where can I find a pet leech???

Do you want to do something beautiful for God?
There is a person who needs you.
This is your chance.

Mother Teresa

Isn’t this the greatest picture ever?

Such a happy, handsome and loving couple…

It’s a photograph of my parents in 1958 the year before I was born (hear the pride in my voice)

Oh, you think that couple looks a lot like Gary Grant and Sophia Loren?

Hummmm…

well…isn’t that quite the coincidence?!

If you’ve been with me for a while here in blogland, you’ve already heard me speak of my
beautiful mother Sophia…

but shhhhhh, she doesn’t know.

Those of you who know me or have read much of this little blog over the years,
know that I am actually adopted.

I’ve shared this little tale before but for those of you who haven’t heard this
part of the backstory, I’ll back up a tad…

Back in college, my college roommates, whom I loved and still love, all knew of
my adoption.
One evening when I was in the Library having to do some sort of research on whatever
it was I was researching, I happened upon a shelf of books all concerning adoption.
I started pulling book upon book off the shelf and read about a subject I’d never really
looked into, much less discussed.

I shared with my roommates these new findings and curiosities.
And they too were curious…as many friends have been ever since.

But they also had their fun…of which I did indeed find funny.

They knew how besotted this hopeful one-day art historian was with all things Italia.
I yearned for Italy.
I had taken art history course after course on the Italian Renaissance.
I was smitten by those whom I considered to be the world’s greatest artists.
I had never been to Italy, but there some unseen power constantly pulling
me closer and closer.

So as screwball and silly college kids can be, I came home one day to a picture
of Sophia Loren taped to our room’s door with a hand-scrawled note, “adopt a Wop ”
–a word not considered politically correct—
but once upon a time, before this dreaded PC world of ours,
each country, each ethnicity,
each nationality had its own euphemism for their fellow nations
and fellow nationalities…
and it was what it was and no one much protested.

Everyone had a nickname—the yanks being the US, Frogs were the French and on and on…
Most names came from those things that these nations did or ate that would set them apart
from a fellow nationality.
Italians were not exempt.
Wop is a butchered word which roughly meant ‘thug’…
It originated in the southern Italian region—an area known for its heavy Mafia influence…
and so it goes.

But I was happy and even flattered to be linked to someone like Sophia Loren
and I was happy imaging that I had possibly Italian lineage.

Yet this post is not about all of that so I don’t want to belabor the point.
But just know that I knew I was adopted and must obviously be some sort of lost Italian.

Never mind that I’m actually Scotch / Irish.

So claiming Sophia Loren as a mother, who had no clue that she actually had this
long lost child living in the Southern US, as she was from Southern Italy, seemed so grand.
Add to the fact that whenever anything has gone wrong with me, I’ve always blamed it
on being adopted.

So today is no different.

I had my stress test.

It went ok, sort of.

The nurse told me that if I went on for 10 more seconds,
I would have registered having the heart of a 27-year-old….but…
there was a small anomaly.

When I got up to speed and began huffing and puffing, as I was now running uphill
and just praying I wouldn’t come flying off the back end of this inverted rollercoaster,
my blood pressure did not rise with the level of exerted intensity.
In fact, it didn’t rise at all.
It was the same as the resting rate before the treadmill.

Sooo, the cardiologist has ordered a nuclear stress test—
So I will now glow.

Here in the South we like to say that we don’t sweat, we glisten…
so I can now glisten and glow all at the same time!

He’s also ordered a heart ultrasound for the more compelling reason as to why
I had the stress test.

I’ve often referred to my having a bad thyroid.
I have a condition referred to as Hashimoto’s Disease.
It’s a thyroid that fluctuates like a roller coaster.
For a body to function properly, a thyroid needs to be consistent.
If not consistent all sorts of things go awry.

So I take a thyroid medication, which I’ll take forever and it helps to keep
my levels, level. I’ve taken it for years. I blame the adoption.

I have to go every six months for blood work in order to see if the levels have changed.

I did this last week.

The nurse called the following day…she starts the conversation with “Julie…”
I sensed something different in her voice.
“your liver enzymes are slightly elevated…”
meaning I still have a fatty liver—a result of a lifelong love affair with butter…
I get that from my aunt Julia Child…
“your cholesterol is up”—no news there.
and your hemoglobin is up…but that shouldn’t be too concerning…
however, she
(she being the doctor) still has a few questions so she’s sending
for more testing.”

The nurse calls back, following the weekend, and proceeds with “the news.”

A normal iron level, on the high end, is 150
Seems mine was 5 times higher…almost 600

I laughed rather incredulously.
“What does that mean,” I ask.
She tells me that the body obviously needs iron but my system is acting like a giant sponge.
Working on overdrive.
The body does not excrete iron.
There is no eliminating all the excess, it just keeps going and going, soaking it up.

Excessive iron produces symptoms—
all the symptoms I’ve been having but symptoms that have been simply chalked up to age,
or thyroid disease, or in my little mind, adoption…

Because when all else fails, we always blame the adoption…that being the unknown.

Yet excessive iron poisons the body.

Effecting the big three organs– mostly the heart, liver, and pancreas.

It effects the joints.
It causes fatigue.
It causes depression.
It causes hair to thin and fall out
It causes the fingertips to turn blue

Check,
check,
check,
and check…

But…doesn’t the winter’s dark cold dreariness make us all fatigued and depressed?
I’ve lost two significant family members this past year, that’s cause for depression right?
The blue fingertips is a thyroid symptom, right?
My osteoarthritis is age right?
The hair loss is also the thyroid, right?

This latest life glitch is called Hemochromatosis Metabolic Disorder.

A hereditary genetic mutation…
Mutation,
as in a mutant,
as in an X-Man.

Now it’s all making perfect sense…
As in, there are secret powers that I don’t know about right?
And now I know my family lineage….


(my new family)

So now we see all the connecting of the dots…

I told you it was the adoption!

I asked how one treats this little problem…as in how do I get rid of all this iron???

The nurse flatly states Phlebotomy.

Huh!?

I nervously laugh again.

Oddly, she is not laughing.

Cause all I heard was ‘otomy’…like a lobotomy…as in a hole in my head…

But then reality hits and I was like, “how is that to work??…
what are we talking about??…
giving a little blood or what??”

She tells me it most likely would be a weekly visit to the hospital to have a liter or so pulled off…
as in weekly!!!
As in like a freaking pin cushion.

Never mind that I also now need to cut out iron, alcohol, fat, sugar, citrus, Vitamin C, chocolate,
cooking in cast iron, using my grill (iron grates)…on and on and on goes the list of horror.

Just shoot me now!!!!!

But tea and red wine are ok as the tannin they contain helps impede the absorption of iron
in the body…Go figure.
Cabernet, a headache, and blocked iron…brilliant!

The last time I gave blood was in 1978, I was a senior in high school.
Once the process was finished and they had me to sit up, I immediately fainted.
After about 30 minutes, they tried it again.
Again, I fainted.
Finally, when they thought all was good, I was dismissed back to class.
By now it was lunchtime.

I had just grabbed a salad and was heading to the table when the next thing I know
I’m on the cafeteria floor looking up at a bunch of faces staring down at me as lettuce
was now scattered all over me…

I’ve never given blood to that level since.
I can do vials, tubes etc… just not bags.
And here now, I’m being told I’ll be giving at least a bag a week…
Geez Louise!

So maybe that’s my secret X-man mutant power…
Goodbye Sophia Loren and hello Leechwoman

So yes, now I’m thinking that perhaps if I could just find a pet leech,
I could work out this siphoning business from home so I wouldn’t have to keep going
to the hospital…makes perfect sense.

To be continued…..

the humble onion

“Life is an onion–
you peel it year by year and sometimes cry.”

Carl Sandburg

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Thomas Aquinas


(Nothing Fancy episode from Foyle’s War)

Having been a baby boomer, I never knew what it was like living during a time of deprivation like those who lived through the lean times of the Depression
or a world war.
I have not had to live with ration stamps, food shortages, or overt sacrifice for the greater good during a time of grave uncertainty and an all consuming war of life or death…not like my grandparents or parents who did just that.

So when I watched an episode of Foyle’s War which featured the raffling of a lone
onion, I was both startled and curious.
A raffle for a prized onion?
An onion?

Foyle’s War was a marvelous British TV Drama that came out in 2002.
The series was set in Hastings, East Sussex in England during WWII and
follows the life and trials of a local police inspector,
Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle
(Michael Kitchen) along with his small team of assistants.
Foyle works the home front, doing his best to maintain order during a time of
worldly chaos.

Dad introduced me to the series years ago when he gave me a boxed set—
I was quickly hooked.
It is historically accurate, well done and rich in cinematography with great
story lines, accompanied by consummate actors.
I think it is the historical war aspect that had me hooked.

During this one particular episode concerning the onion, the episode Nothing Fancy,
the police office was raffling off a large onion.
DCS Foyle’s assistant Sam Wainwright, is seen to pine over the onion
hoping, or better yet almost salivating,
that she might actually be able to win such a treasure.

Now granted the onion was just a bit of side story to the main plot
of murder, mystery and mayhem but yet I kept thinking how odd it was that an
unassuming onion should be raffled off.
And odder still was the fact that everyone really wanted to win.

It was just an onion for heaven’s sake.
But what I hadn’t grasped was the fact that things such as fresh vegetables,
during a raging world war, while living on an isolated Island such as England,
were a rare treasure.

Not because an onion by itself is considered nutritious, exotic or of real value..
but when you have had to live a life of deprivation, existing on ration stamps,
struggling through food shortages…
adding to the fact that most fresh foods were sent directly to the front lines
to provide the best for those fighting the war….
the act of eating was no longer something for pleasure but was for pure survival…
having a small gift of flavor was almost too good to be true.

Variety, flavor and flare were the first casualties as such luxuries
are quickly sacrificed.

If you cook, or know anything about cooking, then you fully grasp the fact that
things such as onions are often taken for granted….
yet they are the subtle key players, hanging out in the background, who are greatly necessary in cooking as they add a depth and complexity to food.

Onions add a variety of flavors pure and simple.
They take bland to an entire new level of taste…
be it sweet and smokey, spicy and hot, caramely and soft,
or they simply add texture and crunch…
Onions are a key ingredient to any savory meal.

So naturally I considered what my life would be without something equally as
necessary yet something that seems to be usually in the background,
something seemingly humble and most often taken for granted….
as in the thought that it will always be there…
Something that, should it be lost or that I should be deprived
of such would be, in a word, catastrophic….

For me, that would be a death without hope…
which is what a life would be without the real presence of God the Father,
the hope of Salvation found in Jesus Christ the Son and the
everlasting guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh,
God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away,
nailing it to the cross.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

2 Colossians 13-15

Cades Cove, a whisper from the past

If history were taught in the form of stories,
it would never be forgotten.

Rudyard Kipling

Vows made in storms are forgotten in calm.
Thomas Fuller

“Let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.”
― Thomas Jefferson

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(A wagon at the old Cable home place, Cades Cove, TN /The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Dusty and dry
Broken and discarded,
Forgotten and abandoned,

Left to rot a long time back

When was the last day?
The day they simply walked away?
The day it was put aside, forever…?

Was it traded in for something newer, more shiney and sleek?
Perhaps a distraction guised in efficiency?
Maybe everyone had simply grown too old to make repairs.

Or maybe,
it was simply left behind when the last person finally walked away…forever.

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*The Cable house with its surrounding barns, mill and smokehouses are all that remain of the Cable homesite which was once a vibrant part of the community within what was known as Cades Cove’s.
Cades Cove was once a thriving Tennessee Appalachian mountain cove community with upwards of 800 individuals calling the Cove home. The Cove, a farming community, once boasted a post office, general store, boarding house, school and local doctor. Yet Time and the elements had their way with the Cove, by the first World War the population of the Cove was rapidly declining. The State of Tennessee, along with Federal Government, purchased the Cove and surrounding lands in 1927 with the intent of turning it into a National Park.

Much of the work done on the road leading to the cove from cities of both Townsend and Gatlinburg, as well as the work conducted within the Cove itself on the transition from community to park, was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal relief program during the Depression.

Today’s Cades Cove, a 6800 acre historic preservation and National Park which encompasses pastures, woodlands, trails, mountains, streams and preserved original homesites dating back to 1822 with the arrival of the first white settlers into the cove, boasts to be the busiest and most frequented of all the National Parks in The United States.

There is an 11 mile paved one way loop meandering through the cove which affords the hiker, bicycler or car rider the opportunity of viewing wildlife in their natural habitat–deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, beer, bobcats as well as an opportunity to visit and view the original homesites, churches and cemeteries of the original founding families.

The Cherokee Indians were the first inhabitants of the land surrounding the Cove but lost all rights to land claim in the Smokey mountains in 1819.

Becky Cable, who first moved to the cove in 1868 with her parents and siblings, later bought the Leason Gregg house (pictured above), with the help of her brother, in 1904. Becky who never married, but was affectionately referred to as “Aunt Becky,” remained in the house until her death in 1940 at age 96. Becky was one of the last members of the community to live in the Cove.

Kermit Caughron, a 5th generation descendant of some of the original Cove founding families, was actually the last community member of the cove to call Cades Cove Home. Mr Caughron was affectianely known as the Bee Man by the throng of annual visiting tourists as he owned a myriad of honeybees boxes, harvesting and selling the honey. Mr Caughorn spent his entire life, 87 years, living in the cove until he was “relocated” in 1999. At which time the cove became home to only the local wildlife and a sea or curious tourists

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Places such as Cades Cove are important pieces to intricate patch work to the fabric which makes this country what it is. These preserved sites are but a few remaining tangible pieces to the foundation which makes us who we are as a country.

Some of our original building blocks.

It is extremely important that we never forget the lives lived, the hardships endured, and the paths paved by these early settlers who were brave enough to forge a way of life in an area that was not always welcoming…yet they remained and persevered.
Despite Indian hostilities, devastating snows, ice storms, heat and drought, failed crops, devastating accidents, illness, isolation and death…these are the people who helped define the American spirit.

It is both humbling and enlightening to be afforded the opportunity of stepping back in time, catching a tiny glimpse at a moment in history that helped to bring us to where we are today. Imaging the lives of people long past, who were just like you and I, but who never had the luxuries, “niceties” or opportunities we enjoy today…they worked hard and toiled most of their lives in order to make their lives a success…which was simply a roof over head, livestock that flourished, crops that grew, children who were educated and food on the table. It is imperative that we, as a civilized society, recognize and remember the importance of maintaining and preserving such remaining treasures of our history, our National Parks as well as our National Heritage…

And He gave their land as a heritage, A heritage to Israel His people.
Psalm 135:12

Do you know your roots?

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(the emerging roots of root bound paperwhite bulbs / Julie Cook / 2015)

My dad and his family can trace their roots to 13th century Scotland–that being on his dad’s side. His mother’s side documents their early start back to England and that fateful Mayflower couple Pricilla Mullins and John Alden—th wonderful stuff of legends and lore which makes for great stories.

It is however rather forlornly that I often find myself staring at the large copy xeroxed of this giant map-like family tree based on my dad’s family’s journey—always feeling a bit hesitant to claim my tiny branch. Being adopted I often think that there is another tree out there somewhere, in the black hole of my life, missing a tiny limb. . .that being me.

And then there is my mom’s family and their story, all of which is a bit more sketchy. She was of direct Scotch / Irish blood but that’s about all we know. We surmise both families made their way to the United States on the heels of the devastating An Gorta Mór, better known as the Irish potato famine of the mid 1800’s or even further back to the Bliain an Áir, the year of Slaughter which saw an equally devastating demise of the Irish population, due primarily to starvation, in the mid 1700’s.

Mother’s Irish mother, born at the start of new century in 1902, married her Scottish father in 1924. At some point he sadly took to drink and gambling, losing recklessly everything the couple had on that fateful day in 1929 when all the world simply seemed to crash. Eventually locked away to the confines of a TB sanatorium, he died sick, lost and alone in 1941. My grandmother, to my recollection, never spoke of him again. She was left to raise two young girls at the onset of both a global world war and devastating depression.

My grandmother, who forged seemingly emotionless ahead with her two daughters in tow, built both a successful business and comfortable life for her small family. She was never the warm and fuzzy type of grandmother but rather much more matter of fact, frugal and no nonsense. Given her circumstance, it isn’t surprising. Being both weary and cautious became two common threads woven into her fabric.

For whatever reason, she was very leery, or weary, of the Catholic Church as she was convinced that if John F. Kennedy became president, we were all in going to hell in the proverbial hand basket, as God forbid, a Catholic should be president. A bit irrational to say the least and as to where such irrationality originated, I haven’t a clue.

Yet I find it rather ironic, that to this day, there are many a Christian, even in the midst of this modern 21st century of ours, who are indeed equally weary or leery of both the Catholic as well as the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Maybe it is because there are many Christians who are actually unfamiliar with the history, our history, of the one true “Church.” Maybe it’s because many Christians fail to remember that there was once but one single body, unlike the multitude of branches we see today splitting off from the once sturdy main trunk, much like a giant family tree.

A quick google search yields staggering numbers in regard to a concise listing of total Christian denominations. . .upwards of 35,000–give or take a couple of hundred depending on the source.
Rather amazing that in roughly 2000 years, approximately 35,000 branches have sprouted from one main trunk—but given the divisive nature of human beings, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised.

When we say in our creed, or declaration of faith, that. . .”We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. . .” we are not saying that we believe in the Catholic church in Rome, as so many of the faithful erroneously believe, but rather we are declaring a belief in a global family–a global family tree containing many branches. The word catholic, with a little “c” is a latin word, catholicus, which comes from the Greek adjective καθολικός katholikos, meaning universal. So therefore in our creed we claim to believe in the one holy “universal” and apostolic church, not a church, faith, or denomination based in Rome, Italy.

The Great Schism of 1054 resulted in the one single trunk of Christianity splitting into two branches, each of the same faith–the Latin Church of the West and the Orthodox Church of the East. The splitting hasn’t appeared to slow down all these many years and branches later but to the contrary it seems to be spiraling, splitting and multiplying almost out of control.

Yet it is not my intent today to examine the divisions and differences of opinions within our Christian faith but rather I am merely making an observation about roots and branches as it were, and as to where one may find oneself on a proverbial family tree–be it the tree of one’s genealogy or of one’s spiritual family tree. And since I am adopted, which seems to throw a small monkey wrench into which branch and to which tree I am actually meant to belong, I am sweetly reminded that we are all adopted sons and daughters of Grace–so perhaps that means we are all members of the family tree of Grace and Salvation—which is actually a very welcoming and comforting thought indeed.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith
Galatians 3:26

Rays of Hope

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
Desmond Tutu

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(a late afternoon setting October sun casting rays through the trees / Julie Cook / 2014)

As you may recall I ventured over to visit my dad on Friday.
He was so so.
Gloria was her typical ornery self but had made a wonderful Greek salad for lunch.
Dad doesn’t eat any lettuce other than iceberg, so he wasn’t happy. God forbid he should live dangerously by trying a bite of romaine. . .

Just after arriving, I made pleasantries with Gloria who was struggling in the kitchen.
I happily asked if I could help her as it appeared she was going to such trouble.
A sarcastic quip and smart response of “oh, I suppose I don’t ever go to trouble any other time!?” flew back. . .ooookay I thought, fumbling now trying to explain what I meant. . .ugh. . .
“No, that’s not what I meant, it just looks like you’ve really done too much, I didn’t intend for you to go to any trouble. . .”
She told me she didn’t need any help. . . of course. . .so I wandered in to chat with dad.

He was sitting in his chair watching, you guessed it, a black and white movie with this one being a bit newer, as in 1947 new , Cass Timberlane.
Spencer Tracey and Lana Turner.
“So Dad, how are things” I asked trying to sound perky.
“oh, I don’t know” comes the rather dejected reply.
“Well what’s the problem Dad?
“Oh the things I see in my mind’s eye. . .”
“WHAT did you just say?!” as in when did he start talking like Yoda and a mind’s eye??
“Every morning when I wake up the first thing my mind’s eye (really?) sees is Ed laid out on that table.

“Oh dear lord, here we go again” I silently moan.

For those of you who may be new to reading cookiecrumbs, I’ve previously written about my brother and his suicide and of my coming to terms with that crazy time in my small family’s story, shortly after beginning this blog.

( https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ )

I’ve also written about my rather dysfunctional family, as well as about having been adopted, as well as having lost my mom to cancer when I was much younger, as well as now dealing with a parent in the mental decline of Alzheimer’s disease along with the continued steps of coming to terms with all of the above while maintaining sanity complete with a good dose of humor.

I share my stories in hope that they may bring comfort, a smile, a thought, an idea, the encouragement that none of us are ever truly alone in our various trials. . . a hope that others who may find themselves dealing with or living with and in similar circumstances never feel totally isolated. I also share my stories because I am a strong believer in the power of HOPE!

My hope comes from my faith and the knowledge that I am only the created and NOT the Creator. Meaning I am not the one who is in control. There is One much greater than myself and that I constantly need Him to be very present in my life. I marvel that a loving God, sent a part of himself as a sacrifice for a woefully fallen and dark world in order to offer me, and anyone or everyone who so chooses, salvation from the despair of living in a fallen world. Hope as well as Life in the Resurrection of the One who over came Death. Yes, we may still have to fight the battles, but our Hope rests in the knowledge that the War is truly already won.

It is to that very Hope which I have chosen to cling to because the alternative is most grim.
My dad has always chosen grim.

My dad continues to blame himself for my brother’s death. My brother was, if memory serves, 30 when he took his life, and I in turn was 35 as there was a 5 year difference in our ages.
Before that fateful day there had been years of great trouble.
Years of our family living in a dark place with a member spiraling out of control with metal illness.
Violent outbursts.
Living with genuine fear and misery.
Eventually he was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia.
Mother had long succumbed to the cancer, as a means of release.
And my brother had gone on a meticulous and manic search for his adopted parents–only to be rejected again by the mother he so desperately sought.

Doctors had told us he was dangerous.
Finally, after years of maintaining a life of codependency and enabling, Dad thankfully took some initiative. He told my brother that he was no longer welcome in the house—unless he sought help and maintained that help.

Dad had to change the locks on the house–even putting a deadbolt on his own bedroom door.
At the time I was married, pregnant with our first child and living off in another town. I was told to be vigilant and to avoid my brother if he attempted any sort of contact.
Our relationship had always been strained at best—I wasn’t expecting contact.

The short of this long story is that he committed suicide up in the Ohio town to where he had tracked his birth mother. After shutting him out for the second time in his life and rebuffing his gesture for a reconnection, he was devastated, choosing the sad alternative of simply taking his life.

After that tragic time in our family’s history, Dad spiraled deep into his own dark place of mental isolation as he took on the full responsibility which was never his to take.
Our family doctor prescribed for him anti depressants, encouraged him to talk with a psychiatrist, but after years of his refusing to work toward some sort of understanding as to why my brother was the way he was, which had nothing to do with my dad or mom or me, and for refusing to let go of constantly blaming himself, our family physicians threw their hands up in frustration.

Dad bit onto the guilt, and everything associated with it, savoring each sad piece and proudly wearing it like a hair shirt—almost relishing the negative place it took him.

My uncle, when he was still living, was the only person who could get my dad to “act right and fly straight” as he was Dad’s older brother. One word from him and Dad would shut up his “oh woe is me” business turning to the forward moving reality of life at hand verses the dark murky business of a past who’s ending was always the same.
I miss my uncle.

So on this particular Friday afternoon as Dad continued babbling on about “his mind’s eye” nightmare, of what he did and didn’t do, I simply reminded him, for the zillionth time, that that was a long time ago.
Ed was sick and we / he had nothing to do with that sickness and it was time to let all of that go, for his own peace of mind.
Then I immediately brought up Spencer Tracey staring at us thankfully from the television.

Thank God for Spencer Tracey!! I don’t think I ever thought I’d be thankful for Spencer Tracey!
And thank God for Gloria arriving at the door to announce that lunch was ready and thank God for romaine lettuce!

But more importantly I truly and sincerely thank God every day for the Hope He has provided and for its place in my very being.
Hope, joined together by Faith is all any of us has—the alternative is a long, deep, dark hole of emptiness and despair.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see
Hebrews 11:1

May we choose both our enduring faith and the power of hope. . .

Snowbirds

A snowbird is someone from the U.S. Northeast, U.S. Midwest, Pacific Northwest, or Canada who spends a large portion of winter in warmer locales such as California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt region of the southern and southwest United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean.
Snowbirds are typically retirees who wish to avoid the snow and cold temperatures of northern winter, but maintain ties with family and friends by staying there the rest of the year.

(a lovely Wikipedia explanation)

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(watering time out back for the three snowbirds)

Meet the snowbirds:
One kumquat tree, which just might just have an identity crisis as there is question as to whether or not it might just be a calamondin tree.
One recovering meyer lemon tree—recovering not from addiction but rather from a near death experience.
And a bare naked small peach tree.

This threesome is “over wintering” in my basement. Do you recall the post back in September “Don’t you know this isn’t southern California?” The post in which I was near sheer panic due to the fact that the kumquat / calamondin tree had really big nice round green fruit and that in just a few short weeks the first frosts of the season would be upon us?

And as fate would have it, those pretty little green orbs were not about to change before the frost hit—therefore sending me and the trees on a wild race of transportation down to the depths of the basement. Ever tried lifting giant potted trees into the back of a small trailer which is pulled by a Four wheeler, then lowering them down on mini dollies all in order to “roll” the trees inside for the duration of winter? Do you know what a hernia happens to feel like?!

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Well today was a lucky day for these little winter birds—the temperatures were such today that the trees could actually be rolled outside for a bit of much needed fresh air, a good hose watering minus the watering can, as well as the pleasure of actually enjoying a little bit of warming sunshine. According to the forecast, I think it’s safe for them to remain outside until later in the week—when freezing temps return. Boo hiss—please remind me to bring them back inside!

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All of today’s in and out business has made me mindful of the importance the sun plays for all of us living creatures. Not only will a little time outside, in the sun and fresh air, be beneficial for my little trees, it is certainly beneficial to me and my own winter blue mood. There is much truth about this sun business, especially for those who suffer from S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Be it a very real Vitamin D deficiency or simply the blue mood feeling of a tinge of depression that you just can’t put your finger on or pin point exactly why. . .
A lack of sun and fresh air is vital to the well being of most living creatures–with the exception being, perhaps, the naked mole rat, but I digress.

Nowhere else do we see the important role sunlight plays in our lives more poignantly acknowledged than in the small Norwegian town of Rjukan. A small town similar to other small towns worldwide but it is here in Rjukan where the mayor worries over the overt paleness of the town’s children.

For more than half the year, the 3400 residents of this small town, nestled deeply in the Scandinavian mountains, are without any direct sunlight as the sun rays are blocked by the tall lumbering mountains. Day in and day out the residents of Rjukan live literally in the shadows.
If townsfolk want to see and feel the sun, traveling out of town is the only remedy.

It wasn’t until 3 large reflective mirrors were installed that the residents of Rijukan realized just how much they’ve missed the sun. As the reflective mirrors redirect sunlight down onto the town’s central square, residents have noted how much they are not only warmed physically, but more importantly they are “mentally warmed.” There is even a YouTube news spot showcasing how the mirrors work—

But to me, what is notably telling about how well the mirrors are working is most strikingly observed by how local residents are now congregating in the square just to sit, feeling the sun warming their faces—relishing in the simple act of enjoying the sun which so many of us take for granted. Young mothers now push baby carriages into the sunny area of the square as older couples come to just sit together basking in the warmth as they rekindle their own warm memories. . . all while the sun beckons the weary eyed individuals to come find a warm spot of color in the otherwise grey world of shadows.
(here is a copy of an article appearing in The Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/06/rjukan-sun-norway-town-mirrors )

So if you’re finding yourself a bit out of sorts, feeling overwhelmed by this never ending winter of snow and ice or if you simply feel as if you’re living too deeply in the shadows. . .take heart— remember the sun will shine again, there will be warm days ahead and if all else fails. . .find a sunny spot, turn your face skyward and soak in a little vitamin D.

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Fruits of my labors, still gathering kumquats / calamondins in February!! Crazy tree!!!