Happy Erev Christmas!!!; Encampment; Letters; Soup Brigade How To; Lots More; Song/Tune: Santa Claus Is Coming

CONTENTS 12/24/2020
Happy Erev Christmas!!!
City Hall Encampment
  Write Letters
  Soup Brigade
  Hold The Paper Bags
  Delivery Protocol
  Steering Wheel Lock
  Ask Fl!p
    Soup How-To
       Sign Up
       Set Pick-Up Date For Containers
       On The Day
       Packing Soup
       Keep Food Warm
       Lots Of Meat
    Christmas Leftovers?
       Food Safety
Clip-On Light Found
Community Meal Dates
Radio Free Fl!p: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town


In the tradition I was raised in, the day begins at sundown. For holidays, the term for the day of preparation is Erev. And there are two widely celebrated holidays in North America that keep that tradition. So Happy Erev Christmas everybody!


Please keep writing to our Mayor and County Executive. And the city & county counsels while you’re at it. Let them know we support them to spend the money necessary to save the lives of our neighbors who have lost their homes.  The 50 to 100 tiny homes is nowhere near enough for the over 500 hundred unhoused citizens found at the last census. It looks like many of those homes won’t arrive for weeks. Please do not be grumpy! Seth & Satpal have way too much on their plates in this pandemic. If you’ve gotten their reassuring letters back, you may need to write again, saying you got that letter but what about everyone else with no home? If dozens of us are writing every day, asking what new progress has been made today, and what is happening next, it may help. Or we may need hundreds of us asking. Every day, but politely. Invite your friends to write too. No petitions. Everyone in their own words. Be nice, but please do ask. Lives depend on us.


Amazing gifts flowing in and through today! An envelope with $500. A box after box of snacks, socks, and bottled water. A huge load of ingredients and more containers purchased from SmartFood, and the donor refused reimbursement! Sleeping bags, wool blankets, and FIVE fire extinguishers! More offers of help with storage (I’m going to need it!)


I have all I have room for. But don’t ditch them. I’ll ask again when the current wave of supplies dwindles. Gotta have room to move around and reach things. Thank you!!!


If you are planning to drop things off at city hall, the encampment is not a Covid safe environment. Residents are increasingly stressed and it sometimes shows in lack of masks and even occasionally in conflict. At this point, if you are delivering ready-to-serve food in individual containers, or snacks in one-person packages, back your vehicle in to a parking slot on the library side and then spend a few minutes in your car, watching the situation around the food tent (about halfway down from city hall front doors – towards the county courthouse end of the block. It’s close to the sidewalk. The food tent is pretty easy to spot. Wait for a calm moment with few residents right there. Make sure your mask is fitting snugly (I add a coffee filter to mine before I go), choose your moment, grab your soup and hand it over to the food tent volunteers. You can ask them if they have pots to get back to me.

If you plan to deliver after dark, think of it as if you were on Holly Street across from the Horseshoe. Things sometimes get rowdy. Wait for calm. Call me if there seems to be no break, and I’ll see if I can get through to a volunteer to meet you at your car.

If you are going down and would be willing to pick up supplies from me on your way, I have stuff people have dropped off here that they need. I would love to be able to send along bottled water, hand warmers and snacks tonight. It’s always worth checking. Things show up here!


The encampment volunteers need a “club” style steering wheel lock. Does anyone have a spare?


I’ve gotten some really good questions today and thought I’d just pass them on directly, Dear Abby style!


I’d like to bring soup to the City Hall Encampment. Do I come to your house to pick up cups and drop off grocery bags? Also, how, when, where do I bring the cups of soup? Thanks, ~ Sarah

Hi Sarah – Hooray! Thank you. I think this is going to be a long haul winter for making soup. I am deeply grateful for all the helpers.

Sign Up

The first step is to find and sign up for a date here. The MealTrain was modified just today. Sign up for full meals for 50 camper at 7 – 8 AM, Noon, and 4:30. Sign up for mid-afternoon snacks for 20 or more at around 2 PM, and if you’re a late night person, they would love extra snacks between 9 and midnight, also for 20 or more. There are now slots for those times open for sign up. If you would like to do a meal but can’t do a whole one for 50, find a friend or neighbor and sign up together! I expect it’s going to be a long winter and we may need to keep this up for months.


Set Pick-Up Date For Containers

Next, contact me with your date, and we’ll set a pick-up date for containers a couple days before. Soup cups and lids come in stacks of 25. Flat dinner boxes come in stacks of 50. If you want to bake goodies, I have white bakery bags for loading cookies, muffins or cake.


2518 Cherry Street. It’s a red house with green trim.


I also have soup pots if you need one or two. And two big flat restaurant pans with lids that are great for casseroles or roasting meat. And a giant mixing bowl.


I also have some ingredients. Generally cooks do a mix of buying their own and getting some bulk items from me. Check in with me about what’s in stock two days before you plan to come and I can hold you some items. I almost always have onions, noodles, rice, lentils, and I usually have grated cheese. If you’re on a fixed income, contact me early and I may be able to get hold of just what you need.


I also have a PDF of bulk recipes from a generous neighbor who has cooked for large crowds. If nothing else, that can give you a sense volume needed. Ask and I’ll email it to you.

On The Day

Packing Soup

On the day and time you deliver, while your soup cooks, write the day’s date on each cup lid. Set up a couple nested cardboard boxes to transport your soup. Nesting adds a surprising amount of insulation. Write the soup name and all the ingredients on the inside of the box flap so servers can let campers with allergies know. When your soup is ready, fill the containers and pack them in tight for warmth, 2 or three layers deep. Cover with flattened smaller boxes or a bunch of layers of paper bags for insulation again. And off you go to city hall!


When you get there, park on the library side (back in) across from the food tent. You can spot the food tent easily. It’s towards the courthouse from the city hall front doors, right up to the sidewalk. There are likely to be people around it. It is common for there to be folks without masks. Wait till there’s a break in traffic and make sure your mask is well secured in place. (I add an interior layer of coffee filter to mine before I go.) When there are not many people around the tent, grab your soup and head over.

Hand your food to the volunteers in the tent. Ask if they have any soup pots to return. If they do, please bring them here asap so I can get them ready for the next cooks! You can bring me messages too. There are very few cell phones in the encampment.

Thank you!

And then please accept my profound thanks! What an amazing community! This is NOT a task I could accomplish alone!!! Thank you SO much!!!  Love/Fl!p


I just signed up for a lunch in January on the meal train. My family will be making burritos and I want to be sure I understand the system. If we individually wrap them in tin foil and put them in a paper lunch bag with an orange will that work?  Or so they need to be in a different type of container? Also-should we make half veggie, half chicken?  Do they prefer all one thing (like all chicken?) ~ Kirke

Keep Food Warm

I’d actually suggest putting your burritos just into foil and then packing them in closely to a right-size nested set of cardboard boxes to keep them as warm as possible. Put the oranges in a separate box. I’ve heard that some cooks have found foil food sheets at the dollar store.

Lots Of Meat

I would go for all chicken, or at least all meat. Supplemented with cheese too. Campers have a desperate need for protein, fat and carbs. They haven’t been inside a building to warm up and dry out in weeks or months, and it’s freezing, so eating like a lumberjack is life-preserving.


Write “Burritos” on the flap of your nested delivery boxes, and it would be kind to also write out the ingredients just once on the flap so campers with food allergies can find out what’s in there. There are more general directions for delivery above.


I wonder if there is a way to have a handful of people commit to packaging Christmas leftovers? Could make for some nice meals the night after. I’d contribute prime rib and mashed potato foil pouches, but probably only enough to feed 8-10. Just an idea! ~ Lara

Food Safety

Excellent idea! To keep meals safe, wear gloves and mask up. Pretend you are a food service worker in a restaurant. Make sure your food is kept hot or cooled promptly and reheated quickly and thoroughly. You can pick up some food boxes from me in advance, and then get your food right back in the oven to hold till you deliver. Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if it’s hotter than 90°F outside). Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below.


A Mighty Bright clip on light was found by our walkway in the 2700 block of Utter Street today. It still works. ~ Kathy Piscitello, kapiscit@gmail.com


I wanted to give you a heads up about the 2021 dates of the Bellingham Community Meal (BCM). This meal takes place once a month at Assumption’s gym and has been going on since 1983. During COVID, the meals are take-out. This dates for the first 6 months are:
Jan 30
Feb 27
Mar 27
Apr 24
May 29 (Ski to Sea)
Jun 26


I heard Joseph Spence play live back in 1972. I had never heard anything like him. He was from Bahamas, and laid bricks for a living. I was baffled and amazed and fascinated. He kept tuning his guitar but it never did sound in tune to my Western ears. But he was tuning it precisely where he intended. The words were just kind of an anchor for his jazzy vocalizations. Some young men from NYC talked him into coming north (and funded his way) so they could record him. They got him into the studio and started setting up, messing with dials. And Mr Spence just sat down started playing and kept playing non-stop. He knew what was important. They gave up and just recorded in wonder. Decades later at Guitar Camp, during a rare few hours of trying to sleep, I heard someone play Siyahamba. I can sleep through almost anything but great beauty. I stumbled out of my sleeping bag and out the door just as the tune ended, and demanded “Who played that?!” Bob Franke fessed up. I asked when he had heard Joseph Spence. He said he never had. When I said that was impossible, Bob said, well, in fact he had worn out several of Mr Spence’s records but never heard him live. I think Bob may have been jealous! Anyway, once you have heard Joseph Spence’s music, you will never forget. And if you hear Ry Cooder, you’ll know who Ry listened to. The roots go deep. If the music seems chaotic and weird on first listening, give it a little time. Feel your feet and shoulders twitch with a longing to dance. This is music to celebrate to!


Love/Fl!p 360-671-4511  2518 Cherry Street flip@columbianeighborhood.org

If you want to ask me to post something, just email me. If it’s urgent, phone. If it’s a real emergency, call 911.

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