Story Submitted by Shelley Sharp

Cousins in the Kitchen

My cousins and I have cooked our way through the Coronavirus. And it has served to keep us connected even though we are over 1000 miles apart. The nightly food photo texts began spontaneously on St. Patrick’s Day. My family is proud of its Irish heritage so it was no surprise that we began by sharing photos of our traditional boiled dinners. We instinctively made corned beef, boiled potatoes and cabbage, and Irish soda bread.

It was so much fun commenting on the food, the plates, and shared memories of various relatives’ kitchens and cooking. Without any discussion or planning, there were more photos of food the next night. In the nights to come we would share menu ideas, recipes, and photos of floral arrangements and table décor. We celebrated special occasions like birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and the birth of a new cousin via our nightly food “blog”. We even shared pix of our creative transformations, a.k.a. leftovers, and the occasional food flop.

There were many nights spent trying to perfect homemade pizza dough. Taco Tuesday was a regular in all our menu rotations. Many photos of guacamole were shared, some of the prep and some of the final dish. I discovered a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce that we now all use. No more canned sauce for us!

Like many others in the time of Corona, we have baked bread, biscuits, cakes, cookies, and brownies. We have explored many international cuisines and spices. Mexican street corn has been featured over and over. Fresh vegetables and herbs from local markets and farm stands have been the inspiration for many diners. My cousin found ramps, a springtime delicacy, at a local market in Brooklyn. I cooked with fennel for the time. We all miss sushi.

Our family’s response to the Corona crisis was to gather around the table, eat well, and connect nightly with photos of food and Cousins in the Kitchen. We’re at 70 nights and counting.

Story Submitted by Sheri Whittington

My Pandemic Silver Lining

We are in the most extraordinary time of my life. This quarantine has been very difficult for everyone, and extremely tragic for many around the globe. I am most grateful and so far, extremely fortunate to be weathering the pandemic safe at home. The psychological aspects are the most challenging for me, but like many I have also discovered blessings and gifts within the constraints of our lockdown. My biggest gift, and silver lining has been the extra time I have been able to spend with my grandson, Luke Skywalker Cash. My “little” brother is much younger than me and was a confirmed bachelor for years before finally marrying a great lady and starting a family. Our parents both passed away the year before Luke was born, so I now have the great privilege of being his Mimi. They live in Olympia, Washington, but I have been able to visit twice before the pandemic.

By trade and love I have been involved in Theatre and the performing arts for most of my life. First as an actor, then directing and teaching. I volunteered my little brother to be in a musical when he was 5 years old, and then did the same with my three daughters. I was grateful to hear how much my brother appreciated the plays and classes once he was grown. I was honored when he and my sister-in-law asked if we could do my Fairytale Theatre Class via zoom while Luke was out of school. He is an extremely bright four-year-old and it has been a task keeping him challenged and learning while in lockdown. I was thrilled to give it a try! Now we have class every Friday afternoon at 2:00 pm EST, and as it turns out, I probably love it more than he does. We have a great time doing stories, songs, finger puppets, the magic tunnel and dressing up. The time flies, I’m learning to teach online and it’s just fine if we go overtime. It has given me something to look forward to each week, and I also got to “attend” his Birthday party via zoom. It has been a true blessing and something I will always hold dear as our special time together. Of course, I can’t wait until I can see him in person and get that great big hug, but in the meantime, it is the next best thing.

Story Submitted by Mauri Barnes

Water. Adventure. Luck! That’s my story!

My sister and I are standing on the wooden dock in Road Town Tortola in the Caribbean! We traveled so far and are now staring up at the tall ship we are going to board.
“Rusty Bucket” someone muttered in the crowd. Shrugging our shoulders, we clamber aboard, eager to explore Yankee Clipper, our home for the next week.
We are excited because this is our first vacation “sans parents” and we are going scuba diving in the crystal clear Caribbean Sea!

We are now enjoying the welcome party on the fantail complete with 151 proof rum when our rum numbed brains hear “there will not be any scuba diving on this trip!”
We quickly went up to the captain, this tall, tanned figure in dress whites, “Captain Burke, we came a long way to go diving”, we gushed, “Could we borrow or rent some tanks to take on the cruise so we can dive?” He looked out into the quiet island harbor, stroked his chin, and was slow to respond. But, then he said “Well you can pack your bags and in the morning you can jump ship. That’s the Yankee Trader and she’s going to be sailing across the Caribbean on a delivery cruise to Belize and you can do all the diving you want. Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Belize . . “.
“What about . . . how much” we stammered
“Don’t worry, I will tell the Captain you are coming aboard!” We were breathless with exhilaration. So unexpected. We would be gone all summer instead of one week.
What should we do? We could get fired! What about rent? Can we do this should we do this . . .?
Oh my god oh my god . . . what should we do? We did it!!! We lost our jobs and got in a lot of trouble. But for days we dove in the clear blue Caribbean and lived a free and sun-filled life!

We did it! We lost our jobs and got into a LOT OF TROUBLE, but for 21 days, we dove in the crystal clear Caribbean Sea. You know what? Before the year was over . . . we BOTH got jobs on Windjammer’s ships, living a Free and Sun-filled life”. Will I always feel so free?