Te Deum

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers, you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever. Glory to you in the splendor of our temple; on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depth; in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Te Deum
(taken from The Divine Hours / Prayer for Summertime / by Phyllis Tickle)

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(stained glass widow Our Lady’s Church /Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk , Bruges, Belgium / Julie Cook 2011)

The Te Deum or “God we praise you” is a latin hymn to be sung at times of rejoicing to God the Father and Christ the Son. There are numerous translations.
The following is taken from the Treasury of Latin Prayers: Te Deum, also sometimes called the Ambrosian Hymn because if its association with St. Ambrose, is a traditional hymn of joy and thanksgiving. First attributed to Sts. Ambrose, Augustine, or Hilary, it is now accredited to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (4th century). It is used at the conclusion of the Office of the Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours on Sundays outside Lent, daily during the Octaves of Christmas and Easter, and on Solemnities and Feast Days.

(a common translation used in Catholic services)
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
believers.
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.

Waning and Waxing

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the Creator.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(the waxing crescent moon of the end of August / Julie Cook / 2014)

A waning summer is soon to be written down in the annuals of time as just another volume known simply as the memories of a summer come and gone. . .

First it was June who offered her sheer joy of freedom and the simple recklessness of abandon which was to be found lurking in the heart of both young and old. Freedom whispered as Summer offered her enticing and welcoming warmth, coaxing all winter weary souls back into the light of day. The Days grew long and luscious as bare feet relished the cool tall grass. Soft laughter was heard across the evening skies as we gave ourselves permission to sit out just a little bit longer and a little bit later while savoring the perfume of gardenia and jasmine on a summer’s night breeze as we watched the fireflies dance with the stars.

Next came July, marching forth wearing her Red, White and Blue. Her night skies lit bright with the colorful displays of triumph and freedom. Reminding us of who we are and why we are and why any of that really matters. Children squealed with delight as the juice of watermelons and ice cold popsicles trickled down cheeks and chins. We packed our baskets full of fried chicken and potato salad. We gathered by lakes and ponds, casting our lines and pulling our skis–donning lotions and potions keeping sun and insect both at bay. Happiness and joy mingled sweetly together with the myriad of pitchers of lemonade, the bottomless bowls of homemade ice-cream while the smoke of a thousand grills and cookouts wafted heavenward.

Finally August arrived on a long hot summer wind. The sun bore down as a brilliant flame ready to bake a silent earth. The grass withered, the creeks dried as air quality alerts were sounding the alarm. Triple digits danced across the meters as we darted and dashed from house to car, from car to work in the maddening avoidance of the furnace blast of an unforgiving month. Our clothes clung to sweat soaked bodies as each breath labored under the thick stagnant humid air. Energies were drained as the heat of the day took its toll. Joy and pleasure took a nap along with the brilliant colors of flowers and blooms which gave way to dried crunchy browns. The cicadas sang their endless song under the blanket of a hazy heavy night.

And here we are again, preparing one last time, ready to offer up one more final “Hooray”–one last chance to capture the elusive siren known as Summer. One more opportunity to grab with gusto a little summertime enjoyment before the page turns, waxing toward a hopeful new season and time. A refreshing Fall is waiting in the wings, ready to offer her brilliance of color, intoxicating warm woody scents, and rich full heady flavors—but until that time comes, we must give Summer her due and pay her homage one last hot and humid time. . .

Happiness to you on a Friday

Happiness is neither without us nor within us.
It is in God, both without us and within us

Blaise Pascal

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(Gulf Fritillary butterfly visiting an impatient / Julie Cook / 2014)

By the time Friday usually rolls around, aren’t we all just simply spent from the demands and activities of the previous days of the week?
Are we not found to be by Thursday weary, tired, beat, worn out, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, exhausted–mentally, physically, emotionally and even, for some, spiritually. So much so that by the time Friday morning rolls around, it’s difficult to peel ourselves out of the bed in order to get going.

Or maybe, just maybe, by Friday morning, we’re oh so ready for the weekend, we hop right up, ready to get Friday under out belts so we can “have” our weekend. But let’s not talk about the countless who have no weekend, as their schedules require work and demands just as on a Monday or a Tuesday, or, well, you get the point.

Adding to that weariness, for so very many across this country, school has started its new season–life, for both young and old alike, is kicking it up a notch to an ultra radical level of pace. There’s now the struggle to reset the rhythm and routine. Getting adjusted back to the rigors of a demanding and exhausting schedule for the long and arduous “school year.” Just thinking about it is exhausting.

According to the calendar, with the festivities of the weekend ready to get underway, Summer will come to its official end. That whole 3 day weekend thing just sweetened the pot of “living for the weekend” when there’s a holiday in the making. We can get through any drudgery of any week if a holiday gets tacked on at the end, right?

So if this Friday is finding you a tad tired, worn, bedraggled, shell-shocked, or a little too excited over forthcoming weekend festivities, I thought it might be helpful if I shared a little visual happiness. . .here’s to surviving the week and for hopefully surviving the weekend. . .all with a little added touch of visual happiness. . .behold the Passion Butterfly or as it is officially known, the Gulf Fritillary butterfly. . .

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Lessons in a basket

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci

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(a lovely collection of flowers at a street stall in Copley Plaza Boston, Massachusetts, Julie Cook / 2014)

As I still manage to find a few treasures lurking here and there in the now mostly overgrown, rapidly declining and terribly neglected garden, yesterday’s collected basket yielded a few choice items and a few items of the unexpected variety. . .

And as I am constantly reminded, Mother Nature will prove time and time again, even in a hodge lodge basket of late season goodies, that there are always lessons waiting to be learned. . .

1.If you turn your back, even for just a moment, things can certainly get away from you. Remember to always be mindful, be not forgetful and always be watchful. Remember to seize the right opportunity and certainly don’t wait nor leave things to chance.. . because if you do, the okra will get too big and too hard and the eggplant will get too long and bitter. . .

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2. Things are not always going to be perfect—so remember, “life happens”–for good or bad. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect plan because invariably life happens, Always take the good with the bad–because there will always be good and there will always be bad. Rejoice because there is beauty and goodness even in the not so pretty or perfect–as in again, life happens–pretty or ugly, good or bad.
Remember that an ugly tomato will taste just a good as the pretty vine mate

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3.And just when you thought you had it all figured out, something comes along, putting you back in your place and reminds you that no matter how long you live, you’ll never truly figure it all out. Remember to always remain humble, full of wonder and don’t let the surprises throw you.
Who knew that a gourd of such could be produced along side a nice yellow summer squash—go figure.

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4. And just when you thought it was over, finished, dried up, washed up, dead and gone—life seems to thankfully keep coming. When all the other vegetables have run their course and are drying and dying on the vine, the eggplant is coming on strong! Remember, never ever give up HOPE!!!

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV

So Mrs. Landemare can cook eh?

“My idea of a good dinner is, first to have a good dinner, then discuss good food, and after this good food has been elaborately discussed, to discuss a good topic – with me as chief conversationalist.”
Sir Winston Churchill

During a visit to America, Winston Churchill was invited to a buffet luncheon at which cold fried chicken was served. Returning for a second helping, he asked politely, ” May I have some breast?” “Mr. Churchill,” replied the hostess, “in this country we ask for white meat or dark meat.” Churchill apologized profusely. The following morning, the lady received a magnficent orchid from her guest of honor. The accompanying card read: I would be most obliged if you would pin this on your white meat.”
One of the many Churchill stories

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I’ve just finished reading a most insightful, as well as, delightful book: Dinner with Churchill / Policy-Making at the Dinner Table by Cita Stelzer
As I truly adore Winston, I adore dinner as well–cooking it and eating it—what could be bad about a book which combines both?! The answer to that little notion would be absolutely nothing— as it was /is a great little read.

I have always been one to tout the virtues of feasting and fellowshipping, as I’ve often written about such, extolling the virtues of “breaking bread” with family, friends and strangers–because after the breaking of said bread, the latter will no longer be a stranger. It seems as if the Prime Minister and I were and are on the same page. Lest I remind you that great minds think alike—

As I was reading through this tasty little morsel for the mind, I came upon a description regarding the cook whom the Churchills had hired when Winston was Prime Minister. As the Churchills entertained a great deal, at either N0. 10 Downing as well as at their permanent residence at Chartwell, they were in great need of a great cook.

Enter Mrs. Georgina Landemare.

Mrs. Landemare was married to one of France’s more renowned chefs yet she, herself, was no stranger to the kitchen. Upon her husband’s early death, Mrs. Landemare decided she would take on some temporary work and job assignments cooking for some of England’s more prestigious events. The Churchills first procured her services for the occasional weekend gala or banquet at Chartwell. It wasn’t until the war broke out in 1939 that she actually offered her services full-time to the Churchills, as her part for the war effort—what a brave woman! Following the war, Mrs Landemare remained cooking for the Churchills for the next 15 years up until her retirement in 1954.

Imagine my excitement when I read in Ms Stelzer’s book that Mrs. Landemare had actually written a cookbook in 1958 on behest of Mrs. Churchill! Oooooo, I just had to find a copy! Imagine—me cooking dishes, the same dishes, Winston would oooo and coo over—I felt the excitement rising.

First I had to find the book.
And just as I pretty much figured—the book was long out of print.
But leave it to my trusty Amazon— there just happened to be a copy or two that could be found, for a wee fee no doubt, from a used book source. And in this case, one located in the UK.
Well, I’m a sucker for my quests and goosechases so I picked the copy I thought was in the better shape, pushed the order button and proceeded to wait with grand anticipation.

I had thought that once the book arrived, I’d pick a fun little recipe and give it a go here—you know, for you and me. I’d highlight a particularly Churchillian looking dish, preparing it step by step, taking photos all along the way, all for our fun—your’s and mine. That whole Julie and Julia thing but this would be Winston, Georgina, and Julie.

The book made it’s way from there to here, safely arriving at the end of last week. I was so excited. I practically ran back from the mailbox. I gently unwrapped it, taking in that musty old book smell, gently opening the marvelous little tome as I began to sift through the recipes.

Suddenly it dawned on me. . .
There will be hurdles.
Big hurdles.

There will be the wading through the “translation” as it were. I know, you’re thinking how in the world can you mess up translating from English to English—well, since we are talking about US English verses UK English, there are some very distinct and subtle differences. Also I fear we will run into a bit of trouble with the measurements. . . but thankfully this book does enlist, on the whole, the imperialistic measurement system, none of that metric nonsense I never could figure out in grade school (there’s a post there somewhere).

Plus certain items that may be called for, say in the UK, may not be called for here in the US or exist here in the US. Then of course there’s our love of the step by step, spell it out in plain simple terms, which is not exactly the mantra of this little book– or– maybe it is and that’s actually part of the problem. Then there’s the hunting and the procuring the right ingredients here in the US, which may not be as easy as anticipated—enter the world wide web. . .

And of course there was that whole rationing of food items as that was such a very keen part of the UK throughout the duration of the war and beyond. Cooking and substituting became a way of life to the intuitive cook—as is the mark of truly any great cook. And then there’s that whole modern take on things verses the not so modern. . .and with the book being written in 1958, we’re talking not so modern.

Just let me share a few examples with you. . .

The first stumbling block I ran across was Mrs. Landemare’s constant call for a “gill”
“A gill of cream”
“a gill of oil”
“a gill of water”
What in the heck does a fish have to do with any of this I wondered.

Then there was the call for “oiled butter” How does one oil butter—isn’t butter greasy enough?

Everything is to put into a basin. Would that be the kitchen sink or somewhere in the bathroom?

“Add a knob of butter”—now you’re talking. . . I wonder how many tablespoons the average doorknob measures.

Mrs Landemare will have us bake in “a slow oven”, “a medium oven”, “a cool oven,” yet “the oven should not be too hot”—no clue there.

When adding the butter to the flour, one is to “rub it together”—between my hands, my fingers. . .hummm

When mixing, one should beat things for 20 minutes or longer, be it eggs, sugar, cream—I’m thinking that is by hand so surely a mixer could cut that by at least half.

Measurements come in a wide variety: 1 teacup, 1/4 teacup, 1 coffecup full, 1 salt spoon, 2 breakfast cups or a dessertspoon full. . .hummmmm. . .but I do like the call for one wineglass of rum—my wine glasses are those rather large balloon types–could make for a little fun or a little disaster in the kitchen. . .

There is the “bare 1/2 oz of yeast” —bare? does that mean naked or minimal?

the 2 tablespoons of Kümmel —what is Kümmel?

dark foot sugar, caster sugar or Demerara—-still trying to figure out the dark foot business

a call for French sago or the 1/2 pound of nouille paste—again, what???

the need for the crushed ratafia biscuits–what??

the whole Vanilla essence verses Vanilla flavoring–whatever happened to good ol extract?

one should mask the top of the pudding with the jam—really?

pour contents into castle pudding cups–mine don’t look like castles

grated suet–I thought we fed that to birds

I need to increase my variety of flour as she calls for rice flour, potato flour, self-rising flour and good ol plain flour.

one example of say, I’m guessing, chocolate sauce is to:
“Melt 6 bars (yet she often calls for a slab–is a slab bigger than a bar?) of chocolate (would that be a hershey bar, milk, dark, unsweetened, bittersweet, 70% , 60%, 3.5 oz??) in a gill of water (again how much water can a fish gill hold?) add 1 oz of sugar and a knob of butter (again my happy place of excessive butter but I fear it might make things a tad greasy) Cook 5 minutes (cook on what, low, med, simmer? Should it be in a bowl over simmering water, over direct heat ???)

And just for fun I’ll offer her recipe for a wedding cake. No need here anymore for that but I was quite taken by, first the list of ingredients and then secondly by the “simple” preparation—

3 lbs. butter
4 1/2 lbs sugar
36 eggs
4 lbs of currants (tiny raisins for you and I)
4 lbs sultans (raisins for your and I)
2 lbs peel (I’m thinking maybe lemon?)
1 lb chopped almonds
4 1/2 lbs plain flour
1 lb glacè cherries (I think those candied types)
1 teaspoon spice and cinnamon mixed (I suppose it’s your call on the spice)
1 gill of brandy (I was hoping for the wine glass)
Grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon (which takes me back to that whole 2 lbs of peel business)

Cream together the butter and sugar, preferably with the hand (hummmm—don’t wear your rings) until very light.
Beat in the eggs and sifted flour alternately (all freaking 36 of them and 4 1/2 hefty pounds)
Beat all together for 10 minutes (I’m thinking that is again, by hand)
Add gradually all the fruit (does that include the peel?), spice (remember, your call) and grated rinds.
Finally stir in the brandy (just a gill no wineglass?)

Cover a baking sheet with salt or sand ( whoa, sand??!!) Line the tin (would that be the cake pan?)
or tins ( layers or one giant thing) with greaseproof paper (hummm) and place three thicknesses of brown paper on the outside of the tin. (What?!)

Place cake mixture in tin, or tins, stand (how’s that work?) on the prepared baking sheet (with the sand) and bake in a moderate oven (not slow or cool, but moderate) for the first two hours, lowering the heat slightly for the further five hour. ( 7 hours to bake a cake??!!)

Once I settle on a recipe, I’ll let you know—it won’t be the wedding cake, but I’ll find us something tasty. . .
Until then I’ve got to find some dark foot sugar.

***PS–Please, all my UK friends, forgive my ignorance—I’m learning–it is obvious that Mrs. Landemare had the gift of the intuitive—she cooked and created by an innate sense and ability. A gift that can take others a lifetime to barely develop—hence why the Churchills loved her.
Thanks to a little internet research I am uncovering the secret identity to gils, ratafia, and oiled butter—but the dark foot sugar—still a mystery. . . .

A short story

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.
Billy Graham

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(early 19th century tombstone / Colonial Cemetery / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2014)

Hushed voices whispered across the back porch under the sweltering blanket of an oppressive late August evening.
It was almost 10 PM and the thermometer was reading 86—a welcomed drop from the triple digits which had only added insult to injury in the tiny crowded church. Her thinning frail hand was now working harder than it should, waving the paper program back and forth as she hoped to stir up the stifling night air.

Familiar steps echoed cross the well-worn wooden planks as the screen door creaked to life.
“I thought I told you to oil that door last week”
Her words taking more effort than she had strength to offer.
“Has anyone seen Ellington?”
“Not since lunch” was the whispered response.
Ellington was for the legendary Duke Ellington.

He had always loved listening to the Big Band orchestras. This love began during that most surreal time, back in ’44, when he and the others waited on their orders to come in–orders for the offensive assault that would mark that fateful June day for all of eternity. The days leading up to the invasion were passed nervously while everyone just sat waiting and wondering. There were the endless games of cards, letters written and rewritten home and those same familiar bands playing over and over on the only record player aboard ship. If he ever made it back home, he promised himself, he’d get himself a dog and name it Ellington.

“I haven’t seen him since we got back from the Church.”
“You know how that dog loved your daddy.”
“How old is he now, 12?
“Yeah, I bet he’s sitting down by the gate still waiting on Daddy to come driving up the road in that stupid old pick up.
“It isn’t a stupid pick-up” she shot over her shoulder at her brother sounding angrier then she had intended.

“Mama, can I get you some more tea?” She asks as she stands and stretches muscles now stiff from sitting in the old man’s rocking chair.
“It’s not as comfortable as your Daddy would have made you think, is it?”
“No mam, it’s not. How in the world did Daddy sit out here every night reading that paper of his? I’d rather sit on a fence post. . .” Catherine makes this statement as she gently rubs a weary behind.

“Your daddy had a bit more padding back there then you do sweetie.” At 92 she was a woman still full of warmth and grace. They had been married almost 70 years. He had actually asked her to marry him in a letter, written from France, once he knew he had survived the worst part of the war. It took the letter 6 weeks to make it home. Six weeks of her not knowing if he was dead or alive. When her father brought the mail in the house that evening, he silently slipped the letter across the dinning room table once they had sat down to supper. She looked nervously at both her mother and father, and then slowly opened the thin airmail post, trembling over what it might say.

Suddenly, sending her chair crashing on the floor behind her, she jumped to her feet shouting, apparently to no one present in the room, “Yes, Yes Yes. . .”
That was August 1944.

It would be two more years before they would marry, once the war was finally over and he made his way home with several citations, a silver star and an honorable discharge.
It had not always been an easy life, but it had been a good life. They had raised 4 decent and caring children on that small farm, managing to always pay the bills while keeping everyone feed, especially the three boys. They even made certain that the kids would have the option of going to college if they so chose. And choose they did.

As Catherine made her way inside to the familiar kitchen, pulling open the faded door to the old Frigidaire, relishing the blast of fresh cool air, she hunted the pitcher of tea. “I thought we were all going in together to buy them a new one of these last Christmas.” Catherine mumbles while lingering in the coolness of the refrigerator’s contents. She knew her younger brother had followed her inside.

Gathering the courage to speak his mind, with her back now sufficiently turned in his direction, her younger brother boldly begins to blurt out his quasi-rehearsed speech.

“I think you ought to take mom back with you and I’ll take Ellington back with me. It’s not like she. . .”

He doesn’t even have time to finish his first thought before Catherine slams the door to the refrigerator and whips around so fast that it catches James off guard.
“ WHAT?!” she hisses through clenched teeth as she fights back the angry stinging tears.
She always did have Daddy’s quick temper.
“Are you crazy!?
She proceeds to unleash the full fury of the pain and frustration built over the past few days upon an unsuspecting and well meaning, if not clueless, younger brother.
“I’m not taking her anywhere and you’re certainly not taking that dog back to Boston.
You want to just kill both of them right now?
Taking them from here, especially now, would certainly do it.”

James, now a bit frightened, doesn’t recognize the ranting woman standing across from him.
“Oh I get it. . . Robert knew you were coming in here didn’t he?
I bet you both have been planning all of this when Daddy first got sick.
He’s out there right now ready to tell Mama ya’ll’s plan isn’t he?
And Paul.
What about Paul?
He’s not even here for Christ’s sake.
He can’t even get a plane out of Venezuela for the funeral and you two have already moved her and that dog!
How dare you James!”

And just as quickly as the furious storm is unleashed upon a hapless younger sibling, the rage thankfully subsides.
Catherine suddenly feels as if all the energy, all the anger, mingled with the terrible heaviness of the immense sorrow, has now simply evaporated from her very tired body—as if a tempest wind had suddenly vanished taking all of the energy from the raging storm with it.

Her brother, her younger brother, is no longer looking at her but rather standing with both hands stretched out on the counter, his arms are painfully straining to hold up his now very weary lanky frame–with his head cast downward, he mumbles “ I just thought the boys would like having the dog.”

Catherine, reading the pain in his words, reaches her hand to cover her brother’s. She’s amazed how much James looks like a much younger version of the man she lost only yesterday.
She begins slowly. . .“It’s not like Daddy owed any money on this place. He paid it off 10 years back when he sold off the cows. Mr. Johnson has been paying them for the hay— and Randal and Wilton pay Daddy for renting the fields, plus they’re giving them a percentage of the corn. They can now simply pay Mama.”

“I know you think Richard and I never can agree on much but the one thing we do agree on is Mama and Daddy. I know how much Richard loved Daddy, he’s only wanted the best for both of them.
We’ve talked about it.
I’ve got enough years in at work.
I sent in my letter of resignation last month.
I’m going to stay with Mama for as long as she needs me or wants me.
With the girls now gone, the house is really more than Richard and I need.
We’ve talked about letting Robert list it and we’ll just come back here to the farm until we find something smaller.
Richard can commute to the college.
I can stay a month, six months, a year. . .
You can go back to Alice and the boys, buy the boys a dog, but Ellington has got to stay here with Mama.
Robert is less than two hours a way in Des Moines, he can be here when and if I need him.”

By now a wealth of tears has finally come to both weary faces. Whoever would have thought this pair of once rough and tough siblings would be standing at the counter of the kitchen, the same kitchen that had once witnessed a myriad of mud covered frogs in the brand new porcelain sink, a lethargic lizard placed in the freezer for safe keeping, one too many missing cherry pies from a lone windowsill, as well as the late night secret ins and outs of restless teens, who were now sadly finding themselves, all these many years later, deciding the fate of an aging mother and dog.

“Look at it this way” Catherine interjects attempting to put a much needed smile back on her brother’s face, “this will finally give Mama the chance to teach me how to make that famous gooseberry jam of hers. You know how much she always resented Daddy for turning her only daughter into a 4th farm hand, dashing all her hopes of a little feminism on this male dominated farm.”

James lifts his tear-streaked face to meet his sister’s glance.
“You know how I hated that crap” he sheepishly replies.
“Yeah, I know, just as much as Daddy did.”
James now wide eyed stares in disbelief at his sister.
“Yep, he hated it, said it reminded him of eyeballs covered in sugar, but he’d eat it any way cause he knew how hard she had worked on it”
By now the distinctive boyish grin was slowly returning.

“I suppose that’s what happens when you love someone for 70 years” sighs a very tired Catherine who is now smiling back at her equally tired kid brother. “You’d eat anything they cooked and in turn love an old hound dog named Ellington.

How do you do?

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(green grasshopper perched on a meyer lemon leaf / Julie Cook / 2014

This is the voice of high midsummer’s heat.
The rasping vibrant clamour soars and shrills
O’er all the meadowy range of shadeless hills,
As if a host of giant cicadae beat
The cymbals of their wings with tireless feet,
Or brazen grasshoppers with triumphing note
From the long swath proclaimed the fate that smote
The clover and timothy-tops and meadowsweet.

Sir Charles George Douglas Robert

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(katydid–more leaf than insect / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(green grasshopper / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(green grasshopper / Julie Cook / 2014)

A recent visit by two insects which upon first glance appear to be more leaf like than living creature.
One is a slender green grasshopper the other a katydid, also known as a bush cricket. Both are relatives but whereas the grasshopper is not much for singing, the katydid will rub its front wings together producing the long familiar Southern summer evening serenade.