5 min read

Not If, But When

Not If, But When

I roasted a turkey last night for the first time in my life. It turned out much better than was reasonable, considering that I’d never done it before. I used the “Roasted Brined Turkey” recipe from The Joy of Cooking, 7th edition (1997). When I was a kid, I used to leaf through my mom’s copy of Joy, which was always either out or close to hand in the kitchen. I particularly liked the section where it described how to dress small game, including butchering a porcupine. Both J and I were given copies of Joy by family members when we were about to start a new part of life—she by her aunt the Christmas after she graduated high school and I by my mom as a housewarming present when I got my first apartment after graduating college—so when we moved in together we had two. We ended up keeping hers because it was in good condition and had an inscription from her aunt in it, whereas mine was beat up and not personalized. 18 years later, the dust jacket on our copy is getting frayed around the edges, and some of the pages are warped from having gotten wet. Sometimes I forget that it isn’t the one my mom gave me. The Roasted Brined Turkey recipe was very easy, and the meat was more moist and flavorful than I was expecting.

Last night was also the first time in my life that I ate a Thanksgiving dinner in my own house, without any extended family. We Zoomed with J’s family for a bit in the afternoon, 29 people in 10 households across 4 states. I called my mom and aunts afterwards, and texted my brothers and my dad. I didn’t end up talking to the cousins I’d usually see, or my grandmother.

My grandmother—my dad’s mom—has been hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner at her house since well before I was born, with all of her kids and grandkids in attendance as well as her sisters and their kids and usually a number of family friends. Over time, as we’ve grown up, my generation have started to move away—me to San Diego, one cousin to the Bay Area, another to Seattle, another to Florida. As kids we saw each other all the time, but now it’s just the holidays, either Thanksgiving or Christmas as we switch off between my family and J’s. My grandmother is 92 years old, and though she’s in good health and still lives on her own, it’s been on my mind that I probably don’t have too many more holiday meals with her left. Last night as J and I set the table, our middle child said “It’s like a feast!” And it was, and a bigger one than was strictly necessary for just the five of us. I couldn’t help wondering if my future Thanksgivings would look more like this one than like the ones I remember. Or perhaps not if but when.

So much is in flux right now. Nobody knows what the future will look like, except that it probably won’t look like now. Then again, continuity has always been more of an idea than a reality. There will be a last time my grandmother hosts a Thanksgiving dinner, but there was also a first time. Things change. The desire to hold on to the past can be urgent, even desperate. But eventually change comes, and maybe sometimes letting go means we get the chance to shape what comes after.

This Is a Photograph of Coffee

It looks a little bit like an aerial photo of a Superfund site, doesn’t it?


It’s #BuyArtFriday once again, so here are some items for your consideration:

  1. Photographer scott b davis will be in conversation with curator Arpad Kovacs this coming Thursday, December 3, at 10:30 AM PST, discussing scott's unique process as well as it’s context within the history of photography. The event is free and online, hosted by Catherine Edelman Gallery in conjunction with scott's "Place in the Sun" exhibition.
  2. Photographer Rachael Short’s 2021 fine art calendars are now available directly from the artist. $40 for one or $60 for two, shipping included.
  3. For this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, photographer Jonas Yip is offering a 25% off sale on his "Somewhere Between" book+print package.
  4. Photographer Ken Rosenthal’s Thanksgiving Week book & print sale is on through Sunday, November 29. You can find his photobooks and some deeply discounted unique cyanotypes at his online shop.
  5. The Metal Museum’s online store has work from metalsmiths throughout the US and Canada, including books, jewelry, kids' items, and more.
  6. Jane Eaton Hamilton has oil and acrylic paintings for sale. Check out their Facebook page for available works and ordering information. Through Sunday, November 29, all works are 20% off—the discount is automatic and no coupon or code is required.
  7. Ariel Henley has fine art prints, postcards, stickers, and buttons available in her Etsy shop. Prints available from $20-$35, many prints include free shipping.
  8. GingkoSeed is the Etsy shop of a San Francisco-based artist who makes original block printed art. Prints and cards available from $7.50 to $135.
  9. Shani Wahrman offers hand-painted mirrors, tote bags, and door signs via her Etsy shop. You can also commission custom pieces there.

That’s what I have for this week. If you have art for sale or any upcoming online events, please share your links in the comments, or email them to me at buyartfriday@sakeriver.com. And please support the arts however you can!


It’s Friday, so here are some things that mattered to me recently:

  1. Lyz Lenz wrote about our individual and collective failure of empathy during the pandemic. It's not a feel-good piece. It does not contain easy answers or comfort. But I think the discomfort it elicits is an important and useful one.
  2. Brandon Taylor wrote about fall, about nostalgia and about experiencing a season or a life mainly in reference to something else. What I thought was impressive is how it manages to be both nostalgic and a critique of nostalgia.
  3. I finally got around to playing the game Night in the Woods. I'd heard that it was very good and very affecting, very fun and often funny, and all that is true. I wasn't prepared, though, for how well it captures the poignancy of homecoming when you're young and a little lost, or how complex the friendships and family relationships would be. I thought it was really well done, and very moving.

As always, this is just a portion of what mattered to me recently. I'm thinking a lot about change lately, change on both a global and a personal scale. I'm trying to remember that there's loss in change, but there's gain, too. I hope you're well.

Thank you, and take care.