Tying Up Loose Ends

This has been another week of closures, of varying types. We closed on our student rental house on Thursday, which was delightfully easy compared to the last purchase. Having to deal with one incompetent, ball-dropping person on the last one dragged out the process; luckily there was no one like that this time. So now we’re looking to see if we can find some short-term tenants to occupy the place until our next-school-year’s committed ones move in.

We celebrated with–wait for it–a trip to the pet store. We bought Isis a giant rawhide bone, which occupied her all evening. We were both tired afterward–my husband had run around doing errands all day, and I was my normal tired–and my husband decided it was the “best $20 we ever spent.” LOL!

"This is gonna take awhile..."

“This is gonna take awhile…”

Yesterday was somewhat of a beginning, for an end that came a couple weeks ago: the last meeting of my RWA chapter. We have no one qualified to run for president, so the November meeting was our last. We’re having a holiday party next month, then we’re done–at least as an RWA chapter. But there are other writing groups in the area, including a very small one my friend Jim Winter started a while back. We invited another of my writing friends yesterday, and for the first time ever (since I’ve attended at least), everyone was in attendance (well, except for the guy who moved to the west coast). Four professional writers and two relative beginners eager to learn, talking about writing and business and all sorts of nerdy stuff--great fun, as always.

What I read this week: Still going to wait on that, because I’m not much farther through any of it, and all is good and deserving of attention. I’m still working on The Indie Author’s Power Pack, and also started a new book on Adrenal Fatigue that the author offered to me for free after seeing my blog a couple weeks ago. That has some good info I haven’t seen before, so I will be discussing it when I finish. I’m still working on the same novel, too. Enjoying it, just slowly due to the nonfiction reading.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: The writing was also a finishing up of some loose ends–I completed not only the scene I was working on last week, but the next two as well (none were long scenes). My goal was to finish one of them and write at least 3,000 words; I exceeded that and wrote around 4,000. So a big win for me! However that brings me to a turning point. I have now finished all of the completely new scenes the book needs, and now need to go through and start working in changes elsewhere throughout the book. Some of this will be deletions, too. So my goal this week is to get through 1/4 of the book–at least marking where new sections go, if not actually writing them. I am hosting Thanksgiving, but my family is small and my mom, husband, and daughter share in the cooking, so it’s not stressful, and am hoping the time off will help.

What about you–have you tied up any loose ends lately? Or see any in your near future? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Thanksgiving: Oh Really?

According to popular American folklore, the Pilgrims and Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 with a feast of turkey, potatoes, corn, bread, cranberries, pies, and more.

The stories are wrong – or at least, debatable – on many counts.

The pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621

Status: Debatable

First off, the settlers who arrived in Plymouth in 1621 called themselves “saints” or “separatists.” Their goal in coming to the new world was, like the Puritans’, religious freedom.  The term “pilgrim” wasn’t applied to these settlers until the American Revolution. Regardless of what they were called, they may not have celebrated the first Thanksgiving, either. Aside from the fact that harvest celebrations have been held by cultures around the world since before recorded history, there are others who claim the distinction of the first feast actually called Thanksgiving.  One of these is Berkeley Plantation on the James River in Virginia, where the Margaret brought 38 English settlers in 1619, who then celebrated with a “day of Thanksgiving.”

Another possibility for the first American Thanksgiving is the town of San Elizario, Texas, where Spanish explorer Juan de Onate led hundreds of settlers after a grueling trek across the Mexican desert in 1598. Upon arrival, De Onate hosted a large Thanksgiving celebration. Others go back even further, and credit another Spaniard, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, as the instigator of the first Thanksgiving in the same region of Texas while searching for gold.

This guy had a lot more to worry about on the first Thanksgiving than the turkeys did

Turkey was the main dish for this early Thanksgiving feast.

Status: false.

Although wild turkey certainly could have been on the menu, it’s never mentioned in any of the accounts from that time. Original sources mention that the Wampanoag Indians brought five deer, and that the colonists shot wild fowl – though what kind of fowl was not specified. Furthermore, in England deer were mostly found on private estates, and hunting them was a pastime of the wealthy; poaching them was a serious crime. Therefore venison on the menu was a novelty, and was likely the centerpiece of the feast.

Other dishes served at the first Thanksgiving included potatoes, corn, bread, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.

Status: false.

While it’s likely that corn, being one of the native peoples’ staple foods, was consumed at this early harvest celebration, it’s probably the only thing on the above list that was. Potatoes weren’t yet a common part of the English diet. Cranberries are bitter without sugar, which was expensive and considered a delicacy at the time – if the settlers had any with them, it likely wasn’t much. They also didn’t have wheat flour, needed for breads and pie crusts. However, they probably did eat pumpkin – boiled, most likely.

Turkey makes us sleepy.

Status: false.

While turkey does indeed contain tryptophan, which in pure form can induce drowsiness, for the stuff to really work one needs an empty stomach. As part of a big Thanksgiving meal, there’s too much else going on in the body for the brain to absorb enough tryptophan to get sleepy. Sure, the food coma definitely happens, but the more likely causes are the fact that we’re finally relaxing after a busy week, drinking alcohol, or the sheer amount of calories in that dinner we’ve just consumed.

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year.

Status: debatable.

Despite the hype and attention given to shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, some sources say that the Saturday before Christmas is actually the busiest. Others point out that while the Saturday before Christmas used to be the busiest, it is now, in fact the day after Thanksgiving. All I know is that I avoid going out on both days (thank you, Amazon!).

A busy night at the bar in 2006

The night before Thanksgiving is the busiest bar night of the year.

Status: true.

Although the evidence is mostly anecdotal, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is, in fact, the busiest night at many bars. Also called Black Wednesday, it’s a time when college students are home for the holiday, and want to party with friends before being stuck with family for all the following day. For others, it’s an extra day in the middle of the week to go out and get wasted without having to go to work the next day. It’s been theorized that people also go out to bars because they’ve spent the day cleaning and getting prepared to host Thanksgiving the following day – so who wants to have people over and mess everything up? When we owned a bar, my husband always got ready for work that night like he was going into battle. Some years that was a good comparison!

Got any other Thanksgiving myths or fun facts to share? Do you go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, or to the bar the night before? And regardless of your beliefs, if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, here’s hoping it’s a good one!

The first Thanksgiving 1621 by  J.L.G. Ferris, via the Library of Congress, public domain.
White-tailed deer photo via Wikipedia, creative commons license.
Bar photo ©2006 by me.

My Town Monday: Dayton’s Feast of Giving

EDITED Monday, October 22, 2012: This blog post is now nearly a year old. I have nothing to do with this event; this post is just an informational article sharing about something cool that happens in Dayton. If you want to volunteer for the Feast, or otherwise want more information, do not email me – I don’t have the answers you’re looking for. I’m guessing you found this blog post through a Google search, so I suggest you try some of the other links that you found while searching. Thank you!

Sometimes, things happen in Dayton that restore our faith in the human race.

One of those is the Feast of Giving.

Now in its third year, the Feast of Giving is a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner – turkey with all the trimmings – held at the Dayton Convention Center, for FREE. Although some people emphasize those who have financial need, or those who have no one to spend the holiday with, all are welcome. The event’s sponsors stress that they want  “people from all walks of life to attend.” The primary sponsors are area businesses, including ABC 22 & Fox 45 Dayton’s News Source, Dermatologists of Southwest Ohio and Lastar Inc., manufacturer of low-voltage cabling and the parent company of Cables to Go.

Volunteers at last year’s Feast of Giving

Donations are accepted from others as well; click on the Dayton’s News Source link for donation information. Over 3,500 people attend the event each year, and many people volunteer to help. Volunteers are capped at 500, and every year, several times that offer to volunteer. As many as 2,000 would-be volunteers have been turned away in the past, by the Feast and its predecessor.

While the Feast of Giving is only in its third year, it follows a long tradition started in 1969 by Arthur Beerman, founder of Elder-Beerman stores. Mr. Beerman had suffered a heart attack earlier that year. While hospitalized, he received hundreds of get-well cards. After he returned home, he started the dinner  “to thank the good Lord for letting me get home for Thanksgiving,” and also to give back to the community that had been so good to him. He died the following year, but his family and the Beerman Foundation continued to host the event every year until 2009. According to the Dayton Daily News, “The annual Thanksgiving dinner was believed to be the largest of its kind in the nation having served an average of 4,000 turkey dinners per year.” In 2009, the Foundation’s board announced that they would not be hosting the Thanksgiving Dinner, as they had determined that its funds would be more effectively spent on charities and programs with a broader scope.  That year, the above sponsors combined their funds and efforts to keep the tradition alive with the first Feast of Giving.

The Feast of Giving will be held from 11 – 2, and tickets are not required. The convention center is offering free parking, and Dayton RTA offers free bus service to and from the event.

The 2010 Feast of Giving

I’m blessed to have family in the area, and someone has always been able to host (this year, me), so I have never attended the Feast of Giving or the Beerman Thanksgiving Dinner. But it’s cool to think that the biggest event of its kind is right here, every year, for anyone who wants to go. If you live in the area, have you ever attended? If you don’t live around here, does your community offer anything like it?

Photos via the Feast of Giving page on Facebook

More at the My Town Monday blog