do you remember…

Memories
Pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories
Sweetened through the ages just like wine
Quiet thoughts come floating down and settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touch them and they burst apart with sweet memories

Lyrics by the Lettermen


(the sun cutting through the clouds / Julie Cook / 2020)

Do you remember when we use to worry about things like tornados, hurricanes, blizzards,
droughts…what about things like The Wall, illegal aliens, the fab four, Madame Speaker,
‘pencilneck’, impeachments, our President, the left, the right, the wrong…

What about the pollen?
The highest ever, in all of recorded history took place this week—

Or what about climate change…oh wait, didn’t it cause the pandemic or was that Trump??

But who has time to worry about sneezing and itchy eyes, the climate, global warming,
ad infinitum, when we can’t even find toilet paper?

Ahhh, those were the good old days…

So isn’t it simply amazing how a pandemic just seems to glibly push all that
other stuff aside?

There was a doctor from Emory University, who was interviewed by the news this morning,
who quipped that we might as well just wipe the month of April off the books cause we
ain’t budging from this life on lockdown for at least 4 to 6 more weeks.

And then to put the icing on the cake, I actually read that Easter was being canceled.

Yep, canceling Easter.

Hummmm…

You mean canceling local egg hunts, Sunday services with fancy new dresses and frilly
Spring hats, the wee hour sunrise services…canceling luncheons and afternoon gatherings…
canceling that Easter right?!

Because we know that nothing…not politicians, principalities, dominions, rulers, kings,
pandemics—-not even death can ever stop Easter…

But of course, we already knew that, didn’t we…??

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

John 11:25

Captian’s log: Week Two—Chicken and Good Bones

“Life is an onion–
you peel it year by year and sometimes cry.”

Carl Sandburg

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Thomas Aquinas


(the foggy rain accentuates the somber mood of these difficult days / Julie Cook / 2020)

Three years ago I wrote a post entitled ‘The Humble Onion’.
I’ve included the link below.

The post referenced a PBS show that I once loved watching, Foyles War.
It was a seasonal type of PBS show showcasing life in Hastings, England during
WWII—as seen through the life of the local Detective Chief Superintendent, Christopher Foyle.
A local police detective charged with keeping the peace in his small town during war.

Throw in the occasional murder by hire, grand theft, larceny, etc…
all compounded by the burden of war and it was a weekly captivating tale of intrigue
while living under a time of siege.

One of the episodes featured a story about a lottery over an onion.

The humble onion, as lowly as it is…is actually an integral component to cooking—
for it adds nuance, flavor, and depth to any dish to which it is added.

I was intrigued by the fact that they were having an office lottery over
a single onion…

They each longed to win the onion.

Yet what my 21st-century mind failed to wrap itself around was the fact that during the war,
onions were a difficult commodity to come by.

For those of you who don’t cook, you should know that onions are a prized culinary wonderment.

And this fact was greatly apparent during the days of rationing and sacrifice since
onions were not easily come by.
Just as this conundrum can quickly become a modern-day reality when I suddenly realize
I’m all out of onions during the height of a cooking extravaganza that requires an onion.

So flash forward to our present day.

We are all currently living life under siege.
Not the siege of war, but rather the siege of pestilence.

And now having been scavenged by a populace afraid of shortage,
many grocery store shelves are now bare.
Meaning we too are living with shortages and near rationing proportions.

It’s been a surreal adventure in our normally overloaded world of plenty.

For the past two weeks, I’ve made several mad runs to my local grocery of choice
in search of supplies to feed our family—a family who is now currently calling
our house, home central, while hunkering down.

Besides toilet paper, chicken, of all things, has been hard to come by…
as in, the shelves have been completely empty and bare.
Shelves that are normally filled with a plethora of organic, free-range, farm-raised,
all-natural parts and pieces of thighs, breasts, wings, drumsticks and even
entire roasting hens…now stand barren.

And wouldn’t you just know it— all I’ve wanted to cook is a chicken.

A humble yet succulent yard bird.

So yesterday morning…despite my husband’s foreboding and warnings of the dire
consequences should I risk my life while it was pouring down rain as infection
was waiting with my name on it, I made off to the grocery store…in search of chicken.

I thought the rain would hamper others who might come on a similar quest.

I was met by gals who had bleached and alcoholed shopping carts and were handing them off
to incoming soaking wet and leary shoppers.
Folks wearing masks and gloves, while I simply donned a ball cap and rain jacket.

I made my way past the produce section and bakery, making a beeline for the
poultry section.
Would it be there?? I fretted…

And what to my wondering eyes did appear—
it was my heart’s delight…chicken!!!

A large sign alerted shoppers that only two packs could be purchased per household.

I opted for a roasting hen and a pack of chicken tenders.

I was so excited.

I made my way through the store gathering what I could from my list.
Things that were in stock but limited to, once again, only two per household.

I couldn’t believe how happy a single roasting hen could make me feel.
Something I would normally take for granted.
Something that would normally be plentiful and considered average fare.

But to me, a roasting hen is a blank canvas that has become my symbol
of comfort and normalcy.

And so later in the evening, after we enjoyed our wonderful dinner,
my daughter-in-law shared something with me
that I’d like to share with you.

It was something she read that Jenna Bush Hagar, one of President’s Bush’s twin daughters
has posted. It is a piece entitled Good Bones written by Maggie Smith.

It’s poignant, harsh, tender, painful and yet, there remains in the end…hope
The hope of what could be…
May we, for the sake of our children, try for what could be…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/the-humble-onion/

Captain’s log: Day 5—color and pollen

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
John Ruskin


(Julie Cook / 2020)

This is really something like day 6 but at this point, who’s counting?!

We need some color and we need hope.
However, we don’t need the pollen…
But it is what it is….

The photos are of the new blooms and color now blanketing the yard…what you don’t see is
the nice layer of yellow dust covering our world…but I admit, the yellow dust
is such a nice foray into the normalcy of Spring…a diversion from life lived under
a modern-day plague.

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Here comes the sun…

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

(Here Comes the Sun lyrics–the Beatles)


(sunflowers / Julie Cook/ 2019)

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts,
you double-minded.

James 4:8 NIV

I don’t know who comes up with the verse of the day for the YouVersion app
but how appropriate is this verse??!!…
“wash your hands…”

And since we’re currently living under the shadow of both gloom and doom…
I thought we could all use a little reminder that the sun will still rise
each morning in the east, life will begin anew and we will still be
God’s and He will be ours…

Part of the life of the saints is turned toward us;
the other and larger part is open only to God in solitude and mystery.
This area is closed to psychological analysis.
Psychology always acts as if the soul can be exhaustively understood,
as if there is no hiding place from the objectivity of its laws.
But the nearer a soul is to God and the more it shares a common life with God,
the more God covers it with his veil, letting us see only what he wishes us to see.

Adrienne von Speyr
from Three Women and the Lord

can’t go back…lessons from the road

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slips away
Cause your baby is so far away.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
Don’t be angry, don’t be sad,
Don’t sit cryin’ over good things you’ve had
,
Lyrics, The Isley Brothers


(the main stairwell in the Biltmore House / Ashville, NC / Julie Cook / 2020)

About a week or so ago,
I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that I had cared for sick grandkids who in turn,
unintentionally, gave me their sickness.

It seems that germs just love to travel and share themselves.
Just like the song by the Isley Brothers, you gotta love the ones you’re with…
germs will love any and all… whoever they are with or even near.

But this is NOT another post chattering on about coronavirus or the flu or any other bug.

This post is rather about adventure…
Or better yet…this is a post about lessons.

In that previous post, I had made mention that we had had a little impromptu adventure
while trying to escape all this unrelenting rain…

About two weeks ago, we were sitting in the house… sick and tired of sitting in the house.
It had rained for almost the entire month of February.
It was our wettest February on record.

Let’s get away” I proclaimed
My husband agreed.

We threw some things in a bag and headed north.
About a 4-hour drive north.

It had been years since we’d visited the Biltmore House
and thus that would be our destination.

We opted to stay at the Inn on the property,
spending the following day visiting the house,
then we would drive around the mountains before heading home.
Short and sweet.

And most importantly, it was minus the rain.

But then there was the snow.

However, let’s back up 40 years.

Back in 1980, I was a college student who had no real feel for what I wanted to do with my life.
I thought I knew.
I thought I had known.
I wanted to work with kids.
I wanted to write.
I wanted to work in advertising.
I wanted to meet a nice boy.
I wanted to get married and I wanted to be a mom.

I bounced back and forth between each different course and college major that were
more or less, a flavor of the day regime.

I have written about this journey when I first started blogging.
It was about how I finally made my way into teaching.

It was the summer of 1980 when my angst and turmoil finally came into focus in the
middle of the mountains of North Carolina.
Specifically, Black Mt., NC.

I had taken a job at a Christian summer camp for girls as a camp counselor—
Riflery Director oddly enough.

I spent my summers working at the camp until I graduated and made my
way to my first teaching post.
It was a position that would last 31 years.

So before we set out on this little adventure,
I asked my husband if we could drive over to Black Mt,
find a little inn for a night and spend an afternoon
wandering the little town before going to see the camp.

Knowing how important this place once was to me,
he knew he was now simply along for the ride.

When we started out from home on this northward drive,
we took an off-the-beaten-path route.
Many two and four-lane roads avoiding much of the interstate.
Crossing over into NC from Georgia, just before entering the Nantahala forest,
I caught sight of a homemade sign perched along the side of the road…
sitting boldly in plain sight.

It was a conversation bubble sign.
One conversation bubble read: “God, why won’t you send us someone who will help us?
The response bubble read: “I did, but you aborted them”

A powerful thought to chew on and get lost in while driving.

Our visit to the Biltmore was brief but enjoyable.
It had been meant to be our diversion,
a brief respite from our temperate rainy winter.

But then…it snowed.

The snow was pretty as it gently covered the mountains.
It was a gift from the relentless rain we had left back home.
Soft and silent.
White and muting.
A fitting and tender offering.

The small town of Black Mt. is about a 15-minute drive east from Ashville on I-40 or about
20 minutes via Hwy 70.

It was my home for several summers…a place that had left
and indelible mark upon my heart, soul and on the person who I would grow to be.

My former boss and dear friend, the camp’s director, had passed away several years away,
leaving the camp to now be run by two of his sons.

I had been very close to the older of the two boys.

At the time, he was instrumental in the growth of my Christian faith.

He was one of those individuals who you knew had a relationship with
Christ that transcended both time and space.
There was a depth not normally seen in “normal” Christians.
There was a mysticism.
There was a sense that He was privy to something that was not experienced by many others.
It was so much greater than…

There was a diligence to his faith.
A detachment from the world, yet done so graciously and most willingly.
It was a relationship that had been tried in a furnace…
a furnace so hot that it had burned away all the dross.

It was a relationship that I marveled over from afar.
A relationship that I wanted yet always felt as if it was just beyond my reach.

During that time, I had also become close friends with another counselor.
She and I both were attending the same college,
however, we had not met until our summers working at camp.

She was a hungry and joyous Christian..strong and uncompromising in her faith.

The three of us became quite the trio.
I earned the name slugly…the questioning one who always seemed to be
lagging a step behind.
The one who still had the one foot in the world.

Despite my now almost manic positive spin on life,
I carried a heavy black cloud.

Most often my friend and I both felt like students sitting at
the feet of a master teacher as we learned so very much from our older and wiser friend.

His had once been a hard and rough life.
We were fortunate to have met him long after the darkness.
We were the grateful recipients of the light now shining through him.

Yet as life would have it, we remained as close as we could,
as our lives simply took us each on different journeys.
I married first, followed by our friend then finally my fellow counselor friend,
found her true love.

Three different states, jobs, children, and life, made the years race past with less and less contact.

What might I find after 40 years?

I felt a sense of heaviness and nervousness…a journey of trepidation.
The excitement of what might be was shadowed by both what was and what
had passed.

I knew that the camp had grown and even changed.
A boys camp and also a climbing adventure camp has become spin-offs of the
original girls camp. Things were much larger and not as intimate.

Billy Graham was the camp’s neighbor, living on the neighboring mountain top
and Montreat College was less than a mile up the road.

Graham was now gone but the college was still there having, like everything else,
grown and expanded.

We drove up from the what was once a sleepy mountain town that has since boomed
into a buzzing home to artists, breweries and eclectic eateries–
a top NC mountain must-see travel destination crowned by all things southern
and travel, Southern Living…crowned as one of America’s most charming small towns.

I pulled into the familiar hemlock lined gravel drive leading up to the main house…
and that’s when I stopped the car for the briefest of moments before quickly deciding to turn around…
simply driving back to town.

Just like that.

With all that growing anticipation and wonderment I felt during our drive from home…
in the end, I knew that the girl who had spent her summers in this small part of the world
had, in the end, moved on.

I decided to drive back leaving what was.. simply to be.

Later that evening, once back in town,
we started walking the couple of blocks from our Inn to the trendy new restaurant
that had been recommended to us.

While walking rather briskly, shielding ourselves against the bitter cold,
a group of college-age young folks fell in line behind us on the sidewalk.

All we could hear was ‘F’ this and ‘F’ that as they weren’t but
a few steps behind.
There were no filters, no restraints, no consideration for our obvious older ears,
that was for sure

They were loud and raucous, cursing as if uttering simple words in conversation.
I turned and smiled while giving that knowing look of
“hey, consider the other folks in your surroundings
as your language just might not be suitable let alone appreciated
by those in such close earshot.”

The loudest gal in the group just looked at me, not missing a beat
with her profanity-laced chatter.

Thankfully they veered off to head into one of the local watering holes
while we kept walking.

Aggravated by the thought that the one place I had always held somewhat sacred
and somewhat protected,
as it had been just that for me all these years ago, was now just like any other place invaded by
a youthful, progressive left-leaning, mindset as I saw many a Bernie, pro-choice, coexist, and all
things feminist stickers stuck on the cars parked along the sidewalks.

With the crisp mountain air now laced with cigarette smoke, the sweet scent of weed and stale beer,
I could feel my shoulders slump just a tad.

There was now a heavy dose of melancholy and irony found in being just the other side of
Ashville…the home to the great writer, Thomas Wolfe…

Wolfe was right you know…we can’t go home again.
Home is never the same.
The then is no longer as it is simply the now.

I was clearly reminded that our home is truly not of this earth.
Our peace will not ever be found here despite our constant searching.

For we are indeed strangers in a strange land…
We seek a home where we know our hearts will finally be at rest…
it is our life’s innate quest really.
Seeking a home that is beyond that which we have known…a home
that is eternal and somewhere just beyond those mountains I once
considered my haven of peace.

I think that’s what my friend had known all those years ago…it just took
me forty years to figure it out.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
so that when they speak against you as evildoers,
they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:11-12

blame it on the rain

Go on and blame it on the rain…
‘Cause the rain don’t mind
And the rain don’t care
You got to blame it on something

Lyrics from the infamous Milli Vanilli


(a single raindrop /Julie Cook / 2015)

Well, last week there was a brief impromptu road trip.
It was a last-minute, throw some stuff in a bag, head out the door sort of road trip.

I simply blame it on the rain.

I gleaned some important life lessons during this little adventure of which I planned on sharing…
lessons that came about, in part, to my blaming it on the snow rather than the rain…

However, before I could properly put a suitcase of dirty clothes into the wash,
and write a reflective post, I was called into quick duty.

The poor Mayor and Sheriff were both stricken by an unrelenting stomach bug…

Let’s just say that both mouths and bottoms were working overtime, simultaneously…
It wasn’t a pretty picture.

Pedialyte popsicles were about the only means of sustenance which remained where they were supposed
to remain, inside the tummies vs outside of said tummies.


(The Sheriff enoyed a pedialyte popsicle until experiencing his first brain freeze / Julie Cook / 2020)


(The Mayor holding onto to only thing that stayed on her stomach all day / Julie Cook / 2020)

And thankfully there have been a few moments of peace and calm…


(still sleeping before I had to race soiled babies to the bath / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a new roost ruler in Woobooville/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(just before the morning’s cranberry juice reared it’s ugly head/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(the Mayor looking wise beyond her years / Julie Cook / 2020)

So barring my chances of catching this vicious bug plaguing these children,
I plan on getting back to the story at hand hopefully tomorrow…

However, for now, I’ll just blame all of this on the rain…as well as a nasty stomach bug…

“I will attempt day by day to break my will into pieces.
I want to do God’s Holy Will, not my own.”

St. Gabriel Possenti

using our time to the fullest

“I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those
who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(tufted titmouse sits on budding blueberries in the rain / Julie Cook / 20120)

“In truth, if the earth and all it contains must one day disappear by fire,
the goods of this world are no more to be esteemed than wood and straw.
What point is there, then, in making them the object of our desires and cares?
Why seek to build and leave marks of our genius and power where we have no permanent abode,
and where the form of this world will be removed,
like a tent that has no travelers to shelter?
It may be said that it will be a thousand years before this frightening cataclysm takes place;
but Christ has said that a thousand years are but an instant compared with eternity,
and when the moment comes—-when, from the land of the future life,
we are the witnesses and actors in that supreme drama—the whole span of humanity
will seem so short to us that we shall scarcely consider it to have lasted a single day…
Christ tells us to meditate upon these great teachings,
for it is certain that we shall be taken by surprise, and that the time will
come sooner than we think.”

Father Charles Arminjon, p. 28
An Excerpt From
The End of the Present World