Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Preparations

This is something I wrote for an assignment this week.

Roberta Dahlin, 11/08
One turkey furls its feathers like porcupine quills, holding its breath until its comb and whole head turn blue. The head of another snakes out to grab your coat zipper. It lurches when you catch it, flapping and flailing its bulk against you. Scaly, off-white feet with sharp nails scramble to tear something, and warmth comes through your gloves where you grip near the wing joints.

We don’t use a chopping block and a bloody axe anymore, with poultry running around headlessly colliding with things. For turkeys, we have five gallon buckets set up with holes in the bottom that their heads stick out. Getting them into the buckets is the hard part; then, wings held tight against their bodies, they die patiently, throats cut and blood dripping to the ground.

Once dead, they are cleaned, from the huge drum with rubber fingers that remove most of the feathers, to the long silver table with flashing knives, to the oval tanks deep with icy water where the birds rinse and soak until completely cool.

It comes out stiff and clean and white, and drips while we check for missed pin-feathers and bruises. We close it up in a big plastic bag and set it on the scale, marking the weight on the plastic with a sharpie.

The Monday before Thanksgiving is one of the longest days of the year. Fingers ache in the morning air setting things up and catching the birds, and we’re cold to the bone by evening. Knives cut through skin, flesh, gizzards and joints, and we swipe them across stones and steels to re-sharpen them. We’re spattered with blood, feathers spun out of the picker, and little bits of white fat, but you don’t hose one another off in 20 or 30-degree weather. The radio gives out scratchy songs that we sing along with or make fun of. Some of us won’t stop for lunch unless they can be done and in clean clothes; others scrub to the elbow and forget the gore long enough to recharge with coffee, chocolate and food. As we work, we talk. We talk about people, quote movie after movie, play matchmaker, plan Christmas shopping and food, and tell horrible jokes.

This is part of our Thanksgiving tradition, the turning of turkey the beast into turkey the feast.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Quoting G. K. Chesterton on Women

"Woman must be a cook, but not a competitive cook; a school-mistress, but not a competitive school-mistress; a house decorator, but not a competitive house-decorator; a dressmaker, but not a competitive dressmaker. She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests. This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad. The world outside the home was one mass of narrowness, a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of monomaniacs. It was only by partly limiting and protecting the woman that she was enabled to play at five or six professions and so come almost as near to God as the child when he plays at a hundred trades. But the woman’s professions, unlike the child’s, were all truly and almost terribly fruitful."
You really must read the whole essay “The Emancipation of Domesticity” which originally appeared in What’s Wrong With the World and is included in the book Brave New Family.

Pasted from Nancy Wilson's blog,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Good fat book quotes

I have a quoting urge.

I apologize for how long this might be, and for the fact that I must elide between a few important quotes... if you want to see the rest, read the book! We are reading about original sin and he delves into a discussion of community here.

"Humanity is not an aggregate of individuals but an organic unity, one race, one family. Angels, on the other hand, all stand side-by-side, independently of one another...God created all of us from one man (Acts 17:26); we are not a heap of souls piled on a piece of ground, but all blood relatives of one another, connected to one another by a host of ties, therefore conditioning one another and being conditioned by one another."

(a couple pages later)

"All the members of such a body can either be a blessing or a curse to one another, and increasingly so to the degree that they themselves are more outstanding and occupy a more pivotal place in the organism. Fathers, mothers, guardians, caretakers, teachers, professors, patrons, guides, princes, kings, and so on have the greatest influence on those under their jurisdiction. Their life and conduct decides the fortunes of their subordinates, elevates them and brings them to honor, or drags them down and pulls them along to destruction. The family of the drunkard is ruined and disgraced because of the father's sin. The family of a criminal is widely and for a long time identified and condemned along with him. A congregation languishes under the faithless conduct of a pastor. A people decline and are eventually destroyed as a result of the foolish policies of a king. 'In whatever thing the kings go crazy, the Achaeans [homer's greeks] are punished.' Among people there is a solidarity for good or ill: community in blessing and in judgment. We stand on the shoulders of earlier generations and inherit the things they have accumulated in the way of material and spiritual wealth.
We enter into their labors, rest on their laurels, enjoy the things they have frequently aquired at great cost. We receive all this undeservedly, without having asked for it. It is waiting for us at our birth; it is bequeathed to us by grace."

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics vol. 3, Sin and Salvation in Christ, 102 and 104