an adventure is afoot

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;
to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him,
the greatest human achievement.”

St. Augustine of Hippo


(a good book, a camera and a backpack…hummmm)

Remember me telling you that my husband retired as of July 1 after 50 years of running
his own business?

Well, my quandary was–what does a wife do to commemorate such a milestone??
…or rather…
what does a wife do to commemorate the removal of a millstone from around one’s neck??

I’ve been working behind the scenes now for a year.
Plotting.
Planning.
Calculating.
Arranging.

There was always one thing on the proverbial bucket list that he has always said he’d
like to really see in person.
A place he’s mentioned many times.
But not being one to want to leave the confines of our 50 united states would make such an
adventure rather impossible.

Now my bucket list, on the other hand, is pretty much endless….
as I tend to think more broadly while my husband ponders life with more of a
narrowed laser focus.

I want to see St Catherine’s Monastery in the south of the Sinai Penninsula.
I want to visit Krakow.
I want to visit Jerusalem.
I want to see Auschwitz and Dachau.
I want to be invited into the labyrinth of the Vatican’s library.
I want to go to Chartwell to visit my dear friend Winston…
I want to see Istanbul (aka Constantinople) and Hagia Sophia
I want to sit in Lambeau Feild, in the dead of winter, watching the Packers dominate
all the while wearing my cheese hat on my head,
freezing my a*$ off, as I cheer on Aaron Roger and company.

My husband, on the other hand, well, he could care less about any of that.

He does taunt me however with his wanting to moose hunt knowing that I
have emphatically stated that we will not ever bear nor moose hunt in this house.

Other than that, he’s pretty good.

Just find him a good fishing hole and he’s happy.

So I told him if he really wanted to see this one particular rather sacred and hallowed site,
I would make it happen.

He agreed.

And so today is the day we depart for this bottom of his bucket adventure…
the only adventure really in the bucket.

I have opted not to bring anything electronic with me but my phone.
No computer.
No Ipad.
Only a camera and a phone…

A phone in order to touch base with “the Mayor” of course!
…as in I hope she can get through this temporary separation from her chief aide
as she continues to resort to that continued foot in mouth miscue of hers…
Or rather…can this aide survive without the weekly fix of the Mayor…
for you see, this adventure was set in motion long before the Mayor came into our lives…


(the Mayor has a problem with always putting her foot in her mouth /
Julie Cook (aka cheif aide)/ 2018)

So how will you write your “blob” my husband asks…

“I won’t” I reply.

This is your adventure…

And so just know that I’ll be back in a couple of weeks–or three.

Yeah…
it’s that kind of adventure.

Prayers that his trepidation for this sort of travel will remain at bay
while I try to survive without the Mayor!

I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

the mayor is in

When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy,
I always remind myself it could be worse.
I could be a mayor.

Lyndon B. Johnson


(the mayor in her office / Julie Cook / 2018)

As the satellite aide to the Mayor of Woobooville, my job requires that I often travel
between her two offices.

And since the Mayor has been under the weather, I had to travel to her Atlanta office
in order to help her with the daily runnings of Woobooville.
Top officials may be the top dogs, but they still need help, especially when not feeling 100%.

First I had to drive the Mayor to her doctor’s office for an assessment of the situation.

Like most of us when visiting our doctor, the Mayor was filled with a bit of trepidation.
Being a stickler for time…meaning that time is hers and hers alone, the idea of someone
taking too much of that time, well, things can often get ugly fast.

But then the Mayor remembered that she could actually make the best of the drive…
by taking care of other matters.

Following the appointment, it was time to run to pick up a few items for what was assessed
as a viral infection. The doctor did run some tests and sent off this and that…
so now the Mayor’s office is currently waiting for the results.

Yet like most dutiful administrators, the Mayor tries her best to multitask during those
times when she is out of pocket, commuting from one appointment to another or knows
that her most trusted aide is by her side to assist.

However not all multitasking actions are meant for public viewing.

The Mayor has a great deal on her plate and some of those items require more thought
then others.

Yet at the end of the day when all is said and done,
the Mayor knows deep down in her heart that she can always lay her head down
knowing she has given her all to her constituents of Woobooville.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders.
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5

Animal crackers. What would the mayor think?

Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.
Victor Hugo


(the mayor sporting her Andrew Jackson Tee shirt back in her office in Woobooville / Julie Cook / 2018)

Like the good little aide to the mayor that I am, I had to go on a bit of an extended visit
this past week in order to carry out my mayorial aide duties while the mayor was in her
Atlanta office… (aka, I had to babysit).
While in her Atlanta office, she was able to meet with a few of her local constituents
who live in the metro Woobooville district.
Then yesterday I had to drive her back here to her satellite office in rural Woobooville
(mom is coming to town to help give a shower this weekend).

In the meantime, as the aide to the mayor, it is my responsibility to help keep her
abreast of the latest current events…

And thus reading a recent article about the iconic box of Animal Crackers…

along with the uber animal rights activists PETA,
I just knew that this was one issue that I would need to share with the mayor…
It was also an issue that I knew the mayor would blow a gasket over.

This particular mayor cannot abide by the idiocy of the ongoing  PC mania that is
currently sweeping our culture…
Everything from 150-year-old monuments hurting the feelings of the overly sensitive
to now a cookie box depicting circus animals in cages causing outrage with radical
activists…

But I suppose we forgot…the circus is soon going to be a thing of the past.


(the mayor is aghast)

These animal crackers just so happen to be the very same iconic animal crackers
that my mother bought for me nearly 60 years ago…
all in order to keep me occupied in the grocery store as I accompanied her
during her weekly grocery trips—

It seems that the animal rights activists are livid and are forcing the hand of Nabisco
for their continued depiction of animals in their circus train cage…
the same iconic image used since the cookies first came out in 1902.

The mayor was so preoccupied with this latest tale that she could not focus on her meeting
with a local representative from the society of the jealous.


(Percy takes over everything that is Autumn’s when she’s here…hence filling out the car seat)

It seems that PETA has demanded that Nabisco redesign their cookie boxes to depict
cage-free animals.
And sure, updating packaging, rebranding, and new designs, for some companies
and products can certainly bring about a resurgence in sales—but think about Coke when
they wanted to tweak the flavor for the changing times…that did not help but actually  hurt sales.

And whereas the mayor believes in the protection of all animals…
but for plastic squids…

She believes the creation of laws and the changing of how zoos, circuses, and even
sanctuaries care for the animals under their charge is paramount as we have been
charged by God to care for them…but the notion that angry activists can twist the
screws on anyone they find who is out of step with their overly
political correctness—bringing about an intimidation which comes at any and all costs
is just something she finds maddening…

https://start.att.net/news/read/article/fortune-nabisco_frees_its_animal_crackers_after_a_peta_pro-rtime/category/finance+

the mayor is in…

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only
solution is love and that love comes with community.”

Dorothy Day

The above image is a photo of Woobooville.

Woobooville is a relatively small community.
A new gated community to be more exact.
It currently houses four constituents…Bobo Buzzard, Polly Possum, Lambie Pie Lamb
and Jeffery Girrafe.

There are 3 different Rec centers, with one being mobile when so desired.
The Rec centers are open whenever needed.

The road was paved (quilted) by Natalie and hasn’t a single pothole.
There is 24 hr security yet there is no crime to ever speak of.
There is even a single storage unit, open free of charge.

Plus the community actually has its own mayor…
and the mayor just happens to be in her office this weekend.

Bear one another’s burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

God ain’t no fool

A fool thinks himself to be wise,
but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

William Shakespeare


(the wee one two months ago wearing a “trash” onsie given to her by “uncle Lele / Brenton Cook/ 2018)

Every time you begin to think you know it all or that you are the king/queen of the universe…
stop…stop for just a moment and realize that God ain’t no fool.

There are reasons for everything.
Yes, everything.

No, not some happenstance cataclysmic big bang evolution, up from the primordial gook
of life sort of mumbo-jumbo but actually a real rational and reasonable plan.
All meticulously thought out and figured out nice and neat eons ago.

Put your ego aside for a minute and hear me out.

There are reasons why the more youthful among were meant to have babies.

Brigitte Nielsen case in point.
Brigitte Nielsen is an idiot.

I can’t say that from actually a personal acquaintance but from observations from afar.

And that may sound a bit harsh but I can say that after babysitting a teething 5.5-month-old
baby day and night now for merely two days!

For you see I am just shy of 59 and I am exhausted.

And no Brigitte Nielsen is not some sort of hero for having a baby at the tender age of 55…
rather she’s absolutely crazy.

She’s been married five times, had numerous affairs and has 4 grown children
along with now a newborn.

And I can guarantee you she isn’t up and down all night while shuffling through the day
in a fog doing what all was needed doing during the night…of which is now being done
during the day… all by herself…
As in feeding, changing diapers, washing clothes, tending to a home, cooking and cleaning all
while rocking a newborn…and God forbid there would be other small children who would
also need tending to.
I”m sure she has a nice helpful staff.

Forget being tired, forget hurting while recovering from delivery…

Crazy I say…

And so for all those uber feminist out there who are singing her praises…
as in “great for her, she’s having her cake and eating it to after having done it 4 times
previous many years ago…” well you’re equally nuts.

Those of us who are parents to grown children can vaguely remember those sleep
deprived nights, those fog filled days, those nerve shattering times of walking the floor
all the while holding inconsolable babies…
sick with worry as to is it colic, teething or something far worse…

I reread my post from yesterday.

The one I wrote while attempting to hold a very fussy 5.5-month-old baby who is
teething and cannot be placated or soothed.
No amount of children’s motrin or tylenol, no cold teethers, no nothing…
seems to ease the discomfort but to be held and move about constantly.
All the while I’d grab everything she grabs in an attempt to put it in her mouth.
Be it the telephone, the computer, the silverware, the cat…

There were copious typos, a gross lack of clarity, a rambling on about leaving my
phone behind in Atlanta…
the creative process gets put on hold while playing the grandmother who is filling in
as the mother momentarily.

I’m having to sleep upstairs in the guest bedroom with this wild little rabbit because
she won’t go down in a pack and play…
she wants the bed and she wants me in it too.

I never knew how many odd sounds our house makes at 3AM when I’m being kicked in the
stomach by one who wishes to sleep horizontally in a vertically positioned bed.

So often we parents of now grown kids, secretly find a bit a glee in the notion of
thinking that one day, as our children become parents, they will know…
they will know and even understand what we had put up with while trying to raise them…

And so I ask myself why…why is it that I’m simply reliving it all over again.

My daughter-n-law says that dressing or changing a diaper for the wee one is like wrestling
an alligator. Think death roll. Think a naked gator with a greased butt ready to
be diapered rolling and rolling and requiring two grown adults to wrestle her still long
enough to get diapered.

I remember all too well sleeping vertically with one who preferred being horizontal.
I remember barely being on the bed as I scooted as far over as I could while praying
my husband realized that someone had gotten in the bed while he was snoring and wouldn’t roll over.


(a wise moppie knows to get out of the water while the getting is good while
holding a baby)/ Gregory Cook / 2018)

Paying for your raising…
Something we often say to our now grown children.

I’m still waiting for my reimbursement…

So yes, God figured it out long ago…the younger ones are to ones to have children,
the old ones are to act as guides…anyone who thinks otherwise is, as I say, crazy!

And two parents, essential..as in it takes two…a man and a woman.
Yet as in our broken world, it often takes one…
with the help of the old ones acting as guides and helpers.
And in some cases, it takes a lot more than one or two…

Here’s to God knowing how it’s all supposed to work…

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Psalm 14

to be kind

“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush,
anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on,
so that children have very little time for their parents.
Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the
disruption of peace of the world.”

Mother Teresa

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us.
It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain
of someone unloved in our own home.
Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

Mother Teresa


(the wee one letting her feelings be known during a shopping outing / Abby Cook / 2018)

I would wager that most of us would agree that it’s pretty easy to be kind to a baby
or for that matter, a small child.

That is unless you’re some kind of depraved individual but those are sad thoughts for another day.

Babies just seem to have a way of drawing us in…into their little worlds.
They do so with their large inquisitive eyes, their sweet and heartwarming smiles
and their openly unconditional acceptance.

You have a bad hair day — a baby doesn’t care.
You have visible scars — a baby doesn’t care.
You have internal scars — a baby doesn’t care.
You have issues, a baby simply doesn’t care.

They smile, they coo, they draw us in…

And suddenly we have no cares.

We don’t care about much of anything but for this exchange of warmth and kindness.
We are lost in the kindness.
It just feels good.
No cares, no worries…just basking in an exchange of endorphin pumping feel good
between two individuals.

That is of course until said baby or small child decides they are displeased with life’s
current circumstance.
All of which could be due to hunger, teething, a soiled diaper, colic,
too hot, too cold, too tired…you name it.

And it is at these very moments that our own capacity for kindness seems to quickly
dissipate as our nerves take over and kindness takes a back burner.

So we ask ourselves…does kindness come naturally?

I’m no psychologist or anthropologist or neurologist.
I don’t study people’s brains or actions or reactions.

Rather I am just a wife married for 35 years, a mom to a 30-year-old, and now a grandmother
to a 5-month-old. Plus I was a high school teacher for 31 years…
so I kind of know people and I often know myself…be that for good or bad.

Kindness seems to be more of a reciprocating response.

Now granted there are certain folks out there who just seem to be more innately
kind than others.
Think Melanie versus Scarlett.

And yet I’ve observed some really gruff individuals lose some of that bristled gruffness rather
quickly when met with pure kindness.

In our day’s quote, Mother Teresa observes that we often tend to be more gracious,
more kind to strangers much more readily than we do to those actually closest to us.

An odd human condition.

She notes that perhaps it is easier to be kind and gracious to those we don’t know rather
then those who actually deserve our kindness the most….those who are closest to us
in our lives. Yet it is those individuals who we often look over, take for granted or
just assume they care despite our brusqueness, attitudes, selfishness, curtness,
rudeness, and self-absorption.

I know this to be true.
I recall now in hindsight my days as an adolescent and I feel the constant need to offer up
my apologies to Mother.

I also know that during 35 years of marriage, I’ve had a lot to learn in the way of kindness.

Two imperfect people are joined in the union of marriage…to have and to hold…to
love, honor and respect, to live with until death does them part…
all the while, the perfect union and marriage is being lived by two very imperfect people…
a bit of a blind leading the blind.

I know that I tend to be a bit hard-headed and stubborn. I blame an Irish heritage.
I know that I tend to be the one who is always more right than wrong despite my
husband not yet figuring this out.

And yet I also know that I can be more Scarlett than Melanie…
wanting things my way…
I can be selfish, snappy, short-tempered, overwhelmed and moody.

And I also know that my husband has a high frustration level,
very little patience and is a 69-year-old by-product of a very abusive alcoholic father
who left deep lasting scars.
Add in the fact that my husband is nearly deaf so he can misinterpret, misunderstand
or miss everything I say…talk about over the top frustrating.

And so often in this life of ours, kindness has sadly taken a backseat.

And yet kindness seems to be a glue.
It is a binding agent.
It can bind two imperfect people together placing them under the blanket, or yoke if you will,
of the One who casts the perfect light of hope and healing over our human brokenness.

And yet we know this act of kindness must often be learned as well as worked on.
It is something I have learned that is a grace that more often than not
must be prayed for, cared for and nurtured.
It is a grace that God will and can work in our hearts.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost;
he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

Saint Basil

work or rest…a star seems to be born

“When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better. ”
Mae West


(Autumn loving her first trip to the beach)

All work with a little play…a grandmother’s work is never done…

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7