refuge found in a memory (re-run number 3–it’s that good)

“The Lord manifests Himself to those who stop for some time in
peace and humility of heart.
If you look in murky and turbulent waters,
you cannot see the reflection of your face.
If you want to see the face of Christ,
stop and collect your thoughts in silence,
and close the door of your soul to the noise of external things.”

St. Anthony of Padua


(a statue to St.Anthony in the small chapel of St. Blasiuskirche,
Salzburg, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

When I first read the quote that I’ve opted to use today,
I was immediately transported to a different time and place…
and to a previous post.

It was 2012 and I had recently retired from 31 years of teaching—
I was also preparing
to embark on an arduous journey with my elderly father…
how arduous, I had no idea,
but I knew life was changing and I knew it was not going to
be for the better.

My aunt, another friend, and I had all embarked on a bit of an adventure
during that fall of 2012.
It was a wonderful trip which holds some very precious and
treasured memories…especially since my aunt is no longer with us.

Yet during that trip, there were a couple of very special moments
that have stayed near to my heart…
and one thing I’ve learned over the years,
adventures offer lessons.

And so I looked back at that original post and found
that the serenity that I had experienced
during that adventure, and later in the writing of the post,
I realized that I greatly needed to relive, as well as share, again,
that peaceful gratitude I found one quiet fall afternoon.

And so here is that post from October 2013 about a warm fall
afternoon in 2012 in Salzburg, Austria:

The deep groaning and creaking sound of the huge ancient
wooden door being pulled open echoes loudly throughout the small
yet cavernous chapel.
It must be the vaulted ceiling helping to carry the sound deep
into the hallowed room.
The burning votives cast an otherworldly glow.
There is a lingering scent of incense mixed with the musty dampness.

There is a lone figure, an older woman, kneeling at one of the front pews…
her rosary woven through her fingers, moving ever so slightly,
bead per bead as she silently makes her petitions before
the small statue.

I once heard it put that religion was just something for
old women and children.
Pity that…as that must mean that older women and children are the only ones
who “get it”…everyone else must be too vain, too prideful,
and too arrogant to truly understand.

My eyes begin to adjust to the lack of lighting as the cool air
is a welcomed feeling against the late afternoon Autumn warmth outside.
I walk slowly, quietly, reverently down the small aisle,
my hand resting on the smooth wooden end cap of each pew,
as I make my way to my seat of choice.
I kneel slightly, the genuflection of reverence,
before slipping into the pew.

I’m not Catholic but raised Anglican–yet I oddly welcome
and greatly appreciate the nuances
of ancient worship–-more than would be expected from my raising.
There is a deep mystery that I believe many in our mainstream churches miss.
This Christianity of ours is an ancient faith but that is too
sadly forgotten in this age of the technologically savvy megachurch.
The ancient components of worship seem lost on those now sitting
in stadium type seating waiting, as if ready for the latest blockbuster to begin,
to be wowed not by participation but by passive viewing.

Despite my pained attempts to muffle my movements,
each step, each rustle of my jacket, causes deep reverberations
through this ancient room,
I feel very conspicuous even though just one other person is present.
She never wavers from her intense focus to her prayerful conversation.
She is oblivious to my presence.

I take in my surroundings before dropping to my knees.
The chapel is hundreds of years old as worship here dates back to the 1200s.
Dark wood paneling with cream-colored walls.
Arched vaults line the ceiling with stone columns systematically placed,
acting as supports, creating the aisles throughout the room.
This is not one of the beautifully bright and light
Rococoesque churches of Austria that the tourists clammer to enter in order
to view famous paintings,
statues and frescos with ornate altars boasting a multitude of plaster cherubs
heralding glad tidings.
This chapel is small, dark, ancient, and humble.
Perhaps that is why I was drawn inside.

I slip down to my knees as I make the sign of the cross.
I begin my “conversation”—-it is one of thanksgiving and gratitude
as a tremendous sense
of warmth and contentment engulfs me.
I then begin my petitions—-not for myself,
but for those I love who are not with me on this particular journey.
After some time, I open my eyes.
How long had I been praying?
I rest in the moment as a tremendous sense of safety and peace washes over me–-
it is almost palpable.

Am I a tourist or a pilgrim? I like to think that when I travel,
I am a pilgrim.
I want to not merely observe, but rather, I want to partake…
I want to be a part of each moment in time.
I am not here to watch an old Austrian woman in prayer,
watching from the shadows of an ancient chapel as some sort of
voyeuristic individual
or as someone viewing animals in an enclosure,
but rather I want to pray beside her to the same God who hears
each of our prayers.
I am in communion with her even though she never glances my way.
I want to appreciate this chapel that is a part of her daily life,
wishing I too had such a special and reverent place of retreat.

The history here is so old as countless individuals previously
have gathered here to worship, to seek, to lament, to rejoice.
I slowly rise from my knees slipping out of the pew.
I make my way to the small alter to pick up a fresh votive.
I gently touch the fresh wick to one of the existing burning flames–
my hand slightly shakes.
I feel the warm heat against my cheeks rising from the candles.
I place my lit votive in an empty slot silently thanking Saint Anthony
and God for this time of communion with not only them but with
this woman who never seems to notice my presence.

I am grateful.
I slip a few coins into the small metal locked box by the door.
I make my way back outside, into the light.
It almost hurts my eyes as it is now so sunny and bright.
The sounds of the throngs of people on the streets are almost painful to my ears.
This is Oktoberfest, the streets and alleyways are teeming with a sea of people.

For a brief moment, I had a glimpse of the Divine.
I feel different for the encounter.
Changed.
Better.
Not in an arrogant sort of way but more in the way that I have been fortunate
to be privy to something so rich and so special.
I look out at all of the throngs of people reveling in this historic and exciting
city during this raucous time. I slightly smile inward thinking that I hold a special
secret that no one else knows…no one other than that older woman back in the chapel
and myself.

Weird things happen

“That proves you are unusual,” returned the Scarecrow;
“and I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration
in this world are the unusual ones. For the common
folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.”

L. Frank Baum, The Land of Oz


(a fallen persimmon / Julie Cook / 2021)

Yesterday I thought I had an entire post dedicated to my trappings through the woods
while sharing my excitement over knowing fall was soon at hand because of all
the persimmons I found ripening on the trees….

I thought I had written that we all knew it’s getting to be fall when I was out
spotting persimmons.
I also thought I had written about how we just needed to forget about life’s madness
for just a bit while we simply enjoyed a brief respite out of doors,
albeit for just a minute or two.

I had a bunch of different pictures of persimmons that I’d uploaded to the post
that I wanted to share.

And so this morning, just like every morning, I grabbed my phone since
I use my WP app in order to publish my posts as I grab my coffee,
and so I thought after it showed “published” I was good to go.

It wasn’t until I finally sat down this afternoon
(yesterday if you’re reading this today) and pulled up the blog that I
saw the bulk of the post was MIA.

Huh?
The post looking at me was not the post I last saw last night…
Not the post that I had saved in order to publish the following day.
It was woefully incomplete…
Where’d what I’d written and uploaded go??

Well, who the heck knows.
So ode to the WP gremlins.

And so today, I had decided that I wanted to write a scathing post
about what our past great military brass—leaders such as Washington,
Grant, Nimitz, Bradley, Pershing, Patton, McArthur, Eisenhower,
Powell, and even ‘Stormen’ Norman…what would these men who were tried
in the fires of the horrors of war think?…
What would these men think about the likes of what we’re
stuck with today????—
Stuck with a set of currently woke, painfully politically correct,
inept, blind and deaf, treasonous military leaders???!!!!

Can anyone say following the correct chain of command?
Can anyone say court-martial???
Can anyone say treason???
Can anyone say sleeping with the enemy??

So instead of that needed post…we’ll just go back to persimmons.

Persimmons harken to a gentler life…
No treason found thankfully in a persimmon.

(***all images are various ripening persimmons/ Julie Cook / 2021)

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

Psalm 145:5

Happy Mother’s Day to my son…now that’s a switch

“A mother is the truest friend we have,
when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us;
when adversity takes the place of prosperity;
when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us,
still will she cling to us,
and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels
to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace
to return to our hearts.”

Washington Irving


(“mom” with her two lambs…The Mayor and The Sheriff / Greg Cook /2021)

Okay..
so I’ve said it before..there were three primary women who
were integral in making me into the person I am today…

First there was my birth mother (and NO I do not subscribe to this
latest woke nonsense and crap of “birthing person”…total BS!!)

I had a birth, or rather biological, mother who gave me up for adoption in 1959.
Next I had an adopting mother who came along in 1960.
(and no AOC, planned parenthood does not help out in that area contrary
to your foolish line of thinking)

My adopted mom did the long haul hard work.
She went through diapers, terrible twos, potty training…and Lord knows
and bless her heart, adolescence.

Yet sadly, she left me in 1996 when cancer marked her name.

Lastly I had an adopted godmother who came along in 1974—she picked up the
spiritual pieces…working meticulously until her death several years ago.
And let me just say, if you don’t have that kind of person in your life…
find her–a Christian mother who will guide you…

Throw in my two grandmothers (adopted) and I had some great ground work.

I, in turn, became a mom in 1988 to our only son Brenton.
We were going to name him Collin after my godpoppa, but
the name Brenton spoke to my husband…and after an arduous birth,
the nurse turned to me and asked me what was to be the name of this
new son of ours and all I could muster
was…”ask my husband what he wants…”
and so Brenton was his name-o….

As life would have its way, we discovered that we were actually very
fortunate to be able to have just the one child.

So let’s just fast forward to today…our 32 year old son being dad to
both the Mayor and the Sheriff.

I must say that I have absolutely marveled over how our son
has grown into the role of being both father
and dad.

And so just maybe…. this should be more of a father’s day post…
but since this is my day, mother’s day…I’m going to focus
on what makes me a mom…
and that would be our son and now our grandkids.

Recently, our son took off a day from work in order to
spend the entire day with his 2 year old son, aka the Sheriff.

It was the Sheriff’s 2nd birthday and since birthday number 1 was
during the height of lockdown pandemic, our son wanted to make certain
that birthday number two was special.

It matters not that the Sheriff probably won’t ever recall birthday
number two.
What matters is that the tales will transcend time that his dad said
“no” to work just so he could spend time with his young son.

Now that is what I call putting one’s priorities into place!

I am a firm believer that we grow our children…
We nurture them, care for them, feed them, clean them, clothe them,
teach them, instruct them, defend them…
Our sons need fathers.
Our daughters need fathers.

And I dare you to argue with me otherwise.
So don’t mess with mama bears….just saying

I know not all family situations are ideal…
mothers must be fathers and fathers must be mothers…
But our kids need balance.

They need both female nurturing and they need strong male guidance.

Call me old fashioned, call me out of touch, but I’ll tell you one thing…
balance…male and female…it works!!

So happy mother’s day to all the moms and dads…
as well as to grandparents…along with the aunts and uncles
and to all those godparents out there filling
that spiritual role!

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

what’ll ya have?

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
W. Somerset Maugham


(a welcoming image as seen from out of my car window / Julie Cook 2020)

If you’re familiar with either Atlanta or Athens, Georgia, you no doubt know about
The Varsity.

The Varsity is as synonymous with Atlanta and Georgia as is Coca Cola.
The snappy “What’ll ya have?!” is equally synonymous as that is how each
counter customer has been met at The Varsity since its inception in 1928.

This anchoring mainstay has weathered the ravages of time and has managed to
survive when other seemingly enduring institutions have given way to the various burdens
of fickled consumerism.

The Varsity was the drive-in restaurant dream of a man named Frank Gordy.
Ironically this 1928 drive-in was born the same year as my dad,
So I’m certainly not surprised that my dad had a life long affinity with this
car hop ladened hamburger / hotdog joint.
From that of a hungry young boy to that of cash strapped college student whose dorm
was within walking distance of this iconic drive-in, my dad loved his “Varsity.”

And so the irony has never been lost on me that thirty years later,
the Athens drive-in was within walking distance from my sorority House in Athens.

It was the place of late night exam runs.
It was the place you went after your date had brought you home… or…
it was the place you went after you dropped your date off at her dorm or sorority house…
each hoping not to run back in to the other…
It was, and is, the ritual place of both pre and post football game meals.

This was the case for both me and dad…spanning the course of separating decades.

The funny thing is that it’s just that one of us went to Tech and the other went to Georgia.
The two schools known for their good old fashioned hate.
Two rival schools who love to hate one another but who are bound together by a love
for classic Georgia cheap eats.

So yes, grease dripping from onion rings, hand cut french fries, chili dogs and fried
peach pies running throughout both the veins of me and Dad is the ultimate
comforting calling of “home”…
Not the greatest of foods…not the healthiest nor always the tastiest…
but there is just something to be said for traditional consistency and staying power.
The Varsity has both.

Fast forward to this past week.

It was spring break for many school systems…
Our daughter-n-law was blessedly out of school.
We thought we’d volunteer to keep the Mayor for a day or two—
splitting up the madness at their home from having both the
Sheriff and Mayor constantly under foot.

And so, in this new outskirts of Athens home of ours,
it only seemed fitting that we had to pass the torch, bringing forth a right of passage
by taking the Mayor to The Varsity.


(the Mayor visiting during “spring break” visits the Varsity with mom and da)

The Mayor is three years old.
In her young life, she’s already been a time or two to the Varsity in downtown Atlanta…
Her dad took her.

Her dad, our son, spent his own time with his granddad joyfully dining many times
at Atlanta’s Varsity, making lasting memories.
He thought he would be the first to introduce his daughter, this young member
of our clan to the tradition of good ol fashioned grease…however…
I happen to know that our memories really begin to percolate to the surface
at or about the age of three.
So despite her ‘dada’ thinking he was the first…
I’m banking on this latest trip being the visit that will stick.

“What’ll ya have…What’ll ya have…”
Two dogs, walking all the way
A sack of rags, and an FO– or maybe a PC
(aka, two loaded hot dogs, an order of onion rings, and a frosted orange…an orange sherbet
based drink or chocolate milk over ice)

interesting musings—both good and bad…

“If you take temptations into account,
who is to say that he is better than his neighbour?
A comfortable career of prosperity,
if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so.”

William Makepeace Thackeray


(Eco Canada header)

Okay—I’m back home from having watched over a sickly Mayor for the past couple of days.
The Sheriff shared his viral infection with his sister and these sort of sharings preclude
anyone from attending daycare while mom and dad attempt to work…thus—
in walks “mom”

“mom” is now tired and has some of that “cold” floating around in her head shared
by both the Mayor and Sherrif…
Yet before much more time passed us by,
I wanted to share a few observations that I’ve taken in
over the past couple of days…

Firstly, I saw this today on a Catholic site which got me thinking…

There’s good news and bad news.

In 1964, a Benedictine monk named Hubert
van Zeller wrote that “the prevailing weakness
among Christians of today” is the fact that we
see the apparent hopelessness of the situation
in our world…think we can’t do anything to
change it…and lose our effectiveness as
witnesses of Christ and His Church.

So that’s the bad news.

But here’s the good news.

We can do something to change the
current situation, and it starts at home.

“starts at home”…haven’t we heard that before?!

The other thing that caught my eye was on Sunday.

I was on my way to Atlanta, leaving town when I passed by a little country
church headed my way to the interstate…
the church had a sign that read “Beware Marananta”

Now I know that I was not raised in the Baptist fold and from all I know, Maranatha simply
referred to a choir, thus this little foreboding warning piqued my interst.

And so I tucked away this little obscure warning into the back of my mind, with the intent of
investigating such once I had a bit of quiet time to delve further.

And so this is what I discovered.

Maranatha
(1 Corinthians 16:22 ) consists of two Aramean words, Maran’athah, meaning,
“our Lord comes,” or is “coming.”
If the latter interpretation is adopted, the meaning of the phrase is,
“Our Lord is coming, and he will judge those who have set him at naught.”
(Compare Phil 4:5; James 5:8 James 5:9 .)

And according to Wikipedia:
Maranatha (Aramaic: מרנאתא‎; Koinē Greek: Μαρανα θα, romanized: marana-tha, lit.
‘come, our lord!’; Latin: Maran-Atha) is an Aramaic phrase.
It occurs once in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 16:22).
It also appears in Didache 10:14, which is part of the Apostolic Fathers’ collection.
It is transliterated into Greek letters rather than translated and,
given the nature of early manuscripts, the lexical difficulty rests in determining
just which two Aramaic words constitute the single Greek expression,
found at the end of Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (16:22).

So I take that this might mean that we should be careful about what ask for…
and that asking, as I keep reading from various folks, being, Come, Lord Jesus.
Because the aksing of the coming of the Lord…in turn comes with judgment.
And the question which remains, are we ready for that judgment for which we are
therefore calling upon?

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else,
for at whatever point you judge another,
you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Romans 2:1 NIV

Happy 2nd birthday…or a life as seen through cake

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all
the other ages you’ve been.

Madeleine L’Engle


(the festive table of the day /Julie Cook/ 2020)

Our lives have been forever changed because of you.

It began with a subtle announcement in September of 2017

Followed by an exciting sense of anticipation later in October as seen through a cake.
(baby shower)

Then came the exuberance of the marking of a milestone,
the first Birthday…complete with a cake in February of 2019

And so today, with the blink of any eye and the whirl of time, we now find ourselves having
moved from life with a baby to life with a little girl…as seen through the festivities
of a 2nd-year-old birthday cake

And always with your trusty sidekick is by your side…

And whereas you will not remember these early days of cakes and festivities or
presents and toys…
nor will you remember the early days of our handholding, our sleepovers, our kisses,
our laughter, our tender embrace…
I do pray, however, that you will always be filled with both joy and wonderment
not to be contained by limits or disillusionment…

I pray that you will always know that when I am long gone,
my love will transcend both time and space.

And I pray that you will always remember that no matter what,
God will always hold you by the hand and He will never leave your side.


(The first snow / Julie Cook/ 2020)

Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

reflecting on love and beauty

Love does not make unnecessary the fulfillment of God’s commandments,
but is their deepest form of fulfillment.
The commandments are not external prescriptions,
which promise reward to those who fulfill them and threaten punishment to those who
fail to observe them.
Instead, they are the revelation of God’s salvific design,
indicating to us the way of his love.

Gerhard Cardinal Müller
from The Power of Truth


(a late November reflection offered by a creek—doesn’t it look as if the trees are
upsdie down reflected by the deep blue sky? / Julie Cook/ 2019)

Only a few colorful leaves remain dangling in the trees,
the majority of the multitudes have turned brown, or more aptly turned
loose, providing a freshly muted carpet covering the forest floor.

There is a vast quietness once the leaves fall and are damp underfoot.
No rustling of the wind through the trees and no crinkling underfoot.

But that doesn’t mean that beauty is now hidden…quite the contrary…
her reflection waits for the lucky ones who pass by…


(a late November reflection offerd by a creek/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(a late November reflection found in a creek / Julie Cook / 2019)

Who has not heard Dostoyevsky’s oft-quoted remark: ‘Beauty will save us’?
Usually people forget to mention, however, that by redeeming beauty Dostoyevsky
means Christ. He it is whom we must learn to see.
If we cease to know him only through words but are struck by the arrow of his paradoxical beauty,
then we will truly come to know him and will no longer merely know about him secondhand.
Then we will have encountered the beauty of truth, of redeeming truth.
Nothing can bring us into contact with the beauty of Christ himself more than
the world of beauty created by faith and the light that shines upon
the faces of the saints, through which his own light becomes visible.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
from On the Way to Jesus Christ

in pursuit

“Among the strange things of this world,
nothing seems more strange than that men pursuing happiness should knowingly quit the right
and take a wrong road, and frequently do what their judgments neither approve nor prefer.”

John Jay


(some of norht Georgia’s finest…Arkansas Blacks and Winesaps / Julie Cook / 2019)

The rains had departed, the clouds were racing off, chasing the latest weather front,
and now the air was actually, delightfully, a bit chilled.

This was to be a short-lived moment as the weather folks were telling us that the
temperatures would be rising this week while the rains would be returning by Tuesday with a vengeance.
Bad weather in the South, no matter what the time of year, is something to be wary of…

So if we wanted to seek out a single colored leaf, now was our moment.

And thus we got into our vehicle Sunday morning and decided to point the truck following
the compass arrow pointing north…or so said the dashboard readings…north.

It’s just about a 2-hour drive from the house to reach North Georgia’s apple capital–
Elijay and her fellow communities of Blue Ridge, Cherry Log, etc…

We almost thought we’d move up this way about a year ago…
but that’s another story for another day.

As the truck’s compass continued pointing north, north-east, we drove on, passing
various polestars pointing towards various destinations…

I must confess, I’ve never been to, let alone seen, Rock City.
Have you?

It was always my understanding, since I was a little girl back in the day,
that farmers were paid to paint the famous “See Rock City” on the sides or roofs
of their barns but I can’t say for certain…
However I always did want a Rock City birdhouse…but I digress

Finally, just before noon, we found the ‘apple barns’ selling the fruits of their labors and harvest.

There were fried apple pies, preserves of every shape and description along with pumpkins for sale.
However, we had come for apples and apples it would be.

There were Grannysmiths, Jonagolds, Pink ladies, Honey crips, Winesaps, Arkansas Blacks, Ozark Gold, Romes,
Fujis…any variety you’d like to purchase is most likely found by the bag or bushel.

I opted for the tried and true Winesaps and a bag of Arkansas Blacks—
an apple variety that I’m told does best if it is stored chilled in a root cellar for a few months—
Since I don’t have a root cellar, I’ll opt for the fridge in the basement.

After gathering our apples, we continued northward toward a stop in the quaint mountain
town of Blue Ridge…the home of the North Georgia Railway offering train rides up through
the north Georgia mountains.

Blue Ridge is such a dog-friendly little town.
Some of the public parking lot’s proceeds go toward the local animal shelters.
We saw every kind of dog on holiday with “their people.”

We stopped for lunch at a lovely spot on the crowded downtown strip, Harvest on Main,
a place we’ve enjoyed on previous visits.
I had the tastiest drink sporting some local bee pollen…go figure!


(The Harvest / Julie Cook / 2019)

As the afternoon was beginning to wane, we opted to head back toward the more flatlands of home
rather than continuing eastward over the northern part of the state towards Blairsville, Helen
and Georgia’s gold capital of Dalonagha…

Sadly, however, we were more than aware that we had yet to really see any colorful foliage,
as our Fall is struggling from our having had one more extreme record hot and dry Summer.

We retraced our steps back towards Elijay, opting to take Hwy 52 / 2, a road that would carry us over
Fort Mountain back towards Chatsworth, Ga. and Hwy 411 South.

I’ve lived in Georgia all of my life, less than two hours away from Fort Mountian,
and yet I had never heard of this “mountain” nor of the state park of the same name.

“Mystery shrouds the ancient stone wall of Fort Mountain State Park,
located near the Cohutta Wilderness, offering you a look back in time to the previous inhabitants,
as you discover 60 miles of recreational trails and majestic overlooks.”
A scenic drive on Highway 52 near the Cohutta Wilderness leads visitors
to this mountain getaway.
Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will find some of the most beautiful trails in Georgia,
winding through hardwood forest and blueberry thickets,
crossing streams and circling a pretty lake.
Hikers can also explore a stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps
and an ancient rock wall that stands on the highest point of the mountain.
The mysterious 855-foot-long wall is thought to have been built by early Indians
as fortification against more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies.

During summer, visitors can cool off on a lakeside beach.
Park guests may stay overnight in fully equipped cottages, a campground or backpacking campsites.

Fort Mountain State Park History

Fort Mountain State Park sits at the southwestern end of the Cohutta Mountains
near the Cohutta Wilderness. Sitting at 2,850 ft above sea level, Fort Mountain
is a great destination for hiking and history lessons alike.
The area in and around the park was home to the Cherokee Indians for hundreds of years,
and their legacy is still felt throughout North Georgia today.

We stopped at an overlook, just before reaching the state park, that was actually the pinnacle of this
“mountain”— hoping to catch a touch of color.
The vistas pointed toward both Tennessee and North Carolina.

There was a couple with their dog who had also climbed up to the outlook.
They asked where we were from… we told them and they told us that they were from
Jacksonville, Fl. They had driven up last year and had opted to come back this year.
They were just so impressed to know that Georgia had such splendor.
I inwardly smiled with a touch of pride as we all like hearing folks from other states
saying nice things about your own state.

But as you can see, there was little if any color for viewing.
A few yellows, a few reds but green is still reigning supreme.

Maybe in a few more weeks things will be turning more colorful…

Despite the lack of fall color—the deviation of a pursuit that was other than
the typical was most welcomed and most refreshing…plus I learned a thing or two
about my state that I didn’t know before…

How’s that little verse, or is it a poem, go??
‘The world is wide and wonderful, wherever we may roam…
but our thoughts return to precious things such as friends and love and home…

It’s not always the pursuit now, is it???…
It is, more or less, the journey itself that is what matters most…

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105
(as seen on a small country chruch’s sign during our drive northward)

The Force

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.
Yoda


(the Sheriff tries on part of his Halloween costume/ Julie Cook / 2019)

Master Yoda or is that Master Sheriff?

Master Sheriff notes that the Force is strong in this one, the Mayor…
And he should know…

Here we have the Mayor trying out her Halloween costume…her favorite latest Disney
character…Vamperina.
Vamperina and her family have moved from Transylvania to Pennsylvania.
The Mayor loves to sing along with the Ghoul Girls…
However, the Mayor is not a fan of the bat wing hat.


(The Mayor just wants to be outside)

Master Sheriff is always ready with a smile…

Next Thursday will be the Sheriff’s first time to trick or treat as his sister is one up on him.
The following day, All Saints Day, the Sheriff will have his long-awaited and dreaded surgery.
As any surgery with any child is dreaded.

James will finally be circumcised along with any additional work in order to realign the urethra,
helping to prevent the reoccurring kidney reflux.
He has been on antibiotics since birth.
It is time to be free of medicines, infections, and fevers—
and the added worry for his parents!!!

Our prayers are to the One True Force—the Great Healer, Jehovah-Rapha

Hummmm…..

Yesterday’s infusion becomes today’s coagulation, which in turn,
becomes tomorrow’s clarified nectar…or so I’m hoping.

cookie

Now let’s retrace our steps.

Yesterday we peeled 11 lemons and added the peels (minus the white pith) to 3 cups
cognac and 3 cups brandy…and let it steep for 24 hours.

And thus we’ve gone from this on Monday…

To this on Tuesday…

A curdled heady aromatic pot of who knows what.

Waiting for about 2 hours, I next poured the coagulated mess through some cheesecloth
and a fine-mesh strainer.

After staining, the remaining liquid will be moved to the fridge where it will sit for
another 24 hours, allowing any remaining “curds” to settle.
After sitting and settling, I’ll strain the liquid through a coffee filter.

Benjamin Franklin used a jelly bag…or so said the recipe he’d
handwritten and shared with a friend.
Aren’t handwritten recipes great?
They just keep getting passed around…albeit it spotted, yellowed and torn.

I don’t know what a jelly bag is and thus, doubt I own one…
hence the coffee filter and cheesecloth.

I did previously add to this putrid looking mess some cardamon pods, a single star anise,
a broken cinnamon stick, a fully grated nutmeg along with 2 cups of lemon juice,
1 1/2 cups of sugar, 4 cups of water and 4 cups of boiling milk…

All resulting in the curdled mess now staring up at us from the pot.

I dared to taste it, stealing a small spoonful this morning.

It’s pretty boozy as well as heavy on the lemon.
Maybe too lemony—

I was hit with a taste of bitterness but of course,
that was before I added the sugar, water, and milk.

I’m beginning to think that 11 lemon peels and 2 cups of juice may have been all of
a bit of an overkill.

But Ben said to do it and so I did.
How can I argue with the man who wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac?!

The sampling I had tasted down at the beach had been made with pineapple.
Since I’m not a huge pina colada, tropical drink kind of fan, I stuck to Ben’s original recipe
and opted not to introduce any pineapple.

I did deviate slightly however and threw in a few cardamon pods.
I like cardamon as it reminds me of a warm Fall cozy evening.
I also sprinkled in some cinnamon along with the broken stick as I like a heavy dose of
cinnamon in my Fall goodies.

I’m now wondering if adding a vanilla pod might have been a nice touch.

As you can see in the picture below, the curds were caught in the cheesecloth…

The strained liquid, which is still rather cloudy and reminds me of apple cider, will sit
for a day or so before it goes through more filtration.

The taste is spicy, warm, and again, very boozy…but in a soft sort of way.

We’re off to see the Mayor and Sheriff tomorrow so the final presentation will have to wait
a day or so longer— but trust me…
we’ve come this far and by gosh, we will have an official presentation if it kills me…

And let’s hope that drinking this stuff won’t…kill me!

I’ll also pass on Mr. Franklin’s recipe.

And I suppose that there might be some of you wondering why in the heck I would go
to such trouble just to make a simple drink…or more aptly, a most complicated drink?!

Maybe it’s because the mountain was there and I wanted to climb it…
Maybe it’s because I’ve been missing that creative spark in my life.

Or maybe it’s in part because it’s something that harkens back to a
different day and time.

It takes us back to a time when taking one’s time was appreciated.
It was a time when taking the time to do something that was somewhat painstaking
and was in turn, shared with others,
was equally appreciated as both a product and a preparation.
There is a deep sense of satisfaction in that.

It harkens to a time when we didn’t take everything for granted…
knowing that we could simply run out to a store and buy what our tastes might
be yearning for…
As in there were no grub hubs or uber eats back then.
The work from our hands filled our needs and wants and thus that was where our satisfaction
was found.

It was a time when things like lemons and spices were not readily available.
So when you could find them, afford them, they were savored and relished.

And thus savoring and relishing while feeling a sense of accomplishment and gratitude
is certainly reason enough…or at least it is for me.
And since it is indeed Fall…there’s no better time for slowing down,
savoring and reflecting upon some past simple pleasures.

Cheers!