the sharing season is here…

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else…
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it,
but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


(black swallowtail caterpillar / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, I knew it was just a matter of time.

The caterpillars have found the parsley.

There must be at least 15 caterpillars now making the most of my nice pot of parsley.

And so you should know that this lowly creature will…

Become this lovely creature:

And this one…

And this one…

And this one…

Will all become one of these…


(Black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

These guys, well, I moved one of their caterpillars out from the garage yesterday,
so there are no before images…only the after shots


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so now, I share…my parsley.

Yet I must confess that sometimes I’m not too keen to share certain things.
I think we all have a bit of the selfish child that remains buried within.

As adults, we know that sharing is a good thing.
And so we can bend our will in order to do what is kind, considerate and decent.
We strive to teach children to do the same.

We must teach them to share as they/we seem to come into this world
hardwired with a distinct “mine” mentality.

When I first started to keep a garden…I would get so mad at the rabbits, the crows,
the other birds, the squirrels, the deer, and yes the caterpillars, who would
all invade, dig up or purge my labors by eating seeds, the tender new shoots
or the actual fruits of said labor, my fruits and vegetables.

And then I figured out that if I planted a little extra or a few distractors, things
that would appease my thieves, I could then strike a delicate balance between
what I knew would be stolen versus what I wanted to be harvested.

And sometimes, despite my best-laid plans, it just came down to who was the fastest
on the scene.

Now granted this was not always the perfect relationship as the deer would seem to
poke their feet in the melons simply to be spiteful…or the birds would jab
each blueberry, leaving the berry on the bush, full of holes.
But if I was going to be successful with a garden…there had to be give,
take and yes, share.

And so speaking of sharing, last week when I had to go to Atlanta to keep the Mayor,
who had contracted the Sheriff’s viral infection from the previous week, the
very notion of sharing took place in the form of “rain.”

And no, I do not refer to the sort of rain that falls from the sky.

If you’ve ever been around a young child who coughs or sneezes or
God forbid, suddenly needs to throw up…well, you know that kids
don’t cover their mouths, turn away, cough into the crook of an arm, or
race to the bathroom when an emergency calls.

To a child, if it comes, whatever it might be, it comes for good or bad…
matters not who might be in its path.

So there was a puny Mayor, who was sitting on my lap last week while we were watching cartoons.
Suddenly she started sneezing…and a spray of mist subsequently blanketed my lap and legs.
Gleeful the Mayor happily announces “RAIN”!!!!

“Yes”, I sardonically noted, “it has rained…”
…as I grabbed a sacred Clorox wipe in order to wipe down my legs and arms.

So should I be surprised that I now have felt like crap for the past two days and find
myself unable to breathe due to such a cloggy nose?

No.
No, I am not surprised.

For a sick child shared her “rain” with me.

And well, despite the shelves being long bare of Clorox wipes…
the sacred canister we had on hand was simply no match for the Mayor.

And so why do we seem so mystified when folks continue getting that
Wuhan flu??? That COVID mess?
Why do we ponder as to how it keeps making the rounds?

Sharing just seems to happen…even when we try being selfish.
No matter the best precautions, the best-laid plans…sharing is going to happen
whether we want it to or not.

Oh and for the record…that poison ivy…well, it keeps sharing too.

Everything seems to want to share…all the wrong sort of things!!!

So regarding the following verse, just know that God did not mean that we should share
our germs…but other more treasured items and deeds….
the germ part is just part and parcel of being alive.

The good and bad.

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

Hebrews 13:16

about as civilized as a baboon

“I know your race.
It is made up of sheep.
It is governed by minorities.
Seldom or never by majorities.
It suppresses its feelings and beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise.
Sometimes the noisy handful is right.
Sometimes wrong.
But no matter, the crowd follows it.
The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized are secretly kind-hearted,
and shrink from inflicting pain.
But in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority, they don’t
dare to assert themselves.”

Mark Twain

Baboons, despite having rather cute babies, are not known for possessing a
very civilized demeanor.
Baboons are indeed social creatures, just like we are…
They can be, at times, loud and raucous just like us…
Plus they are very territorial…what’s theirs, is indeed theirs…end of sentence.
They are physically strong and can oftentimes be temperamental and even quite mean.

Sounds familiar.
Think rush hour traffic and road rage.

And sadly, much like us, they even possess a darker side…
they are known to be cannibalistic…
meaning that they can kill and eat other primates…also killing and eating their own…

Yep, they eat their own.

Now, where have I heard that before???

‘They will eat their own’…??

Oh, I think it was in reference to our oh so “woke” world.
They are beginning to eat their own.
Think the cancel culture and it’s hearty appetite for those now
wishing to bow out of the culture club…J.K. Rowling comes to mind…

For better or worse I suppose, we and baboons don’t seem to be too far apart.

Besides that whole opposable thumb business, when it comes to primates,
mankind has always prided himself on the fact that he alone has achieved a
sense of civility as compared to the rest of the animal kingdom.

We were civil beings.

And it is in that smugness of civility that we have long touted being ‘greater than’
and far superior than the animal kingdom.
We have rules for heaven’s sake—we have laws, and we even have decorum…
therefore it just makes sense that we are truly a far higher and more intelligent being
than our animal kin—right???

According to the dictionary,

Civilized:

1.at an advanced stage of social and cultural development.
“a civilized society”

2. polite and well-mannered.
“I went to talk to them and we had a very civilized conversation”

Advanced, developed, polite, well mannered…
Certainly higher than baboons—right???
Given the past couple of months, I’m beginning to wonder…


(Woman defecating on an overturned police car/ Reddit)


(Minneapolis riots, The Globe Post)


(The Atlantic)

In the past God overlooked such ignorance,
but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.
He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Acts 17:30-31
New International Version

Bats, civets, pangolins oh my…

“And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time,
it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others;
for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always
the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the
characteristic truths of another.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


(PHYSorg)

Faces only a mother could love…right?!

Or maybe a zoologist or a chiropterologist, or a butcher in a wet market in Wuhan…
or perhaps a people with some serious tastebud issues who frequent said “wet” markets…

Wet markets are just that, wet.

Think fishmongers, chicken farmers, duck farmers, eel farmers, scorpion gatherers, exotic
animal farmers…all buying, selling, butchering, gutting, scaling, bloodletting, preparing
right there together on top of one another while waters, bloods, entrails, feathers, scales, guts
skin all slosh and run together underfoot.
Oh, did I mention all the animal excrement mixing in as well?

Ahhh, the aroma… but do watch your footing lest you slip in the toxic slime.

Some of these tasty morsels are actually illegal to buy, sell or trade…
even by Chinese standards…let alone eat.
And yet…this melange of illness and destruction is allowed to continue.

Such markets are a toxic and deadly cocktail just waiting to happen.

Next, let’s throw in a virology lab also located in Wuhan, China

So tell me, do these animals look appetizing to you?


(The Guardian)


(zoo chat)

I didn’t think so.

These critters may be somewhat cute in their own distinct way and yet for some, they
ring of tasty delicacies.
But this affinity for forbidden foods coupled with a worldwide pandemic
have an odd connection—of which is simply not as cut and dry as it may seem.

The simple excuse is that someone ate a bat, or a civet, or a pangolin and in turn got coronavirus and
so now the world has coronavirus…well that cause and effect just doesn’t seem to hold water.

It’s not a simple case of Colonel Mustard in the study with a candlestick sort of cut and dry.

According to an article from The Guardian,
Prof Stanley Perlman, a leading immunologist at the University of Iowa
and an expert on previous coronavirus outbreaks that have stemmed from animals,
says the idea the link to the Wuhan market is coincidental “cannot be ruled out”
but that possibility “seems less likely” because the genetic material of the
virus had been found in the market environment.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/15/how-did-the-coronavirus-start-where-did-it-come-from-how-did-it-spread-humans-was-it-really-bats-pangolins-wuhan-animal-market

Yet an even more telling tale of breadcrumbs leading to the root of the current evil that is
circumnavigating the globe is found in an article offered by the National Review

It seems that there is a certain Dr. Shi, aka China’s ‘bat woman’,
who has been studying bats and their diseases…
diseases such as SARS and Coronavirus for over a decade.

It seems that this particular lab earned one of the highest world standards
for the study of immunology and viruses—all but for the section of the lab where
Dr. Shi works.
A high rating is a notch in the belt for China– showing the world that China
is a world stage contender when it comes to the study
of immunology and viruses.

Yet Dr. Shi’s portion of the lab received a far lower safety standard rating.
Meaning it is not as stringently regulated as other parts of the lab.
Think a bit more loosey goosey.

According to a very interesting article from The National Review,
“Some scientists aren’t convinced that the virus jumped straight from bats to human beings,
but there are a few problems with the theory that some other animal was an intermediate transmitter
of COVID-19 from bats to humans:

Analyses of the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicate a single spillover event,
meaning the virus jumped only once from an animal to a person,
which makes it likely that the virus was circulating among people before December.
Unless more information about the animals at the Wuhan market is released,
the transmission chain may never be clear.
There are, however, numerous possibilities.
A bat hunter or a wildlife trafficker might have brought the virus to the market.
Pangolins happen to carry a coronavirus, which they might have picked up from bats years ago,
and which is, in one crucial part of its genome, virtually identical to SARS-CoV-2.
But no one has yet found evidence that pangolins were at the Wuhan market,
or even that venders there trafficked pangolins.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/coronavirus-china-trail-leading-back-to-wuhan-labs/

Now one thing we all know, or those of us with any sort of historic sense, is that Communist
nations, and yes even former Communist nations, have never been on the up and up with pertinent
worldwide implication information…

Think Chernobyl…but I digress.

In the mind of China’s Communist Government, it might not be prudent to its world standing interest to
admit a major mea culpa, as in a “my bad” that we kind of let something get out of a lab of ours
that was not exactly of the highest standards.
Rather, let’s blame a nasty farmer’s market and call it a day.

So it might behoove all of us who are now locked down, sick or disrupted to demand China
take responsibility–as well as question why both the US and Canada have provided funding
to such a lab.

More questions than answers if you ask me.
Both articles are very telling and worth your reading.

in a manger

“Augustine drew out the meaning of the manger using an idea that at first
seems almost shocking, but on closer examination contains a profound truth.
The manger is the place where animals find their food.
But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven,
the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves.
This is the food that gives us true life, eternal life.
Thus the manger becomes a reference to the table of God,
to which we are invited so as to receive the bread of God.
From the poverty of Jesus’ birth emerges the miracle in which man’s
redemption is mysteriously accomplished.”

Pope Benedict XVI, p. 68
An Excerpt From
Jesus of Nazareth Infancy


(image courtesy Maxlucado.com)

I love this offering by Pope Emeritus Benedict regarding St. Augustine’s comparison in that a manger
is the place where animals are both sheltered and fed…is, in essence, the same place where mankind
finds both his shelter and food—

That the saving Bread of Life…the body and blood of our Savior, first came to us in the
way of a humble manger on a precarious night and located in a far-flung middle eastern village.

A trough turned crib, resting in an animal’s manger.

A newborn infant becomes both the sustenance and, in turn, Savior of all mankind.
The analogy of feeding and nourishing the soul of man.

We know that birth leads to life and life requires sustenance…
yet in the end, when death does come…we know that death is but a mere formality…

For the one who was born in a humble animal’s stall brings both sustenance
as well as eternal life…

Merry Christmas…
and to our Jewish brethren, Happy Hanukkah.

It’s off the to the Mayor and Sheriff…

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

our neighbors, the warren(s)

“Be cunning, and full of tricks,
and your people will never be destroyed.”

Richard Adams, Watership Down

“Love the animals.
God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled.
Don’t trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness,
don’t work against God’s intent.

Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov”
Richard Adams, Watership Down

We have some neighbors…its a family of 5 and they live outback
someplace behind the house.

We believe there were perhaps 6 or even more, but one of their smallest family
members met a tragic demise…
Our older cat, Peaches, might know something about all of this but we won’t talk
about that today…

Rather we’ll just enjoy those who call our yard their own…

The other day, I went to open the front door and this is who greeted me on the walkway
directly at the bottom of the front porch steps.


(julie cook / 2019)

Next, I went out on the back deck to check on what was cooking on the grill when
something down below caught my eye…
That’s when I spotted him, or is it a her, under my blueberry bushes


(julie Cook / 2019)

Definitely munching on the blueberries…


(julie cook / 2019)

This afternoon I went out front to water my plants when suddenly someone darted
out, right in front of me…


(julie cook / 2019)

That’s when I turned around only to see these two youngsters chasing each other around the yard.


(julie cook / 2019)

Without a vegetable garden these days, I certainly don’t mind our neighbors sharing my yard.


(julie cook / 2019)

Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.
Proverbs 3:29

we can do anything for two weeks… Right?


(the current veterinary hospital in my foryer)

We are four weeks and one day into our 12 week period of recuperation from
the joint fusion surgery.

I think from what I know now, I would opt to continue trying to exhaust the patchwork
fixes as this whole business is proving harrowing for both patient and caregiver.

Throw in having to race to care for ailing grandbabies—and you can just throw the title
exhausted nursemaid in front of my name and call it a day!

We have to drive an hour and a half over to the Veterinary surgeon’s office every
two weeks for a recasting and check on the progress of the leg.
In two weeks they will x-ray and hopefully transition from a club leg
to a smaller wrapping.

Oh did I mention that we had to have a special antibiotic compounded out at a
special Veterinary pharmacy in Arizona as he had a rare infection in the bone?

Have you ever tried administering a syringe of antibiotics into the mouth of a cat
who is less than thrilled that you are squirting things in his mouth that he
has deemed no good?!
Didn’t matter they flavored it tuna…he hated it.

The pain meds fared no better.

When it was all said and done, I would have happily taken the syringe of pain meds
squirted in my mouth!

Two weeks ago, they had put the latest cast on a bit too high up the leg for the patient’s liking…
it hit that tender underneath skin (the leg and whole hip are shaved) and it was too
irritating to bear, plus he had peed all over it…
so…. we had to drive all the way back the following day for a rewrapping.

Have you ever seen a poor cat with a club for a leg attempt to get into a litter box???

Bless his heart is all I can say.

He simply lays down to do his business.
And then proceeds to accidentally step in it with the cast.

And of course, the litter box is actually in the cage he is to be calling home for these 3 months.
Making for some tight quarters.
Of which is a lovely addition to the foyer of our home.

Have you ever tried to vacuum and sweep up after a cat who can’t maneuver properly while
scattering cat litter all over the place?
I vacuum mountains of litter up, that have mounded outside the cage, at least twice a day,
all the while practically standing on my head in the cage.

And since cats, and this one in particular, are fastidious cleaners, he is constantly
whacking himself in the head with the club leg while attempting to groom himself.

Sigh.

So we have one miserable patient.

The nurse isn’t too happy herself.

And speaking of cones…

There are times when one just has to be coneless.
Such as when it comes time to eat.

His head is too far into the cone for him to reach the food…so…
when it’s time to eat and have some water, I let him out and remove the cone.

I’ll let him use his scratching post and simply sleep unencumbered but I must sit with him.
He has attempted several escapes by clumping up the stairs, dragging a club behind him..
or he slips and slides back to our bedroom.
He even attempted to jump up on the bed and fell before I could get to him.

And trying to get comfortable is not always easy

So the Vet told me yesterday, after examining the incision, that there is a
small reopening of the wound on the hoc (aka back knee)—of which is a product of the cast rubbing…
and so it is imperative that he remain as incapacitated as possible.

Again, sigh.

You’ve heard the expression about attempting to herd cats right?
Well trying to keep one locked up 24 /7 is just about as equally impossible.

And so I am reminded of the mantra I used as a young working mother.
We can do anything for two weeks.

As a young wife and mother, I loathed having to work when our son was little.
Unfortunately, we didn’t really have any choice–especially since mine was our only insurance.

I was always very selfish with my time outside of school as I wanted my time away from school
to be dedicated only to both my husband and son.

That’s why I never went on to get any advanced degrees after my bachelor degree.

I didn’t want to go back to school, work and then try to squeeze in being a wife and mom.
Something would be shortchanged and it wasn’t about to be my husband or son.

But I certainly don’t begrudge those gals who have to go it alone and have to balance
so many plates in order to make it all work for their kids—I just have a problem with the
“I can have it all” mentality while thinking there are no casualties left in the wake.

See, I’m old school in that regard—I don’t think women can have it all and be successful
at either work and mothering…let alone being a wife for that matter.
One or the other is going to suffer. That’s just a fact.
And if you think you can be great at each, you’re only fooling yourself.

I can remember once lamenting to a principal, who was my boss but also my friend,
that I never felt I was truly good at being both a teacher and a mother as I was
always going to be “half-ass” at best with both.

I could not be 100% in whatever I did because something, or someone, was always demanding
my time and attention and that time and attention had to be split.

Plus I’m not one who thinks that a nanny, an au pair, a daycare, a sitter can ever do the
same thing a mother can do for her children.

And yet my son had to attend daycare.

I absolutely hated it but as my pediatrician always tried to reassure me,
daycare was the necessary evil in the lives of working parents.

I’d drop our son off each morning, then cry my way to work.

Guilt was my middle name.
As it often is with most working moms.

So once the summers rolled around, I guarded each and every precious second that I was able
just to be a wife and mom.
And that was one of the joys of teaching and being a parent—our schedules were in sync.

But as teachers, we were always required to earn hours towards our recertification
as well as participate in various trainings and workshops each summer.
Many of which would require about a two-week time slot.

So once we seemed settled, I’d find myself once again having to disrupt our “home” time
by getting up extra early, get my sleeping son up and ready for daycare as I’d then drive
an hour over to Atlanta for various teaching workshops at The High Museum of Art
or Oglethorpe University.
Returning back to town around 6.

I hated it but for both of us, but I would tell myself, I, we, can do anything for two weeks.

And so we did.

And now, as we seem to visit the Vet’s office for check-ups and recasting every two weeks…
I continue telling myself, as well as Percy… we can do anything for two weeks…
two weeks at a time.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

prayers for dear Percy


(my little boy / Julie Cook / 2019)

We’ve come a very long way.
A very very long way….in 8 short years


(the dying kitten that found us in 2011 / Julie Cook)


(a cleaned up and slowly healing baby / 2011/ Julie Cook)

If you’re not familiar with how this dear member of our family came to be a part of our family,
here is a link from 2013—two years after he had become ours:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/my-best-friend/

In a nutshell, Percy, short for Perseverance, was thrown from a car,
smacking either a sign or the pavement.

He was a kitten that would fit in the palm of one’s hand.

He had a broken nose.
A broken eye socket.
A smashed mouth full of broken teeth
All of the skin was gone from the left side of his face…
he was covered in maggots and with what I call death flies… all by the time
we had found one another…
or actually by the time he had found us.

Long story short—
he lived!

Despite there being no guarantee he’d live,
he survived and he thankfully thrived.

Hence his name—Perseverance—Percy for short.

It’s amazing what love can do.

It was not easy in the beginning as he had to have rounds and rounds of strong antibiotics
and multiple surgeries while only being a few weeks old.

Over the years, we’ve had to have a tooth pulled here and there…teeth that were still
broken and would eventually become infected.

There have been some urinary issues so there is a special diet.

And due to a lack of teeth, he is more or less an indoor cat…
with the back deck being his backyard.

Plus, after all we’d been through, keeping him inside was a better option for my nerves…
just as I suspect it has been best for all our birds.

A few months back, one morning I noticed Percy walking with a very pronounced limp.
I took him to the Vet and an x-ray later revealed a torn Achilles tendon in his back left leg.

It would be about a $4000 surgery and we’d have to go to either
Auburn’s or Georgia’s Vet Schools for such a specialized surgery.

I went to Georgia and our Vet went to Auburn…sigh.

Neither the money nor time was not on our side due to my having to help on and off over
in Atlanta with our granddaughter Autumn (aka The Mayor)— so I thought we should
keep him as immobile as possible for as long as possible allowing for rest and healing.
Praying for the best.

Low and behold, the leg did heal…well, at least for the most part.

The tendon would never be the same, but blessedly, he was walking without a limp…
however he was now “flat-footed”—cats jump from the ends of their feet…
think off their tiptoes.
Percy was coming up off what I call his back knee, what the Vet calls ‘the hock.’

He had long worn all the fur off of both his back “knees” to this long-standing issue
with both tendons that we were unaware of…
his left leg is the worst of the two “knees” and it recently began to bleed.
The calloused skin was wearing thin.
It could no longer absorb the shock of jumping and landing.

Add in his fastidious licking to the point of being OCD and
he was licking the wound raw.

Another trip to the Vet.

This time she kept him and proceeded with a mini surgery…
cleaning out the wound while attempting to sew the existing skin together.


(Percy with his origianl wrapping following surgery / Julie Cook / 2019)

He kept the bandage on for a few days before jerking it off.

We went back for it to be re-wrapped.

This has now been an on-going, week after week, ordeal…
all over the course of a month.

I’m now changing out the bandages as he’s pulling and biting them off as
fast as we get them back on.

However last night I noticed something troubling.

We were back at the Vets bright and early.

The skin on “the knee” is gone and the tendon is now exposed.

Ideally, the Vet told me that Percy would need to go to Auburn for a skin graft but
with our waiting on a baby to arrive any minute now, that is not an option.
She knows this and told me she would do another surgery.

She’d pull the skin as tight as she could over “the knee”
while stitching it together with stronger sutures.
She would even put him in a cast if she thought it would help.

She then told me she would need to keep him for about a week if not longer…
keeping him in a cage and as still as possible, allowing the surgery to do its job
without him jumping up and down off that knee.

He hates the Vets.
He shakes, is scared and a nervous wreck.
He usually won’t eat if he’s there.

He loves his mommy as he sits in my lap at every opportunity and
snuggles against my back at night.

I left the office and cried the entire drive home.

Percy is more or less my life here at home.

He has decided that whatever is Autumn’s is in turn naturally his.

I think that any time we “rescue” an animal, an animal that happens into our lives on
a wing and a prayer, they become innately intertwined in our beings.

We care for them as babies and we nurse them back to life…practically willing them to live.
And more often than not they, in turn, thrive, making them some of the best pets
we could ever ask for.

I think they truly know the toll their nurturing back to health takes on our own lives,
psyches and hearts, in turn, they are genuinely grateful.

It may be silly for me to ask, but I am asking anyway…I’m asking for prayers for Percy.

Prayers for Percy’s healing of his knee/hock and also for a sense of peace in his spirit this
week while he’s kept away from home, stuck in a cage in a strange place…way out of his
comfort zone.

I’m also asking for prayers for our latest family’s addition to be, baby James.
I pray that he will arrive readily, happy and healthy..and if his mother might add, soon.
Prayers for our daughter-n-law as she prepares to go through this delivery business one more time…

Prayers also for a 14-month old little girl whose neat and tidy little world of
being the single shining light, is about to be turned upside down.

Prayers for mom and dad…and prayers for a worn out grandmother and grandfather!

Thank you!!!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

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+

nothing more to give…

“He that sacrifices to God his property by alms-deeds,
his honor by bearing insults, or his body by mortifications,
by fasts and penitential rigours, offers to Him a part of himself and of what
belongs to him; but he that sacrifices to God his will,
by obedience, gives to Him all that he has,
and can say:
Lord, having given you my will, I have nothing more to give you.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 191
AN Excerpt From
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguiori


(city mural /Nashville / Julie Cook / 2018)

The ins and out in and out of a city…as seen in the lives of the fortunate and unfortunate.


(sign posted within a doorway near an area known for the homeless/ Julie Cook / Nashville/ 2018)


(two images of a bird with a broken wing just off the park where the homeless congrugate
in Nashville / Julie Cook / 2018)


(a very sick dove sits out amongst the throng of 4th of July revalers, over looked and
basicaly ingnored by the enormous crowd / Julie Cook / 2018)


(a couple of wild turkeys and a squirrel resting during a heatwave on the grounds of
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage / Julie Cook / 2018)


(a squirrel pays no attention to the tourists gathered by it’s side at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage/
Julie Cook / 2018)

“But there must be a real giving up of the self.
You must throw it away
“blindly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality:
but you must not go to Him for the sake of that.
As long as your own personality
is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all.
The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether.
Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His)
will not come as long as you are looking for it.
It will come when you are looking for Him.
Does that sound strange?
The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters.
Even in social life,
you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort
of impression you are making.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original:
whereas if you simply try to tell the truth
(without caring twopence how often it has been told before)
you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self,
and you will find your real self.
Lose your life and you will save it.
Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death
of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and
you will find eternal life.
Keep back nothing.
Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.
Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.
Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred,
loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay.
But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

the oddity of the necessity

God wills that I be an active secondary instrument in moving myself toward him.
God is always the primary mover, but he so ordains that we be active,
secondary instruments with him in moving oneself towards grace.
And so the necessity of the spiritual life.

FR. Wade Menezes


(the yard pond with crazy duck / Julie Cook / 2018)

So just around the corner from where I grew up, in a then 1950’s newly sprawling
northern Atlanta suburb…a place where the houses were all built by a single builder
and were all made as look-a-like cookie-cutter houses, there did remain one small
glimpse into of what was here long before urban mania hit the scene…
a peaceful meandering creek and a small hidden pond just behind this boomtown of houses.

It was a small remnant of what once was here in what was once considered “the country”
long before the boom of post-war urban sprawl had taken over.

Growing up, the extent of the “wildlife” that we got to see up close and personal consisted
of the random tadpole and crawfish that lived in the creek,
along with the occasional box turtle that I so desperately wanted to catch and put in a
shoe box while feeding it lettuce all in hopes of carrying it to show and tell…
and of course, there was an endless abundance of helter sketler gray squirrels.

In the past 4 months, having spent more time at my childhood home then I have in the
past 35 years since last calling this house home, I have been floored by the amount of
“wildlife” I’ve actually been privy seeing up close and personal.

Now this area where I grew up is a quickly shrinking quiet tiny blip of peacefulness
in the heart of a booming city.
All childhood landmarks have been long since been torn town making way for the
skyrocketing skyscrapers that have created a new type of tree to this
overgrowing modern-day forest.

Plus many of the cookie cutter homes have been bulldozed away making room for the
desired up and comers choice of mini McMansions….all of which actually are simply
giving way to a new cookie-cutter look of the haves and have-nots of money…
or more accurately that of all things debt, just depending on how one looks at it.

There is a deafening din of planes and helicopters all making their way across the sky
which only blends in with the shrieking sirens echoing off the main arteries
and thoroughfares.

And yet this small shrinking peaceful oasis of a neighborhood is nearly lost in a now
ever-expanding city that has an oddly amazing array of “wilderness”.

I have seen more “wildlife” in this city in the past four months than I have here at my
current more rural, out in the country home, in the past 20 years.

One early morning back in February, I watched a group of 5 deer meandering up the street.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I watched one of the largest snapping turtles, that
I’ve seen in quite a while, making a slow and laborious trek up a driveway.

Last week, while taking my son’s dog out to walk in the yard, she and I both spied a
red fox trotting in a neighbors yard…

And now there is this odd group of crazy looking ducks acting equally as crazy.

There is a corner lot on a neighboring street that has a low spot in the yard that
when it rains, fills with water…water that is slow to be absorbed or evaporate…
especially given with the amount of rain Atlanta has been receiving.

So to drive by, in the big city, watching a group of “city” ducks think that this
small spot of water in a yard is some type of pond is…in a word, hysterical.

These ducks make their way up and down the neighboring streets, waddling along the
busy main thoroughfare, digging along the curb turning up the collected leaves and debris,
in search of bugs.

Neighbors have taken to putting up “Duck Crossing” or “Caution, ducks at play” signs
all along the roadways.

And now I’ve actually witnessed these ducks taking to the “yard pond”—
tails up in the air as they dig with breaks down, in the shallows, looking for,
not the typical fish as they would in a real pond,
but rather it is a literally swallow quest for what I’d imagine being worms and grubs.

It’s almost pitiful watching a duck, beak down tail up, in a collected puddle of
rain water in a yard. The scene screams of lunacy, desperation or both.

Much like what it is we are currently witnessing around this country of ours.
Witnessing lunacy accented by a splash of desperation as the noose tightens around
the necks of those in opposition of the others…
others who cry for more and more diversity while at the same time they
cry out for zero tolerance toward anyone who is found to be in disagreement with
their often perverse take on life.

From the recent story of a restaurant kicking out a patron over the fact that the
owner and staff all happen not to like this particular patron’s boss to now a member
of the US House of Representatives crying for more of the same…as in threatening
the lives and safety of those who dare to think and or vote in what is perceived as
opposition…as in no longer a two party system…
but rather the system of one and one only…
as the shadows of both lunacy and desperation creep in from the past.

There is a madness now taking place in this country as those who are considered
conservative, or a supporter of the president or simply a Republican…
folks that are now each viewed as one who is to be publicly shunned, shamed,
removed, not served, harassed and now… whose very lives are to be threatened.

There is a sinisterness afoot in all of this that is so utterly un-American that it is
frightening.

We the people have always possessed the right to disagree with one another…
since way back in 1776…

And yet we are oddly and sadly finding ourselves living in an Orwellian trend…
a time of calling for a type of “open season” as the cry is sounding
“they’re all fair game” rings across this land which was once yours and mine…
meaning that half of this Nation of ours is fair game to be harangued, abused
as well as publicly lambasted for simply taking the other political path…
a time that is in a word, ludicrous.

Are those who beat their chests as drums for all things uber tolerance and
diversity actually so intolerable and divisive that they dare deem all other
belief systems to be a pariah but that of their own?

We the people know better than this.

Yet in the grand scheme of all that is…Father Menezes reminds us in our
day’s quote of that which is our true aim.

The necessity of a spiritual life as we actively work at seeking His Grace…

A grace that does not harass, harangue, threaten, abuse, hate, demean, ostracize…
but rather sees the necessity in seeking that which is beyond self, beyond man’s
small mindedness.
Putting away all malice, anger, and hate…setting oneself on the Spiritual path
of Truth and not the earthly lies of he who walks in the shadows pitting
mankind against itself…

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.”

Second Timothy 2:15-16