we are better than this

“Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy
from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after
they have got possession.”

George Washington

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
George Washington


(A Tattered American Flag Flies is a photograph by Dennis Drenner
which was uploaded on January 24th, 2018.)

“Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but
a brave resistance, or the most abject submission;
this is all we can expect –
We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die:
Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous
and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail,
we shall become infamous to the whole world.
Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause,
and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is,
to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions –
The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us,
and we shall have their blessings, and praises,
if happily we are the instruments of saving them from
the Tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore
animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world,
that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground
is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

George Washington

“As Mankind becomes more liberal,
they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves
as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections
of civil government.
I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations
of justice and liberality.”

George Washington

I want to go look for America

Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly,
than a recollection of the happy conjuncture of times and
circumstances, under which our Republic assumed its rank
among the Nations;
The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age
of Ignorance and Superstition,
but at an Epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood
and more clearly defined, than at any former period,
the researches of the human mind, after social happiness,
have been carried to a great extent, the Treasures of knowledge,
acquired by the labours of Philosophers,
Sages and Legislatures, through a long succession of years,
are laid open for our use, and their collected wisdom may be happily
applied in the Establishment of our forms of Government;
the free cultivation of Letters, the unbounded extension of Commerce,
the progressive refinement of Manners, the growing liberality
of sentiment… have had a meliorating influence on mankind
and increased the blessings of Society.
At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence
as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely
free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.

[Circular to the States, 8 June 1783 – Writings 26:484–89]”
George Washington, Writings


(Bald eagle in flight over the James River/ Parks Rountrey)

Is it just me???

I suddenly have a great desire to hop in the car and take off.

Taking off into the great unknown.
I want to go off on some grand American adventure.

I want to go find America.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that this nation of ours has been shut down
for basically a year and a half…and in many parts,
she is still shut down.

Maybe it’s because this nation of ours is now at
some surreal war with itself…

I want to see for myself if we are still out there…is this great nation
I’ve always known, still out there…alive and well?

Or has she become a mere ghost of herself?

Many years ago, when our son was little, we decided to take him on
our small version of the great American family vacation.

Sadly we all know how such family vacations often play out.
The parents are typically enthralled while the kids are usually bored
to tears.

And that’s pretty much how it played out for us.
The pictures of smiling parents with a smug kid in tow.

However we wanted our son to see things we knew that were the wonders of
this great nation of ours.
Wonders such as the Grand Canyon, the rugged coast of Maine,
Yellowstone and Old Faithful, the Great Salt lake,
the lands of the American western Indians,
true free spirited roaming buffalo, the settlements of Jamestown,
The Outer Banks and Blackbeard, the painted desert, the petrified forest,
the Grand Tetons, the Snake River, the raw lands of Alaska,
the endless corn fields of Nebraska, the Rocky Mountains…
So we got in the car over the course of several summers and drove..
and in some cases, we flew then drove.

We wanted our son to see parts of this nation other than his own
home in Georgia.

During those formative years, we took him to the west,
the southwest, the north, the northwest, the northeast, the southeast,
while traversing the middle of this great land.

I suspect as parents, we might have enjoyed these trips more than our
preteen son but in the end, we knew he needed to see our country outside
of his own narrow world—all because one day, he would appreciate that
he had seen all these things…he would have a reference point when
thinking about this country as his home.

I know that not all kids have such opportunities…
nor do all adults…
But getting in a car and driving just seemed to make sense.
He probably would have been happier to just spend time at the beach..
but there was just so much we wanted him to experience.

We did what we could as his parents to expose him
to as much of this country as possible—because we wanted him
to see America.
We wanted him to see what our forefathers knew was worth fighting for.
Why a Revolution was fought, why a Civil war ensued, why we have sent young men and women to various wars all in order to preserve this somewhat “perfect union”.

And perhaps to understand this current struggle with our past.

In my little bio on the “About” page of this blog I mention
that I enjoy traveling.
“I also possess a tremendous passion for travel as I feel traveling
helps to make an extremely large and diverse world a little friendlier–
as it calls for understanding and empathy which are results of spending time
in someone else’s “world”—
as all of us on this planet share a very similar human history and relationship—
the things that make us more alike than different are those ties that bind
together rather than separate…”

Spending time in someone else’s world…
Isn’t that what makes those little connections with others?
We begin to see others not as different but as more alike.
Connections that allow us to understand one another??

Yet today sadly, I know that we can’t just hop in the car and take off.
Not today, not now.

Gas prices are on the rise, the pandemic still holds some states
as prisoners while others are being liberated.
And despite being vaccinated, masks are still required,
social distancing is still a thing and freedom of movement
is actually not so free…it is limited at best.

Throw in a mass influx of illegal immigrants and the notion of safety,
in some of our border states, becomes a serious issue.

Add in the continued violence from Marxists and Anarchist groups
such as Antifa and BLM overflowing in many or our Nation’s major cities..
and so visiting some of our major cities is not even an option.

So hopping in a car while hitting the wide open highways,
in order to go see America, is simply now a pipe dream…

However I wonder…if I did get to go out and see this America of mine,
I wonder what exactly I would find…

Most likely a rewritten history of a nation’s past along with
a now very uncertain future.

Is this land really your land and my land…

who turns sorrow to joy?

“My prayer is that the good God may establish His absolute reign
in your heart and in the hearts of all.”

St. Julie Billiart


(the clouds above a still sea / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Jesus will turn your sorrow into joy.
One can only imagine the shock and bewilderment the Apostles felt when
the Lord told them he must go away.
Though they could not understand it at the time, his departure was for their benefit.
The same is true of the unexpected setbacks and tragedies we experience in this life . . .
When I consider the times when I have been confounded by events that seemed so contrary
to what I thought God wanted for me, I should be mindful that they were permitted
by the Lord’s inscrutable providence for my own good, as difficult as that might be to fathom.”

Patrick Madrid, p. 251
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Bible

How could one Julie not highlight another Julie??

Julie Billiart (12 July 1751 — 8 April 1816) was a French religious leader,
social worker, educator of poor children, and Catholic saint,
who founded and was the first Superior General of the Congregation of the
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
(Wikipedia)

When in Rome….

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

DSCN1612
(photograph: Chicago dog / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

Ok, so you’ve probably guessed I’ve been in the Windy City for the past couple of days. I had the pleasure of tagging along with my husband to a conference. I must admit I was a bit weary of Chicago. Growing up in Atlanta, I know life in the big city is not always as glamorous as tourist boards like to make out….lots of growing pains in the bigger cities—particularly the older bigger cities. Plus there’s that whole corruption and mobster business…starting with names like Capone and stories of Valentine Massacres and the infamous Speakeasies….yes, just a little apprehensive but secretly excited.

Chicago is, well, pretty amazing. Huge, yes! But there is something quite special about this city’s skyline—a plethora of eye candy to the architecturally minded among us. Yes, lots of steel, concrete, glass and granite… man made temples of commerce reaching for the sky… old, classic and stately intertwined with the sleek, trendy and modern. Does Donald Trump have a “tower” in every city? You must remember however that I’ve written a post concerning the natural wonders of this earth that reach heavenward verses the man-made egotistical monoliths that wish to compete…don’t know if that’s always a good thing….

Clean and green are two words that immediately pop into mind when I think of downtown Chicago. They have done a marvelous job with green space and parks. This city borders the Great Lake Michigan. The city meets the lake effortlessly–blending one into the other. It was not alway this way. Chicago, the Chicago River and the lake were once all filthy, dangerously so—but luckily the powers that be, long ago, realized that something had to change and change fast or an environmental death was imminent. When you’re the 3rd largest of the 5 Great Lakes and 4 different states surround you, growth and development spell disaster. And since Lake Michigan is the water source for not only Chicago but countless others around this lake, preservation was and is key.

It was one of our taxi drivers (and that is a story unto itself–my poor husband who is not accustomed to riding in taxis clung to the seat belt for dear life….) explained that it was actually Mayor Daley who is credited with all of Chicago’s beautiful parks, flowers and trees. This taxi driver, a man not born in this country but who came here many years ago to forge a better life for his family, spoke so kindly of the former mayor—how this mayor did so many positive things for this city…that “he was such a good man”….I think that is probably one of the best compliments to be given to any city politician.

And when one thinks of a particular city there is usually always something synonymous with that city—Chicago has yes, that whole mob thing but we won’t go there today—Chicago has the Cubbies, “Da Bears”, deep dish pizza, a Magnificent Mile, Madame O, and of course the Chicago Dog. A divine taste experience encased in a simple, yet understated, poppy studded bun.

Everyone who comes to Chicago must try their hand at a Chicago dog. There are numerous restaurants dotted throughout the city which sells these taste bud tantalizers or you can get one from the numerous hot dog stands located strategically around town. We opted to purchase ours from one of the stands then sit in the nearby park enjoying the beautiful weather Chicago has been blessed with this summer—for a southerner, the low humidity and 70 degree days were ideal.

You could have your dog however you prefer but I’m a firm believer of the expression…”when in Rome, do as the Romans”…so “Chicago style it was”. First you start with a steamed dog, not boiled. Place it in a steamed poppy seed speckled bun. Add mustard, pickle relish, onions, two hot peppers, a pickle spear, and two slices of tomatoes—voila. A melding of textures and taste sensations all within one’s hand. These dressed up dogs are so tasty that we actually went back the next afternoon so my husband could have another one.

We took our hot dogs, chips and cokes over to a park bench to enjoy them on this most delightful afternoon when suddenly a deluge of pigeons, red-winged blackbirds and sparrows descend upon us—I felt a little like Tippi Hedren in the Hitchcock thriller The Birds. As I was finishing my taste treat, not being a huge fan of buns on my burgers or dogs, I innocently tossed some of the remaining bread to the waiting birds. Don’t know if that was wise….for suddenly, out of no where, three raucous bullies land in the midst of the feeding frenzy scattering all of the smaller birds to the four corners of the world while creating a small dust storm. My husband starts uttering words I shan’t repeat.

Three seagulls begin taking charge of the situation as they begin taking all of the crumbs for themselves. A game begins—can I get crumbs to the smaller birds without these larger selfish bullies noticing. I discovered one important thing…Pigeons don’t like chips—and I suspect the whole salt thing is not good for then anyway. I figured out that I could give the gulls the chips and the smaller birds the bread—which made everyone happy …but my husband. Have I ever mentioned he’s not the biggest animal lover such as I am 🙂 I kept hearing something about “you’re going to get a disease if you don’t stop…”—this coming from a country boy—for heavens sake.

Now that I’m back home, back to my ordinarily quiet suburban world, sans pigeons and gulls, concrete and steel, tourists and mass transportation, I’m settling back in, unpacking washing and cleaning, and thinking of the exercise I must begin to shed those extra pounds picked up from deep dish pizzas, hot dogs, prime steaks (remember Chicago’s claim to that hub of mid-west stock yards), thinking that lunch today most likely will be yogurt.

Unpacking always puts me in the mind of thinking about the next adventure…where shall life take me, what wonders shall I see and especially what goodies shall I taste???…
Until next time…always remember the importance of living like the locals—it’s the only way to fully experience and appreciate other cities, other cultures, other foods…
Happy trails and happy travels…..I’ll take mine all the way……