P is for Perseverance

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that?
We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.
We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

Marie Curie


(Percy resting in a basket, notice the shaved back leg / Julie Cook / 2019)

Here’s a brief update regarding our patient.

You may remember that on June 3rd our cat Percy had a joint fusion on his back hock.

He is named Percy for Perseverance…all because since a kitten, he came to us
in dire straights when we found him he found us
after having been thrown from a moving car.

He was broken, bruised and dying.

But once we went to work…he not only survived, he actually thrived.

There have been some mouth surgeries and teeth issues along the way
but the biggest stumbling block has been this back hock.

We believe this hock business is due to an old injury with his leg…
and because of the injury, he had worn the skin down
on the hock (aka knee) to the tendon…meaning the tendon was exposed.

Months of all sorts of treatments and minor surgeries didn’t help…
so we had to bite the bullet and pay a small fortune to a Veterinary surgical group
over north of Atlanta for a joint fusion surgery.

It meant a 12-week confinement and life in a cast and a cage and a cone.

Well come Monday we will be 9 weeks in.

Two weeks ago they removed the cast.

I realize that up to 6 weeks in a cast leads to atrophy of the leg muscle…and yes things
can smell rather ripe from having been closed up…
but I knew enough to know that I smelled infection.

The Surgeon told me to keep the cone on and let the leg be exposed to air.

Problem was it was oozing and bleeding.

After 3 days home, I called in a bit of a panic, because Percy was in obvious misery and pain
as his foot looked black. Gangrene fears set into my overactive mind.

They told me to see if I could get him to my local vet before driving the
hour and a half it would take to get to their practice.

I took him to our vet.
The doctor told me to put him on the floor so he could watch what he did with the leg.
He held it up and wouldn’t put weight on it.
Plus the vet agreed with me, he too smelled infection.

Following surgery, they had actually done a biopsy on the leg and found that Percy
had a bone infection.
It was a resistant infection to most antibiotics so he had to have a special antibiotic
I had to order from Arizona.

I think he spit out more than I could get in him via the syringe.

Our Vet was betting that Percy had never gotten over the initial infection.

And so now for every day since our first visit back, two weeks now,
Percy has had to go in for a shot.
And in order to give his body a break, they are now rotating with pills.
And thankfully, he is actually now walking using the leg.

The Vet explained that bone infections are difficult to treat therefore the
treatment regime can be lengthy.
He was also a bit concerned by Percy’s depressed appearance.

So despite the surgeon’s demands that he remain coned in a cage the entire 12 weeks,
our vet told me to give him some freedom.
Of which has made a tremendous difference in his demeanor.

Percy has become a bit of a rock star at the Vet’s office as they all great him the
minute we walk through the door.
We don’t sign in and simply head to the available exam room.

All the vets in the practice know Percy and all the vet techs flock in to visit.

Percy is not the typical cat.
I’ve always said he’s more dog-like than cat.
Personable, loving and intuitive.

Rescues are like that.

Our visits are short and sweet, in and out…only for us to return the next day for
another dose.

His hock is still bleeding so I continue treating it and wrapping it.
He continues to spend each night in the cage with the cone but I try to give
him a break throughout most of the day as long as I am home,
allowing him to lounge on the back deck…
As long he doesn’t insist on chewing on his bandaged leg…which if given any
unobserved time, he would gnaw it off it left to his own devices.
And when I leave the house, it’s back in the cage.

And hence the cone…

At this point, I don’t know if we will ever get the bleeding under control.
And at this rate, I wonder about the infection.

When I walked into the vets that first afternoon, with an infection smelling patient,
I felt an overwhelming sense of desperation and I was in tears.
I practically begged our vet to help us.

As Percy’s mom, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for his well being.

I explained to the Vet that had I known what I know now, we never would have had the surgery.
I would have never put him through this misery.
Nor would I have done this to us and what all the rehab is requiring at home.

Problem is that I bet the infection set in while the tendon was exposed.

So we’re living with a catch 22 sort of scenario.

We will head back to see the surgeon in two weeks.
Who will probably x-ray and fuss that I’ve not been diligent with the cage and cone.

But I told this young surgeon during our last visit that if I had to do it all again,
I would have exhausted all other options.
His response was “he’s just a cat, what’s 12 weeks?”

I thought then and there that this guy, Vet surgeon or not, doesn’t ‘get it’…
he’s not just a cat.
He’s more than that.

He’s overcome so much in his 8 years.
And by gosh, I’m not going to let him go backward now.

Just being able to sit with me again in our chair, each evening, wrapped up in a soft throw
has done wonders for his disposition…giving him a small glance of our normal routine.

I don’t care if you are a human or an animal…a regular regime of life goes
a tremendous way toward healing…

Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
true faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
Lord, that I may carry out
Your holy and true command

St Francis

tales of the asinine…Vol. I

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
Søren Kierkegaard


(the oddity of a tiki flaming pineapple in the heart of Atlanta, absurd or odd / Julie Cook / 2019)

According to Merriam Webster, the word asinine means:

asinine: adjective
as·i·nine | \ ˈa-sə-ˌnīn \
1 : extremely or utterly foolish or silly

Utterly foolish or silly…

I think I’ll opt for such words as utterly foolish, idiotic, absurd, ridiculous
and really really stupid.

My daughter-n-law and I were running a few errands yesterday when she asked if I
had heard the news story about the police officers, out in Arizona, who were visiting
a Starbucks and were asked to leave because another patron told management that the
presence of the police made them nervous.

I responded that yes, yes I had heard that story and it had to be just about the most
idiotic thing I’d ever heard…

Incensed all over again, I told her it was just one more tale in the endless sea of lunacy
in a long line of “the tales of the asinine”…

Her response was that we should start writing a series entitled “the asinine journals, or
perhaps chronicles, of our times…”

For you see, I’m the type of person who happens to feel safer whenever I’m out and about
and police, or any other first responders, happen to be patronizing the same establishment
I am.

As in…when I’m out, say, eating a hearty breakfast at a Cracker Barrell and
there happens to be a table full of firemen also enjoying breakfast–
all the while as the crackle of their radios with the latest breaking news
echos around their table, I feel safe in knowing that should I suddenly have a
heart attack or choke on my Sunrise Sampler or lest a fire breaks out in the kitchen,
it’s all good.

Cops getting coffee in a Starbucks says to me that no idiot is going to come busting in
hoping to pull off an armed robbery…and if they do, the trauma should be short-lived
as the cops would be on the idiot(s) like white of rice.

Just an added bit of peace of mind while venturing out into our ever-growing
crime-ridden world.

But no, instead we have to have some idiot who tells a coffee barista that they just don’t
feel safe ordering a coffee mocha latte while some police officers are doing the same.
And so the equally idiotic coffee barista tells the officers to leave.

And so now tell me something…
God forbid that later, the barista should have to call 911 due to some sort of robbery
or calamity, how would those same officers feel about having to respond?

My guess would be that because they are duty bound,
they would respond regardless of any slight or offense because that’s what cops do.

And for all those naysayers, snowflakes and Antifa folks out there…
yes, there are bad cops, bad soldiers, bad doctors, bad priests, bad lawyers, bad teachers…
as in there are simply bad people out there who do bad things to good people…

Just like there are good cops, good soldiers, good doctors, good priests, good lawyers,
good teachers…as in good people trying to do good things for other people.
Good people who try to do their utmost for those they serve or for those who they
simply interact with on a day to day basis.

We live in a balance of good vs evil.
Plain and simple.

Good people doing good things for and by other people.

So for some police officers to come into a Starbucks to get a cup of coffee or a
cup of tea or whatever, only to be asked to leave simply because they are cops who
happen to make one fellow patron uneasy, is in a word, asinine.

Yes, the Starbucks Corporation has since issued an apology.
The Corporation, not necessarily the individual store or community.

Yet does a corporate apology make this incident now better or okay?

These sorts of little incidences keep happening all over the country.

Police are being victimized and even ambushed and murdered simply because they are
police officers.

Just yesterday, a sheriff’s deputy from Hall County, a part of the city of Gainesville, Ga
was shot and killed by four teens as he stopped them for having stolen a car and for their
involvement in burglaries.

A 28-year-old young man, a deputy sheriff who was two years younger than my own son.
He was both a young husband and father.

From convenient stores to restaurants—when policemen, State Troopers or deputies come into
various businesses in order to buy something and are told to leave all because someone else feels
uncomfortable in their presence is, well, absolutely an absurdity.

Yet our culture has fallen into some sort of odd ‘guilty by association’ mentality.

A police officer is seen on camera hitting, kicking, shooting a suspect…in most cases
images that are publicized by our media of the suspect which is a black male.
And so we now have a tremendous backlash from the black community that they are being targeted.

This goes back to the fact that we do indeed have rotten apples, those known as the bad guys pretending
to be good guys.

But that does not ever mean that all officers are bad or monsters or aimed at targeting
any particular community of people…

Yet good luck convincing the progressive left and liberal media of anything other than.

And so we have a culture now screaming henny penny the sky is falling over
what should be common sense…as we find ourselves living in the time
of the asinine.

Shame on Starbucks and any other business that shuns our first responders.

Those same responders you pray will come to your aide when you’re trapped in an
overturned and burning car or should some crazed madman invade your home and
terrorize you and your family…you can only hope and pray the police will get there
as fast as they can…lest you lose your life.

The good becomes bad and the bad becomes good…
as a culture slowly loses her common sense.

Volume II of The Asinine will follow tomorrow…

For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

Proverbs 2:6

freedom or security or maybe both

“Anyone who can appease a man’s conscience can take his freedom away from him.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Grand Inquisitor

That unmistakable musty smell of old books and papers is still lingering in my nose
despite the needed shower in order to purge my skin of the accumulated dust and debris
from a previous life now clinging to my now older self.
The allergies are revving up as I sneeze, I mean type.

We’ve spent the last three days in our attic emptying it of its hoard of boxes and stuff…
most of which has been sitting in the same spot where it was deposited some 20 years ago
when we packed everything up from our first house before departing and moving
to where we are now.

Being the parent to an only child is both blessing and curse.
The curse is found in the saving of each and every little shred of his existence.
What that only child wore, played with, made or accomplished in school.

Treasures of the heart, but way too much stuff.

Throw in the boxes that have cradled mom’s china-head dolls, her tea set from childhood,
three generations of toys and stuffed animals, photographs upon photos,
outdated electronic this and that…add in those boxes of the well-read and dearly loved
books both from those who have called this house home as well as those who have not—

And so we have had a real mess!

I did, however, manage to rescue a few books left over from college.

You see that book sitting on top of my lap?…that Dostoevsky book?
And yes it does smell.

It is a paperback book of the Notes from the Underground and The Grand Inquisitor?
Well, you should know that that single little musty dog-eared book got me in a bad spot
during my sophomore year in college.

I’ve mentioned this tale before but I think given our current day and time, a revisit
just might be warranted.

But first a bit of background regarding the tale of the book…

According to Britanica.com

Dostoevsky’s novel The Brother’s Karamazov is most famous for three chapters that
may be ranked among the greatest pages of Western literature.

Brothers Dmitry, Ivan, Alyosha and the illegitimate Smerdyakov.
Within the story, there is another story…a poem written by Ivan…
that being The Grand Inquisitor.

In “Rebellion,” Ivan indicts God the Father for creating a world in which children suffer.
Ivan has also written a “poem,” “The Grand Inquisitor,” which represents his response to
God the Son.
It tells the story of Christ’s brief return to earth during the Spanish Inquisition.
Recognizing him, the Inquisitor arrests him as “the worst of heretics” because,
the Inquisitor explains, the church has rejected Christ.
For Christ came to make people free, but, the Inquisitor insists,
people do not want to be free, no matter what they say.
They want security and certainty rather than free choice, which leads them to error and guilt.
And so, to ensure happiness, the church has created a society based on “miracle, mystery,
and authority.”
The Inquisitor is evidently meant to stand not only for medieval Roman Catholicism but
also for contemporary socialism.
“Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” contain what many have considered
the strongest arguments ever formulated against God, which Dostoyevsky includes so that,
in refuting them, he can truly defend Christianity.
It is one of the greatest paradoxes of Dostoyevsky’s work that his deeply Christian
novel more than gives the Devil his due.

Here is another look behind this troublemaker of mine…
a quick tutorial thanks to Sparknotes.

I didn’t have Sparknotes back in my day.

If I had, then maybe I would have tempered my more impulsive and defiant self
by having perused the gist of the story before meeting it cold turkey and in turn, going
rogue on a most liberal atheistic professor who pretty much thought he “got me” and my head on a platter.

The story is based on the notion that Christ has come back to earth.
He came to Seville, Spain where he performed miracles and was embraced by the people.
But the head of the Spanish Inquisition comes to town and has Christ immediately arrested.
The story then proceeds with the Inquisitor leading the majority of dialogue of the tale.

The Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that he cannot allow him to do his work on Earth,
because his work is at odds with the work of the Church.
The Inquisitor reminds Christ of the time, recorded in the Bible,
when the Devil presented him with three temptations, each of which he rejected.
The Grand Inquisitor says that by rejecting these three temptations,
he guaranteed that human beings would have free will.
Free will, he says, is a devastating, impossible burden for mankind.
Christ gave humanity the freedom to choose whether or not to follow him,
but almost no one is strong enough to be faithful, and those who are not will be damned forever.
The Grand Inquisitor says that Christ should have given people no choice,
and instead taken power and given people security instead of freedom.
That way, the same people who were too weak to follow Christ, to begin with,
would still be damned, but at least they could have happiness and security on Earth,
rather than the impossible burden of moral freedom.
The Grand Inquisitor says that the Church has now undertaken to correct Christ’s mistake.
The Church is taking away freedom of choice and replacing it with security.
Thus, the Grand Inquisitor must keep Christ in prison,
because if Christ were allowed to go free,
he might undermine the Church’s work to lift the burden of free will from mankind.

The Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that it was Satan, and not Christ, who was in the right during this exchange.
He says that ever since the Church took over the Roman Empire,
it has been secretly performing the work of Satan, not because it is evil,
but because it seeks the best and most secure order for mankind.

Our professor was young, probably 30 if that, teaching a room filled full of late teens and early
20 somethings.
He came to class barefoot.

This was the height of the preppy fashion trend…of which I embraced.
A barefoot instructor was a throwback to about 10 years prior add
my being a conservative Reaganite and I did not have a settled
sense of anything good.

He sat cross-legged, Indian style, on the classroom’s generic desk.
Some day’s he’d take us outside to sit in the grass.

He’d wax and wane over the advanced literature we were to read and discuss.

He rarely gave grades but when he did, what I received were A’s and B’s.
Of which was pretty good for me and I was most pleased.
We were reading challenging tales…some of which captivated me.
If it hadn’t been such…I would have lost interest quickly and then struggled.

He announced on day 1 that he was raised Catholic but was now an ardent Atheist.

“Great”— I felt my eyes roll within my head.

I was a 20-year-old who, despite living that hard balance of lose and large in college,
I was also a conservative and an ardent Christian,
.
For when it came to push or shove, I knew what was my Truth.

When it came to the end of the quarter, we read Dostoyevsky’s book.

Our illustrious professor took on the role of Inquisitor, of course, in the open class discussion
as I embraced that of Christ.

For each dig he offered to the class, I spoke up a counter thought.
For I took on the role of defense attorney for a man who truly needed no defending
but I wasn’t about to let this flippant professor spew falsehoods to a captured
audience.

The final exam was based on the story.
I wrote feverishly for the allotted 3 hours examination time.
I turned in the infamous blue book, walked out, got in my car, and in turn drove home
for the summer.

When the grades were mailed out, as they were back then since these were the days before computers,
my report noted that I had received a D in my Lit class.

WHAT!!!!!!????

I immediately called the University and eventually made my way to the English Department where I was told
that my professor had resigned his post and left to teach in Arizona…taking all of his records with
him.

That was that.

No recourse.
No petition.
No action news interviews.
No legal action as we see so often today.
No “one call, that’s all.”

My GPA dropped and I was crestfallen because it wasn’t that great, to begin with.
My mother knew I had been cheated and therefore did not say a word about the “D”
And I had been cheated for one reason and one reason only, my faith.

I know now that this was to be the beginning of what we currently see today—
that being a staggering indoctrination and persecution of the Christian faith
on college campuses.

And that single frustrating event came flooding back today when I opened that musty old box
full of books.

And so I flipped through the book.
There was underlining and pen scrawled notes in the section dedicated to Notes From the Underground…
“Pope [Alexander] says that if you want to see how to run a society, look at an anthill”
Hummmmm…

As I went back and looked over the premise of the story, I was struck by what the Inquisitor tells
Christ….that the Chruch is seeking “the best and most secure order for mankind”
and I find that exceedingly telling.

Just look at the Episcopal Chruch and the Chruch of England—both desperately trying to appease
man while turning a blind eye to God’s word.
Other denominations now follow suit.

“Satan was right,” the Inquisitor tells Christ—who only politely listens while remaining silent.

With our having been given free will…of which the Inquisitor sees as an inherently impossible burden
for mankind, he ignorantly believes that it is his sole responsibility to thwart what God, and in turn Christ,
afforded man. He does so in the name of the Chruch.
The Bride fighting the Bridegroom for dominance.

Hummmmm…

We see that it is the Inquisitor who knows what is best for humankind, not so much God nor His Son.

Historians agree that Dostoevsky is noted for having a canny understanding of the psychology of man.
In part because of his life and upbringing.
He is also oddly prophetic regarding the future of Russia and her undoing Revolution–
a theme that runs throughout much of his work as he often foretells of a great fall and of man’s ultimate
demise as there is always the struggle between free will and what is perceived as security…
as in what does man really want for his life and living?

I for one find Dostoevsky works most telling for our own day and time.
So much so that I need to reread this “poem”
Because it seems we are currently living the life of the Inquisitor as we prefer a sense of security,
a guarantee of living life in the 21st century rather than that of choice.
The choice of eternal life or eternal death.

In the end, Christ rises to kiss the Inquisitor as He takes His leave.

May He not take His leave of us.

If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not,
let your peace return to you.
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words,
leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.

Matthew 10:13-15

one more word…

America is the only country ever founded on a creed.
G.K. Chesterton


(images of the flag flying over the American Cemetery in Normandy / Julie Cook / 2018)

I want to offer one last reflection regarding our visit to the Amercian Cemetery in Normandy
before moving on to other thoughts.

When we arrived at the US cemetery after a day of exploring battlefields, the “enemy’s” cemetery
as well as occupied villages and towns, it was now shortly before 4PM.

Each afternoon at 4PM an honor guard makes its way to the American flag flying watch over the
thousands of perfectly aligned crosses and stars.

Taps is played as the flag is lowered and folded.
The flag is lowered each and every day just as it has been lowered now for the past 74 years
that the cemetery has been an official US cemetery on foreign soil.

We had been wandering about the graves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of graves—
almost unaware that we were now carrying a heavy sense of deep sorrow.

We were told that it was the state of West Virginia that suffered the greatest number of
losses during the invasion, so we looked for the names of the states whose young men are
resting under the rows of crosses and stars.

We saw names hailing from states such as Kansas, Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…
and yes West Virginia.

Just like in most cemeteries, there is a solemn quiet that carries itself throughout
the air.
Whispers or simple silence is the unspoken rule of etiquette.

As the clock struck 4 PM, as the honor guard approached the flag,
all the wandering visitors stopped wandering.

Next, all present turned toward the flag and were suddenly very still
as ball caps were removed from heads, despite the rain…
as now both young and old automatically lifted hands to either place over hearts or
lift to the head in salute.

Something very powerful was taking place.

Reverence and respect were taking place…
laced with humility as well as gratitude.

Oh how far this land of ours has fallen from those hallowed ideals.

I pray we find them again…soon.

If we ever forget that we are one nation under God,
then we will be a nation gone under.

Ronald Reagan