the great escape or a bad case of follow the leader….

… Men for the most part follow in the footsteps and imitate
the actions of others…”

Niccolò Machiavelli


(a working sheep farm near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I caught an interesting story day before yesterday…
interesting but also a bit sad.

Seems there was a herd of sheep, on a farm located somewhere in the
Pyrenees Mountains along the border of France and Spain,
who were apparently being stalked or chased by a bear.
All 200 plus sheep leapt to their deaths off the face of a cliff as they were
desperate to escape the bear.

So rather than scattering…with some of their numbers dashing off in one direction,
while others dashed off to a different direction…
with chances being pretty good that 199 or so should survive,
they all opted to jump to a joint death.

And it seems this odd phenomena is nothing new as it’s been known to happen
to other herds.

here’s the link…
http://www.foxnews.com/great-outdoors/2017/07/24/bear-panics-200-sheep-and-jump-to-their-deaths.html

So this mob mentality of herd animals and their reaction to panic and hysteria
obviously got me thinking….

See this picture….


(a working sheep farm near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It’s the picture of a sheep farmer with his sheep dogs and his herd of sheep.

Notice how the farmer has his hand out alerting the dogs to stay.
Notice one of the sheep looking back over his shoulder at the dog,
a bit hesitant and nervous, as if he’s anticipating what the dog is about to do.

As soon as the farmer gives the word or signal or both,
the dog will go about his task, herding the sheep…
keeping them all together while working them into the direction he wants them to go.

And the sheep who are afraid and nervous, despite the fact that their numbers
and physical size exceeds that of the dog, place themselves at the mercy of
the guidance of the dog.

They say sheep aren’t the brightest animals on the planet.

And yet we the faithful are often referred to as sheep…
as we are reminded of our similarity to sheep throughout much of the Bible…
With us being the proverbial sheep of his pasture while Jesus is in position
of the Good Shepherd.

We are reminded that when 99 sheep out of a flock of 100 are present
and accounted for—with one errant sheep being lost and left behind
as expendable…
Jesus will go out and seek that one errant sheep until all sheep in the
fold are present—not willing to allow even one to be lost to some sort of
collateral damage.

And like sheep, we have the same tendency to go running about all willy nilly
as if being chased by some sort of threatening bear…
even if there isn’t any real physical threat–
perceived threats are counted as equally as powerful in our own little
world of pandemonium.

So perhaps it would behoove the herd to remember the voice of the Shepherd
lest we continue heading toward the cliff…of our own demise…

So Jesus again said to them,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the door.
If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees,
and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd.
I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.
So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

John 10:7-16

where will you be???

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain:
either you will reach a point higher up today,
or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to
climb higher tomorrow.

Friedrich Nietzsche


(solar viewing glasses / Julie Cook / 2017)

Maybe you’ve heard,
maybe you haven’t….
there’s to be a really big event on August 21st.

I figured this out when a local realtor mailed out to the folks in our county
some funky little paper gasses advertising her reality business.

The glasses are paper things similar to what you use to get to view things in 3D.
These however have foggy looking lenses with the realtors name splashed on the sides.

I figured they were for viewing the fourth of July’s fireworks…
that is until I spotted the words “solar viewing glasses” on the inside of
the frames.

Curious I thought maybe there’s something going on I don’t know about.
A little search quickly informed me that yes, something big is to be going on…
on exactly August 21st.

A total solar eclipse will skirt across North America from Oregon to South Carolina.
It’s being dubbed “the Great American Total Solar Eclipse” as it’s isolated to
just North America, from sea to shining sea.

And you better believe the Atlanta news is already rife with the stories of where,
when and how to best view this rare occurrence.

My cousin who lives up in North Georgia, just this side of the South Carolina border, called asking if we wanted to drive up for the “show” as they are to be in
a great place for viewing.

Really?

I think those who will be in the path will be treated to about a 2 minute show
give or take.

“It brings people to tears,” Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the
American Astronomical Society (AAS), told Space.com of the experience.
“It makes people’s jaw drop.”

Really?

Now granted the last total such eclipse was in 1979.
Back then there weren’t fancy little viewing glasses—
just a piece of paper along with another piece of paper cardboard with a hole
cut in the middle… such that the cast shadow of the event would then show onto
the other paper…
all this for “safe” viewing lest you go blind staring at the sun.

Staring at the sun is never wise to those who treasure sight
as well as their eyes!

I think the glasses will make it all way cooler then our old school two
pieces of paper…just saying.

There will be about a 70 mile wide swarth flowing across Oregon,
Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
With reports that “Aug. 21, 2017, may be one of the worst traffic days in
national history, some NASA representatives predict”…
so they’re telling folks to plan accordingly.

Really?

Now granted I may sound a bit cynical.
And don’t get me wrong….
I love a “heavenly” occurrence just as much as the
next person.
I can get swept up in the hoopla just as easily as everybody else
when something really big is anticipated to happen.

Remember partying like it was 1999…
in 1999…
at the stroke of midnight when we went from one millennium to another???
What with all that Y2K pandemonium…
that whole ‘where will you be when the earth goes black’ frenzy???

I was on my couch….
with my husband sound asleep on one end, my son and I
watching the ball drop in Times Square on the other end…
Once the ball dropped and we still had power and the earth was still
in one piece and the 2nd coming had not come…
I sent my son to bed.

So yes, I can get just as excited.

So with all the history of eclipses now making the rounds…
Given how those in ancient times reacted to such astronomical occurrences…
as in the sky is falling Henny Penny…

Add in all the speculations from all the calculations as to what this is
now all to mean..what with this latest lining up in the heavens…
coupled by the coincidence of various dates and patterns…
What with those who are currently stock piling their prepper safe rooms…

And well….I’ve got my glasses.

And with all of this latest stirring over phenomenons that are out of our control…
I actually wonder….

What would happen if folks were to get this excited thinking about the coming of
our very final redemption?

What would everyone do that sudden moment the heavens parted,
and in that Eastern sky, Jesus made His presence known….

There’d be no time to get the special viewing glasses,
helping to keep eyes protected from His blinding Light…
there’d be no time to plot and plan where the best place would be for
viewing that true “Second Coming”…
There’d be no time for news stories,
not fees taken for prime viewing rights….
and of what time would there be to say “yes, Lord, I am indeed
a sinner who is in need of your saving Grace….”

So how much greater will that day be in comparison to a total eclipse
of the sun…..

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth
distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,
people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.
For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the
Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to take place,
straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 21:25-28

Here’s the link for information regarding the eclipse:

https://www.space.com/33797-total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide.html

when mothballs make me cry

“There’s a tear in my beer
Cause I’m cryin for you, dear
You are on my lonely mind”

Hank Williams


(a sack of bat deterrent, aka mothballs, Julie Cook / 2017)

When mothballs make me cry…

No, I’m not writing a new country song, not about mothballs anyway…
I’m literally talking about real mothballs.

You may recall that I’ve had problems before with bats wanting to roost under
the awning on my back deck…
and since this is where my cat Percy spends most of his daylight hours…
well, I can’t have bats hanging out where we and the cats hang out.

I tried stuffing dryer sheets up in their little crevices,
I tried squirting them with hornet spray…
I tried poking them with a broom…
but they kept coming back—

So I had a brilliant idea.
I’d hang up mothballs.

Well, I suppose I can’t take full credit, I think I read somewhere on
a critter catcher’s website that mothballs were a low tech deterrent.
I wanted to try something humane as I know and appreciate how beneficial bats
are in the yard and poking them with a broom just made them squeak at me and
spraying them with hornet spray is probably not
exactly good for them.

Back early in the Spring, I ventured to Home Depot and bought a box of mothballs.
Once home I hung up two bags on opposite ends of the deck, just under each corner
of the awning, where the bats had hunkered down to spend their days napping.


(my little neighbor who needed to move / Julie Cook / 2016)

Here it is late July and I’ve had nary a bat.
Conclusion….
the mothballs work.

Mothballs are meant to be in sealed-up containers where things like old books
or sweaters are stored as they are actually a pesticide for what else…
sweater eating moths and paper eating silverfish.

The smell is, well, toxic.
Hence why they’re suppose to be in bins and boxes and not necessarily
out for breathing.

But I figure we’re safe as I’ve hung the bags up high and downwind from where we sit.
and in just the right spot to fumigate the hiding nooks of bats.

Mothballs, like dry ice, dissipate over time when exposed to air.
So yesterday I noticed my little mothball sacks were now empty.
Meaning my mothballs had evaporated and I needed some refills.

Another trip to Home Depot and I returned ready to rehang bags of balls.

As I opened the box I was suddenly hit with an overwhelmingly pungent and
most familiar odor.

They say that scent, odor or smell is one of the most powerful triggers for memory.

Suddenly, I was a little girl rummaging back into the deep recesses of my
grandmother’s closet.
She had mothballs strewn all on the floor, in the way back, of her old cavernous
closet. I was immediately informed right fast not to touch the poisonous mothballs.
This being in the home where my mom and her sister Martha had grown up.
My mom and Martha.

Martha….

sigh…..

Seems I can’t even hang up some mothballs without remembering this heavy
heart of mine.


(Mother,the not so happy bride along with her not so happy 13 year old maid of honor..
seems Martha had been obnoxiously silly, embarrassing Mother the night before at the rehearsal dinner, so they weren’t speaking this otherwise joyous June day 1953…sisters….)

Time to que the country music…..

Lord, I’ve tried and I’ve tried
But my tears I can’t hide
You are on my lonely mind.
All these blues that I’ve found
Have really got me down
You are on my lonely mind

Hank Williams

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

it’s time again…to share

“When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief.
Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not?
The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry;
the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it;
the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes;
the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”

Basil the Great


(a freshly watered monarch butterfly caterpillar, who happens to be eating the
new baby parsley / Julie Cook / 2017)

In the waning days of summer, as the humidity races skyward to meet the relentless
midday sun, those once ever hopeful potted plants and herbs…
those once oh so spry, succulent green and promising beauties, are one by one,
beginning to loose the will to survive.

A southern sun will do that to you.

The dill has long gone to seed as have the parsley and the basil.
Drooping, drying out and dying is the current game of the summer garden party.
As it’s really just time to cut things back, pull things up and simply
hang on for a couple of more months until the heat just might slowly begin
to retreat.

This tiny new parsley plant hasn’t got nary a chance now that the monarch caterpillars
have found it.

Despite my watering, they remain unfazed…
eating and constantly devouring around the clock until everything is gone…
as they fatten themselves up, preparing for the time of transformation…

Because who can complain about the birth of a butterfly….


(all images of both the Monarch and or Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

ahhh, youth….

“Inner strength is our most powerful weapon”
Hans Scholl

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents,
the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.
When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

Sophia Loren


(a curious killdeer / Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

Today’s headlines are rife with the misdeeds, shenanigans and out right barbarism
of our younger generations…

Just today there was a heinous story about a group of teens, ages 14 to 16, who had actually videoed a disabled man drowning in a retention pond in Florida…
Worse, they did nothing in the way of offering assistance or getting help—

And what is even more unconscionable, they later posted the video online
where they are heard mocking, cursing and ridiculing the drowning / dying man.

This latest incident comes on the heels of the continued reports of the ongoing
unrest raging on many of nation’s college campuses. Ever since November’s election
we continue witnessing students protesting, rioting, marching and simply
causing all manner of mayhem in the name of their presumption to a freedom
of expression.

Now don’t get me wrong…not all our youth are bad, spoiled, hateful or even evil.

However it just seems that those who do as they should, who do what is right, who
strive to be positive examples are never the ones highlighted, recognized or
applauded for taking the higher moral road.

My editing friend at Plough Publishing House has sent out another book recently…
At The Heart Of The White Rose…Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl
Edited by Inge Jens

I doubt my publishing friend is aware that four years ago I had actually
written a post about this youthful brother and sister duo.
It was a post written after reading the book
A Nobel Treason–The Story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Revolt Against Hitler.

I often think about this young brother and sister especially when I see the stories
about our own young people today.

I often think about the ultimate sacrifice this bother and sister made during
their own generation’s time of madness.

I think of their conviction and bravery.
I think of their selflessness.
I think of how they chose to fight for a cause without violence or temper tantrums.
I think of how they never backed down once they were caught and tried.
Never ashamed of what was really the Truth and what was a lie.
They never acquiesced, never gave in, never gave up.

I’m just starting the new book.

It’s a collection of letters and diary entries.
An intimate window into the lives of two ordinary kids who simply wanted to live,
grow and learn…
yet who opted to take a stand against a very real evil—
not something merely perceived or imagined.

They risked everything.
And in the end, they lost everything.

And yet their story which is decades old remains most relevant to this day.
Perhaps even more so given our own precarious time of anger and angst run amuck.

When we look around to our own current day’s madness…
I pray that we may remember that there will remain those who know right from wrong
despite the maddening times claiming otherwise…

here is a link to that original post……

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/a-noble-treason/

Do not be deceived:
God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand….

Galatians 6:7-11

speaking of fragile….

“Man is harder than iron,
stronger than stone
and more fragile than a rose.”

Turkish Proverb


(an exhausted hummingbird / Julie Cook / 2017)

You may recall that yesterday’s post was born from finding a dead butterfly
in the yard.
Perhaps an odd starting point, but who am I to question inspiration.

It was a post based on the idea of fragility…
and of how our lives are laced with such a delicate underpinning…
despite our living life to the contrary.

This was not to imply that we are to live life by walking around as if we were
inside of some sort of delicate glass bubble…encouraging us to be oh so careful
and walk around as if at any moment the sky would be falling on our heads.

Rather it was a post to remind us all that life on this earth is fleeting.

For some of us this life is longer than it is for others…

Yet no matter the time,
none of us know nor have we been given any sort of guarantee as to how long
or how short or to how fragile our life is to be.

And my concern in yesterday’s post, for all of us, was how exactly were we or
are we planning on living under this said umbrella of fragile’s time.

With our limited time, health and energy….how are we opting to spend such…

And with any quick glance around…not only around our own country but rather by
viewing the world at large…
It just seems as if the choices being made are simply not choices that seem to
appreciate the sheer fleeting fragility….of any of our lives.

And it also seems that this notion, for me at least, was not to easily come and go…

For the subject matter of posts is simply not always a neat, orderly or tidy
sort of affair…not a one and done sort of thing.

And as I’ve said before, I do not believe in randomness–everything under the heavens
is interwoven and interconnected.

For the very words I write today may be intended for someone who stumbles upon them
in 5 years…in some far off land….
or even words I myself might need to reread and reconsider at some unseen time…

So yesterday, late afternoon…our heat index had quickly shot up as
mid July is now in full swing here in west Georgia.

This time of year, without fail, the hummingbirds will zip into our garage and for
reasons beyond my soul, will not be able to zip out…
they just can’t seem to figure out how they got in to turn around to get out.

They will spend hours circling the ceiling of the garage.
Something to do with the white ceiling and a presumption of depth and space.
They will exhaust themselves if I don’t find them first.

All of which then has me scrambling for an expansion pole that is used to clean
ceiling fans…
With the pole extended, walking around the garage in circles, with my neck creened precariously back and upward, all the while as I’m balancing said long pole…
I attempt coaxing a tired and confused hummingbird to light upon the end of the pole…
In turn allowing me to dip the pole low enough to ease the bird outside…
where the tired bird flits back from whence it came—the clear blue yonder.

This ritual happens every summer and often on multiple occasions.

Sometimes the bird will tire and simply land on the windowsill…
allowing me step up on the brick ledge where I can gently put my hand around
the exhuasted bird, carrying it back outside, setting it free.

Yesterday however was different.

For whatever reason, while on the phone with my cousin, I looked out the back door
into the garage.
I had to look twice to make certain I wasn’t seeing what I hoped to be just a leaf
and not what I thought…

A hummingbird was laying on the garage floor, wings spread wide.

I went out to inspect the bird.

It was alive and either hurt or exhausted or both.

Gently and gingerly I picked up the tiny little bird as it was simply listless.

The sun was glaring into the garage and the temperature was in the mid 90’s.
I carried the bird outside where usually they will take off once they figure
they are free to fly….

But not this bird.

I gently placed the bird in the empty robin’s nest I knew was still in the
bush by the garage. I thought it would be safe while it cooled down and
gathered back its strength.

My husband and I left to grab a quick bite to eat while I assumed the bird would be
long gone upon our return.

But again, I was wrong.

The bird was in the nest with wings spread wide as I feared it had died.

Reaching in the nest I gently lifted the bird to see that it was still alive but
still listless and exhausted.

Next I actually carried the bird into the house and then back out to the back deck
where I placed it in a small little woven ‘nest’…
I filled a syringe with hummingbird nectar, placing it
along the edge of the nest…just incase it needed a little sustenance for strength.
I then went inside for the night and hoped for the best.

Getting up early the next morning, as I was headed over to Atlanta to met with Dad’s lawyer, I immediately headed out on to the back deck expecting to find my little
friend having perished during the night.

But that is not what I found.

I found an empty nest.

Ours is a covered deck that sits high off the ground so no animals or birds make
their way to this space.
I checked all around and did not see any signs of my wee friend…
So I’m going with the happy ending here…

As life is just too fleeting and oh so fragile,
is there not then room to find just a little tiny bit of happy!

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

fragility

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it,
that we discover the possibility of true joy.”

Desmond Tutu


(a spent monarch butterfly lifeless in the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

You may remember that I once wrote a post about the life expectancy of butterflies…
and surprisingly, it is very brief.
Often times just a matter of a few short weeks.

Which is a bit hard to wrap one’s thoughts around when this yard of mine
is awash with the comings and goings of what seems to be hundreds of
butterflies in every size, shape and description.

I also know that some butterflies even migrate from life here in the south down
even further south to Mexico and as far as even South America.
I don’t know much about the life expectancies of those particular travelers
but for such a southerly jaunt, I’d imagine stamina is key.

Yet despite their brief lives, it is always sad finding one having given up
the ghost…

I don’t think I really need any more reminding on the fragility of
life…
however, having spotted this dead Monarch in the grass,
that’s exactly what I got when I was out watering the plants…

It is amazing to me how I can look at a dead butterfly and feel such a sharp pang
of sadness.

For despite my own spate of life’s current sadness, which is currently running
amuck in this little world of mine,
seeing a butterfly lifeless, in a fading clump on the ground, sends a rush of
melancholy washing over my heart.

Life, be it a butterfly’s or our own, is oh so fragile…
And yet we rarely think of it as such.

Our own ego and bravado coupled by the current run of angst and anger…
all run counter to any notion of life being fragile…

Life which is actually something to be savored caressed and
counted as a joyous gift not merely taken for granted or even worse,
purposely attacked.

I wonder what it might take for the majority of this angry Nation of ours,
what could move the hearts and minds of those filled with such hate
and intolerance…
what could possibly stir in the hearts of the gang members, those who
choose to relish in causing pain and suffering …
what could open the eyes of man to his fleeing fragile nature as he races
forward toward his own death and demise….


(a daredevil Tiger Swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2017)

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 39:4