Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Happy Thanksgiving from Sirens!

We here at Sirens & Gavels hope you'll be enjoying a dinner similar to this one with your friends and family on Thursday. (The Internets/Google Images)

Happy Thanksgiving from Sirens & Gavels! I hope everyone has a great holiday with their family and friends.

The blog will be back Monday afternoon.

Bake a Cake, Win a Turkey, or Starve!

Thanksgiving was just around the corner, years ago, when my sons were 8 and 9.  I worried about Thanksgiving, coming and going, without a turkey.  It was going to be a pretty grim Thanksgiving; I was eyeballing chickens and wondering how fooled the boys would be.

The boys participated in the Boy Scouts Bake Sale the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The prize was a turkey dinner, complete with potatoes, gravy mix, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.  With $6.00 to my name, I knew this was my only chance.  That, or we'd have to settle for chicken.
The scouts were supposed to make <b>their own</b> cake. Home made by the boys. My mind slithered back to the soap box derby earlier that year, where the boys were supposed to make a screaming racing car out of a block of wood, <b>*by*themselves*</b> There was a family at the bake sale that evening - affluent, intelligent, and beautiful parents with equally beautiful twin boys, age 9.  The twins showed up at the derby with a cherry-red, cherried-out, speed demon race car that won hands down! My son showed up with a hand carved by him (with a little inadequate help from me), lemon colored (for a reason) obviously home-made car that wouldn't even roll an inch without help.
Now my mind came back to the night before Thanksgiving, and there on the table of 20 cakes was the twins' cake, stunning in its beauty, <i>of course</i>, an absolutely beautiful beehive cake with yellow and white striped icing, and little furry bees on toothpicks “hovering” over the beehive, every detail finely etched as if it were created by some elite French chef. And our cake, Mr. Happy Face, which was bumpy and wavy, black frosting smeared into a crude half circle with a crooked little smile and two globs for eyes – the saddest cake I have ever seen.  (But <i>hand-made</i> by my son!)
I grumbled to myself. I had decided I was going to have to buy the cake back for $2.00, leaving me $4.00. I could still get that damned chicken.
It was getting darned close to disaster time in my family as our misshapen cake, made totally by my son (did I say that already?), was sitting forlorn and lonely as all the other cakes were being raffled off – it was down to the beehive cake or the happy face cake.
Bee Family bought my cake AND theirs! 
I felt a strange twisting in my gut – I was bitter and angry and jealous and peeved and crabby. They could have bought all 20 cakes! And of course, Bee Family won the turkey dinner. It was a test for me to practice sweetness in the face of total disaster.  Now, I had no turkey dinner.  And I had no cake!
I told myself that this was a good thing. I still had SIX dollars to buy my “chicken” dinner. And spare change to get two ice cream cones for two pretty sad little boys.
We got to our car and I was loading the kids in, when Mr. Bee came up to me with this HUGE box, the hump of a gigantic turkey peering over the edge; potatoes, stuffing, Pumpkin Pie, the WORKS. “We've already got our turkey – this would just go to waste – would you mind taking it off our hands?”
Well, I tell ya, I could hardly talk to him as I choked up and teared up and tried to stuff all the guilt I was feeling for, well, for feeling cheated, and poor, and pathetic!
There is always something to be thankful for.  If you find yourself in a downward spiral, something will come along to lift you out of that hole.  I am ever thankful for this family's gift to my family.  
May I be able to pay it forward in every moment where I can pass along a kindness or a gentle touch.  Hoping everyone finds abundant reasons for being thankful.

Thanksgiving recipe: Mixing past with present

For many of us, each holiday season is a time to count our blessings.

I am blessed to I have a husband and two kids who let me cook for them. I am also blessed that my mom is a great cook to whom I owe many of my pantry skills.

Thanksgiving in our house when I was growing up always included the usual suspects: turkey, stuffing, gravy, spuds, cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. These items were canonical in the meal.

The turkey, roasted in a stand-alone roaster, always came out juicy and perfectly cooked.

My mom's gravy was and still is top-notch. In our extended family, it is the gravy by which all other gravys should be judged. I have never been able to duplicate it, even though I have watched her make it more times than I can count.

I have copious notes from her about how to make stuffing. Over-toasting the bread isn't a bad thing. Check your seasonings. Too much sage, bad.

Not enough salt, bad. Bake it long enough to let it get nice and crusty on the outside.

My evolution as a cook includes carrying forward the tried and true bits of wisdom from my mom, straying from tradition by trying variations of recipes and dishes that sound delicious in their own way.

This year that means:

Family Gatherings Trump Gas Prices

AAA Idaho predicts an increase in Thanksgiving travel, but credit that to a longing to be with family, not gas prices. The travel agency expects 14 percent of the state's population — a 4.1 percent increase from a year ago - will travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday. The prediction is “not because of any major improvements in the overall economic market, and obviously not with the help of gasoline prices, but because there is a pent-up demand among Americans to spend time with family,” said Dave Carlson, AAA spokesman/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you plan to travel far this Thanksgiving? Or is someone traveling far to visit you?

Pangos handles publicity in stride

Spent a couple hours at Gonzaga on Monday, one for media day and one watching practice. I put together a notebook that will run in Tuesday's S-R. Here's a link.

No council meeting this week

I just wanted to remind everyone that there is no Spokane Valley City Council meeting Tuesday because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 29. While we're making scheduling notes, I have two more items. City of Spokane Valley offices will be closed on Friday for the holiday. And I will be out of here Wednesday afternoon for a nice, long weekend. So don't expect to see blog activity for a couple of days at the end of the week.

What’s Your Thanksgiving TV Policy?


On his Slice blog, Paul Turner offers this question as Thanksgiving approaches: A) No TV on Thursday. B) No TV except for seven hours of football. C) It can be on until there is a fight over control of the remote. D) The TV is never off at our home. E) Other.

What’s your Thanksgiving TV policy?


A) No TV on Thursday. B) No TV except for seven hours of football. C) It can be on until there is a fight over control of the remote. D) The TV is never off at our home. E) Other.

Celebrating Another Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)




    I turned the corner, down an unfamiliar street, my mind so oblivious to where I was going I might just as well have been a dog with its head out the window, lost in the delicious rush of mysterious and fragrant air, just happy to be out and about with no thought of what might be ahead.

    Most of the leaves had fallen from the trees, swept down by the wind and an early snowfall, and the sidewalks and street were littered with the russet and copper remnants of a spectacular autumn. But at the end of the block a scarlet tree still blazed, a burning bush, bright and vibrant against the faded landscape. Even the sun could not ignore it and sunlight danced in the tree, painting the leaves with subtle shades and shadows.

    It was impossible to look away and I didn’t try. I gazed at it as I drove by and even looked back at it in the rearview mirror. 

    Thursday my family will sit down to our Thanksgiving meal and for the first time one of our small group will be absent. My son is away, working in Japan, and we will miss him even as we celebrate his success.

    We are so fortunate to have made it this far without an empty seat at the table. Even in difficult times—and I have never pretended there weren’t some truly difficult days—we gathered, held hands, and spoke aloud the things for which we were most grateful.

    Each year I compose a mental list but when it is my turn to speak, the words fly out of my head. I tear up and can say only that I am grateful for the love of those around me. But what I can never seem to get out is that I am filled with gratitude for the gift of a million small moments.

    There were quiet Sundays spent reading, curled in the big chair beside the fire, my husband stretched out on the sofa. There were Saturday morning feasts that lured home grown children who filled the house with the sound of laughter and the smell of bacon and coffee.

  There were quiet walks through the park with my dogs and the rapturous look on my daughter’s face as we stood in Notre Dame Cathedral on a rainy January day in Paris. There was the afternoon my son turned to me and recited a poem I’d read to him when he was a boy, and my firstborn’s secret smile when she told us her news.

   There were shooting stars glimpsed from my back door and my youngest daughter’s shining face as she sat in the saddle, flying on horseback. There was, just this week, the chance encounter with a beautiful brilliant tree in a landscape that had already surrendered to winter.

 On Thanksgiving Day I will blink back tears and fumble the opportunity to say what I feel. But in my heart I will celebrate the quiet gift of time and the chance to have lived one more extraordinary year of ordinary days.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is a contributing editor at Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Does your family have photos like this?


If anyone wants to write a caption for this picture, there could be a coveted reporter's notebook in it for you.

Three weeks to go


I know a Harry Wilson. Good guy. He's a store manager on the South Hill. I don't know what his middle initial is, but I'm pretty sure this isn't him.

The Naked Truth About Tom


Dear Ms. Millsap,
Several years ago you wrote an article in the Spokesman Review about your daughter and a picture of a turkey. I thought it was very funny and I gave copies to some of my friends. I even sent one to my 82 year old mother.
This year I lost that clipping and was hoping you could send me a copy.
Happy Turkey Day!

It happens every year. Each November somebody sends me a note like the one below. So here's a copy of the piece I'm most requested to read or share. I've come to think of as the Turkey Story:

November 23, 2006

Let’s all give thanks for the bird – and the bees


For most people, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we’ve been given, and savor the scents of crisp autumn days and pumpkin pie.

For me, it’s a little more complicated.

One November afternoon when my daughter was in kindergarten, I picked her up after school. She bobbed out to the car and crawled into the back seat.

“What did you do today?” I asked. She couldn’t wait to tell me.

“We learned that boys are different from girls,” she chirped.

Looking into the rearview mirror, I could just see the top of her head.

“My teacher told us that boys have a thing the girls don’t,” she added.

“Well, yes they do …,” I said cautiously.

I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so we were quiet for a moment. Then she piped up again. “That’s how girls know that boys are boys,” she said. “They see that thing that hangs down and they know that he is a boy.”

I mentally calculated the distance home. Our five-minute commute already felt like an hour.

“Did you know that when the boys see a girl they puff up?” My palms were beginning to sweat. “Um … well ….”

I was still searching for something new to say, to change the subject, when she asked, “Why do the girls like the boys to have those things?” Well I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what woman hasn’t asked herself that question at least once?

“Oh, well … um …,” I stammered.

She didn’t wait for my answer. She had her own. “It’s ‘cause it moves when they walk and then the girls see that and that’s when they know they are boys and that’s when they like them. Then the boy sees the girl and he puffs up, and then the girl knows he likes her, too. And then they get married. And then they get cooked.”

That last part confused me a bit, but on the whole I thought she had a pretty good grasp on things.

As soon as we got home and I pulled into the garage, she hopped out of the car, fishing something out of her school bag.

“I drew a picture,” she said. “Do you want to see?”

I wasn’t sure I did, but I looked at it anyway. I had to sit down.

There, all puffed up, so to speak, looking mighty attractive for the ladies, was a crayon drawing of a great big tom turkey. His snood, the thing that hangs down over his beak, the thing that female turkeys find so irresistible, was magnificent. His tail feathers were standing tall and proud.

She was a little offended that I laughed so hard at her drawing, and I laughed until I cried. But when I told her I loved it – and I did – she got over her pique.

That was the end of that, for her anyway. But I’m not so lucky.

Every year I remember that conversation.

And to be honest, I haven’t looked at a turkey, or a man, the same way since.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Vintage linen for the Thanksgiving table

    This Thanksgiving, as I usually do, I'll decorate the table simply with a few favorite items: a carved wooden pheasant, a vintage table cloth, the family china and silver. We'll sit down together to eat favorite foods, celebrate and enjoy one another's company.

    But this year I do have something new, or, rather, old, to bring to the table. Recently, on a trip to the Gulf Coast, I attended the Peter Anderson Festival in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. As we walked toward the booths of artists and artisans, we passed a small antique store. The owner of the store was holding a sale before closing the doors forever and everything was deeply discounted. I didn't have much time so I went immediately to the section of the store where all the linens were displayed and picked up three pieces. I have a thing for heavy, hand-sewn French linen and I'd immediately noticed three little pieces, two table runners and a small tea towel, on a shelf.

   I held up the linens and asked for a price, in a bit of a hurry because I needed to catch up with the rest of my party. The owner looked at what I held in my hand and shrugged.

   “How about $2?” he said. “I told you everything needs to go.”

   I was thrilled. The pieces would sell for much more than that anywhere else. I handed him the $2 and ran on to find everyone else.

    This year, when I set the table, I'll add two miniature pumpkins that grew on a vine in my backyard; they are the last remnants of my summer garden. (You can read more about the pumpkins in my downtoearthnw.com Growing Green column.)Tucked around them, I'll add one of the linen pieces I brought home from the south.

    I've been so busy lately, I haven't had much time for treasure hunting and I've missed the adventure. The few minutes I spent in the antique store were a treat. As was the bargain.

     I can't think of a better way to dress a holiday table.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


Happy Thanksgiving from Sirens!

Happy Thanksgiving from Sirens & Gavels! I hope everyone has a great holiday with their family and friends.  

Travel safe and enjoy your various family traditions. If you don’t have any, start some. (Did anyone else’s father make them write reports on Thanksgiving topics like the Pilgrims and present them to the family during dinner?)

The blog will be back Monday afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving from your neighborhood blog

Because I immigrated to this country as an adult, Thanksgiving is a holiday I had to learn. I’m not ashamed to admit that at the time, the differences between that and Halloween were not quite clear in my little European head. It all seemed to be about pumpkins, corn and turkeys. And who were those guys with the little funny hats? I dug up a column I wrote about my first Thanksgiving a couple of years ago - you can read that below - and this is my way of wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for supporting your neighborhood blog.

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving

 As an adult immigrant to this country, Thanksgiving is a holiday I had to learn. I’m not ashamed to admit that at the time, the differences between that and Halloween were not quite clear in my little European head. It all seemed to be about pumpkins, corn and turkeys. And who were those guys with the little funny hats? I dug up a column I wrote about my first Thanksgiving a couple of years ago - you can read that below - and this is my way of wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for supporting your neighborhood blog.

Obama pardons turkey and other T-Day readings

One of the great American Thanksgiving traditions occurred this morning, as President Obama pardoned a turkey presented to him from the turkey growers association.

Actually, he pardoned two. The winner of a national turkey competition, Apple, and understudy Cider. They’re off to Mount Vernon to live out their days in relative luxury, escaping the fate of winding up on the White House table tomorrow.

A copy of the president’s turkey pardoning declaration, fresh from the White House press office, can be found inside the blog. And a link can be found here to a story that suggests the whole basis of current presidents pardoning turkeys because Harry Truman did it back in 1947 is about as credible as Santa Claus.

Want to read more about Thanksgiving traditions and traditional myths. Check out this page at History News Network.

City closures on Thanksgiving

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, Spokane City Hall will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25 and 26.  Municipal Court also will be closed both days. City libraries, the solid waste transfer stations, and the Waste to Energy Facility will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25, and open regular operating hours for the rest of the weekend.
Garbage pickup and curbside recycling will be a day late during the week of Thanksgiving for those residents whose garbage is normally picked up on Thursday and Friday.  Because of the holiday, crews will do Thursday rounds on Friday, Nov. 26, and Friday rounds on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Thanksgiving Day.  For the rest of the weekend, normal meter use rules apply.
The Riverfront Park attractions, including the Ice Palace, Imax Theater, Spokane Falls Skyride, and Carousel, are open on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the holiday weekend.  Go to www.spokaneriverfrontpark.com for information on hours of operation.

Via e-mail from the city of Spokane this morning


Ashley: Thanksgiving Is A Favorite

Ashley: Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because there really isn’t anything better than family, good food and time to decompress before finals week eats away at my life again. I think people often understate the holiday because it’s nothing fancy. But then again, that’s what I like about it :-) More below.

Question: On the annual holiday schedule, how would you rate Thanksgiving?

Things I am thankful for…

 Good evening, Netizens…

After some prolonged introspection, a bit of meditation and some considerable prayer, I have belatedly come up with the things for which I am most-thankful in 2009. They are presented in no particular order, but are submitted more for the sake of clarity than anything else.

I am always and forever thankful for my wife, without whose stern guidance, gentle reminders, seductive mind and tremendous insight into what it means to be a woman in modern society I could easily become a pompous, uninformed and highly-opinionated ass. No, she did not bribe me to make this statement, for it is a statement of historically-provable fact.

I have been and still am thankful for the rich cornucopia of friends and loved ones who constantly render me guidance, allegiance and wisdom. My attempts at acumen and my purported intelligence would be a wasted affair were it not for those to whom I listen most-closely, whose opinions and ideas help shape me, give me focus and more often than not set me on the right track.

I am and will continue to be an unapologetic American, thankful for my heritage and hopeful for our nation’s future. We, as a nation, have screwed up royally throughout history, for we have totally ignored the lessons of history at times. Yet despite all our dimples and warts we still stand tall as one of the greatest nations in the world. Our two greatest freedoms, freedom of speech and freedom of the press still stand tall and those two gifts of history few can equal.

Despite numerous brushes with death in all its permutations, and despite the fact I soon will be turning 64 years of age, I am thankful my health remains about what one could hope for from a sinner who has pushed the envelope of life about as far as one could while still remaining on his feet.

Having said that, perhaps I am thankful for the gifts of history most of all. I have seen television in the day of its infancy when it was awe-inspiring at times and even funny; it has been transformed into a wasteland of laugh tracks. I have seen computers as big as a house owned by mega-corporations change over time to where well-kept homes all have the power of the Internet and let it become as a play land for dolts. More sadly perhaps I have seen the ancient and spacious beauty of our land transformed where beauteous ancient orchards once stood, where a human could stand in the evening mist among the aroma of freshly-budding trees, to where only tract homes now exist. I possess all this in my memory’s store and more.

What are you most thankful for?


Leftover Plans

By the time Friday rolls around, this turkey, dressing and cranberry sandwich can be yours with just a few Thanksgiving dinner leftovers.

So. If you’re fortunate enough to have any leftover turkey, stuffing, potatoes etc. how do you enjoy them? I’ve got a huge vat of turkey stock simmering on the stove in preparation for tonight’s turkey noodle soup. I also can’t resist a bite or two of cold dressing.

What are your leftover plans?

  • Make soup
  • Create a casserole
  • Reheat everything and serve again
  • Make sandwiches
  • Other

Giving Thanks for the Familiar Faces Around Me

Giving Thanks

By Cheryl-Anne Millsap

Special Correspondent to Pinch

I cook the same meal each Thanksgiving, by request, and seldom make any dramatic changes to the menu. So each November the house fills with the savory fragrance of our traditional meal. Sage, celery seed, pepper and onion in the Southern cornbread dressing. Cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans on top of the buttery sweet potatoes. The unmistakable aroma of roast turkey and fresh rolls.

The scents that surround us that day are comforting and familiar and pull each of us back in time. My children can close their eyes and connect the dots of their memories, recalling similar meals in different houses and cities.

Alone in the kitchen, a big yellow ware bowl and a faded recipe on the counter, I remember my own childhood, standing in my grandmother’s kitchen with my brother and sister, one of her aprons tied under my arms, a big mixing spoon in my hand, the house full of aunts, uncles and cousins who will gather around the big table in the dining room…