Thanksgiving at the local level–did the Grinch come early?

In just a couple of hours I’ll have two active little girls “helping” me get ready for the big day. Fortunately I’ve been planning ahead, because I would much rather spend time with whatever they’d like to do today than any more cleaning and organizing.

I’ve already made a variety of changes to our potential seating arrangements. Yesterday the news was that we had a 50% chance of rain. As I went t bed around 11:30 PM I heard that any precipitation was going to be in the evening. Maybe I didn’t need to set the dining room table after all?

This morning? Some high pressure system has settled and we aren’t expected to have any rain at all. What gives?

We need rain and I hope you know that most of my previous protestations were quite tongue in cheek. I certainly hope that my comments about either being “cold” or concerned about rain are never misinterpreted as complaint. I’d have rocks in my head to protest to any of you. I’ve seen the news footage of freezing storms and all I can do is shake my head in pure amazement.

So it looks like we’ll be setting up our tent after all, and I’ll be sure to take some pictures of our family event. This will be our first year with Zena. I wonder how she’ll do when her peaceful backyard is invaded by 20 hungry visitors?

As I loaded my Costco cart yesterday one word kept floating into my mind’s eye.


Don’t you think that part of being grateful is to share with those in need?

Do you remember Pasadena’s “Fork in the Road?”

Fork in the Road

Last year at this time I wrote about one local effort to address the homeless and hungry at Thanksgiving. 

There are 58,423 homeless people in Los Angeles County; 12% are veterans, 26% chronically homeless and 43% are unsheltered.

And Pasadena, with its large parks, relatively safe environment and warm climate, has been reasonably hospitable for years. There are several cooperative foundations and churches that partner full-time addressing the needs of the homeless and hungry.

One very highly esteemed organization, Union Station Foundation, has a stellar reputation for feeding hungry men, women and children–every day of the week.

And at Thanksgiving and Christmas the entire community gets involved in a most spectacular effort–until this year.

Here’s the situation.

For three decades, maybe more, locals have been encouraged to bring pre-cooked and heated holiday food to Pasadena’s Central Park. One year I even took a turkey. Hundreds of people participate in this wonderful tradition, and then Union Station Homeless Services and local churches coordinate the effort to feed as many hungry people as they can possibly accommodate–usually around 4,000. It is a huge effort.

What’s changed?

Pasadena’s Health Department has shut this effort down, in a so-called effort to protect public health. Really? Do you buy that?

The city’s Environmental Health Division decided because the event was open to the public, any food served had to come through the portals of an approved, regulated facility.

My head could explode!

It won’t be the same, but a church in my own neighborhood has stepped up to accept food donations and is going into a modified “Plan B” to help through two of its homeless family centers.

I think I just decided one thing Sophia, Karina and I can do today. We can certainly find a way to take a few donations to the church, and join the effort to share some of our abundance. Maybe later I can add my protest to such a silly environmental health decision.

It could take me a little effort to get  through the grocery lines today so I’d better get moving. I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving, even if you don’t celebrate as a national holiday.

We can still practice the art of giving thanks.

I hope by next year Pasadena listens to the uproar of complaint, and gets its act together.

Simple acts of Thanksgiving…it couldn’t be easier!

Sometimes there really is a fork in the road!

 Are you familiar with the term guerilla art? Maybe you prefer street art, but we’re talking about when an artist anonymously leaves a work of art in a public place, and usually somewhere unauthorized.

The 18-foot tall wooden fork  started out as a joke between friends. In November of 2009 Ken Marshall, a local man, created the fork for his friend Bob Stane’s 75th birthday in response to their on-going joke that the intersection needed a fork to mark its distinctive split.

At first it wasn’t allowed to stay on California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) property, but the public applied pressure for the popular “utensil” and it now stands tall and proud.

This past weekend “Fork Plaza” was the location for a Thanksgiving food drive, “Put the Fork in Hunger.”

A food drive brought people out to contribute canned goods and beverages to supplement the “Biggest Potluck in the Nation.”  For over 30 years, Pasadena’s Union Station Foundation has sponsored the annual Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park, providing a warm meal to more than 7,000 low income or homeless, senior citizens, and those alone for the Holidays.

The Fork Foundation collected food items to supplement the more than 150 turkeys and approximately 5,000 pounds of potatoes that will be served one week from today.

I love the way a joke between two friends has grown into the symbol for a reputable charitable foundation supporting other programs addressing hunger in our community.

Contributing to local food drives is just one very easy way to make a difference in any community.  And it’s an easy thing to do. But there are even easier ways to share with others.

Have you noticed the labels on Heinz Ketchup?

Over 650 million bottles of Heinz Ketchup are sold around the world in more than 140 countries, with annual sales of more than $1.5 billion.

The Wounded Warrior Project raises awareness and provides aid for the needs of injured service members through direct programs and services.

If you take just one quick minute you can do a little more? Click here!   For every e-card sent to a Veteran, Heinz will donate $1.00 to The Wounded Warrior Project. You can even designate the card to a Veteran you know personally. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

I have already sent several cards. I’ll have to take Heinz at their word that donations are flooding in to this worthy agency. When something is this easy I can be a little suspicious!

Although I’m not really a “ketchup person,” I always have some Heinz ketchup on-hand. I have learned that some people need their Ketchup, and I need to keep it in my refrigerator for guests.

Even though I’m recommending you purchase Heinz for the benefit of the Wounded Warrior Project, there are still times when you might want something a little special.

Chicago John happened to post a homemade ketchup recipe that turned my head today! This is a ketchup I would enjoy! It might not be as easy as buying a plastic bottle at the grocery store, but it sure looks like it would be worth the effort.

Go to From the Bartolini Kitchens  and see if it doesn’t make you think twice about what REAL ketchup should look like.

Let’s take advantage of the Thanksgiving season to share a little more with others. Be creative! And while you’re at it, encourage others to do the same. Spread a little food for thought!
Bob Hope said, “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”