping bags up from the basement.
If you have camping gear, you’re already set. If not, it’s worth picking something up at a military surplus or a garage sale.
If you have kids, it’s a great opportunity to turn an inconvenience into an adventure.
What a great time to build a blanket fort in the living room! It’s warm, fun and adventurous. LED headlamps and flashlights are inexpensive and quite efficient. I even keep a little LED light on my key chain (quite helpful for getting in the house when it’s dark) and read out loud to each other or play cards/board games.
If you’re not lucky enough to have an alternate heat source, building that blanket fort and hunkering down with your family is a good way to stay warm.
Every home should have a working Carbon Monoxide detector; especially at this time of year!
If you have a BBQ grill, you can use it for cooking, outside and bring the food inside to eat.
Candles and oil lanterns (safely placed so that they can’t be accessed or knocked over by pets or children) are a must.
If you’re lucky enough to have a gas stove, in all but the most modern models, you can light the flame with a match and cook/boil water. It’s also a great mini “campfire” for roasting marshmallows. While cooking is OK, never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
In lieu of that or a BBQ grill, it’s worth picking up a solid fuel “stove” (use ONLY outside or in a separate room with the door closed and windows open for ventilation if you are in an apartment with no easy access outside) for boiling a cup of water.
You want to keep your fridge/freezer closed so keep the cold air in so as not to lose food. Keeping dehydrated backpacking food around, or even Ramen which can be acquired cheaply and easily at any grocery or convenience store, ensures a hot meal.
In sub freezing weather, it’s important to let your faucets drip a bit so that pipes don’t freeze since they won’t be warmed by your heaters/furnace.
I have battery operated tap lights in stairwells around my home, which makes getting around and finding your emergency supplies safe and easy. (Check the batteries in these during time changes as you would your smoke detectors)
A new “emergency” item that comes in very handy is a tiny LED flashlight that holds a couple of cell phone charges worth of power. I keep it next to my desktop computer where it charges by USB. I’m good for cell phone power for 2-3 days without having to go out to my vehicle to charge it.
TPU (Tacoma Public Utilities) did a great job last night keeping everyone informed via social media on their Facebook Page and Twitter (if you’re got that smart phone charged, you can keep up to date)
Everyone is encouraged to call their outages in so that they can be tracked. The number to report power outages in the City of Tacoma is (253) 502-8602
Be extra careful on dark streets to look out for power lines that may be down. If trees are down, they may have taken power lines with them.
Another great tool to have in your emergency kit is a hand crank radio/flashlight combo. It has AM/FM and weather band radio (for music and news) and a flashlight. Cranking it up is a good way to keep the kids busy.
Last night was just a practice run. We have a long autumn/winter/storm season ahead of us, so now is the time to check/build our emergency kits and come up with an emergency plan.
When something like this happens, please check your neighbors who may be elderly, disabled or have very small children to make sure they are OK and are not using unsafe heating methods which could result in tragedy.
Today is election day, and I’m assuming that my regular readers, as well as those on feedtacoma.com have already voted (and been quite vocal about it).
If not, you have until 8:00 PM tonight to mail, drop your ballot off at a drop box or visit a voting center. You can also get a replacement ballot at a voting center. For more information on voting centers, drop box locations and other election information, you can visit the Pierce County Auditor Election site.
It’s also Dinovember (seriously, you can have a great time searching the hashtag #dinovember on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more)
For those who are unaware of what Dinovember is, you can have lots of fun searching under the hashtag #dinovember on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media sites.
Some time on the evening of October 27th or the morning of October 28th, 2014 a metal newspaper box serving as as “Little Free Library” was stolen from the corner of S 12th/Earnest S Brazil St and S. Sheridan Ave on Tacoma’s Hilltop.
Please keep an eye out in case it has not already been sold to a scrap yard for meth money.
A story written about Little Free Libraries written for South Sound Magazine can be found here.
To see more photos of Little Free Libraries in Tacoma, you can click here.
For those of you who are local, please consider stopping by this Sunday, October 12th, between 11 am and 5 pm to visit me in my dungeon…. errr… basement studio as part of the Tacoma Arts Month Studio Tour.
*if you are also an artist on the tour who is open on Sunday, stop by afterwards for a bit of decompression, I’ll be around and would love to see you!.
In order to lure as many folks in as possible, I shall be providing wine, cheese and appetizers.
Here’s the map/list of studios… (I’m # 29) There are 61 artists on the tour (some are in co-ops/shared studio spaces).
In other news after all of the crisis, illness, injury, chaos and near disaster of the last year, I’ve had an insanely busy summer filled with performances, art shows, (and when I could get away) hiking, backpacking and enjoying this glorious and highly unusual summer, so now I’m spending every waking moment after work trying to get the house/yard/studio in order before Sunday. (Yikes, I lost control of everything)
I’m finally getting a break in performances and contract work (after the layoff, I REALLY needed the extra money)
My next bellydance performance is at the Urban Onion in Olympia WA on November 10th for the Beats Euphorium Show (7 pm – 9 pm)
My next confirmed fire show is, of course, First Night in Tacoma on New Year’s Eve. It will be another fabulous and fiery New Year.
I’m also finally releasing a photography book (hopefully in time to order for the holidays) which will also contain original poetry I wrote for the August Poetry Postcard Project,titled “Postcards from the Mountain”