Captian’s log: Week Two—Chicken and Good Bones

“Life is an onion–
you peel it year by year and sometimes cry.”

Carl Sandburg

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Thomas Aquinas


(the foggy rain accentuates the somber mood of these difficult days / Julie Cook / 2020)

Three years ago I wrote a post entitled ‘The Humble Onion’.
I’ve included the link below.

The post referenced a PBS show that I once loved watching, Foyles War.
It was a seasonal type of PBS show showcasing life in Hastings, England during
WWII—as seen through the life of the local Detective Chief Superintendent, Christopher Foyle.
A local police detective charged with keeping the peace in his small town during war.

Throw in the occasional murder by hire, grand theft, larceny, etc…
all compounded by the burden of war and it was a weekly captivating tale of intrigue
while living under a time of siege.

One of the episodes featured a story about a lottery over an onion.

The humble onion, as lowly as it is…is actually an integral component to cooking—
for it adds nuance, flavor, and depth to any dish to which it is added.

I was intrigued by the fact that they were having an office lottery over
a single onion…

They each longed to win the onion.

Yet what my 21st-century mind failed to wrap itself around was the fact that during the war,
onions were a difficult commodity to come by.

For those of you who don’t cook, you should know that onions are a prized culinary wonderment.

And this fact was greatly apparent during the days of rationing and sacrifice since
onions were not easily come by.
Just as this conundrum can quickly become a modern-day reality when I suddenly realize
I’m all out of onions during the height of a cooking extravaganza that requires an onion.

So flash forward to our present day.

We are all currently living life under siege.
Not the siege of war, but rather the siege of pestilence.

And now having been scavenged by a populace afraid of shortage,
many grocery store shelves are now bare.
Meaning we too are living with shortages and near rationing proportions.

It’s been a surreal adventure in our normally overloaded world of plenty.

For the past two weeks, I’ve made several mad runs to my local grocery of choice
in search of supplies to feed our family—a family who is now currently calling
our house, home central, while hunkering down.

Besides toilet paper, chicken, of all things, has been hard to come by…
as in, the shelves have been completely empty and bare.
Shelves that are normally filled with a plethora of organic, free-range, farm-raised,
all-natural parts and pieces of thighs, breasts, wings, drumsticks and even
entire roasting hens…now stand barren.

And wouldn’t you just know it— all I’ve wanted to cook is a chicken.

A humble yet succulent yard bird.

So yesterday morning…despite my husband’s foreboding and warnings of the dire
consequences should I risk my life while it was pouring down rain as infection
was waiting with my name on it, I made off to the grocery store…in search of chicken.

I thought the rain would hamper others who might come on a similar quest.

I was met by gals who had bleached and alcoholed shopping carts and were handing them off
to incoming soaking wet and leary shoppers.
Folks wearing masks and gloves, while I simply donned a ball cap and rain jacket.

I made my way past the produce section and bakery, making a beeline for the
poultry section.
Would it be there?? I fretted…

And what to my wondering eyes did appear—
it was my heart’s delight…chicken!!!

A large sign alerted shoppers that only two packs could be purchased per household.

I opted for a roasting hen and a pack of chicken tenders.

I was so excited.

I made my way through the store gathering what I could from my list.
Things that were in stock but limited to, once again, only two per household.

I couldn’t believe how happy a single roasting hen could make me feel.
Something I would normally take for granted.
Something that would normally be plentiful and considered average fare.

But to me, a roasting hen is a blank canvas that has become my symbol
of comfort and normalcy.

And so later in the evening, after we enjoyed our wonderful dinner,
my daughter-in-law shared something with me
that I’d like to share with you.

It was something she read that Jenna Bush Hagar, one of President’s Bush’s twin daughters
has posted. It is a piece entitled Good Bones written by Maggie Smith.

It’s poignant, harsh, tender, painful and yet, there remains in the end…hope
The hope of what could be…
May we, for the sake of our children, try for what could be…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/the-humble-onion/

celebrations

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration.
Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained.
Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation.
To be entertained is a passive state–
it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle….
Celebration is a confrontation,
giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


(Dad’s cake / Julie Cook / 2017)

Over the years, I’ve read many tales of those who suffered in the death camps
of Nazi Germany.
I also have read a great deal about those who endured exile in the Soviet gulags.
Some of the stories end with liberation while many sadly, or perhaps poetically,
end in liberating death.

One key element that I’ve noticed over and over, that is evident in almost all of the
individual stories of those who endured the horrors of either form of death camp,
is the single element of either anticipatory hope or dejected hopelessness.

Those who chose to hold onto hope, did so in seemingly small, insignificant and almost
unnoticeable measures…

They would simply keep count.

They would count hours, days, weeks, months, years…
the counting of their own particular life’s moments…
Be it birthdays, anniversaries or any of their own personal life’s hurdles or goals…
anything of what life had been outside of the camps to them personally…
They would count and look forward…
forward toward what normal had been….
and holding on to that normal.

Notches were marked on walls, small prayers were silently said as hymns or songs were
privately sung…
As some semblance of recalling and holding onto the marking of these personal moments
could actually keep life sane…
It is what helped those tortured souls hold onto that which was of sanity and routine…
that of life’s normalcy….
all the while as they were being held in the depths of brutal insanity.

There is a bittersweetness found in the holding onto of normalcy during those times
in our lives that are anything but normal.

Those of us who have watched loved ones slowly ebb away due to illness, disease, war, famine,
brutality, paralysis, or any other catastrophic thief understand the importance
of continuing to count.

For if we didn’t count,
if we didn’t hold onto,
if we didn’t hope…even in the face of a seemingly earthly hopelessness…
we would simply succumb to a sorrow so deep, so black and so bitter
that we would be lost to the abyss of utter nothingness…
all of which we would know would equate to utter despair.

One of the hardest bible verses to live out in life is found in the book of James.
(1 James 2….)
We are told to consider it “pure joy” when facing trails.

A seemingly impossible task that many a non-believer throughout time has relished
in taunting the faithful with the sneering
“what kind of loving God would tell you to find joy
in your suffering…other than a maniacally sick puppet master…”

And as it is seemingly impossible to do just that when one’s heart is in the midst of
being torn out of one’s chest….

We continue doing just that….

Because in part we know that what we’ve counted and held onto here in this life,
that which we have considered so dear and so precious…
is but a glimpse of what will be even more so…
once we are liberated and home….

So be we liberated in life or in death…either way…we the faithful…
count our milestones and choose to celebrate…


(this is a really good picture of Dad right now, the other shots look wretched…but there remains
a small twinkle and sly smile in this image)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,
because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

1 James 2-6