The other day at work I had the unusual job of sorting through donated Christmas decorations. The donations came from the husband of a woman that supported the organization. She, unfortunately, passed away over the summer. The widower was now in a convalescent center. A friend of his helped him collect their old Christmas decorations and deliver them to us to be donated to families in our housing program. It was shared that this gesture of giving was in honor of her love for Christmas and desire to help others. Very kind.
Late Friday afternoon I set up a staging table to sort through the five boxes of decorations, dividing them up into containers for delivery later that day. Some items were in better shape than others. With each item I wondered, perhaps, it held a special place in someone’s heart and memory. These were precious to someone at one time.
A couple of times I felt myself getting spooked out by it, I’ll be honest. However, reason dominated the afternoon. Decorations are not HOLY items that require special handling. They are not Mezuzah’s for example; old or broken Mezuzahs MUST NOT be thrown away but buried.
“Even though it is the scroll that is the mitzvah, the case also becomes holy because it is used for a Mitzvah. Therefore the case should be brought to a genizah – that is a place where holy items are brought to be buried in the Jewish cemetery.”
The embroidered caricature ornaments of Mr. and Mrs. Clause or a broken snowglobe with a water-bubbled Frosty, arms full of presents, do not require special disposal like sacred communion wine and baptismal water. Leftover blessed communion wine and the vessels used for serving MUST be washed in a sink that empties out into the ground.
“A piscina is a shallow basin placed near the altar of a church, or else in the vestry or sacristy, used for washing the communion vessels. The sacrarium is the drain itself. Anglicans usually refer to the basin, calling it a piscina. For Roman Catholic’s sacrarium is a “special sink used for the reverent disposal of sacred substances. This sink has a cover, a basin, and a special pipe and drain that empty directly into the earth, rather than into the sewer system”
Religion fascinates me. All these different rules, detailed rules, stifling rules, people make up for the brand distinction. Of course, at the root of many religious rules is the respect for the object and what it represents, such as the Word of God or the Blood of Christ. So, how do you categorize a ripped 1978 cross-stitched fabric wall banner of a geriatric man with fancy cherry-red lips proclaiming “HO! HO! HO!” that hung on a wall 23 days a year for 42 years? CAN it be thrown away, in the trash, to the landfill? Why yes it can—and it does.
The newsletter for Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc (PSSI) and the Stanford Recycling Center located in Redwood City, CA, USA, reported Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage or about 1 million extra tons per week!
PSSI and SRC suggest some rules: reduce, reuse.
If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmascards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
It is a delight for all non-profits to receive donations of any size shape and configuration. After going full circle in my thoughts I was happy that this family decided to donate their Christmas decorations to less fortunate families. Standing over my staging table, I wondered at the stuff, so much stuff. I sorted through each shoebox, bag, and large plastic containers of Christmas ribbon and plastic snowflakes, Christmas candleholders, Christmas ornaments made of glass, plastic, ceramic, tinsel and yarn, Christmas tree toppers, Christmas banners, tree garland, Christmas wreaths for the table and front door, Christmas votives and Christmas coffee cups. Whoever wanted a bag of evenly distributed items, they was ready. I tossed out the few old and broken and passed forward future memory makers.
Here are some 2020 ornaments that caught my attention. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Hope you are safe, warm, and bubbled up with folks you can tolerate.
2015 seems like an amplified version of 2014 don’t you think? Except this year we had the added entertainment of an American Presidential race, promotional “stuff” for another Star Wars movie a la Disney, Kim’s booty and the Pope’s world tour to distract us. Finally, sick of the violence and injustice, MORE citizens took to the streets! From Paris, to South Carolina’s Ravenel Bridge to Bellingham Washington, citizens unified in mass against war, terrorism, police violence, and the environment. Round and round we go.
With only a few days left in 2015 it seems the right time to write a Christmas Letter. My mom use to mail an end-of-the-year letter to family and friends, near and far, sharing the highlights of our family’s year. It is in that spirit that I write to you today.
Perhaps you treat these letters like fruit cake. If that’s the case then I leave you here, in the third paragraph, simply wishing you & yours a happy, warm holiday and prosperous new year. Also, it’s important for me to add a BIG Thank You! Thank you for visiting my page and buying SPL poetry.
However, if curiosity is creeping around your ankles, making it’s way up the leg, securing you in your seat for, say, the next five minutes, then I welcome your company. Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. You are a “happy personal association” and I welcome your presence.
My Christmas Card movie features the SPL staff at it again. This year we are working as a team to beautify our surroundings, sharing the joy with our neighbors. Living on the 48th parallel our winters are long and dark. The sun sets about 4:30 pm and stays down until 8 in the morning. A string of lights is helpful, happy and welcomed.
Blessings to you and yours & Happy 2016!
~Shannon, Brad, Vince, Robert & Chris.
(Click our photo to watch our home movie)
My Poetic 2015
The year started off in PEACE. On New Years Eve World Peace Poets, Betty, Carla, C.J., Carol and I met at the “Peace Pole” in Fairhaven with another group for peace. We lit candles at dusk, tossed paper crane prayers into the sea, then joined hands in a moment of prayer for the new year.
Later in February all FIVE of the “Peace Sisters” published “Peace Poems, Vol I”. We included an award ceremony with the book launch. There are many people in Bellingham and Vancouver, B.C. who stand for peace and understanding. We wanted to recognize them as “Ambassadors of Peace”
World Peace Poets encourage harmony through words for international writers and promote public readings.
In March my poem “Voice on the Trail” was accepted for a wall display in the Bellingham Repertory Dance Company’s “A Night at the Gallery”
In April I joined in the celebration of “The Bard of Bellingham’s” book launch! Beloved +80 yr old Jim Milstead, a well known poet, (finally) released the much anticipated book of poetry “Collage”. Congrats Jim!
For a second time, it was my (well-protected) pleasure to feature at Western Washington University’s Erotic Poetry Night. Such a fun time!
In May I read at Erica Reed’s Poetry Gallery, representing Village Books Poetry Group. This new, quarterly event allows each of the over 22 poetry groups in the Bellingham area to share for 3-5 minutes. It’s a night of cross-pollination, networking and good words. Erica plans on continuing this event into 2016. Look for it in the community calendars!
June: after an exhilarating experience reading on a street corner for the Bike/Poetry Seattle group Mob Rolls in May, I was hit by lightning! Putting in a call with the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, “Poets’ Corner” was born! An exciting new living art display for Art Walk participants. Poets take over a corner, read to the passing masses! Poets’ Corner ran from June-November, co-hosted by Lucas Nydam. It is a fun experiment. Due to the winter weather it is currently on hiatus until April 1, 2016.
Featuring for Everett Poetry Night and Poetry Night in Bellingham within seven days of each other was stimulating to say the least. The audience was warm and accepting, and my books sold! This was my first year featuring for open mics.The change of perspective, audience member to performer, was refreshing. Am I ready for more? I hope so. It’s a great responsibility to feature. The high is amazing and I hope to do it more in 2016.
For July I found myself reaching into new physical and emotional territory. The Lament for the Dead was an 2015 on-line movement about personalizing the victims of police violence. My poem “Wallow in Ashes” was accepted. Also, I returned to my old stomping grounds South King County as a feature poet for Auburn Days. One of my goals for 2015 was to feature outside of Bellingham. I am thankful to Everett and Auburn for letting a circuit-newbie take the stage.
July marked the end of my time at KMRE 102.3 SPARK Radio. I started volunteering with SPARK back in 2011 producing the classic blues show “The Playhouse” that features the blues from 1920-70’s, and occasionally stepping in as an afternoon LIVE DJ, running the “Board of Doom”. Later, in 2013, Jonathan Winter asked me to help him with a show he envisioned where folks that love music share their music story. The New Americana Hour was born! In addition to those two programs I also recorded local poets for an award winning feature called “Poetic Moments”. You can learn more about my radio time at KMRE here. What a wonderful family the Museum of Electrical Invention is! It was hard to say good-bye, but I am thankful to of worked beside some of the northwest’s most influential, giving, and creative characters.
September the Peace Sisters were recognized for their publication and “Read-In” events by Writers International Network . The ceremony was held in Richmond, British Columbia along with recipient poets and artists from India, Mexico, Korea, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. I am moved and very thankful to WIN for this award.
October was an amazing month. October 2015 marked my fifth year in Bellingham. I am touched by the kindness this community has shown me. I wanted to give back and do it the “Bellingham Way” = do it for charity.
I wanted to coordinate a musical album featuring artists from Bellingham and Seattle, but would any band want to be on it? And WHAT charity would be the benefactor? Then, these two questions were answered within a week of each other. Many band members I contacted grew up with music in the home and/or were introduced to music through a school program. These programs cost money. Blue Skies for Children helps low-income, homeless and foster children in Whatcom County with music lessons and musical instrument rentals. The 17 bands that donated songs to this album are “paying it forward” for future musicians. In October “Blue Skies for Bellingham” was released in time for the Blue Skies for Children charity auction.
“This album together with the original cover art by esteemed painter/musician Meghan Yates, are submissions for Blue Skies for Children’s Annual Dinner and Charity Auction. All seventeen bands are from Bellingham or frequent the Bellingham area. All proceeds go to the Our Little Wishes Instrument Loaner and Enrichment Programs. These programs provide local homeless, low-income and foster children ages six to eighteen for music lessons and musical instrument rental to help increase hope and raise self-esteem.”
Also in October World Peace Poets hosted our 3 rd annual “Read-In”. November and December I read at a new hookah bar Cafe Bouzingo, and the first “Noisy Waters” reading at the Mt. Baker Encore Room, and returned to Auburn to feature at the Auburn Arts Association Poetry Open Mic.
Fall 2016 I’ll release my third poetry book “Fallen” and I hope to get more feature gigs on the books. I also have a few secret projects I’m working on–one includes a phone booth, another a hair artist, painter and fifty sets of crunches a day, and a NEW radio program for KVWV, Bellingham. My body, mind and spirit in top form—yep. That’s what I’m looking forward to in ’16.
Thanks for walking with me through this year. (dang that took a long time!) Have I mentioned how THANKFUL I am?
L-R: Chris Pine, Brad Pitt, Shannon Laws,
Robert Downey Jr, Vin Diesel
Here, at the SPLaws offices, we had a slight change of staff since 2012. Abe retired and Tom, who has been with us since 2011, disappeared into another timeline. Both will be missed dearly and we wish them well. Thankfully Chris Pine has stepped in to fill the shoes of two people, no less. In addition to being a great dancer, his research skills are out of this world! He shows great promise in producing extraordinary work for 2014.
When I was growing up, my mom would type up a Christmas letter to friends and family. A Christmas letter is like the families year in review designed to update distant relatives on the years accomplishments. In that tradition I have composed a letter about the 2013 highlights for SPLaws, Inc. It has been another electric year!
Read it, or don’t, perhaps you treat them like fruit cake. Either way thanks for stopping by and helping to get our visitor numbers pass 30k this year! Please leave a comment, and keep it real for 2014.
SPLaws, Chickadee Productions
Bellingham, Washington USA
SPLaws Christmas LetterThis year I did not find much in the way of PAID jobs, but with the extra time on my hands my volunteer work excelled. I was paid in love and new life experiences. If only I could take it to the bank I’d be a millionaire! Here are some highlights -with photos- from 2013:
My book on the shelf
at Village Books
In January 2013 I released my first poetry book “Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy”, Chickadee Productions, available at Village Books, Bellingham. The book includes my original poems from 2010-2012. During these two years I was divorced, reborn in my writing, moved off San Juan Island and was embraced by the city of Bellingham. The poems are a real document to a personal journey I shall never forget.
my new writers photo
BELLINGHAM HERLAD ARTICLE
In July, MARGARET BIKMAN from the Bellingham Herald interviewed me to promote my book reading. “Shannon P. Laws was born in Seattle and raised in Federal Way, where, she says, “as a teenager I learned that when a guy from Auburn asks you out on a date, he will most likely pick you up in a stolen car.”
In May I traveled with retired actor, novelist and children’s book author Jared McVay for a book reading on San Juan Island, and shared some poems at the Big Rock Garden Party for Mother’s Day.
Group photo of guest speakers
at the Tagore Festival
September I appeared as a guest speaker at the Tagore Festival in Richmond, British Columbia.
A yearly event to honor India’s poet
Rabindranath Tagore, (May 1861- Aug. 1941)
I will be the waves and you will be a strange shore.
I shall roll on and on and on, and break upon your lap with
VBPG Signature photo
courtesy of SJI artist Dona Reed
HOSTING VBPG Village Books Poetry Group, 29 members strong, continued to meet bi-monthly at the independent book store in Fairhaven this year. It is a group I enjoy tremendously. Many of our regulars are folks who are sharing their poetry for the first time. VBPG is a diverse group from many different cultural and professional backgrounds, linked together with our love for words.
Dave at the start of
beer garden side, of course
I am a volunteer DJ at Spark Radio, KMRE 102.3. The station is an extension of the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, at 1312 Bay Street, in downtown Bellingham. Dave the K (The Rockin’ Surfer) and I were the on-air host’s for the cities Downtown Sounds. The free concert, food, beer garden and street entertainment event is held on Bay Street for five Wednesday evenings in a row, July-August. Great fun!
Jon Winter and I at SPARK
The 13 radio programs I produced in 2013 “New Americana” developed a large following. Brent, the station manager, has approved it for a full season, 26 shows, in 2014. I co-host the show with the museum’s co-founder, Jonathan Winter, a real gem of Bellingham and a pleasure to work with. The talk/music show brings in a local guest, usually a musician, who shares the top five songs that have influenced their life. You can hear the 2013 podcast of the show here:
Casey Sulkin, retired DJ and
jazz club owner, I co-hosted
with Casey on his jazz show
“The Swing Shift” for a
Bellingham’s Fast Five, or BFF, rotating features on KMRE, debuted this summer. I created the concept to provide more attention to our New Americana guest by producing a five minute musical promo. Local musician and well loved hamster, Bert Monroe, worked with me as voice talent on these informative features.
This is an end of the year project for me. There are so many wonderful poets in Bellingham. I want to share them with the world! Poetic Moments are short features, under 2 minutes in length, that started to rotate on KMRE 102.3 in December. My goal was to record 60 poems. Over 25 poets came out to donate their words, and 93 poems were recorded! More poems will be added in February, 2014. Catch a taste of these amazing poets here:
FAIRHAVEN ART BLOCK
In September Carla and I, representing the Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, had the privilege of working with the Bellingham Repertory Dance group, the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, and Lucia Douglas Art Gallery on a group project. We organized the street festival Fairhaven Art Block party, or FAB. This event was designed to share the artist community of Fairhaven with it’s residences. Folks were encouraged to walk from the art gallery to the Firehouse, just a block over, along a path littered with poets reading live poetry for any passersby. Music and dance intermingled with the guests. It will return for 2014.
Poets for Peace l/r Carla, Betty,
C.J. and good friend Denise
November worked with three local poets to organize and launch the first POETS FOR PEACE Read-In Write-On International poetry event, held in Bellingham’s South Hill neighborhood. Poets from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. shared poems about peace from 2-8:30 p.m., ’till the last poet spoke. The event was a great success! Plans for another in 2014 is in the works.
What a fun year. My mom asked me a few months ago, over coffee of course, how I got into poetry. It was hard for me to answer her at the time, had to think about it a bit. I love writing short stories, blogging and working on my novels. However, poetry, I find, is much like gardening. When I use to have dirt to dig in, I would flower garden. A few hours a week, or month depending on the year, of work produced immediate gratification = a clean and beautiful yard. Poetry is quick work, one or two pages, and once edited and polished, gives me a great deal of satisfaction, like freshly cut tulips in a crystal vase on my kitchen table.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”