freed the chick from the pen

“It is better to be a child of God than king of the whole world!”
St. Aloysius Gonzaga


(a poorly feeling Mayor in her mayorial ride / Julie Cook / 2018)

The Mayor has a sinus infection and an ear infection…throw in cutting new teeth and life
has just become a party and a picnic all rolled into one…

So her two satellite aides had to drive over to Atlanta this morning, in the rain,
all in order to free the little chicken from the pen…
aka– relieve the Mayor from the confines of Daycare…
We’ve brought her back for a bit of rest and recuperation.
We’ve got the prescription filled, the infant Motrin, the Woobooville office is set up…

But her office hours are now a bit limited as most of the time she is preferring simply to be held.
Who doesn’t when feeling poorly 🙂

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Meat and potatoes

One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in
the same pattern, but in different colors.

Robert Graves


(the red snapper at Bud and Alley’s Seaside Beach, Fl / Julie Cook)

Ok, I admit….this is a picture of a fish with potatoes and not a steak.
as in “meat and potatoes”

I did have a lovely picture of a prime rib roast which I had cooked a while back,
but the fish seemed a bit less red and well, meaty…as I know there are those
out there who just really are opposed to “red” meat….despite my knowing there are
those who will grouse over the whole well, whole fish…meaning head and eyes….
but we digress….

I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes sort of girl.
Be that meat…fowl, pig, lamb, fish or cow…..

Yet today’s post is not about food…meat or starch…
but is a post that we might just call more of a hearty dose of the
Word of God….being sustenance for the soul verses the food for the stomach.
As in getting down to the heart of the matter….

And now that the dust has somewhat settled…as the snows are now melting…
life is settling back into its normal madness of Christmas….
sans any of the distracting, as well as debilitating, white stuff.

Power is now restored.
Limbs are now cut up and stacked.
Cars have been moved to where they belong….
As schools resume to normal schedules today.

So in the madness since late last week, when the snows did begin to fall,
I was literally pulled away from much of my reading and study as my duties
were needed immediately elsewhere—
And I was particularly pulled away from my reading and focusing on the teachings
of those 3 favorite clerics of mine…

And what a delightful hodge podge of spirituality they are—

A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk…

And may it be known that whereas each one of these men may seem,
from all outward appearances to be vastly different,
when all the pretense of what the world perceives of them is
peeled away, they along with their messages, are but one in the same.

And I for one delight in that.

In my distraction with the snow and writing about such…there has been so much
that has actually taken place that needs not only my attention but yours as well….

Jerusalem is being recognized by the US, at long last, as the capital of Israel…
much to the chagrin of most of the world as well as by many actually in the US
itself.

The Pope, much like our US President, has boldly and perhaps blindly, ventured
to where he may not should have trod, by declaring that the Lords’ Prayer
needs an overhaul….see the perspiration beads forming at my brow….

Sexual harassment continues to prevail in our headlines as it appears to have crept
into the fold….

And my friend who I made mention of the other day…
the one whose family business my family had frequented for the past 25 years or so,
lost her earthly battle early Friday morning.
During the last time we had a chance to chat, which was just a couple of weeks ago,
I noticed that my friend was rather sad and weepy.
I asked what was troubling her….and this 78 year old friend looks me in the eye
and tells me “I miss my momma”—- as I look back at her,
telling her how I understand because I miss mine as well—of which she knew….
So I am uplifted in knowing that both her son and daughter were by her side
when she gave up the earthly ghost and headed on home to be with her mom…

All of this, along with all the other tit for tat that has been happening in what seems
to be my snow encrusted writing absence, will each be addressed in due time…..

But first I wanted to return our focus to Advent.

Because isn’t that what our focus should currently be about?
Advent.
As in The Coming….

I spent some time this morning listening to the 2nd Sunday in Advent’s homily
offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden…I was a day late and a dollar short,
but none the less, blessed.
12 delightful minutes of good meat and potatoes for the soul.

The good bishop reminds us that Advent is a time for making space in our hearts,
more space for Jesus.

He tells us that this is the time that we are to be about repentance…
in order to make sacred space available.

Bishop Ashenden focused on the reading of the day which was taken from the Gospel of
St Mark (Mark 1:1-8) in which there is a good description of John the Baptizer…
a man wearing simple garments and who is sustained by eating wild honey and locust.

The good Bishop admits to having always been a bit perplexed as the why
the locust eating would be so important as to be included in the text….
but a Greek friend noted that the true translation in Greek, as only Greeks would understand it to be, was not that of an insect but rather actually a type of flower—
of which seemed to make much more sense.

So we get the complete picture of John…that he was a simple man,
living off and being sustained by the land.
Not the crazy loner off in the desert howling by the moon at night as he
has often been portrayed—perhaps more mad than wise.

And so as we note–John was very simple—
in turn bound by no worldly trappings what so ever ….

John both proclaimed as well as accused those of his day of having
lives way too full—
and that the time had come to make the choice…

The choice being between holding on to that which gets in the way of God or
to choose to move out and get rid of that which gets in the way…
getting rid of that which is separating ourselves from God and God alone.

Very much what we see society and our culture forcing upon us today—
Especially and particularly this time of year!

Our lives, particularly during Christmas, are so chocked full that we are
practically to our breaking point.

We are so full and overwhelmed with all that must be done to
make the “holidays” just so special, magical and wonderful…
on top of already busy lives with school and work….
that we are actually crowding out Jesus.

Crowding Him out from the very time He is to actually be at the center of
our focus.

Bishop Ashenden notes that John’s message of Metanoia, or that of our total change
and or transformation, is so important because it calls us to a new way of examining
things….

Yet at the same time the good Bishop admonishes us that…dare we say,
there is a spirit of evil actually at work, at this very moment, particularly now…
during this time of year that we are being called…called by God.
It is all so totally opposite of the call of the Holy Spirit.

For there is a force working to counter that call…
countering with the distractions and demands we actually throw upon ourselves
particularly at this time of year.

Shopping, church pageants, visits to Santa, picture taking, card writing and sending,
choir practice, school plays, sporting events, making costumes, wrapping gifts,
sorting, cooking, parties, cleaning, traveling…
all of this on top of the already endless demands of both work and school—
All of this becomes the priority while the true essence of Christ is pushed further
aside.

We fight to pretend and convince ourselves otherwise—
we rationalize that we are doing what we are doing because IT IS Christmas…
yet none of it has one single thing to do truly with Christmas—
or Christ Mass…

None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront…as Bishop Ashenden pointedly asks…
“how much time then do you allot for prayer, the reading of scripture,
and loving the Lord?”…especially now during this chaotic time?

I found that I had to really look at what he was saying…
I had to look closely at what gets pushed aside…looking at what is then
actually pushing its way into being the priority….a false priortiy.
The priorities that society makes of us during this season…

Our culture clamors that we are to be all inclusive…and non discriminatory—
but should we not be exclusive and discriminatory over that which is demanding
to be the forefront of our focus—-all of which is not the true essence of Christ
nor of Christ Himself….

snowflakes

“The paradoxes of today are the prejudices of tomorrow,
since the most benighted and the most deplorable prejudices
have had their moment of novelty when fashion lent them its fragile grace.”

Marcel Proust

black-amp-white-flakes-photography-snow-snowflake-favim-com-286496
(image courtesy Favim.com)

There’s a lot of talk currently in my neck of the woods about snow.
In fact the “talk” is more like a warning of an impending National disaster.

Yesterday while driving into Atlanta to Dad’s…those matrix boards above the interstates
alerting drivers to accidents, etc. were all running the same ominous and foreboding message…
Winter Storm Warning

For much of this hearty country of ours, such approaching weather systems
are no big deal…
it’s just more of the same ol typical winter weather…
but in this tender southern state, those signs might as well have read:
THE END IS NEAR AND WE ARE ALL DOOMED!!!

So this morning, with all the local news forecasting the Apocolypse,
I figured that maybe I should run out to the store to grab another half gallon of milk…
Lord knows I’d hate to be iced in, snowed in or both,
without ample milk for my coffee or any sort
cake or recipe that I may want to whip up while being stranded and cut off
from all civilization…

The shopping center looked like it did a couple of weeks ago during the
Christmas shopping frenzy.
I had passed school buses running basically backwards…
as in they had just taken the kids to school
and now they were bringing them all back home due to the early dismals
in observance of the impending disaster.

While I was making my way through the maze of shopping carts frantically filling up
with survival foods such as chips and sodas…
I debated about picking up something different for supper.

The chicken section was almost empty with only a few errant packs of thigh / leg combos.
When did chicken make the list of the typical disaster foods besides bread and milk?
Of which I am happy to report that the milk section was fully stocked…
or should I make that restocked…

Next stop, the bank.

Fridays are never a good day to go to the bank as everyone is getting paid and
in turn, heading to the nearest bank.
Add impending doom…
and shades of 1929 come racing to mind.

While standing at my teller’s counter there was a couple in their mid 20’s at the teller next to me.
They were loudly lamenting to the gal behind the counter,
and everyone else in line, that they were “tired of being adults.”

Really? ( thought in a monotone of sarcasam)

I chuckled and turned to look at this forlorn lamenting duo.

They continued on about how they were ready to trade in their “adult cards” wanting,
I suppose, to return to the Land of Nod and innocence.
“How,” had they known, “that if life would be like this,”
whatever “this” may have been,
“would have squandered more of their money while trying to “enjoy life” …

I kid you not.

I offered, rather bemusedly, that it doesn’t get any easier…
which certainly didn’t offer any comfort to their sense of gloom and doom…
but then again I am a realist and one who is a believer in the phrase
“aging is not for sissies”

Later back home,
I stumbled upon the reference of snowflake being used with regard to this
same mid 20’s aged group, twice!

Once on a news program discussing the impending inauguration being akin to another
type of apocalypse to many, and that colleges are providing their tender charges
places of calm and comfort, in hopes of soothing their mounting fears.

Another reference came while I was reading the blog of a Scottish pastor waxing on
about today’s colleges which are providing warnings (trigger statements)
to students that biblical studies will have graphic imagery regarding the crucifixion and
veterinary studies will have to discuss such topics as dead animals,
while the forensic students will be seeing, wait for it, dead bodies.
Obviously things all too gory and disturbing for these tender “snowflake’s” sensitive likings.

They are a most fragile lot are they not?
And will certainly melt at the drop of a hat…

Or so it seems as many adults, especially those in higher institutions of learning,
fear as they race to coddle their youthful charges.
And so it is as I am now hearing it first hand with my own ears, while at the bank…
That many of these snowflakes are actually already tired of the real world and
simply want to go back to being “irresponsible kids”….

Hummmmm….

This coming on the heels of the news of that now infamous and most heinous viral Facebook
story coming out of Chicago…
the story about those 4 young people who were arrested for kidnapping, beating and torturing
a mentally handicapped young man.
Ranting on and on at him about F’ing Trump and F’ing white people while cursing him,
cutting him, taunting him as he was tied up and had his mouth duct taped shut….
They filmed their antics while boasting that they wanted this recording to go viral…
they wanted the world to see what they were doing while laughing all the while doing it.

Chicago’s police chief said that these sorts of horrendous incidents from young thugs would,
in the future, only escalate.

Here we have not so much snowflakes, but rather icicles…
cold and dangerous youth living without
regard for the sanctity of human life.

So maybe those interstate signs should read:
“Warning and Shame”
“We’ve let our youth run amuck and now we are left trying to pick up the pieces”

As our same Scottish pastor laments that the Church herself is as much to blame as anyone for
the wailing of these youthful generations as she has dumbed down Christianity into
a Disneyesque sort of happy fun thought…
where things like sin and death…that whole ransoming of our sins with payment coming
in the form of death on a cross,
being just all too much for this up and coming youthful generation
who are either too sensitive or too callous for the reality of life, death and faith.

Shame indeed.

Here’s to the impending snow storm…
may we have enough milk, bread and now chicken, to survive….

Snowflake Theologians Given Trigger Warning about the Crucifixion

the kindred spirit of a chicken

“To love is easy and therefore common –
but to understand –
how rare it is!”

― L.M. Montgomery

What friends or kindred can be so close and intimate as the powers of our soul,
which, whether we will or no, must ever bear us company?

Saint Teresa of Avila

DSCN3747
(one of dad’s urban neighbors / Julie Cook / 2014)

I’ve written about Henny Penny before.
And no, Henny Penny is not the chicken in the picture above…
that’s just a neighbor.

The real Henry Penny is the heroine of a classic and timeless sweet children’s tale.
The story of a rather hapless and clueless chicken
who gets her knickers in twist when she’s out and about minding her own business,
when suddenly out of the blue, something falls from above knocking her in the head…

This falling object unleashes pandemonium in poor ol Henny Penny.

Convinced that the sky is now falling,
Henny Penny proceeds to run about chaotically alerting all her neighbors
that the time to panic has arrived…
while proclaiming that everyone must immediately seek shelter…
because the sky is…
falling…

henny_penny_02-1
(Henny Penny / art work by Thao Lam)

As it turns out the sky was never falling, as the sweet illustration above indicates,
yet try telling Henny Penny and her now distraught neighbors that it was
just a pesky little acorn falling onto poor Henny Penny’s head.

And not that I’ve become some sort of nervous nelly dashing about
in a frantic panic over a falling sky…
but it does feel as if the sky, or actually life rather, is indeed falling…
and that familiar primordial feeling of panic
is desperately attempting to rear its ugly head…

As I’ve just spent the past three days running around in circles over…
dad…

Add to that some other rather pressing issues of life and we have
our very own Henny Penny running around clucking like a nut.

If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who may have spotted a black car,
early this morning, out on the four lane driving in big circles…
about 3 different times back and forth…

As in driving out toward the interstate then turning back around,
then driving back out toward the interstate, then truning back around…
again…and again…
Not so much a panicky Henny Penny but more like a crazy moron…

Either way I’m feeling a bit Henny Pennyish as of late as I’ve been
twirling about in circles flapping my wings arms trying to make sense of things…

It’s a long story…as are all my stories as of late.
And I’ve promised myself that I will not be overtly verbose today,
for your sake as I wish to spare you the agonizing details…

However…is it not the details which make things all that more interesting??
as in the devil is in the details—
as in really, yes,
he is frighteningly in my details….

It all has to do with a catheter, a nurse, dad, a blockage, the caregivers, the ER
and a urologist that I had hoped to never see again…as I’m not a fan.
Add multiple calls beckoning me to come then don’t come,
come, don’t come… and you’ve got circles on the four lane…

Throw upon that not gas but confusion…adding all the other nuttiness in my life,
throw in the shenanigans of this county of ours just for kicks,
fan the fumes…
and you get me, driving around in big circles
while dad is blowing up like a water balloon refusing to be treated.

So I will take the water balloon dad back to the Urologist today, whether he wants to go or not while taking our chances that
a) the water balloon weren’t burst and
b) that mr nonchalant will figure out the problem
allowing us to get back to our regular business of falling sky….

I think I like Henny Penny…
I think we must be kindred spirits…

Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

Joel 2:12

I am as mad as a wet hen!!

Anger is one letter short of danger.
Author Unknown

“The robb’d that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.”
― William Shakespeare

DSCN3753
(one of the chickens that calls my dad, neighbor / Julie Cook / 2013)

No this hen is not wet and I don’t think it’s exactly mad but it was the best visual I had for this post regarding my being mad.
I’m not just mad, I’m furious!
I’m so mad, I can’t see straight.
As my students would have said, I’m so mad I could dot someone’s eye!
I am so beside myself that if I could, I’d snatch someone up by the collar and clock them one!!

As you know, I tend to lead a rather low key, low profile, low technology sort of life.
Pretty old fashioned.
I don’t do any of that social media business.
I dont TIVO
I don’t HULU.
I don’t do on-line banking.
I have one credit card and one debit card.
My life pretty much consists of the grocery store, Target (pronounced as Targé), the pharmacy, the dry cleaners, a monthly visit or so to the liquor store to procure any necessary medicinal supplies of something nicely fermented and aged plus the occasional Lowes or Home Depot run–and here is where the trouble began. . .

This morning I decided it would be nice to order a new pair of TOMS shoes. I love TOMS—not because the shoes are great by any means but more so because it is a “get one give one” company. A purchased pair of TOMS leads to the giving of a pair of shoes to someone across this planet in need of shoes.

As the purchase was not expensive, I thought I’d just use my debit card.
Well, oddly the purchase wouldn’t go through.
“Strange. . . ” I thought but chalked it up to maybe something to do with using my debit card verses my regular credit card.

Later I made a run around town for a few small items. I ran into a local shop to pick up a few things. As I went to pay for my purchase, using my debit card, something again rather strange took place.
The card wouldn’t go through.
Hummmmm.
Thinking I had put in the wrong pin the clerk told me it wasn’t the pin and it appeared that I needed to go over to the bank to figure out what’s going on.

Writing a check (and yes I still have a check book as some local business still do not have credit / debit machines—which is actually quite refreshing) I paid for my items and made a beeline straight to the bank.

Once at the bank I proceeded to explain to the teller that for some odd reason I couldn’t get my debit card to work, twice. I knew I had money in the account and thought that maybe the magnetic strip was messed up or the pin, or who knows. . .
Looking at her screen of my pulled up account she asks “Did you make a purchase at Sears?”
“Sears???!! No, I haven’t been in a Sears in years”
“How about $500 at a Walmart?
“WHAT???!!!WALLMART???!!! I don’t even go in Walmart!!!”

She proceeds to tell me that my card has been red flagged over some suspicious activity. She gave me a number to the credit protection agency, told me to call them in order to verify the activity and then I’d have to get a new debit card.

Are you kidding me??!!!

I proceeded to sit down in the lobby of the bank, call the agency on my cell phone, confirm that I had not made the purchases, hang up, then move over to a desk with two women who were in the fraud department of the bank.

The nice ladies pull up my account, again.
It appears my card has been to Illinois, Kansas and south Georgia to name but a few locations all on Saturday and Sunday.
By this time I’m feeling the heat rising to my face.
I am feeling sick to my stomach, I am in a panic and I am mad.

Luckily for me the only thing that went through was a $5.42 charge at a Sears in Illinois.
The other big charges, like the $500 charge to Walmart and the charge for some motel in Kansas were all declined.

The nice bank ladies took my card, cut it in half before shredding it, ordered a new debit card and flagged my account as having been compromised—which led me back to Home Depot.

We’ve all heard or read in the news of the identity and credit breach affecting Home Depot as well as Target . . .
Thankfully my Target Red Card was not affected. Which has made me realize my troubles had to be from Home Depot.

It was Easter and I had gone to Home Depot to get a few things in order to put together an Easter basket of goodies for our son’s new house. . . rake, shovel, broom, hedge trimmers, pruning shears, etc—“stuff” a new home and yard owner would certainly be in need of. . .when I recall using my debit card.

AAAGGGGHHHHH—-I am robbed putting together an Easter Basket—go figure.

Months later the news is rife with the latest and egregious data breach affecting millions of shoppers at Home Depot. As I had not noticed anything “fishy” on my bank statement, all these many months following the news of the breach, I breathed a sigh of relief and went merrily on with my rather boring rut filled life.

That is until today.

Luckily for me, I am only out a little over $5.00, of which the bank will be crediting back to my account.
I know those who have had their entire identities stolen— living now a nightmare existence.

The little ladies at the bank were nice, thorough, efficient and full of advice and warnings. However, I already thought I was pretty savvy.
I do not use my debit card in restaurants, or for fast food, or rarely for on-line purchases, or even when I travel to Atlanta to shop. I simply use it here in little ol Carrollton. But even life in little ol Carrollton is not free from predators, thieves, criminals and crooks.

It’s really hard for me to wrap my brain around how other people can so readily, easily, and often time craftily and creatively, steal from others.
Like I say, I could certainly dot someone’s eye right about now. . .yet despite my anger, my panic and my feeling of betrayal or of being somewhat broadsided out of the blue, I am sad.
Sad that we live in a world that grows less and less safe and trusting with each passing day.

The wolves lie in wait, waiting to devour the unsuspecting around each corner. One more signal that I need to regroup and rethink how I live what I thought to be a rather dull, rut filled and routine laced life.
Maybe the less information out there is better?
Maybe cash is the only way?
Maybe there is something to getting off the proverbial “grid”
Maybe I need to find some deserted island out there with my name on it?

A sad sign of the times to be sure.

Here are a couple of things to look for if you suspect any fraudulent activity on a debit card:
—many thieves are patient, usually waiting weeks or even months after a breach–do not relax your vigilance of monitoring your accounts and statements
—It usually starts with a small insignificant transaction –prime example my initial $5.42 which raised the red flag.
—fraudulent transactions often take place over a weekend once banks are closed for several days in a row.
—I was fortunate that my bank did flag that initial fraudulent transaction and consequently declined the ensuing transactions taking place all over the country.
—be smart when and where using a debit card

. . .yet sadly, the times, they are a’changing and it matters not how safe and smart we think we may be— people will still choose to do bad things and bad things will still happen to good people.

So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.
Job 5:16