Thankful for a lot of stuff

all y’all

thanks for a lot of stuffI don’t think I do the Thanksgiving thing exceptionally well. I really am thankful for a lot of stuff, but it always feels like I offer the same thing as I said some recent year.

So I will attempt to be as specific as possible, at least this year.

I am thankful…

…that there has been a series of COVID vaccines and treatments, so when my wife, daughter, and I all got COVID at the end of August, it was annoying and a bit uncomfortable. But it wasn’t awful, and certainly not life-threatening for us.

…that my daughter’s late start at college – because of the aforementioned COVID – did not seem to hinder her adjustment

… for all of the people who provided transportation in October, including Dan, Lee, Eric, Deb, Phillip, Jon, and Bruce; especially Bruce

… for all the food assistance, specifically Dan, Tracy, and Miriam

… for all the prayers and well-wishes, too numerous to mention, though I must note Karen and Mark

… for my sisters Leslie and Marcia, who helped me with trying to excavate new insights about our parents, especially our mother


…for the choir, including Michael, Trevor, Jerry, and even the altos (I jest!), particularly Fiona, and for the opportunity to make a joyful noise

… for Jon and Gene, who put together good programming each week at the Albany Public Library, and for Jon (different Jon), who made me look good with his presentation, which I booked

… for my Wordle buddies, such as David, Matthew, Jeanne, Chas, Andrew, oh, and Carol

… for those many people I’ve gotten to know online, such as Arthur, Kelly, Gus, Erica, Eddie, and even Greg – or gotten to rekindle relationships, including but not limited to Alison, Alberta, and Bill

… for my daughter, who lets me put my librarian skills to work now and then

… for my wife, even though she almost always beats me at Boggle

I could go on. The problem with making a list is that I exclude people like Rebecca, Alex,  Paul, Mary Liz, Glenn, Adam, Tony, my other church friends, and my hearts friends… As Yul Brynner used to say, “et cetera, et cetera.”

Thanks songs, for Thanksgiving

from Beatles to Boyz II Men

Thanksgiving is coming, so I thought I’d link to some thanks songs. All cuts are in my physical music collection.

Thank You Girl – The Beatles, #35 pop in 1964, as the B-side to Do You Want To Know A Secret (#2 pop). Written by Lennon and McCartney, “eyeball to eyeball.”

Thank The Lord For The Night Time – Neil Diamond, #13 pop in 1967. Written by Neil and arguably my favorite song by him.

I Thank You – Sam and Dave, #4 RB, #9 pop in 1968. Sam says, “I want everybody to get off your seat. And get your arms together, and your hands together, and give me some of that OLD SOUL CLAPPING.” Written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

Thank You – Led Zeppelin, from the group’s second album (1969). Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Sylvester Stewart

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly and the Family Stone, #1 pop, #1 RB for five weeks in 1969. Written by Sly Stone. Its first album appearance is on the greatest collection along with Everybody Is A Star (the B-side of Thank You) and Hot Fun In The Summertime. It namechecks other songs by the group.
Dance to the music
All night long
Everyday people
Sing a simple song
Mama’s so happy
Mama start to cry
Papa still singin’
We can make it if we try

Thank You For Talkin’ To Me, Africa – Sly and the Family Stone. A reworking of the previous song, also written by Sly Stone, appears on the 1971 album There’s A Riot Goin’ On.

Thank God I’m A Country Boy  – John Denver, #1 pop and country in 1975. Written by John Martin Sommers.

Thank You For Being A Friend – Andrew Gold, #25 pop in 1978. Written by Gold and Brock Walsh. It was also used as the theme for The Golden Girls, sung by Cynthia Fee in 1985.

Thank You – Boyz II Men, #17 RB, #21 pop in 1995. Written by Dallas Austin and the group, Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman.

The Great Dying in the Americas after 1492


Great DyingI had heard of the Great Dying in the Americas after 1492. Still, it was a shocking headline in my newsfeed. 56 MILLION. This is the “estimated number of Indigenous Americans killed by violence, famine, and disease due to European colonization from 1492 to 1600. That’s a 90% drop in the Indigenous population – a decline so rapid it caused the earth’s temperature to cool.”.

“We know the story. Or, at least, we think we do: In 1621, a shared feast between Pilgrims and Indigenous Americans in Massachusetts to give thanks for the harvest and survival of Plymouth colonists created a 400-year tradition Americans mark annually.

“Most of us know that tale is, in large measure, a lie

“That story exists in part to obfuscate the quite bloody reality of how the nation was actually claimed by the colonists who arrived here,” said Julian Brave NoiseCat, a journalist, activist, and advisory board member for The Emancipator.”

When facts such as these are shared, I hear so many non-Indigenous people complain, “Why are they ruining the best holiday?” I understand. Hey, I grew up with the myth as well. It was such an affirming, positive story that one wanted it to be true.


“So how do Indigenous people in America mark Thanksgiving? The ways are as diverse and complex as the communities themselves. They do mourn the atrocities their ancestors suffered. But Indigenous culture is also firmly rooted in the tradition of giving thanks. They find a way to do both.

“One of NoiseCat’s traditions is attending Sunrise Ceremonies at Alcatraz Island, the Indigenous land that became the now-shuttered prison, to commemorate a 19-month occupation that began in 1969. Bay Area Native American activists sought to reclaim the island under the terms of a 19th-century treaty.”

The article is from Unbound, a newsletter from The Emancipator, published by the Boston Globe. In each issue, “Kimberly Atkins Stohr, senior columnist for The Emancipator and The Boston Globe, explores past to present-day themes centered on antiracism and democracy.” She examines “some of the most urgent conversations on racial justice infused with context, news, and perspective.

The statistical citation is from Quarternary Science Reviews’ 2019 study Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492 by Alexander Koch, Chris Brierley, Mark M. Maslin and Simon L. Lewis. You can hear Koch on the Last Born In The Wilderness podcast.

Sunday Stealing Fall Meme (autumn)

Halloween 1978

autumn memeThe Sunday Stealing is a fall meme, appropriate because it’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.

1. Fave fall Holiday: Thanksgiving. Although there are complications about the origin story in the US (see this blog in eight days), it’s the event that was most tolerable when the family wasn’t around
2. The best thing about fall walks: walking on crunchy leaves
3. Favorite fall chore: Taking out the air conditioner, which is much easier than installing it

4. Least favorite fall chore: Raking leaves, which, BTW, my wife seems to enjoy. The thing about raking is that it is the perfect example of the law of diminishing returns, which I learned about in my freshman economics class in college. That first raking is quite satisfying, as one gathers up a good number of leaves, But subsequent raking in that area is less and less productive and, therefore, much less enjoyable
5. Best change in the home: Usually, the coins I find in the cushions of the sofa

6. Best tree in the fall: oak, maple, almost any deciduous tree
7. Fall ritual: watching (American) football on Thanksgiving and thereafter; I don’t really really pay attention until then
8. Most frustrating thing about fall: Getting darker earlier and getting lighter later

9. Favorite fall decorations: Some neighbors have creative Halloween displays. (And others are hideous, but we won’t talk about those…)
10. Favorite clothing: Any creative costume
11. Traditional fall candy: Junior Mints

Say it! Say it!

12. Favorite sound: Parents trying to coax their young Halloweeners to say “trick or treat.” Come on, my four-year-old, comply with the norms!
13. When does fall begin for you? October 1. There’s an argument between those who are in the meteorological calendar camp and the astronomical calendar camp. The former picks September 1, while the latter prefers September 22 or 23. But with global warming, I’m opting for the full month that everyone agrees is autumnal.

14. What is your favorite aspect of fall? I’m losing the feeling quite a bit, actually. It was the new television season and the arrival of serious Oscar-worthy films. But there are no seasons for TV anymore, plus I watch far less of it. And I haven’t gotten back into my pre-pandemic movie attending, plus so many are only streaming.

15. What are your favorite fall memories? Halloween parties I attended as an adult, especially in 1978 
16. What do you like to drink in the fall? Mulled cider. I lived in a coffeehouse when I attended college, and we often had it
17. What’s your favorite fall food? Turkey. I can always eat turkey, not just in November

18. What color is the fall? Burnt orange, not that bright candy corn orange
19. What does fall smell like? Wood stoves
20. If you could go anywhere in the fall, where would you go? Vermont has great colors

Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccine

books and music

JFK Thanksgiving Day proclamation 1963
JFK Thanksgiving Day proclamation 1963

Without a doubt, it is Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccine.

Because of the vaccine, I could go out to eat with my friends, such as Carol, Karen, Bill, Michael, Cecily, John, and Mary, as well as my wife and daughters.

My church is meeting in person as of June 20, as well as on Facebook. The choir has restarted rehearsals in person as of October 10, with only fully vaccinated people, which is everyone.

The Wizard’s Wardrobe is a program, started by two members of my church. “Children spend time with a special tutor just for them — to read, write, and explore the wonderful world of books. My wife and I attended the Readers Theater benefit on October 4. The featured readers included William Kennedy, Brendan Kennedy, Joseph Bruchac, Elizabeth Brundage, Ashley Charleston, Ted Walker, and Ayah Osman.

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library had its Literary Legends Gala on October 16. I got to tell Bill Kennedy that I heard him and his son read from Charlie Malarkey and the Belly-Button Machine (1986), 12 days earlier. Last year’s event was online, while this one was a hybrid.

I wouldn’t have been comfortable going to my high school reunion or certainly taking the bus home without the Pfizer shots. Yes, it’s a Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccine.

In spite of

As much as I complained about ZOOM and its ilk I’m thankful for the chance to have participated in the Thursday Bible study group. I got to see my niece Rebecca Jade perform over a half dozen times, including with Dave Koz.

I streamed some movies, not the best way for me to view them. But I got to see ALL of the Oscar-nominated shorts. Usually, I get to watch only a fraction of those films because they don’t all make it to this market.

I’m still on ZOOM for the Tuesday Bible guys, the Dads group, and certain church meetings. My sisters, in two different states, and I in a third, meet at least three weeks out of four. The Olin reunions took place remotely.

Lessee, what else?

I’m fiscally solvent. This allows me to order things via mail order, such as all of those blue masks and music that I don’t REALLY need but want. I also got a bunch of baseball books from Jack’s widow and music from the collection of my late father-in-law.

I had a brief but significant moment of mutual forgiveness with an old friend.

My mother-in-law lives much closer. This makes her and her daughter mighty happy.

I’m glad that Arthur and Kelly and fillyjonk and others are still blogging. Chuck Miller is still plugging other blogs each Saturday.

I’m sure there’s more, but this will do for the nonce.

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