Department Of What Are We Thankful For?
Answer: turkey substitutes.
In the past, our family has often hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We’re missing daughter Belle this year – she’s out of state, working at a wildlife refuge, and gets no holidays off  And somehow, the day just snuck up on us. Translation: no one else made any plans, possibly hoping/assuming that someone (read: moiself) would step up and say, Here’s what we’re doing.
But we’d been busy and traveling and now MH and K and I have all come down with something flu-like (fever), and no one seems to have the energy to plan A Big Feast ® . Instead, the non-turkey eater announced that she would make herself an oven roasted steelhead filet, plus a few of of her favorite foods that she’d be “willing” to share, along with the suggestion that MH and K make/purchase a turkey or whatever they’d like to have. Turns out both of them preferred a roast chicken, which they got at a Whole Foods market, and our dear family friend LAH was up for being spontaneous and joined us, also contributing to the feast. Sometimes, the simple is the best.
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Speaking Of Turkey Substitutes….
The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has recalled turkey products linked to a salmonella outbreak. The CDC announced the outbreak linked to raw turkey products in July, but more people have gotten sick, bringing the total to at least 164 in 35 states. One person in California has died, and 63 people have been hospitalized….
Just two days before Thanksgiving, the CDC warned US consumers to not eat romaine lettuce, as it may be contaminated with E. coli.
(“Watching out for these illnesses tied to recalled foods at Thanksgiving,”
I have a feeling I’m not the only plant-based  eater who sees the headlines, laughs (mostly to moiself), and thinks, Hey, meat-munchers, perhaps this might be the time to transition to a plant-based diet... or at least swear off the turkey Caesar salad leftovers.
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Department of EEEEEEEEEEK
Well, at least it was an easy fix.
During the past midterm election season, I noticed I kept getting political mailers, from all parties, addressed to Robyn Gween Parnell. I know *I’ve* never registered moiself thusly; I know how to spell my own name(s). After the election I checked the online voter’s registry and sure enough, there it was. Funny, what one extra keystroke will do. Now I’m wondering, did I technically commit voter fraud, by voting under that name?
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Department Of The Question That Is Apparently On Everyone’s Mind
Dateline: earlier this week, at an Office Depot. I am shipping a package to daughter Belle, who is temporarily living in Arkansas. (Recurring Readers ® may recall from previous posts why she is there, and that MH and I visited her three weeks ago.) The OD clerk notes the shipping address, says she can’t remember ever having shipped a package to Arkansas, and asks if I’d ever been there. When I reply in the affirmative, she blurts out what seemingly every person does – usually in all sincerity and with genuine confusion – when my visit to Arkansas comes up in conversation:
Why? For the scenery, of course.
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Department Of Obligatory Apologies
The management would like to apologize for the cultural stereotypes implied in the pictures chosen to illustrate the sentiments expressed in the previous blog segment. 
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Department Of Still Thinking About It
On Veterans’ Day, MH, K and I went to lunch at a local Red Robin. The restaurant was getting slammed; I’d never seen it so busy. When a server finally got to our table she apologized for the wait, and explained that on Veterans’ Day, soldiers past and present who have their military ID (or show up in uniform) eat for free.
They (RR) have been doing this for several years, our server explained, and the offer is so popular that Veteran’s Day is the one day when *everyone* works – no RR staff member can ask for the day off unless they make special arrangements six months in advance. Non-veteran customers in the restaurant, when they find out what RR is doing, praise them for it and don’t seem to mind the extra crowds/wait, the server said, so it makes for a nice atmosphere, and thus she likes working on Veterans’ Day.
That idea – of freebies for vets  – stuck in my head, due to conversations I’d had with my father. During the end of our meal I told MH and K that although Chet Parnell had been proud of his military service  and wouldn’t begrudge any other veteran of any age from accepting a restaurant’s offer of a free meal, I was confident that, were he here with us, he wouldn’t have claimed such an offer for himself.
My confidence about his response stems from talks we’d had over the years, and in particular, our last, long telephone conversation  about his time in the military, as well as that of his brother-in-law, Bill O’Malley. My Uncle Bill, also a WWII paratrooper, and saw action in campaigns from North Africa to Italy to D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge. He was hospitalized after the war, in Europe, for (what we now know is) PTSD. When he was well enough to be released, his PTSD, or what was called “shell shock” back then, continued to give him emotional problems when he returned to the States. My Uncle Bill never received any stateside counseling or mental health treatment.  Instead, he’d gradually “recovered,” he’d told me, when he and I talked extensively about his war stories,  because of how he was treated by his fellow Americans. As a returning GI, everyone was kind to and patient with him. “If they knew or even suspected that I’d been a soldier,” Bill said, “I never paid for a cup of coffee.”
Chet chuckled when I told him Bill’s story, then said that he himself had always felt …odd…accepting any kind of kudos for his military service. He was an enlistee, not a draftee, and had proudly signed up for the paratroopers. It was an important job he and the other soldiers had to do, he said, but he didn’t want to make “a big deal” out of it. He got paid for doing it, and never felt that he was owed him anything nor that civilians were beholden to him in any way. Or, as he put it, “I can buy my own damn cuppa coffee.”
Chet Parnell (front row far left) and some of his “stick.” 
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Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?….
Many people, it turns out….To some recent vets…the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters.
To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.
(Hunter Garth, 26, former Marine who served in Afghanistan) said that when he gets thanked it can feel self-serving for the thankers, suggesting that he did it for them, and that they somehow understand the sacrifice, night terrors, feelings of loss and bewilderment. Or don’t think about it at all.
“I pulled the trigger,” he said. “You didn’t. Don’t take that away from me.”
(“Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service,” NY Times, 2-21-15)
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May you have a restful post-Thanksgiving weekend;
May you contemplate the existential reasons why a person might visit Arkansas;
May you appreciate being able to buy your own damn cuppa coffee;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Lions and tigers and bears want to eat every day, and don’t understand Thanksgiving.
 Plant-based eaters generally exclude or minimize consumption of meat and animal products. Some, like moiself, have fish on occasion. And others, also like moiself, are trying to get Tillamook Pepper Jack cheese classified as a fish.
 The management would like to apologize, if only she could do it sincerely.
 I sincerely hope all veteran’s order of burgers and fries were not delivered to their tables with that phrase I find at once odious and obsequious: Thank you for your service.
 He served in WWII as a paratrooper.
 The night before he died.
 Both treatment for and knowledge about PTSD was practically non-existent, for WWII vets.
 Which flabbergasted my parents when I told them, years later, because, other than a few talks with Chet, a fellow paratrooper, “Bill wouldn’t talk about the war with anyone.” My theory was that while Bill wouldn’t talk about the war with other adults, a ten year old (at the time of our conversation) kid disarmed him with my genuine curiosity and guileless questions – and every question I asked, he answered.
 A “stick” is a load of paratroopers in one plane, prepared for a drop.