Day 305: Tattoo

On March 24th the governor of Washington State declared the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy” mandate. Here we are over 300 days later, fatigued, depressed, foggy, frustrated…and now hopeful. Hopeful that the pandemic will end this year, and America can get back to work. The second half of 2020 I began to read the daily “briefings” of American Historian Heather Cox Richardson. Her writings have helped me to place events into a perspective I would not have been able to do so on my own. It’s helped me, might help you, the link is at the bottom of the page.

John Oliver also makes me smile. I like his analogy of last week feeling like a person finishing a marathon, after breaking the ribbon and about to celebrate an official comes up, shakes your hand, and says, “Did you know that one million dogs are euthanized in shelters every day?” Just give us ONE DAY to feel the relief. PLEASE, just one day for those that survived the four year attack on America by Americans, can we have ONE day of hope?

Outside of politics I’ve been thinking about an old friend that passed away a few years ago. Jim joked about being a curmudgeon, but he really was a good-tempered easy-going old guy who had a divine level of dad jokes at the ready. There was an absence of family men in my upbringing. Mostly appeared as unreachable, or two dimensional. Grandpas lived in other states, my father had sleeping fits, and my uncles were loud, swearing, sons of bitches that belched loudly and with great showmanship at the Thanksgiving table upsetting the aunties.
Life has a beautiful way of balancing itself. If you are missing a family relationship, say a sister, parent, or, heck, a whole family, somehow life brings you a family. I do not know how it does it, but it is so welcomed. Jim was welcomed into my life as an adopted grandpa. We met at a poetry open mic. Here is the one photo I have of us, taken at his first book launch.

2015, at Village Books, Fairhaven

He supported my work, greeted me with a smile, asked me what I was up to in my writing world, shared with me what he was marveling at that day. A wonderful gentleman. I believe it would be egotistical of me to think I was special to him because he treated everyone this way. All people and everything about this world were special to him. He passed “into the cosmos” in October 2019. I do not know how much support I gave him, but he helped me more than I was able to ever share or express to him.

My poem “Leaf Tattoo” was one of his favorites. Often when I see a leaf tattoo or now, the little buds of a new leaf on the branches, I am reminded of his kindness. I’m thankful for people like Jim. I’m glad he appeared in my life, and for other “adopted” family that visited, albeit, only for a short time. They are true treasures.

Leaf Tattoo
You can you feel it
In my city
The change of air
as wind folds in
fall’s weather.

Orange leaves appear on
the sidewalks of Holly Street.
No worms to dance them back to soil.

Cement laden, laid on
the roadside in random patterns leave
a tattoo, imprinted on the stone.
Five pointed stars
a tree hand
pressed by feet and rain
bleed orange ink for all to see.

By winter the marks wash away
By spring, bright green babies wave
at us from their mother’s arm
borne back into our memory.

Photo by Sarah Mae, Seattle, WA, on Unsplash

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https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

Thankfulness Event & Adele

You’re invited  

Concert of thankfulness and poetry event

Wednesday, November 25 – 7:30 PM

St. James Presbyterian, 910 14th St, Bellingham

Music presented by the St. James Bell Choir and Chancel Choir.

Thanksgiving poetry & memoir provided by local writing community poets and writers: Susan Chase-Foster, Luther Allen, Darrell Hillaire, Janet Oakley, Shannon Laws, and Carla Shafer.

“Join us to pause and reflect on our blessings and give thanks for all that we have been given. The evening’s monetary offering will go to the Bellingham Food Bank.”

“Looks like a warm evening of reflection and music.  Here is what I’m reading.” -SPL

bethankful

Walking with Family

            -by Shannon Laws

In the 1980’s I was a kid growing up in South King County.  Two of my mother’s sisters lived nearby.  These three sisters kept the family together by organizing the parties for holidays and birthdays.  The aunts and my mother rotated the hosting chores, added new recipes to the menus, brought out the best china, crystal and extra tables for Thanksgiving.

My father and uncles seemed reluctant to dress up for it, after all, their football or baseball game was “always” interrupted by invading house guests, but they reacted kindly by adding “color” to every event.  These were hard working men, they were a construction foremen, an owner of a plumbing company, a city building inspector and a mailman. They had plenty of jokes and stories to amaze the crowd of child and parent alike.

By the mid 90’s the two sisters moved away and family gatherings all but ceased.  One family moved back to the mid-west for work, the other to Arizona for retirement.

When my two kids where toddlers, however they were able to enjoy a few of these events before everyone moved away.  Returning home from an Easter dinner my son shared in his cute little five year voice, “Wow, we have a BIG family!”

Somehow after my family dispersed, I found the kindness of new friends comforting.  My path has provided me with new aunties, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers, sisters and brothers.  Friends walk with me a bit on the path of life.  Company is always welcome, whether there’s a Seahawks game on or not.  Life changes.

People, even family, come and go in our world.  Some people stay longer than others.  It brings tears to my eyes as I type these words; tears of joy & happiness and most importantly—thankfulness.

heart leaf
“The Heart of a Leaf and My Feet”

This video made me laugh!  I wish we had Adele back in day.

“A Thanksgiving Miracle”

mqdefaulthttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2zyjbH9zzA

Published on Nov 22, 2015

There’s only one thing that can keep a family (Beck Bennett, Jay Pharoah, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, Matthew McConaughey, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer) from fighting at Thanksgiving: Adele.

#

It’s Time for Ham!

c19b0-timeforham

Since 2010 I have posted this story around the holidays.  It has become a Madrona Grove tradition.  The ham story is a about generations and tradition.  

My mother’s mid-western family has many traditions.  One that is especially unique is making fresh Oyster Stew on New Years.  My mother’s Minnesotan family originates from the Rhine River valley of Germany, apparently near a place where you can get good oysters. Mom says her grandma made it as a holiday soup, and her mother made it for new years.  My parents would take us on the one and a half hour drive to Minterbrook Oyster Farm in Gig Harbor every year for the “freshest oysters in Western Washington”

Some other traditions in my family for Thanksgiving include a pause in prayer before dinner and a round-table mention of what we are thankful for for the year.  

This year with the Ferguson, Missouri riots and equal rights demonstrations flaring up across the nation, I’m thinking of freedoms.  How wonderful is freedom?  The freedom of speech, the freedom to walk down the street or drive a car without harassment.  The freedom to not wear a burqa or a head scarf and NOT be arrested.  All the freedoms I have in my day, my freedom to write, to speak, to share my thoughts, feelings and poetry on this website. I’m thankful even for the freedoms I have yet to discover.  I’m thankful for the supportive writing community here in Bellingham.  I especially enjoy reciprocation—when sharing and respect come full circle and friendships are formed.

Whatever your traditions, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, good food, good love and a warm soul.  

Best wishes, -Shannon P. Laws

It’s Time for Ham!

OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is the youngest daughters first time hosting the family dinner, and she’s a little nervous.

Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?”

“Well,” answers the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.”

“Why?”, asks the daughter.

“I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the young woman’s grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?”

“Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the young woman’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham.

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shiny-glowing food

It’s Time for Ham


OK, true story:
One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham.  The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” 
“Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”

They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?”

“Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”

The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G., I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham.

Note from S.P.:
For four years now I have posted this story on my blog during the holidays. This year my mom is cooking ham and her world famous gravy.  I’m taking the week off to spend time with friends & family.   Whether you are having ham, turkey, or take out, I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. 
If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. 
~Oprah Winfrey 

Holiday Ham

Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Thanksgiving is all about the traditional turkey dinner, but this year we are serving up ham.  This is the third posting of the “Mom’s Holiday Ham” story.  Hard to believe my “Madrona Grove” blog has been up so long! For that I am thankful.
Whether your ham is smoked, honey glazed, bone-in, and/or spiral cut-  I wish you all a great holiday! 
     …and leave the ends ON!  ~SPL

*****
OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. 😉

Mom’s Holiday Ham

OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. 😉

Mom’s Holiday Ham


OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. 😉