the common sense of the obvious

“A moderately bad man knows he is not very good:
a thoroughly bad man thinks he is alright.
This is common sense really.
You understand sleep when you are awake, not well you are sleeping.”

C.S. Lewis


(Percy assumes the throne is his…it is not / Julie Cook / 2018)

No, Percy’s name is not Autumn and no that is not Percy’s chair,
it is Autumn’s chair.

Yet Percy thinks that what is Autumn’s is actually and naturally his…
because he was the first baby here in this house and therefore anything that is
for a baby is his by proxy.

In Percy’s brain, that all makes sense.

So the stroller is his…

That’s him underneath.
He prefers to be up top but at the time it was unfortunately occupied.

Autumn’s finnbin is his.
(That Scandinavian baby box I ordered so Autumn can snooze comfortably after her
workout on her play mat…of which is also Percy’s…as in his playmat.

When I’m busy folding clothes on the bed and Autumn is busy snoozing, Percy snoozes too.

So I really don’t understand why Gregory got so upset the other day when one of his very
expensive hearing aids disappeared and he naturally assumed Percy took it.

Years ago, poor Gregory was involved in a hunting accident and is now totally deaf in one
ear with considerable hearing loss in the other ear.

He gave into hearing aids about 8 years ago and has fussed and cussed them ever since.

They don’t work, despite costing a small fortune.

He’s lost one in the ocean.
He’s lost one someplace else that we can’t remember, otherwise it might not be lost.

Replacing them is a pain and another small fortune.

And so obviously, if Percy sees them say sitting on, say the counter, or by Gregory’s chair or
on the shelf by the shower when Gregory forgot that they were still in his ear when he got
in the shower and had to quickly get them to a dry spot…
Percy just assumes that Gregory has laid them out for him to happily take.

If you are not familiar with hearing aids…they are these tiny, yet expensive little
contraptions you shove into your ears.
They have tiny little batteries and tiny volume controls and they work by amplifying sound.

Unfortunately, Gregory claims they amplify the wrong sounds.

If you’re in a crowded restaurant, they amplify the noisy background chatter rather
than the true target, that being the person sitting across from or next to you…
as in me with whom he’s trying to communicate.

The waiter asks “Sir, how would you like your steak cooked?”

“I’ll have blue cheese thank you.”

With me then having to interject
“he’d like it medium and the blue cheese goes on the salad…”
this as he looks at me as though something happened but he’s just not sure what.

And whereas it can be quite comical and funny…
In actuality, it is very frustrating and equally maddening.

And can, more times than not, make his life just darn miserable.

Anyone who wears hearing aids will certainly testify to such frustration.

As can anyone living with said folks who suffer from hearing loss…
There is simply an awful lot of repeating, yelling, screaming, exasperation
and hands simply being thrown up in the air.

“WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME???”

BECAUSE I SAID IT THREE TIMES AND YOU STILL DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT I SAID”

“WELL I’M SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR, REMEMBER!”

“AND DON’T SCREAM AT ME CAUSE YOU’RE HURTING MY EARS!”

It’s a vicious cycle

So I think the real reason as to why Gregory gets so upset when the hearing aids go missing
is not so much because they work, but rather because they cost a small fortune.

And here is where our real story continues…

The other evening Gregory went to take a shower and took out the hearing aids,
placing them on the counter in the bathroom.

One of them mysteriously disappeared.

I say mysteriously because two were there, and then two were not.

It wasn’t until after his shower that he’d come back to the den to watch TV that
he remembered he needed to go back to get his hearing aids.

If he doesn’t put them in while watching TV, the television is turned up so loudly,
I have to leave the room.

Suddenly I heard my name being called in a not so pleasant manner.

I race to the back making certain everything was okay.

“Julie, I can’t find but one of the hearing aids.”
“Percy got it.”

“How do you know Percy got it?”

“Who else would have gotten it?”

“Maybe you didn’t have both of them with you when you took a shower and the other
one is by your chair or still in your pant’s pocket.”

“I already checked the pants and I remember plain as day putting them here on the counter…
plus I remember seeing “him” in here.”

I did not like the way he had said “him” and I wasn’t too keen on how this was going.

I will admit that there have been a few occasions that Percy may have actually taken one
of the hearing aids, thinking of it as some small squeaking creature. And he may have
actually played with it as he would, say, a small creature…
Batting it wildly across the floor and tossing it up in the air as if it was a poor living
creature to be toyed with before a slow torturous death.

I know this because I must confess, I’ve caught him doing such.
My fear being he’d somehow get the battery out and swallow it.

So imagine my then having to fuss when Gregory obviously and carelessly forgets to
securely put away the hearing aids when he takes them out. This in turn potentially allows
for Percy to potentially get a hold of the hearing aids which potentially lead to his swallowing
a battery and potentially having to have some sort of emergency surgery.

Talk about a small fortune.

Plus as his mother, I have to defend this baby.

And so I spent about an hour that night scouring the house looking for said hearing aid.
All the while Gregory kept looking angerly at Percy,
demanding Percy tell him what he had done with the hearing aid.
All the while poor Percy was simply looking innocent as a lamb.

I crawled on the floor, looking eye level across the rugs, peering underneath the couch,
the chairs, the tables.

I didn’t remember the house looking, so, well, dusty and dirty…hummmmmm.

Finally, I gave up for the night because I knew tomorrow was another day.

So…for four long hours the following morning, I looked high and low.

I vacuumed the entire house, I dusted, I swiffered and I carefully looked, while on all fours,
investigating every inch of the house.

I opened closet doors.
I looked under cushions.
I flipped over every pair of shoes.
I debated calling the vets telling them I needed to x-ray Percy’s stomach…
and I even considered the unthinkable…sifting through the litter box.

I called Gregory who was at work, only halfway hearing.

“Gregory, I can’t find it anywhere…”

There were a few choice words I can’t repeat.

So I did what I always do in a crisis.
I prayed.

I prayed earnestly to God…explaining that I knew He knew how expensive the stupid
little things were and that I really needed to find it.

I decided to check under the couch in the living room one more time,
despite having already looked, dusted and vacuumed there twice this
particular day and once the night before.

With flashlight in hand, I got back down on my hands and knees, bent way down
almost on my head, lifted up the kick pleat and shined the flashlight into the far recesses
when low and behold…there it was.
Despite my having already looked three times total under that couch.

Ecstatic, I called Gregory and explained my answered prayer.

His reply was “Good, and when I get home, Percy will be tried in a court of law, my court.
He will be tried to the full extent of the law, my law.
He will be tried and found naturally guilty and punished…better yet, banished.”

Donning my best defense attorney hat, I proceeded to explain that since no one had actually
seen Percy take the hearing aid…let alone seen him take it to his favorite hiding spot
under the couch…the same hiding spot he goes to when, say a “stranger” comes in the house,
and he is afraid…or the same hiding place that his favorite toys often rest.
There is simply no clear-cut obvious explanation…only mere conjecture.

It is therefore only presumption that he is guilty as there was really just no way
to prove that Percy took it as there were no witnesses.
Peaches, the other cat…did not count.

I even threw in the fact that had
Gregory taken better care, putting the hearing aids in their case, it never would have
disappeared in the first place.

I was beginning to walk on thin ice.

But in the end, it’s all really pretty darn obvious is it not?

Who else would have, could have, taken it??
Especially given Percy’s proclivity and track record demonstrating his lack of restraint with
hearing aids, there is a pattern to his madness.

Yet I was simply running with it…to the far reaches of the absurd.

And thus my far out over-reaching is no more absurd then what you and I are hit with on a
daily basis flowing from our progressively insane society.
A society that is happily playing fast and loose with all things truth, common sense and
downright obvious.

I was running with it just like our own politicians, our legal eagle justice system
and even now our entertainers are running off with the obvious as they thrive to live to
shuffle and distort, to rile and defile.

They twist and turn the obvious and the truth around in such a way that they first convince
themselves while wielding their charms to twist the obvious into the oblivious for
everyone else.

And should you or I dare to question or think otherwise…questioning their form of the
“truth” …then you will be punished or even better yet, exiled…
much like Gregory decided to do with Percy…banished.

And I for one have grown weary of it all.

So this little tale about a cat and his hearing aid fetish serves not merely to
entertain us but rather to remind us…reminding us of the absurdity of that which
is currently circulating around us.

It reminds us of the lack of common sense and the twisting of the blatantly obvious
as the culture gods have taken the ultimate Truth and created the absurd.

Because remember, there’s no better way to ellude the average citizen than to
confuse him or her…so that way, no one really cares as to what is really what.

Now how did that stuffed mouse get in my shoe…?

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them;
the sins of others trail behind them.
In the same way, good deeds are obvious,
and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5:24-24

safety

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct.
Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates.

Alexander Hamilton


(a squadron of brown pelicans skirt the surf / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

As the birds of similar feathers tend to flock together…
dare we assume that the perception of safety is therefore found in numbers?

Venturing even a bit further…
it appears we often equate this said numerical safety with a perceived
sense of security.

As we gather likeminded, following blindly,
snuggled warm within the bosom of both kith and kin…
we surge en masse, with a liberating notion of freedom,
found only in the security of our assumptions.

While we see those wrapped within their holy writ…
brandishing a label oft worn so comfortably and smugly…
with that label acting as a false badge of complacency.

Remember ye oh so comfortable ones,
you who move to the sounds of contrived safety…
The command was to go…
Venturing forth boldly in the freedom found only in the one pure Truth…

To offer….
To speak
To share
To spread
To rejoice
To revel
To embrace
To Love

When and where there is no guarantee of welcome…
nor of acceptance
or of security
or of safety
or of success

Not going to the confines of the people and places where that which is safe and secure..
Not to where open arms are found holding tightly to the covey of likeminded numbers…
Not to the places that are necessarily across treacherous seas nor over impassable mountains…
but rather going to those places merely across the street or even across the room.

Go, and go most oft alone,
where there is neither promise of complacent security nor safety…
Go where there may not be found a warm embrace or a welcomed chair…
But rather go to Him and Him alone….

For it is only in Him that your true rest will be finally found…
Only in Him will there be eternal safety and security…
No falsehoods,
no breeches in the walls,
no holes in the nets….

For in Him, and Him alone, is your portion and your all.
Found only in the number of One…

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,
but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Mark 16:15-16

Beware the gators

“Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion”
Egyptian Proverb

Z-nmg4ohtaPTJzNtpVn_ABo5G7GItu8y
(image borrowed from web of a gator crossing an interstate near Naples, FL)

Maybe you’ve heard about them…
or
maybe you haven’t…

Interstate alligators…

And no, I’m not talking about actual alligators crossing the road as in the image above…
Rather I’m talking about something that is equally as dangerous and equally as deadly…
The only caveat is that it’s just not a living creature.

So now that your interest is piqued and you understand that we are not discussing reptiles…
I will explain what exactly an interstate alligator is all about.

An interstate alligator is the dubious moniker for the remnants of the shredded tires from tractor trailer trucks.

shredded_tire_roadside

More times than not, those big rigs, which are driving on very worn tires, will lose the most worn tires off their rigs to the rigors of constant wear and tear…all while driving on car infested roadways.
As they race up and down the highways, freeways and interstates across this grand country of ours, these worn steel belted tires will basically begin to disintegrate and shred while the truck is clocking 70 to 80 mph.

semi-tire-blowout
(image courtesy Real Truck Driver Blog)

Add to that the heat of summer, as the pavement reaches deadly hot temperatures…
With worn tires riding along an inferno of cement and asphalt, we’ve all got troubles!

Imagine huge chunks of tire being slung off a spinning rim, most often unbeknownst to the driver, as the driver isn’t about to be slowing down or moving over to the far right lane in order to exit or move to the emergency lane in order to stop…

Next imagine being the cars behind and beside these big truck as the tire is shredding.

Needless to say there have been many a damaged vehicle as there have been many a fatality as a result of these shredding tires.

The alligator part comes into play when the remnants of these tires are left where they fly then fall—that being the middle of lanes, along the shoulder of the road…just anywhere they finally lose the momentum of flight—as they now lay in wait, lurking and waiting for those poor unsuspecting drivers who are on top of them before being able to slow down or swerve safely out of the way while attempting not to ram into a fellow driver…

Today’s journey to Atlanta, on its infamous perimeter, was like navigating a backwater bayou at full speed while trying to dodge and miss a plethora of both big and small gators all before it being too late before an impending collision.

Cars were slamming on their brakes, erratically changing lanes, hoping the cars beside and behind could get stopped in time.

Holding on for dear life as I made my way through the cement minefield,
I smelled it before I saw it as the air was rife with the acrid smell of burning rubber.
Dodging debris big and small, I soon road past the culprit. A big rig’s second to the back tire was disintegrating faster than he could move over and slow down.
Tire was slinging left and right as cars did their darnedest to dodge the deadly shrapnel.

As I miraculously made my way past the truck and the sea of tire parts without being hit, without running over anything and without being hit by my fellow dodging drivers, I was struck (not literally thank God) by the sheer magnitude of how things can change in one’s life from good to disastrous in literally the blink of an eye.
A ‘now you don’t see it, yet now you suddenly do’ sort of life’s scenario..

Yet we don’t much like thinking of life in that regard.

We don’t like to dwell on the possible and potential negatives of life…
those ‘could be’s’ or those ‘what if’s’ in life…
but what of the sudden and sheer catastrophic…??

We don’t want to live life constantly fretting and worrying.

Yet we do need to always be ready…
Ready for those very instantaneous what if’s.

As in…what if I’m taken out by this interstate monster right here, right now—am I ready for that?
Am I ready if my life is snuffed out just like that?

There’s no time to think,
No time to suddenly and quickly introduce yourself to a God you’ve just kind of always kept in the back of your head…
Kind of like a Santa Claus—
calling on Him in a pinch or when you really need or want something….

This isn’t like the “oh please God don’t let me get caught by that red light again” sort of thing…
Rather this is…there’s a big black chunk of rubber and steal, that’s just come up out of nowhere, hurdling through both time and space with lightning speed right for your windshield and face sort of thing, leaving you nowhere to turn, nowhere to run, leaving you nowhere to duck and cover….

Your relationship with God cannot wait.
It’s that dire, that urgent.

Not because you need to be saved from flying projectiles or hungry debris alligators who are lurking and waiting for when you lest expect it…but because time will not always afford you the luxury of waiting, pondering and deciding, if you want your soul to be lost or to be found…

There is true comfort in knowing that no matter what happens in this life…no matter the dangerous and deadly perils that await us…the catastrophes, the accidents, the random horrible things …
that in and through it all…God is yours and you are His…forever and ever…Amen!!

May you travel in safety my friends…

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

Truth

We shall advance when we have learned humility;
when we have learned to seek truth, to reveal it and publish it;
when we care more for that than for the privilege of arguing about ideas in a fog of uncertainty.

Walter Lippmann, c.1917

We do not err because truth is difficult to see.
It is visible at a glance.
We err because this is more comfortable.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

DSCN0504
(Rock of Cashel, the Rock of St Patrick / Co Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

What is truth?

It is man’s most eternal quest…

We have often wondered if it was buried somewhere in the mix of stone and mortar,
those tangible breadcrumbs to man’s exhausting pursuit at leaving his mark.

Yet stone and mortar, as now wire and cable, each with time, are eventually left to erode and rust.

Truth is not found in the rusting or rotting of decay.

We have wondered if it is found in the intellect of thought and speech.
The defiance and defense of man’s existence…

Yet there is no truth to be found in fighting and fretting.

However for a certain percentage of humankind, those oft looked upon as foolhardy souls,
those who have openly accepted a fateful day as the hallmark of Truth,
Truth is found beyond the building blocks of civilizations,
beyond the liables and legalities…
and far from the might and power of man.

Truth, rather, is found in a most odd place…
A place no one had thought to look…

For Truth is found not in the vibrancy of life and in the yearnings of mere mortals….
but rather in the loss and darkness of the seemingly emptiness of death.

Albeit so sad and empty as this quest may all but seem,
This is not just any death in which Truth plays hide and seek…

For this Truth, this elusive wisp of shadows, is not found in our death…not yours and mine…
but rather in just one single death…

A single death experienced only once…not at all repeatedly…
Only singularly experienced for all of mankind.

“Our old man was crucified with him,
that the body of sin right be done away,
that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin”
(Romans 6:6)
That is not an exhortation to struggle.
That is history: our history, written in Christ before we were born.
Do you believe this?
It is true!

For the secret of deliverance from sin is not to do something but to rest on what God has done.
When you cease doing, then God will begin

Watchman Nee

So truth, it seems, is found in a single deed on a single day…
long ago and seemingly far away.

Yet is it really that far away….

“God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before He can deliver you.
Once you have ceased to struggle so hard, he will do everything.
God is waiting for you to despair.
He has done it all.”

Watchman Nee

Glendalough, boardwalks and getting lost in Ireland

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord:
His going forth is prepared as the morning”

Hosea 6:3

DSCN0417
(a stand of beautiful ash trees, Glendalough in the Wicklow National Park / County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Walk up to the monastery, take a little look around then head left past the church, going on up to the trail head…take the first right…this will lead you to the boardwalk.
The boardwalk will take you to the upper lake where you’ll be greeted with quite the view—it’ll be about a 20 minute easy walk up then 20 minutes back…”

“Will you be coming with us?”

“No, no, I’ll be right here waiting on you when you get back…
Now off you go…”

Meandering through the tiny pig trails which crisscross through the overgrown knee high grass and brambles, all of which offer any casual observer a sense that a fuzzy patchwork blanket had recently been spread across the land, a seemingly long forgotten cemetery sits frozen in time. This once sacred site, littered with ancient and not so ancient graves, beckon to both pilgrim and tourist to come lose oneself in the mystery of time.

DSCN0344
(graves litter the ground of St Kevin’s monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

Stones worn by rain and time now stand as lonely sentinels to what once was. Many are in disrepair, dangerously listing to either left or right and terribly skewed off balance.
Despite the overcast skies, the honey bees busily buzz around the flowering and ripening blackberries reminding all that life indeed continues even amongst the departed.

DSCN0317

DSCN0364
(rippening blackberries / Julie Cook / 2015)

After wandering through the long lost stone remnants of the 6th century celtic monastery founded by St Cóemgen or better known to the Anglican speaker as St. Kevin, we made our way to the trail head which, after a short jaunt by the lower lake, would take us gently upward for a spectacular view of the two lakes for which Glendalough is so named.

Walking past the lower lake we are greeted by the serene sight of deer grazing on the opposite side of the lake…and something even more amazing…
a joyous and peaceful silence.
Blessed beautiful peaceful silence.
No planes, no cars, no motorcycles—just the wind rustling through the leaves and the sounds of birds chattering overhead.

DSCN0401
(a group of fallow deer grazing / Glendalough / Julie Cook /2015)

Continuing on our way we come upon a fork in the trail. Stopping at a sign which points right for a 1.6 km hike upward along the lower lake or straight for a 1.4 km hike upward through a lush canopied forest…we ponder our choice.

Rationalizing our limited time and desire to see as much as possible, we opt for the best of both worlds…it made perfect sense, or so it seemed–we’d take the path leading into the forest, straight up for the journey upward and hit the boardwalk tail for the decent downward.

A no brainer.

As we began our upward journey, we soon noticed that the terrain was changing. No longer was the walking trail smooth–it was now narrowing and littered with meandering roots and stones. Stumbling a bit and tripping over the roots, we pressed onward.

“I’m not dressed for this. . .” one in our party grouses.

DSCN0412
(the beginning of an upward journey / Julie Cook / 2015)

Up and up we wander, suddenly realizing that we’re very much alone, as in the other hikers and tourists seem to be now long gone or have mysteriously disappeared. It’s just the three of us and a vast forest reaching ever upward.

Hummm….

“Isn’t it odd that nobody else is around…?”

“What time is it?”

“Well past the 20 minutes it was suppose to take us to the top”

Now huffing and puffing it appears as if the trail has begun to switchback rather sharply indicating we were heading up quite the mountain trail… oddly we had noticed a sign a bit of a ways back pointing to what must be an abandoned mine…
“Lead mine this way”

“Where’s the lake???” we simultaneously ask

“Where’s the view??

“What’s a lead mine?”

“Where they mine lead, duh”

“Way up here?!”

HUMMMMMM…

“I wish I’d brought my bottle of water.”

“It’s well past 20 minutes.”

“Reckon we ought to keep going?”

“He’s going to kill us if we don’t find the lake!”

“Who cares, I’m tired and I don’t have on the right kind of shoes for this.”

“Is that rain I feel?”

“I need to go to the bathroom”

“I think you can pick a tree for that”

“Did anyone bring a Kleenex?”

“I just thought this was a quick little stop to see a lake!”

Ya’ll stay here and I’ll go on up to the next turn to see if there’s any sort of clearing, lake or view. I’ll holler for ya’ll to come on up if I see something, otherwise I’ll come back and we’ll just go back down the way we came.

“Deal” the other two offer in unison as the relief of a brief respite is lost on no one.

Heading up the now very narrow tail, all I can see is switchback after switchback with trees still looming overhead. Certainly nowhere near the top and with nary a view in sight.

Part of me longed to keep going, straight to the top, proper shoes or not, as I’ve lived long enough to know of the sorts of rewards that await those who persevere upward…
yet my two traveling companions were having none of it and were more than ready to head downward…after all this was just our first day on this amazing journey and we’d certainly not built up any sort of traveling stamina just quite yet…and anyway, lunchtime seemed to be calling.

Slowly we began our decent while little by little the trail opened up.
Tiny waterfalls trickled down the hills as lush vegetation greeted us each step of the way

DSCN0409
(Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSCN0415
(Irish clover / Julie Cook / 2015)

Catching a view of the lower lake only added an exclamation point to the moniker “the Emerald Isle, as a delightful peace descended over three weary souls…

DSCN0393
(Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

Finally back down to the part of the trail that thankfully looked familiar, we glance the now infamous boardwalk to our left.

“Guess we should have just taken the boardwalk in the first place huh?”

” Oh I don’t know…I think what we’ve seen has been pretty darn great!”

“And doesn’t the air just feel so good? So much cooler and better than home…!”

Finally catching a familiar glimpse of St Kevin’s tower, we breathe a gentle sigh of relief as we can rest knowing the safety of the parking area and our van is happily close at hand.

“I guess we need to confess we missed the boardwalk and the lake…”

“Reckon he’s going to be worried, it’s been like what, two hours since we left…?”

DSCN0426
(the remains of St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Oh I don’t know, maybe that’s the point…just to let go and to lose ourselves…”

Lose ourselves or not, I’ve still got to go to the bathroom!…”

And thus began a marvelous adventure…or perhaps more aptly put, a marvelous misadventure of a lifetime….

…Time and nature have both joined together, allowing all who traverse this area a rare gift—one does not have to ponder long as to why St. Kevin chose this particular place in which to seekout God—anyone stopping long enough, to simply bask in the peace while listening to the engulfing silence, will actually hear the whispers of a Creator’s magnificent joy. . .

DSCN0357
(the grounds of St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough / Julie Cook / 2015)

***Glendalough, meaning “the valley of the two lakes” is a beautifully serene area nestled within the Wiclow Mountains National Park, County Wiclow, Ireland. Only about 1 to 2 hours south of Dublin.
Glendalough was home to a once thriving celtic monastic community founded by St Kevin in the 6th century.