The noblest of acts

“Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


(the only sign of color this fall / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this,
that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them.
They receive them from God and use them in a manner pleasing to God,
giving all the glory to Him, without reserving any for themselves…
It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God,
because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due, and above all,
in rendering to God the things that are God’s; that is,
in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is,
all the good that he has and for all the good that he does;
as the Venerable Bede says: ‘Whatever good we see in ourselves,
let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves.’
To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and are
continually receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility,
because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of
every good.
And for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God.
St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times:
‘In all things give thanks.’ (1 Thess. 5:18).
‘Giving thanks always for all things.’ (Eph. 5:20).
But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come
from the lips but from the heart, with a firm conviction that all good comes
to us through the infinite mercy of God.”

Rev. Cajetan da Bergamo, p. 87-8
An Excerpt From
Humility Of Heart

Deus absconditus

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man:
to know what he ought to believe;
to know what he ought to desire;
and to know what he ought to do.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(a fallen leaf hangs in the balance by the thread of a spider / Julie Cook / 2019)

“One of the most formidable obstacles to the conversion of a soul is the fact that
God is a hidden God: Deus absconditus.
But God, in His goodness, reveals Himself, in a certain manner, through His saints,
and even through fervent souls.
In this way, the supernatural filters through and becomes visible to the faithful,
who are thus able to apprehend something of the mystery of God…
make no mistake, there is a sort of instinct by which souls,
without clearly defining what it is they sense,
are aware of this radiation of the supernatural.”

Dom Jean-Baptist Chautard, p. 124-5
An Excerpt From
Soul of the Apostolate

Et tu…?

Perhaps the most famous three words uttered in literature,
“Et tu, Brute?” (Even you, Brutus?)
this expression has come down in history to mean the ultimate betrayal by one’s closest friend.
This scene, in which the conspirators in the Senate assassinate Caesar,
is one of the most dramatic moments on the Shakespearean stage.
The audience has just witnessed the arrogance and hubris of a ruler
who has sought, within a republic, to become a monarch, comparing himself to the gods.
Brutus, a friend of Caesar and yet a man who loves Rome
(and freedom) more, has joined the conspirators in the assassination,
a betrayal which is captured by the three words above in this famous Shakespeare quote.

Julius Caesar (III, i, 77)
enotes.com


(an odd guest / Julie Cook / 2019)

There has been a betrayal…as in an Et tu Brute sort of betrayal…but more about that in a bit…
as our story will twist us back to that moment of utter treachery shortly.

Saturday afternoon, in between laundry loads, I was walking by the kitchen’s backdoor
and instinctively cast a sideways glance out the door…
the door that leads into the garage.

Remember I’ve been gone for a week working at the main Woobooville in Atlanta.
My husband remained behind until late Friday afternoon…
just long enough for a crime to be committed.

Here is an image of a clue…breadcrumbs to a crime scene if you will…
and yes those breadcrumbs look very much like sawdust…hummmmm…

The plot thickens.

But back to Saturday and the backdoor…

“Why is there a pigeon sitting in the garage?” I holler out to my husband who is
perched in his new recliner in the den.

New recliners tend to make husbands want to perch.

He hollers back from the den, “We don’t have pigeons, it’s a dove.”
This coming from someone who has not even looked out the door to said bird of which I speak.

Well, you might want to come look at this dove that is a pigeon” I counter.

To my husband’s credit, we are more rural dwellers rather than city folks…
rural folks who have doves and not city slicker pigeons.

Sure enough, my husband meanders into the kitchen, only to see a dove/ pigeon sitting
in the garage.

“Hummmm” he muses…“that is a pigeon”

“Really?!” I sardonically reply.

We both then wonder aloud as to what has brought a pigeon to our neck of the woods…
rather make that pasture.

“I bet it’s the trees” I sharply snarl.

“I don’t see how the trees have anything to do with a pigeon being in the garage” he bristles back.

Now our plot thickens even more…

You may recall the horrific tree debacle of October 2014.

I wrote a post about it.
I cried over it.
I bemoaned over it.
I mourned over it.

And I’ll admit, I eventually got over it.

Our house was once flanked by two majestic and stately oaks.

We live pretty much smack dab in the middle of what was once a pasture.
There are a few odd trees and a smattering of blasted sweet gums that dot the property.
Not my idea of wonderful trees…albeit for those two oaks.

The oaks began losing their leaves one summer.
Like in losing copious amounts of leaves.
Leaves were everywhere and it was driving my husband crazy because it was the middle
of summer and we were dealing with leaves like it was the end of Fall.

A year passed with a threat…“if those trees do that next year, they’re gone!”

The trees were sick but I didn’t know what to do.
No arborists out in our neck of the woods…uh, pasture.

But my husband knew what to do.

Cut them down.

For you see that seems to be my husband’s answer to everything.
It’s an “Off with their heads” mentality.

The bushes are out of whack, get rid of them.
Something is causing you a problem?
Let it go…as in literally let it go.
As he is a menace with a chainsaw.

The year passed and the trees lost more leaves even faster…
And then the trees were cut.
Afterward it did appear as if they were sickly and most likely would, in time,
probably have fallen.
Possibly falling toward the house.

Plus he constantly groused over the gutters and the mildew on that side of the house
always having to be cleaned…as in it was all the tree’s fault.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I like trees.
I didn’t want to admit that keeping the trees was a pain and a risk.

Fast foward to now.

We have a bank alongside the driveway that has—rather make that had–
two River Birch trees sitting at the top of the slope.

Two large, airy trees that have been home to a myriad of birdhouses, feeders, and nests
all while casting a lovely amount of shade in the summer months.

However, for those of you who do not know River Birches…
these trees need to be by rivers and not the latest greatest landscape answer.

These trees are fast growing trees and they are always shedding something
all four seasons…plus the least little storm, and snap goes their nimble thin branches…
littering the yard and driveway…not to mention clogging the gutters.

But for 20 years I’ve watched what came to me as tiny saplings grow into giants.
Hence why they are often thrown into landscaping—they grow fast and fill in the
blanks quickly.
Only to become monsters in more ways than one.

We use to have three of these trees but my husband had one cut down a few years back
that was precariously close to the house.
It didn’t start out precarious—but the rapidity of growth made it precarious.

Off with its head.
And it was gone.

Next, he threatened to whack down the remaining two.

Only to be countered with my begging and imploring wails of
NOthey are home to my birds.
They offer delightful summer shade…

So enter this past week.
I was conveniently out of town.
The plot was now hatched.

When the cat is away the mouse opts to cause havoc.

Well, I suppose this is where I should confess tell you…that maybe…
just maybe, a while back during the summer,
I might have mentioned to him–
“please, if you must cut them, do it in the winter.”

But I wouldn’t use that in a court of law because I will plead the 5th.

So Thursday evening when my husband called to check in on the Mayor and me,
he made a quick mention that the tree men were coming the next morning, bright and early,
to cut down those trees.

WHAT?! I practically scream into the phone.

“Yep. I told you I was cutting them down and you had told me to do it in the winter…and
well it’s winter”

I never recall such I frantically wail.

But I knew my pleas were futile.
His mind was made up and there would be no compromising or changing his
“off with their heads” mindset.

I then quickly responded rather definitely…“well then, you better go out and
find some other type trees and have them planted and fix that mess pronto,
and I mean it!

I wasn’t even there to see it but I knew there’d be a mess.

And sure enough, I braced myself for what would greet me when I pulled into the driveway Saturday morning.
Or make that, what wouldn’t be there greeting me!

As this is all that remains…well make that two of these is all that remains…

So the moral to this little tree tale you might be asking…

Pigeons will erroneously show up when you cut down trees as they now think they’re
in the city and never…never ever leave a newly retired husband home alone…
especially during the winter…a husband who thinks
he needs to be about some major sort of project particularly when there’s nothing else he
can be doing when it’s dreary and cold.

A landscape guy will be out tomorrow to recommend a more compact type of tree!

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

one word…


(The Mayor driving herself these days trying to save on staff expenses /Julie Cook/ 2019)

EXHAUSTED!!!!

Just got home from working all week in the Atlanta Woobooville office.
The Mayor did not slow down all week as she pressed forward with all agendas—
adding to the list as she went.

There was…

Breakfast
Napping
Dressing
Bed making
Sorting laundry
Brunch
Playing
Lunch
Napping
Snacking
Supper
Learning to call her dog by her name… Ayyyye yiiiii (Alice)
Standing
Squatting
Falling
Shopping
Picking up the dry cleaning
Dusting
Re-dressing
Diapering
Rolling
Pushing
PJs
Sleeping

Not all in that order…but close.

As Chief aide, I could barely find the stamina to keep up.

For all you grandparents, and even great-grandparents out there,
who have no choice but to raise your grand and great-grandchildren by yourselves,
without the help and assistance of extended family—You have my deepest respect!!

The little ones are extra demanding while the older ones can be an entirely different,
and even frightening, ball of wax.

Hopefully, there will be a post tomorrow offering something a bit more meaty and full of
depth provoking thought…
that is once I actually rest sleep!

I had taken the latest book we were just talking about early last week The 21
as I was hoping to sneak in a page or two at night…
However, the priority was reading a variety of status reports (aka the Children’s Bible) to the Mayor
who oddly kept a short attention span during reading time…
she is just so hands-on in her job…always finding important things that need doing.


(The Mayor is very obsessive with the sorting and resoring of laundry / Julie Cook / 2019


(The Mayor did seem interested in my latest read, albeit briefly before she thought to tear the cover)


(the Mayor meeting with a representative from the Crab association /Julie Cook / 2019)


(does anyone notice an opportunitst lurking near the Mayor–
seems as if everyone wants a part of her time or even food)


(a small new ride, a gift from the Pig association as in Pepa Pig / Julie Cook / 2019)


(sweet dreams for a busy Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:9-10

tis the season or just one of those days…

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Dr. Seuss


(sterilizing The Mayor’s things in the wake of her departure / Julie Cook / 2018)

Let’s face it…we all have those days when we feel like a giraffe with our heads
stuck in a pot of boiling water.

Perhaps you’ve never looked at it that way before, but admit it, it makes perfect sense.

Maybe you’re not exactly frazzled.
Maybe you’re not terribly overwhelmed.
Maybe you’re not running behind.
Maybe you’re not stressed.
Maybe you’re not tired.
Maybe you’re not a bit melancholy.
Maybe you’re not a bit stretched.
Maybe you’re not a bit depressed.
Maybe you’re not overly busy.
Maybe you’re not apprehensive or anxious.

Maybe you’re none of those…

Maybe it’s because you’re totally overflowing with the love and joy that has come to you
from this season…as in you’ve had one too many cups of the bourbon-laced eggnog
and now you’re delusional…
or you actually managed to grab a-hold of the true meaning of Advent and this Christmas to be.

Or if the truth is told…maybe… just maybe…
you’ll admit that you’re really feeling a few of those heavier things…
Actually, maybe, you’re feeling more than a few.
Maybe you’ll admit to the truth…
you’re feeling all of those and then some!

Hence a giraffe with its head stuck in a pot of boiling water.

So good, we are now on the same page.

I was tackling the laundry yesterday in the wake of The Mayor and her two closest aides
recent visit…

When I thought that I really wanted to cook some little something that seemed
holidayish and festive.

But time…
Where was the time?

Now I’ll happily tip my hat, any day of the week,
to all those women out there who have superpowers in that they
can work outside of the home, clean their house, wash all the clothes, run all
the errands, shuttle the kids, finish the presentations and reports,
cook festive holiday goodies, complete all the shopping, decorating and wrapping
while still making time to go to the gym, write greeting cards, read a book, and post
the latest decorative things they’ve accomplished to Pinterest or Instagram.

And if your name is not Martha Stewert, you probably haven’t done half of those things,
let alone two or simply even one to the utmost of your ability.
And no fair if you have a maid, a nanny, or a small army of assistants following you around.

I actually do think that I was once able to accomplish much more when I was a
younger woman who was working outside of the house while tending to all things of the house
and raising a husband and a child.

I have no idea as to what has happened except that I simply got old.

But by George, I was determined to make something festive today if it killed me.

Every winter, I have to haul the citrus trees, that I keep in large pots
outside throughout the late Spring to early Fall, to the basement when freezing
temperatures arrive.

One tree that I’ve had now for many years has gotten so big,
that I was left with no choice other than to sacrifice it…
I can no longer move it, even with the hand trucks,
so it will be the guinea pig.

As the question remains, can a citrus tree survive a winter in Georgia?
I’ll let you know.

But the Meyer lemon tree that is now happily safe and sound in the basement,
is loaded with ripening lemons. It’s not looking too good as they don’t like
an abrupt change in climate but the looming question…
what am I to do now with all those lemons??

I opted for a tried and true southern favorite recipe…something that makes me always think
of my mom…
That being lemon squares.

Not the most festive perhaps but they are relatively easy and certainly tasty.

And as I do tend to gravitate to the melancholy this time of year as I find myself
missing those who are now no longer present in my small world…
mother’s lemon squares were calling.

Mother wasn’t known for her cooking or baking prowess, but those things she did
manage to succeed with while being in the kitchen are now treasured.

So the lemons squares it would be….

But where was her recipe…


(just one small pile of old cards and notes)

It’s amazing how over the years I’ve amassed such a plethora of old, spotted and stained
envelopes, note cards, papers, and even old receipts all covered with the scribblings
both of myself, family and friends.
A myriad of recipes which have been meant to be tried, tested and savored…
and yet with the advent of all things internet…it’s almost too easy to click
a button rather than dig through the drawers, books, and cabinets seeking that one
lost recipe.

Finally, I found what I had written down from my mom’s recipe…
but as to where her original handwritten card currently rests eludes me…
but this would have to do. Yet I had already moved to a different recipe as I couldn’t
find this one in time.

So as this is the time of year for gifts and gift giving…and since I use to share a lot more
about cooking and recipes when I first started this thing called a blog—
here is a copy of mother’s recipe along with the one I mismashed for today’s
Lemon’s squares…

Merry Christmas!!


(mother’s recipe)

Ingredients:
For the base:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups sifted flour (I like King Arthur’s unbleached)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
For the filling:
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
the juice from 4 lemons (1/3 cup but I actually used just shy of a 1/2 cup)
grated lemon peel from the four lemons you’ll juice
(grate them whole before cutting and juicing)
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
(it is a nice rounding out of the often harshness of fresh lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 9×13 pan—I spray baker’s joy on the bottom and then line the bottom with
parchment paper that I cut to fit. I then spray the parchment paper
(you can use butter and flour if you prefer)

Set the prepared pan aside.

In a mixing bowl sift the 2 cups of flour and the 1/2 cup confectioners sugar—
using a pastry blender, cut in the softened stick of butter until the mixture looks
like grainy sand—and holds together when handling.

Press this mixture down into your prepared baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until lightly
browned and puffed.

Cool while you prepare the filling.

In a bowl stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar, the grated lemon peel, a dash of salt,
1/4 cup of flour add the lemon juice, extract and then the beaten eggs until all
is incorporated.

Pop in the oven and cook an additional 25 minutes.

The filling will puff and might slightly brown just a tad.

When it’s finished baking, remove the pan and place it on a cooling rack,
allowing the pan to cool down.

(here is where some suggest putting the pan in the fridge to cool for at least two
hours but I just let it rest on the counter)

When cool—I dust the top with powered sugar—
I use a small mesh sieve that I shake over the pan
which adds a nice light dusting.

Next I use a bench scraper to cut the bars or you can use a knife

So before you’re hung up to dry, have yourself a merry little lemon square…

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:7

The Mayor almost didn’t make it…to her party

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca


(a subpar Mayor struggles through illness to be the belle at the ball..or is that prettiest
pumpkin in the patch?? / Julie Cook / 2018

Well, Poppie and Moppie came up Monday to take care of a croopie baby…
but croopie turned ugly real fast when we had to race to the Urgent care last night,
Tuesday night, with an escalating fever and the signature seal-like cough…

Turns out the croop is RSV, or Respiratory syncytial virus, which for adults is more
like a viral cold-like illness…
but in an 8-month old infant can suddenly become quite serious very quickly…


(a miserable crying Mayor recieving albuterol treatments)

The wheezing, cough congestion and gasping for breath lead to a required
but much hated breathing treatment.

This entire situation was not well received by The Mayor who has simply been feeling
like crap…but she was quite the trooper…despite wailing throughout the treatment,
she managed to sit very still.

The treatment was successful in that she did feel some better and actually slept a tad more
then the night prior (all her aides were most grateful)–
The doctors even sent us home with the machine and a prescription for the meds that
go into the machine.

Aides Poppie and Moppie had to administer another treatment in the morning…
of which I think was harder on Poppie as he is the Mayor biggest push over assistant…
with her dad coming in a fast second.

But like all typical politicians, the Mayor rose to the occasion…
she was ready in the nick of time to don her mayorial Halloween garb in order to meet
her neighborhood constituents as she sat on the front porch in Moppie’s lap while mom
handed out candy…opting to be a Pumpkin in order to show her support to the
gourd and squash family.


(Moppie with The Mayor / this particular year it was too hot to wear the black leggings
that came with the outfit)

Now there are some out there in the far left media who might perceive the candy
handouts as some sort of bribe or even some sort of discriminatory treatment against
the sugar intolerant…
But the Mayor insists her actions were all in good fun…

I’ll be here in the Atlanta Woobooville office for the remainder of the week until
a certain mayor can quit coughing like a seal…

And by the way… we are not nor have we ever attempted to be insensitive to any member
of the pinniped family…nor do we show any sort of incorrectness to those who happen
to bark like seals…
This Mayor works very hard to be steadfast and fair especially to seals, pumpkins
and the younger neighborhood constituents who all showed up in a fine array of attire.

I think Batman was a particular favorite.
But the dad that came dressed in full Native American Indian Cheif regalia
was a bit much…something about all of those feathers…

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved,
for you are my praise.

Jeremiahs 17:14

out of pocket

A poet ought not to pick nature’s pocket.
Let him borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing.
Examine nature accurately, but write from recollection,
and trust more to the imagination than the memory.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket.
But I found it would be too long;
and the age of the great epics is past.

Gilbert K. Chesterton


(ode to a good ol pair of jeans / Julie Cook / 2018)

I’m currently out of pocket…
aka…not at home with no time to spend sharing the Good word…
or any word for that matter…

Things are “a changing” in our little world…for the good, I think.

But…

I have always read and truly believe that the closer one grows toward and attempts
to boldly speak the Truth of God’s word, Satan works overtime.

“Satan battles against us because we are God’s witnesses to the world.

When the apostle Paul described lostness,
he often framed it in terms of spiritual warfare.
Non-believers follow the prince of the air (Eph. 2:2).
They are blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3–4),
bound in darkness (Col. 1:13, Acts 26:18), and caught in Satan’s snare (2 Tim. 2:25–26).
His goal is to keep us from proclaiming and living out the gospel that sets
people free.”

(International Mission Board)

So assaults are pouring on our heads…as we work toward some changes…
And so we are busy, tired and overwhelmed.

When Dad died, I inherited his messes.
Those messes are nipping at my heels.

When my husband’s father died, he also inherited his messes.
Those messes are continuing to bite our ankles.

Two steps forward and 5 steps back.

But more about all of this later on…when I’m back in the pocket.
Of which will be tomorrow afternoon.

I don’t know about how it is where you live, but fall and her glorious colors are
proving slow in coming…
They’re saying we had too wet a summer…hummm…

Yep, things are a changing….

He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

Daniel 2:21