Peace

We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
William Ewart Gladstone

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(A beautiful swan in the pond of the Boston Common’s garden / Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

I feel as if I want to yell at the top of my lungs “HOW DID I MISS THIS?!”
Last evening, after watching the umpteenth report regarding the Malaysian Airliner 17 which was shot down over the Ukraine, it suddenly felt as if I’d been hit in the face with a brick.. . .a “helloooo” moment.
I felt as if I was hit in the face with a stalk realization I’d been missing, or it had been so clouded and colluded. Something that has been there all along but finally revealed as tangibly real, as if a curtain has been finally lifted.

I am almost 55 years old.
Do you know, realize and comprehend that for my entire life, my entire 55 years, I, you, we have lived with a suffocating cloud of angst and agitation from and by the USSR, now Russia?

Ever since WWII it seems as if the Government of the former Soviet Union, now Russia, has relished in being a thorn in the side of the United States. And perhaps they, the Russians feel the same about the US.
I don’t know.
Be it a Cold War with the constant threat of annihilation under the threat of Nuclear attack or today’s posturing and jockeying of which is eerily pulling us all backwards rather than forward. . .
Our relationship with Russia is once again sliding backwards.

My earliest remembrance from grade school was the worrisome drills we would practice as the constant threat of a Nuclear War seemed tenuously imminent. It was a worrisome burden for grade school kids who wondered where we would hide when the Soviets shot the missile at us, fretting what would happen to our parents if such should happen while we were at school and our parents were at work and home. Obviously this is certainly no way for children to grow and thrive—not living in a state of constant worry and fear. But could we not say this same sense of insecurity is true today for so many other children around this fragile globe of ours?

An entire generation of us grew up with that very real threat and worry–and yet we’ve marched forward ebbing slowly away from a constant threat into a state of cautious forward progress. We marveled watching a Polish Pope work steadily and steely toward forcing the hand of an entrenched Communist Regime as President Reagan implored President Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”

And now, it is as if we have stepped back to a time that remains dangerous and perilous.
Shadows and question outnumber clarity and openness.
Trust has vanished.
Rhetoric is now the name of the game.
Sanctions, false truths, mysteries, rebels, lies, no ownership, battles, missiles, encroachment. . .all shades of a dark time that was— which oddly, is again, now.

Add to this the ongoing battles in Israel and I feel as if I’m in a time warp.
As far as we’ve moved forward, we have moved equally that much farther—backwards.

Peace
Cooperation
Coexistence
Support
Love

May we accept nothing less.

When life’s reflections, once far, become startling near

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

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Canadian Goose afloat on the waters of the Boston Harbor / Julie Cook / 2014

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This image is from a small portion of a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq–upon stumbling on this makeshift courtyard memorial, just in the shadow of the historic North Church, I caught myself suddenly filling with an overwhelming feeling of emotion–the myriad of tags gave a startling and tangible image of what had been simply numbers—the massive amount of tags, which filled several wire filled walls, equalled suddenly and painfully lives, mostly young, which have seemingly needlessly come and gone—sons, daughters, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers. . .for a war on terror which only seems to be spiraling out of control.

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These two images are from a power pole which is wrapped with a simple crochet reminder of the Boston Marathon Bombing. The crochet piece is wrapped around the power pole on the spot where the second explosion detonated. It has been lovingly placed by an individual in memory of one of the several victims of a senseless act of terrorism–on a simple side walk in front of a handful of restaurants on a single street in a massive city. Reminding us all that no matter where we may be, anything and everything can happen to change our world forever. May we be mindful that God has given us now. That is all we are promised. The next hour, the next day, the next week may bring life altering events beyond our comprehension and control—-it is today, at this very moment that we are to Rejoice and proclaim the Glory of God. For the God of all of Creation is Greater than any act of violence or evil which attempts to batter and beat our faith.

May we all remember that Love is indeed greater than hate.

A colonial artist and a famous yellow line

When the sword of rebellion is drawn, the sheath should be thrown away
John Singleton Copley

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(statue of John Singleton Copley, Copley Square, Boston, Mass / Julie Cook / 2014)

Well I suppose I made it too easy for you.
Yes it’s true, I’m a tag-a-long on a quick trip to Boston.
I’ve never been to Boston before but being a lover of history, I’m certain I can find enough to keep me happy, as well as entertained.
It also helps that I love lobsta. . .

Have you ever noticed how the New Englanders end all their words with an “a” sound?
Have you also ever noticed how the minute I open my mouth, every one immediately knows I’m from “down there”, as in waaaaayyyy down South?
I swear I do not intentionally add syllables to my words. . .as they probably think the er at the end of a word is pronounced as an “a”—go figure.

And I wouldn’t be a very good art teacher if I didn’t share with you the surprise encounter with a familiar friend, who I accidentally ran into this afternoon. As our hotel is located in what is known as the Back Bay area near Copley Square, I ran into John Singleton Copley–or actually I ran into, not literally mind you, his statue.

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) was a colonial American painter best known for his portrait work. Copley established himself as a successful artist long before our war for Independence.
He is claimed as a favored son of Boston who was born to humble parents. . . who had actually made their way to this fledgling new country by way of Ireland.

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A notable Copley portrait of Paul Revere painted in 1770

Copley’s bronze statue, which I stumbled upon by mere happenstance, is but a stone’s throw from the famous yellow finish line of the famed Boston Marathon. As I walked along the sidewalk, heading back toward our hotel up from the finish line, I was deeply touched noting the small subtle remembrances left behind by individuals who have gently woven tributes into the fabric of this city– small reminders to and for the victims of the Marathon bombings. There remains a palpable determination deeply rooted in “Boston Strong”

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Stay tuned—today there is to be a small personal adventure and quest for the remaining traces of Julia—
“Julia” you ask?
Why of course silly—Julia, as in Julia Child, as in Julia lived in Cambridge and her house is still there —I come to seek the queen of butter. . .I can’t wait!!

Some folks come to Boston in search of Lobster (aka Lobsta), some come for the Red Socks, some come for a tea party, some come to run. . .but I come for the queen of cream. . .

Clues

“There is always a pleasure in unravelling a mystery, in catching at the gossamer clue which will guide to certainty.”
― Elizabeth Gaskell

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

― Lewis Carroll

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The first clue shall be a backpack.
No, no, it has nothing to do with school, thank goodness.

Also, sitting by the backpack, there are a couple of airline tickets marked for a flight winging its way northward later this morning.

Then of course there is the business of business.
One member of this little team has work to do while the opportunity of adventure awaits teammate number two—albeit short and sweet.
We adventuresome types must take what we can get when we can get it!
We consider these shorter timed adventures, what we like to refer to as fact finding missions, an opportunity of building a dossier for later use during lengthier adventures.

There’s history, lots of history.
There was, at one point, an excessive amount of tea, or so I’ve been told.
There is the sea.
Not the ocean mind you or the beach, but rather “the sea and shore.”
There is the famous “chowda”
That whole oneth by land and toweth by sea, or is it oneth by sea and twoeth by land?
There’s the curse of the Bambino. . .if you’re into that whole curse thing. . .
And then there are beans—whatever beans have to do with it is beyond my soul, but they always speak of the beans.

Now these tantalizing little clues should be enough to whet your whistle while we gear up for a fun little weekend game of Where’s Cookie. . .

Yet on a more somber note, I would be amiss if I did not take pause imploring that we all offer up our heartfelt prayers for the families of those who have lost loved ones in yesterday’s tragic crash of Malaysian Flight 17.

May we also join our thoughts and prayers for the people of Israel and Gaza as once again that small corner of the world is perched on its tenuous precipice of life and death.

May we also remember the family of the wife and mother who was tragically killed yesterday in California as she was taken hostage during a violent bank robbery.

Thoughts and prayers for our fragile world . . .

Next stop. . .north by north east.

Signs

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
― David Eddings

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.”
George Bernard Shaw

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(the signs of things to come in this black oak tree, a myriad of forming acorns / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sitting out on the back deck yesterday evening, something up in the nearby oak tree caught my eye.
“What in the world?!” I hear myself asking out loud to the cat.
Ok, so my asking the cat ‘what’s up in the tree’ is for an entirely different sort of post–let’s just stick to the current question at hand—and that happens to be what’s up in the oak tree.

Thinking I know the answer to my own question, I dash inside searching for the camera—remember, it’s never where one needs it, when one wants it.
Finally locating and immediately grabbing said camera, I zoom back out to the deck in order to zoom in on the tops of the tree.

Yep, I knew it—the tree is loaded with acorns.

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“And that means what?” you’re wondering. . .
It’s a sign silly.
“A sign?”
Yes, as in a sign, a prognostication, perhaps even a harbinger.
“A harbinwho?
Harbinger—as in an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.
Of course I suppose it doesn’t have to be all that dark and sinister—it can be a heralder or announcement of something maybe positive to come—

“Such as?”

A hard winter or not a hard winter.

“Hummmm. . . ”

I have noticed a couple of wooly bears.
“Wooly who’s?”
Wooly bear caterpillars–those prickly black and reddish caterpillars which make their presence known this time of year.
They’re harbingers too you know.
As in harbingers of a bad winter.

However I suppose it is only the middle of July. . . Who wants to think about let alone chatter about harbingers and winter when it seems most of us are still trying to forget this past winter ?!
And anyway, in case anyone was paying attention, St Swithin’s day was Tuesday, July 15th.
As in:

St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

All of which means that it was hot and sunny here on Tuesday. According to St Swithin— it’s going to be hot and dry for the next 40 days!
Do you have any idea what that’s going to mean for my plants and my water bill?!?!?

As a former girl scout, I do think it is always best to be prepared. . .
One certainly never knows when the weather is going to change.
Keeping watch for the harbingers and signs of impending change is most important. . .

And now if you will please excuse me—I need to go out and check on those bulls across the street. . .if they’re laying down, you can count on that needed rain!! St Swithin or not!

Cutting losses

“Everything’s not going to go perfect. You’re going to have some losses that you’re going to have to bounce back from and some things that are a little unforeseen that you’re going to have to deal with.”
Tony Dungy

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

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(a sad sight in the garden / Julie Cook / 2014)

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run

Now I’m no gambler mind you. . . but the lyrics to that song certainly sum up my attitude right about now.

Plus, you may not have noticed– but there is a bit of change in the air.
Do you hear it?
“Hear what?”
The drums, do you hear the drums?
“Drums?!”
Yes, drums, as in the high school is having band camp. . .I hear the band practicing way off in the distance.
“Ohhhh, those kinds of drums. . .”

That means only one thing. . . .
“Football season is getting ready to start?”

A shift in seasons.

“But it’s only July 15th for heavens sake. . .the middle of Summer!!”
Ahhh perhaps so, but try telling the school systems around this country that it’s just the middle of summer.

In just a few short weeks teachers will begin reporting back for duty.
Football camps will be soon be underway.
The back to school sales are already gearing up.

Change is in the air.

And with that change comes a bit of resignation on my part.
Did you notice that corn cob picture at the start of today’s post?
Here’s another one just incase you missed the first one.

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You must know that I have been dealt a one two punch.
The deer and raccoons are back, each night in the garden, with a maddening vengeance.
Seems they have grown accustomed to the scent of a Guerlain doused scarecrow and the heavy scent of Irish Spring soap lining the garden.
The deer have trampled down the corn.

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The trampling came as a result of the deer obviously racing willy nilly to eat off the tops of the beans, the peppers, the okra, the eggplants, the peas. . .even the cucumbers.
Pigs won’t eat cucumbers!
What’s wrong with these animals??!!

My husband has an ominous and foreboding sense that this is all a sign.
“A sign of what, hungry animals?”
Yes, as in gearing up for a harsh winter to be. . .
“NOT AGAIN?!”

On top of the animals, Mother Nature has been a bit selfish as of late with her water supply as we’ve had weeks without rain. Passing summer showers have been a hit or a miss. Even this latest “cold front,” which brought flooding rains to parts of the Nation, delivered not even a drop to our yard. To water this size garden properly, night after night, would mean our paying the county a small fortune.
We’ve done what we can and simply hoped for the best.

The coup de grâce has now been dealt- – – the current attack of the fire ants, slugs, worms, caterpillars, as well as the other creepy crawlies, who are laying claim to my succulent vegetables, is proving to be a fatal blow.

I waged a valiant fight.
I was determined.
I was persistant.
Yet I was outgunned and out maneuvered.

I did not give up nor give in.
I kept going.
But. . . .
It is time.

Wisdom in life comes from knowing when when is when.
When it is time. . .
and
when it is enough . . .

and that when, is now. . .

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Now when did you say college football kicks off. . .

I’m pretty sure I saw you first

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”
― John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

“Every discovery in science and art, is due to the trained power of seeing things … Keep your eyes open, your ears open … Trace difficulties.”
― Orison Swett Marden

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(grey squirrel, Julie Cook / 2014)

Two people, walking along together in a park, will not “see” the same things.
Rarely will they notice the same flowers, the same trees, the same passerbys or the same animals.
Each of these individuals will be looking, or not looking, based on two separate distinct personalities and interests, as well as their individual levels and abilities for observation.

The ability to “see” and notice will also depend on the concentration of walking and / or the depth of conversation. In order to capture and process surrounding nuances, it would be best if one possessed a clear mind, an uplifted spirit and refreshed energies while holding ones vision upward and outward rather than narrowed and downcast.

The comedy and drama of Life is in a constant flux of motion, playing out for a World to notice or not. Some individuals seem more geared towards, or pre-programed for, absorbing what is randomly played out before one’s eyes.

“Did you see that?”
“See what?”

And whereas this micro-drama of life may filter into one person’s eyes and pass to the brain, simply to be filed away, never being reviewed—for another individual, that same absorption is played and replayed, rolled around, savored, reviewed, digested, analyzed and chewed upon with loving rumination.

The real seasoning and salt of living.

“And why in the world should any of that matter and who cares as to what two different people see and observe, or not see and observe while out for a simple walk?” you snort.

Oh it matters to the utmost, if it is you who is the one out doing the walking.

The question begs, what are you missing?

A Convenient Christianity

I found this posting to be most profound, deeply troubling and vastly true. . .

Discerning Thoughts ©

photios-kontoglouWe have made our own Christianity, a convenient, humane and reasonable Christianity, as the Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevsky says, because the Christianity taught by Christ is inapplicable, inhumane.

Instead of rising towards Christ, who said “if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself”, we have brought Him down to where we are, and have made a Christianity that agrees with our weaknesses, with our passions, with our worldly ambitions, and we have given our saints qualifications that our materialistic minds appreciate and admire, making them philosophers, orators, politicians, psychologists, sociologists, educators, scientists, etc.

The Grand Inquisitor, speaking as if Christ was standing before him (he had commanded His capture, since He once again descended to the earth and people were following Him), said to Him: “At the time you came into the world you brought people a harsh religion, impractical and inhumane. We…

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Texture: an element of art as seen in Nature

Texture: An Element of Art, as well an Element of Design–is a principle which refers to the way things look or feel–either to the touch (tactile) or the visual impression something portrays as it might feel when touched.
(Elements of Art and Design include: Line, Shape, Form, Value, Color, Texture, Space, Form, Emphasis, Balance, Movement)

Nature is the art of God.
Dante Alighieri

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(spruce cones / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(spanish moss / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(knotted tree / Colonial Park Cemetery / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(wildflowers / Troup County, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(broken shells in the surf, Destin, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(reflections in the surf / Destin, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
― Anne Frank

Driving home after a summer storm

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
― Rabindranath Tagore

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Holy Life-Giver
Doctor of the desperate,
Healer of everyone broken past hope,
Medicine for all wounds,
Fire of love,
Joy of hearts,
fragrant Strength,
sparkling Fountain,
Protector,
Penetrator,
in You we contemplate
how God goes looking for those who are lost
and reconciles those who are at odds with Him.
Break our chains!

You bring people together.
You curl clouds, whirl winds,
send rain on rocks, sing in creeks,
and turn lush earth green.
You teach those who listen,
breathing joy and wisdom into them.

We praise You for these gifts,
Light-giver,
Sound of joy,
Wonder of being alive,
Hope of every person,
and our strongest Good.

St. Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179 German mystic Benedictine nun and Doctor of the Church)
as translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher

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(sunset after a summer storm / Julie Cook / Georgia / 2014)