I know our problem…Punch Cups!!!

“Drink because you are happy,
but never because you are miserable.”

G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

I have finally figured out our problem…the reason for all the current lack of civility,
violence, looting, hating that is sickening our nation…

It’s PUNCH CUPS!!!

Yep punch cups…

We no longer have, let alone use, punch cups!!

You know, those demure little glass cups that accompany a crystal punch bowl?

You know…those little glass cups your grandmother always used during the holidays
when all the family gathered together…at her house.

Be it wassail, eggnog, or Chatham’s artillery punch…

Oh and don’t forget that floating ice-ring.
My mother just did a flip flop in her grave over my mentioning ice-rings.
She tried her best…but Lord knows, they never popped out as they should.
More slushie and unattractive vs the pictures in her SoutherLiving cookbooks.
Bamming and Bamming that mold on the counter trying to loosen the ring…
but I digress.

And I would bet that you were probably too little and don’t really remember
those little punch cups…
And because you were little, the grown-ups didn’t let you use those little cups–
they were fearful you’d drop one and Heavens forbid, you’d break Grandmother’s
special glass cups.
You were relegated to a jelly jar or dixie cup.

And if the punch was alcoholic, you were offered chocolate milk
or perhaps some kool-aid or Hi-C punch or maybe a Coca-Cola.
If they were feeling festive, you may have even gotten ginger ale with
a single bright red maraschino cherry floating festively amongst the bubbles.

Punch cups speak of day’s gone by…
they whisper of afternoon teas, luncheons, showers, and special gatherings.

This all came to mind when I was cleaning out the laundry room.

We’ve started the arduous task of purging.
We are beginning to clean out this 37-year life of ours with 21 on those 37 years
in our current house.

It’s time to lighten the load in anticipation of a potential spring
change—relocating, downsizing, tightening the ship!

So as I began this insurmountable task this morning, I found an old punch bowl…
not the nice one mind you, but more of a backup…it was one of my grandmothers…
my mom’s mom seems more like the previous owner vs my dad’s mom as she was a bit more frufru.
I’ve got that pretty one in the dining room…this one was the battleship
vs the cruise liner…heavy and sturdy rather than frilly and delicate.

And as I was gathering the cups from various cabinets and hiding spaces…that’s when
it hit me like a ton of bricks…our current culture’s entire trouble is they/we
have no punch cups…or no real knowledge, let alone experience, with punch cups.

For punch cups harken to a time when we celebrated holidays and occasions with
those dear and near-sacred family heirlooms, be they cut class, crystal or pressed glass
or even something really special…silver or more likely silver plate.

They were pulled out of storage, washed and even polished to participate
in a generational ritual…the sharing and celebrating of our lives as a family.
Christmas, Chanukah, births, showers, birthdays, weddings…

And thus these innocuous little punch cups are equated to something so much more…
they represent family and the celebration of family.

We have sadly forgotten such.
We have become entirely too angry, too self-consumed, too divided.

What happened to punch cups?
What happened to celebrations?
What happened to family?

Long live the punch cups!

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

Proverbs 22:6

“wash your spirit clean”

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir


(a close up of a persimmon / Julie Cook / 2019)

Every now and then, we all need to go take a walk in the woods.

Walking away from the crowds, the city, the traffic, the noise, the stress…
Sometimes we even need to take a brief walk away from life…
and the best place to go to…is to the woods.

Allowing ourselves to marvel in the tiniest details of the Master’s hand…


(a small fallen dogwood seed / Julie Cook/ 2019)


(the last blooming “weeds” /Julie Cook / 2019)


(a lovely shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)


(deer moss /Julie Cook / 2019)


(more deer moss / Julie Cook / 2019)


(hidden shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)


(a fallen acorn / Julie Cook / 2019)

“I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land
so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.

Ezekiel 34:25

Spring cleaning

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once,
“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very
splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures,
following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
they have to take you in.”

Robert Frost


(blue bird box obviously under some sort of construction / Julie Cook / 2018)

Pulling into the driveway and getting out of the car, I hear the familiar chatter of the
resident birds that grace our yard. Glancing over at the birdhouses dotting the trees,
I think I see a bluebird poking its head out of one of the boxes.

Instinctively I race for my camera as I’ve not had much opportunity this spring to
take many pictures of life in the yard.

Focusing in with the camera, I quickly realize that I’m not seeing a bluebird poking her
head out of the box but rather a wad of straw…
as if it’s being pushed up and out of the box.

Each year, usually late February, I always open up all of the boxes in order to clean out
the old nests and straw….because who wants to move into to someone else’s leftover mess?

However, it appears as if someone, bird or not, is busy with a bit of spring cleaning…
As I am reminded of my own bit of Spring cleaning waiting for me…

However my cleaning, where much of it is to be of the literal…
that of scrubbing, washing, and sorting…
my cleaning also needs to be taking place from within.

Each of us must be mindful in our remembrance that Springtime is not merely the time
in which all of Creation sheds the old while producing the new, the fresh, the radiant
and the young…
Spring is also the time for us, mankind, to shed our old while taking on a newness
of fresh beginnings as well.

Shedding the dust and weight of the heaviness of our old sinful selves—
Ridding ourselves of that ever-present sinful nature of man, as we step outward and forward
with the Resurrected Christ into the light of a new dawn…

There is certainly no rest for the weary!

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this
day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates,
or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household,
we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15

The pursuit of purity

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
― Mae West

DSC01074
(azalea bloom / Julie Cook / 2015)

I suppose if anyone could exude a rather racy, even wanton lifestyle, it would be the famously baudy actress Mae West. Mae was considered a maverick well before her time as she was a fierce woman of independence long before such was fashionable. She began her career acting in Vaudeville and continued writing, producing, singing, appearing, performing for the next 7 decades.

Her famous line full of buxom appeal and coy shift of shoulder, “why don’t you come up sometime n see me” left audiences, in 1933, a bit shocked as well as intrigued by this overt coquette of an actress. Wholesomeness, innocence and purity were not virtues claimed by Mae West.
She made no bones about it as her life reflected, up to her death at age 87, a woman who didn’t seem to care much for social norms.

Whereas Mae West was always up front and honest about basically being bad or a pushing the envelope sort of individual, there are today so many others who wish to project an image of pure goodness without much regard for honest self examination. Meaning, the best foot forward may be well intended or even purposely placed, yet the truth of the matter is that it is actually greatly soiled.

Projecting a persona of humility and squeaky clean living while actually racing toward the polar opposite would or should certainly require a bit of self reflection and introspection. Who among us wouldn’t benefit from a little delving into our hearts? Examining our intentions, our desires, our ambitions, our drive, the pursuit of our goals—questioning our true motives and asking the hard questions as to whether our desires, pursuits, lives, thoughts are as pure and as good as we project and actually believe, or rather are they not perhaps a bit soiled? We work so hard trying to fool others, yet are we not the ones who are truly fooled?

It is to each of us, each single individual, to consider the purity of our own lives and heart.
Some of us will claim we don’t have time to bother with a life where purity or wholesomeness is involved.
Some of us will even wonder why we should dare take to the time to even consider such.
Some will argue that the idea of a pure life equates to a boring life. . .and by world standards,
I suppose that might be true.

Purity equates to wholesomeness, chastity, and innocence. Not exactly popular virtues by way of Hollywood’s or the Entertainment industry’s standards. It’s a sad observation that virtues consisting of the positive and of goodness simply don’t sell like vices such as sexual promiscuity, violence, greed, self absorption, etc.
Yet there remains buried deep within our hearts a desire to seek that which is pure.
That which is whole, clean, virtuous, good . . .

To be washed clean.
To be given hope.
To be made whole.
To be turned around.
To find true peace.
To be made pure

Life changing.
Life altering.
Life saving.

And it is to the One who is Pure. . .it is He who calls our name and to whom we all long.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21