we continue beating our heads against the wall

I am hitting my head against the walls,
but the walls are giving way.

Gustav Mahler


(a little moth sits on the garage wall / Julie Cook / 2017)

Once again we are left standing before the hard blank wall of this current time of ours,
beating our heads in bewilderment, disbelief and overwhelming sorrow and grief.

Once again a radicalized young man has decided to step up to the plate of all things
evil by willingly sacrificing his life in the demented notion of all
things Allah and Islam by blowing himself up to bits in hopes of inflicting as much
mayhem, fear and death as he possibly can….
upon children.

Never mind his overt cowardice in his choice of targets.
Never mind that his priorities and choices were all screwed up.
Never mind that there won’t be any reward, let alone 70 virgins, awaiting
upon his arrival in Heaven…for Heaven is a far cry from his final destination….

A suicide bomber is the ultimate in cowardliness…
for despite the skewed thinking of ISIS, that such a murderer is really a martyr
in disguise…
a suicide bomber’s actions are so grossly screwed that they possess neither glory
nor valor but rather an altered, dare we say, demonic view of reality.
Never to be considered a true soldier of war….but rather as a poser and pretender..
a mere shadow of a fighter hiding among the woman and children.

Yet none of this talk, none of the future ensuing blame game, none of the what if’s will
be of any comfort to this new set of grieving families as they now are left to sadly join
ranks with those other families who have preceded them in the grief of what is known as
terrorist attack survivors.

This phenomenon of surviving terrorism is becoming all too common.
Such that I fear the world grows a bit hardened.
The attacks, the tragedies, the lives left shattered, the lives torn apart, the pieces of
the world forever shaken, are becoming more frequent than we can mentally process.

We of Western Civilization are left with two choices.
We can either stand beating our heads against the wall,
all the while knowing that these sorts of catastrophic events will indeed happen again
and again and again….
or we can say enough.

And if we are indeed strong enough to say “Enough!”
We will have to stand in solidarity against the politicians, the entertainers and
even our fellow citizens who insist on choosing to turn a blind eye to the root cause.

“Enough!” we say to those who want the world to continue on it this surrealistic
state of denial…
“Enough”! to those who say forget the vetting, forget the travel bans,
forget the carefree open boarders because we are a better people than that…

For it is in that naive line of thinking where our problem lies…

There was a time when we could welcome those wishing to come to the land of freedom
and democracy in search of a new life….
Opening our arms and embracing those who saw something of promise and hope
in Western Civilization.
These newcomers joyfully did what it took in order to contribute to their new home.
Seeking work, most often hard and labor intensive.
They sent their children to American schools and wanted their children
to learn to read, write and communicate in English

Yet now within the masses of those who are coming and going freely are the very ones
who say to us that we are not a kinder more open people but rather that we are a foolish
and grossly naive people…and that our demise is their only desire.

That is not alarmist thinking.
That is not xenophobic thinking.
That is just the reality of our current times.
For we are indeed naive.

The Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan is a small microcosm of perhaps our
own naiveté.
It is estimated that 45% of Dearborn’s approximate 95,000 total population are
Arab Americans with a large percentage of those devoted followers of Islam.
Sharia law is readily observed and Dearborn is considered the Arab capital of
America housing the largest Mosque in North America.

And whereas it is an example of an enclave of ethnicity and immigration where many of those who
live do so wishing to live a dual existence of being both Middle Eastern and American,
it is also an area of welcome…a haven for others whose desires are not as virtuous
as they may readily blend in unnoticed.
For it is an area that is more Middle Eastern than American.

Yet those who argue when eyebrows raise,
point to places like Harlem, pockets of minority living that are
cultural places for minorities to feel comfortable living while feeling connected.

And there will be some who find highlighting such a city and its dominate population as being
bigoted, insensitive, racist or that of some nutty right wing alarmist’s observation…

That is not this post’s intent.

Yet whereas many will say that Dearborn is simply like those once predominately Irish,
Italian or German neighborhoods of the turn of the 20th century…
there is one big difference.
And that is the difference of ideology.

For there is a vast difference between the ideology of the Judaeo Christian
Western Civilization seen in the Irish, Jewish, Black, Latino neighborhoods
verses the neighborhoods of Middle Eastern Muslims.

And it is in that same ideological difference that lies the unwillingness to adopt Western
ways or to assimilate while melding into the culture.
Rather it is preferred, or more aptly expected, that the host culture melds to the ideology
of Islam…where Sharia law takes precedence to local American law.

Yet in our manic desire to appear to be all encompassing and welcoming, we bend over
backwards to accommodate and appease.
And therein lies our problem.
Yet most of us simply don’t see a problem.

And whereas we can all agree that the times in which we live are indeed frightening and
most uncertain, there are steps and measures that we can take to bring an extra level
of safe guarding to the situation,
but the problem is that our leaders and even many of our citizens are yet not willing to do such.

So we’ll just keep beating our heads, raising our terror threat levels and literally
picking up the pieces of the shattered lives because we simply refuse to see
what’s going on….

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! … The fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog. … Insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. … A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity….”

“The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property,
either as a child, a wife, or a concubine,
must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power
among men.
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities…
but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it…”

“No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund,
Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.
It has already spread throughout Central Africa,
raising fearless warriors at every step;
and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science,
the science against which it had vainly struggled,
the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

Winston Churchill
The Nile River Walk 1899

where lies your dependency?

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.

Psalm 144:3-4


(Atlanta’s interstate fire and collapse courtesy CBS46 Atlanta)

There were so many titles for today’s post….
“Atlanta is burning…again”
“The domino effect”
“Catastrophe under, or is it of, the road”
“S’mores anyone
as the camera would then pan to a sea of stopped cars stranded for hours as
they waited to be literally turned around and rerouted from one of the nation’s busiest
interstates.

If you haven’t yet heard, Atlanta was on fire, again, Thursday.

I say again because if your history lessons have failed you,
you may recall that a certain General T. Sherman burnt Atlanta to the ground
as a Christmas gift for President Lincoln during the Civil War.
And that is now the reason as to why the mythical creature the Phoenix is Georgia’s
sacred state bird…that is, besides the brown thrasher.
For the Phoenix is a symbol of how a smoldering Southern city rose up from the ashes
to become a major US metropolitan megatropolis…
along with the world’s busiest airport,
and a horrific gridlock of interstates….
but I digress….

Our son called late yesterday afternoon asking if we knew Atlanta was on fire.
He had seen this during his commute home from work.
We flipped on the television, and sure enough, Atlanta was on fire…
or more exactly a large swarth of area underneath a section of I-85 near Piedmont Rd,
what is known to locals as the Mid town area….
If you’ve ever driven north or south through Atlanta, you’ve driven over this stretch
of road.

This was a Thursday evening, at rush hour.
The interstate in both the south and north bound lanes were shut down as the fire
raged.
The heat so intense, a large section of the interstate buckled under the strain and collapsed–
which may have been a good thing as it helped to snuff out much of the inferno.

And miraculously, no one was hurt.

Still not certain as to the actual cause….
But what is certain, a major US artery is now shut down for travel for who knows how long.

Listening to the various news stations and the reporters who,
as everyone watched in real time, first the fire then the collapse,
gasped in obvious overwhelmed amazement.

What would happen with all those cars now stuck?
What would happen in the days to come?
Where would all the traffic be rerouted?
What about Atlanta’s notorious Rush hours?
How much longer would it now take to get to and from work?
What about all the soon to be Spring Break travelers headed south to Florida?

On and on the mounting panic became palpable as a million questions flooded
the thoughts of everyone….

I had to drive over to Dad’s today to meet with the funeral home in order to gather up
some needed papers and documents.
It was not a pretty picture as traffic was rerouted over to my usual route….
bypassing around the city.

There had also been an early morning crash just this side of the Georgia / Alabama state lines
shutting down all of I-20 east bound. That swarth of interstate closed until late afternoon.
Meaning more rerouting, with all that traffic, with an endless line of tractor trailer trucks,
being rerouted again, to my particular route of travel….
and I have to go back today….
sigh….

And with all this burning, collapsing and rerouting nightmare…it’s all gotten me thinking.
Thinking of our dependance upon our own limited abilities and vision…

Our world, the world in which we, man, has created is so tenuous and superficial.
Yet we assume and even take for granted that it is invincible.
Our massive buildings, our sprawling shopping meccas, our spaghetti maze of roadways,
our expanding bridges, even our modes of travel…
all seemingly built to last…
That is…until there is a bizarre or freakish event of catastrophic proportions…
which in turn sends us, much like ants, scurrying in an endless state of pandemonium.

There are no guarantees.

I can vividly recall watching the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake out in San Francisco…
the quake which collapsed and sandwiched the 880 interstate,
crushing and trapping both cars and people.

It was a horrific reminder of our fragility.
Just as each catastrophic earthquake has been in recent months in central Italy.
Centuries old buildings reduced to instant rubble in the blink of an eye.

It matters not the disaster…
It matters not if the victim be historic, modern, structurally sound or state of the art..
Nothing that we put our hands to, which we arrogantly assume is built to stand the test time,
will in turn do just that…last to kingdom come…
All will eventually give way to ruin…

For all of our ingenuity, our hutzpah, our try, try again mentality and and our plain
ol good intentions..
none of it will last….
for it will all pass away, just as we shall pass away to the very dust
from which we were formed in the hands of the Creator…

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

dreams

“Yes: I am a dreamer.
For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Oscar Wilde

Spare a little candle
Save some light for me
Figures up ahead
Moving in the trees
White skin in linen
Perfume on my wrist
And the full moon that hangs over
These dreams in the mist

These Dreams lyrics
Heart

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(super moon 2016 / Julie Cook)

Maybe it was the moon…all that super business doing some massive gravitational pull
on my subconscious…
Or maybe that’s just it in a nutshell, my subconscious…

It was about 5:30 this morning when I woke from a night of fitful sleep.
I had a headache.
If it’s not my back, it’s also my neck—
as in all my discs are giving out…
and obviously the warranty has given out as well…

I got up and rummaged around in the oddly lit house under the watchful eye of the latest super moon,
looking for a couple of motrin to alleviate the gnawing aching pain.
I thought I’d just go ahead and get up since I was pretty much wide awake…
But knowing I had a long day in Atlanta with Dad, what harm would laying back down do,
just for a minute….

Bad idea.

Obviously I fell back asleep…into one of those massively deep sleeps…
as in out like the dead.

It was during this dead sleep that I found myself having the most crazy and vivid dream.

But of course I don’t know why that would be something new or out of the ordinary because
all of my dreams are pretty much crazy.
They often seem quite real albeit bizarre, odd and absolutely not normal.

In this particular dream I was somewhere, though I knew not where,
I just knew it was not home, nor any place familiar.
I was pushing my son in a baby carriage…whereas in real life he’s almost 28…
yet in the dream he was a baby.

We were trying to get away from some bad guy who was following us.
The next thing I remember is that I’m reading in a newspaper in some sort of room
that was again, not familiar.
It was the obituaries and I was reading that both my dad and godfather had each died as
I suddenly found myself desperately trying to text my mother to tell her what I’d read…
because I knew she’d need to know and would need my help.

Ok, so in real life, my mom has been gone now for over 30 years, long before texting ever existed,
let alone living in a society that is now joined at the hip with their cell phones.

I remember that I frustratingly couldn’t get the text right….
which just means that some part of my brain knew that mother was not exactly in texting range….
and yet I couldn’t find my right clothes or any of my “stuff” …
because remember, I was someplace unfamiliar….

Thankfully I finally woke up…only to realize that both my husband I had overslept—
I jumped up, he got up…
and off we both raced for the day.

As he was getting ready to leave for work, I told him briefly about my dream—
and in his typical nonplused fashion…
“I can tell you where you were.”
“Really?!
You can?!” I marveled.
“Yeah, you were in the nut house because all your dreams are the stuff for loony bins”

And I suppose he has a point.

The night before last, I dreamt someone was trying to kidnap and kill my beloved cat
and that I had gotten Carrie Underwood to watch him and help keep him safe.

But I knew where that bizarre dream was born…
it was the direct result of the heavy birthday supper I had eaten that night—
very rich and overfilling…resulting in very poor and fitful sleep.

Last night’s dream however was so vivid that I woke with tears in my eyes and immediately hit
the computer to scour over the obits for my godfather…who thankfully was not there.
A bit irrational but that’s how clear it all seemed.

He and dad are in equally poor states of health…both physically and mentally
with him in a facility while dad is still at home….
So I imagine that that constant worry over both of them,
simply lingers somewhere past the waking and cognizant part of my brain.

And then there was / is mom.
Obviously I am missing her tremendously as I now go it alone caring for dad.

When I was young and foolish I would, from time to time, imagine what it would be like when I
was like my parents who, at the time, were caring for both of my grandmothers—
it’s just that I never imagined what we’d all be living, or in mother’s case not living,
as we are today.
And maybe that’s the thing—life is never what we imagine nor dream what it will be.

Sometimes it can be the stuff of dreams—
all good, all nice and all delightfully other worldly…
but for the majority of the time,
it is humanly real, raw and very very hard.

I think that’s why I’ve let what’s going on in this country of ours bother me so badly…
as it’s just left me feeling so depressed, not that my own life hasn’t been depressing enough.

Life is hard.

And it requires a great deal from us just to make it through.

I work hard just getting through each day…
as these past two years have been all but draining of all emotions and physical well being.
It’s as if I’ve been living under a very heavy grey cloud…
ever since, having lost their cognitive and physical freedoms,
Dad and my stepmother required outside help.

And it is very much that I have bordered on depression on and off these past two years.

Yet I work very hard to make certain that they are ok in their own home…
cause that’s how dad wants it…
to go out in a box from his own home…whenever that day comes—
despite me explaining to him that I don’t think a box will be involved….

There is the day to day running of their household…
the caregivers, the housekeeper, the nurses, hospice, the bills, the taxes, the invoices,
the groceries, the doctors, the hospitals, the maintenance on a older home…
And then there is our household 75 miles away—
as in me the caregiver, the maid, the cook, the yardman, and everything else in between…
when and if there is time or energy or even desire…

People wonder why I don’t have time to do this or that anymore…
why can’t I squeeze in anything for me or for them or for whatever…
I obviously don’t even have time to sleep worth a flip let alone the nicer things about
nurturing self or that of friendships….

So I grow angry when I see on the news the sea of protesters across this county.
Surely I’m not the only person who has life issues to contend with.
My life is more than enough to keep me busy and focused…
Lord knows how’d I manage to balance protesting, marching, walking out of class…
all the while fussing and cussing with my neighbors on the street…

Life is bigger than any of us realize…
It’s bigger than this election.

When it is all said and done…
presidents will come and go,
elections will come and go…

Some elections will go the way we want and some will not…
that’s how life works—not always as we’d like…

That’s simply life and it is what it is wherever or not you and I like that…

And I can honestly say that anyone battling a catastrophic illness, caring for loved ones,
watching elderly parents slowly slip away or who has been devastatingly injured,
will tell you that that is not how they ever would have imagined or dreamed their lives would go.

So everyone out there who seems to think they have all sorts of time for all
this bitching, complaining and nasty fussing and cussing…
because that’s what protests are are they not…glorified bitching and complaining…
obviously has way too much time on their hands to waste…
the otherwise precious energy for living.

My God, can’t those of you just be thankful that you can afford to be in college?
And can apparently afford to ditch class…
not to mention all these high school kids out there walking out of class who can’t yet even vote.
Stay in class for heaven’s sake and learn something about being a decent citizen
because wandering around on the streets fussing and cussing your neighbor
isn’t gaining anything but expending wasted anger….

Instead of wrath and anger, be thankful that you live in a country that affords you
the opportunity to vote—
Never mind that whomever it was you wanted to win may not have won…
because that’s simply the result when two people run…one wins, one does not.
That’s called democracy and you have a military that has lost countless of lives
of men and women over the generations who sacrificed everything for you…
you who now use your protected freedom and wasted time in life that you cannot get back
to bitch, complain, fuss and cuss and march…

But be glad you have choice…so many countries don’t get choice.
That little fact is in part why other nations view us as entitled and spoiled—
we bitch and complain even when we have options and choice…
as in we never really seem happy.

Be glad that obviously you are healthy enough to go out, ditching class or work,
just to bitch and complain…
because those who are sick, hurting or busy with the demands of life, simply can’t fit any of that in.

Dream…dream big…big wonderful sorts of dreams…
because one thing we know about America is that dreaming and working can make dreams come true—
because America has always equated to opportunity…
where in other nations…
opportunity not so much….

Don’t fuss and cuss…because life is simply too short…
Dreaming is so much more important and much more fun and much more hopeful and much more productive
than bitching and complaing and marching and fussing and cussing our neighbors….

Just ask Dad….who just wishes he could have a little more time in life to dream….

“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams….”

Acts 2:17

Growing up

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
― J.D. Salinger

That’s one of the things we learn as we grow older — how to forgive. It comes easier at forty than it did at twenty.”
― L.M. Montgomery

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(Guinea Wasp among the flowers / Julie Cook / 2015)

When did you know that you were all grown up?
Really grown up. . .
As in no longer childlike but rather the designated, tag you’re it, authority of all things known and those things yet known. As in you are now the expert, the one everyone has decided to turn to for help, advice, strength, guidance, knowledge, direction, responsibility. . . the one who had now been taxed with the hard decisions, the tough choices, the yeses and the nos. . .??

For some of us it was perhaps a catastrophic event early on in life. A harsh reality thrust upon us far too early and much too soon.
For others it seemed to come at the cold uncaring hand of fate, the economics of our world, the poor choices of others.

Some of us mark the milestone in much the same way as certain ethnic tribal groups who have ceremonial rites of passage. The hoopla of a 21st birthday, the last hooray of a bachelor or bachelorette party before one’s impending nuptials. Some of us know the passing of the torch occurs the moment our first child is born. . .

I thought my moment came at age 25 when my mom died and I had to care for a father who was suddenly a lost child, readily foregoing adulthood while wrapped in his utter grief. I was pretty certain it hadn’t come at 23 when I married—as I was still so green and terribly wet behind the ears back then.

I think it also happened again when my son was born. I had to put my wants and needs aside as I was now responsible for the well-being of another. Resposiblilty should equate to growing up, should it not? There was just something about losing a parent and then becoming a parent. . .
Surely that was it, the time. . . the time of losing a parent and becoming a parent that signified life as a grown up.

At 55 I figured I was pretty grown up.
No doubt about it, grown.
I had retired had I not?
One has got to be pretty old to be able to retire right?
One would think.

My son got married last year.
I have a daughter-n-law.
My hair is turning rather silveresque.
My bones are a bit more brittle.
My eyesight is eluding me.
My mind may not be exactly as sharp as it once was.
My husband keeps reminding me I’m not as young as I once was.
I’m not keen upon hearing that.

Yet events of recent weeks have once again reminded me, that I’m still not totally grown up. . .
not by a long shot.

It slowly dawned on me, as I sat splayed legged on the floor of my old bedroom, of which now acts as Dad’s office, sorting through a myriad, or more like a mountain, of unpaid bills, forgotten tax information, past due this and that, a plethora of saved junk mail, folder upon folder of the years past all while spending countless hours on the phone sorting out the disaster he had slowly created when, on the fateful day we can’t seem to recall which was which, that he woke up and his mind decided it no longer wanted to be the grownup mind of a dad, my dad.

It may have come when I began writing countless checks, signing my name where his name should have been. When I called the numerous insurance companies seeking help. When the nurse came from the insurance company to evaluate his needs. When I called a care service. When I had to tell him NO or YES to his insistence that there be no care service, that he indeed needed “help”.

Maybe it was today when we sat filling out the healthcare questionnaire for the new doctor. The personal, oh so personal, questions I had to ask, had to listen to his answers. Questions you never imagined asking your dad or having to have him explain. Maybe it was when I had to explain to him about how he had to work the blood occult test kit as he politely told me, “no thank you, I don’t want to do that.”

As he now looks to me, or rather at me, for reassurance, for direction, for help, for rescuing, with questioning rummy eyes, which now look while pleading and searching for answers. . .answers I don’t readily have. The same eyes that were the ones I looked to when, as a little girl, I would call out each night for the various stuffed animals elected to guard and protect me throughout the night, as he’d throw them to me from across the room from their daily resting spot, thrown to my excited open arms in order for me to catch them, one at a time, as we performed our nightly ritual. . .

We all know parents aren’t exactly human. . .they’re a lot like the teachers I’ve spent a lifetime alongside–superhuman, not like mere mortals. They don’t have the same ills or issues as others. They are invincible and beyond the ordinary.
That’s their role is it not. . .?

Theirs is to provide, to guard, to protect, to lead, to guide, to always be there. . .

. . . as now the child reluctantly finds herself becoming the parent,
the lonely role of grown-up. . .

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

A show of hands please, who’s ready for Spring?

“What a severe yet master artist old Winter is….No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.”
John Burroughs

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Barbed wire is not so sharp with an icy coating

Yesterday we shrugged under a heavy coating of ice—every thing inanimate and not moving fell victim to the cold touch of what the ancients would recognize as Ymir, the norse god of ice. This morning Mother Nature must have spoken kindly to Old Man Winter, as we were greeted by a covering of snow onto of the already think coating of ice, making things so much more bearable to behold.

The buds of the blueberry bushes now lie encased in a tomb of ice:

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Nandina berries offer beautiful contrast to their coat of white:

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The squirrels will have a difficult time gathering these acorns turned popsicles:

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Are the weeds more tolerable when painted in shades of snow and ice?

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**It must be noted that I took these pictures yesterday morning. By mid-morning the sun reappeared as the temperatures rose into the 40’s—this morning there is very little left as a reminder of the storm, that on Monday, the forecasters were predicting to be “Epic and Catastrophic”—amazing what a few hours of sun and warmth can do to Old Man Winter!!