best to be prepared

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.
If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.
Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.
If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord,
put division between them.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

When I was a young girl, I was a girl scout…well actually I started out as a Brownie then
I rose in the ranks to that of Girl Scout then eventually to that of Cadet…

Life as a Cadet, however, was short-lived as there seemed to be other things for me
to do by the time high school was on my horizon.

But the one thing, the one lesson, that I seemed to have gotten down pat from my time as
a “scout” was that I was to always be prepared.
Meaning…whatever life threw my way I needed to be ready…
even for those out of the blue curveballs…
plus I was to always have a Plan B.

Such thinking certainly served me well during my years spent in the classroom.
Teaching high schoolers meant that one had best be prepared–always…
as well as have a guaranteed Plan B… as both were required for survival…

Now that didn’t mean that I could nor can I see into, let alone read the future.
None of us can do that…except maybe for Sister Grace down on Hwy 16 whose sign out front
of her house claims that she can indeed read the future…

But Sister Grace aside, most of us are not gifted with a clear prophecy for what the
world’s future holds.

Yet for those of us who claim the Bible as the Word of God, well,
we already have a pretty solid glimpse as to what lies ahead…
and we know that things will get pretty ugly before they get really pretty.

And it certainly doesn’t require rocket science to see that things are indeed pretty ugly all
the world ’round.

Our friend The Wee Flea has just offered his view of this new year’s future…
again, not a pretty picture…

https://theweeflea.com/2019/01/02/ten-predictions-for-2019-confusion-china-and-christ/

I think we’d all agree…politics on both a local as well as a global scale is more or less dismal.

We’ve managed to sink to such banal lows having lost any and all sense of dignity, decorum, morality,
manners, and simple etiquette.

We’ve basically come unhinged…be it left or right.

The word “apocalyptic” is used fast and lose on both sides of the aisle when referring
to the thoughts of one another…as in if we are left to one or the other…
very bad and life-threatening things will happen.

And so after reading over David’s predictions and knowing that he has been pretty much on track
and most insightful with most if not all of his observations regarding the Chruch in the 21st century
as well as for politics and life on the Western front—
I’d say that he’s once again on the money with his visions of a 2019 year.

And so this is where it comes in handy to always be prepared.

One of David’s predictions has to do with the plight of the family.
As in the continued attacks on and the demise of the traditional family as defined
by God and later by His own son.

But David was not the first to ring this clarion bell.
Both Pope John Paul II as well as Mother Teresa each saw the demise of the traditional family
as the lynchpin to humanity’s demise.

Our politics are awash.
Our global relations are strained at best, nearly severed at worst.
Our economy is a see-saw.
Our Chruch has lost her focus
And now the family unit, a basis for all things bearing the survival of humankind is
so fractured and redefined that it is no longer recognizable as to what God has sanctioned.

So it’s time to suit up and saddle up.
It’s time to put on that armor…
It’s time to get ready because I think our time of preparation is almost past…

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand
your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the
flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:11-17

the cutest little worrisome concern

“There is a great difference between worry and concern.
A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.”

Harold Stephens

For as the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day,
so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all.

Aristotle

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(a close up of my returning resident…who has got to go / Julie Cook / 2016)

I’ve mentioned before that I was not like most little girls growing up…
Whereas many a little girl donned fancy little party dresses,
complete with lacy little petticoats underneath…
whiling away their hours playing with baby dolls and the like…
I was in a pair of shorts with matching flip flops, wearing a Gilligan’s sailor hat,
while building pine straw forts in the woods….

On reading day, that most exciting day of the week, when we were all marched to the library,
in order to pick out a book for our weekly reading,
with most young girls choosing books about the adventures of Madeleine or
books about fairy princesses–
I was picking out science books about bats…

Oddly I found bats to be the cutest little things.
Brown and furry with tiny beady black eyes—
kind of like a teddy bear…
yet where there were to be arms and paws, the bats had wings and claws.

I don’t know where any of that came from…and bless my mother’s heart for enduring such…
but just remember…I was adopted…

However, fast forward to today…
to this now grown woman who has been around the block a couple of times or more…
This woman who has had much learning and experience now tucked safely up
under her belt.
She knows that things such as bats are good for the environment,
as they are Mother Nature’s natural insect eradicators.
They are our secret weapons against things like malaria and zika….

Yet I also know that bats are susceptible to things such rabies and the like…
And whereas their droppings make for great fertilizer, it is also rife with bacteria….
Several small caveats to having them in close proximity to humans and their pets…

So I was thrown into a bit of a tizzy when I walked out on the back deck this morning
just to find Percy, my dear sweet cat, sitting directly at the door.
His head cocked at an almost 90 degree angle making those
odd little sounds he makes when he spies a bird.

I follow his gaze….

Knowing there was no bird hiding up under the awning of the back deck…
just wanting to hang out with the resident cat…I had a sneaky suspicion what I was seeking…
And sure enough, wedged between the awning and the house was a lumpy dark mass….

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I snatch up Percy like he’s on fire, whisking him inside before he could utter a sound.
That’s all I need…a bat to bite Percy… sending all that money down the drain on rabies shots—
I don’t know how all that really works—is he, isn’t he now immune from rabid bats???

I grab a broom.
I poke the broom up in the crevice gently attempting to nudge the little bat loose in hopes
that he’ll opt to fly away.
The bat makes a crackling sound at me like a giant bug….
I drop the broom and jump in the house.

You may notice in the picture above what appears to be a dryer sheet stuffed up by the little bat.
You are correct.
It is a dryer sheet.
And I suddenly have a moment of deja vu….
as I think this little fella tried to move in here last summer.

Last summer I panicked, like I’m doing today, wondering if the bat I spied
wedged up between the awning and the house had actually bitten the cats…
Plus I fretted about bat droppings covering my grill…

So I did the only thing any former Girl Scout could think of at that very moment
which might act as a bat deterrent…
I grabbed a box of dryer sheets.

I stuffed dryer sheets in all the cracks and crevices between the awning,
the deck and the house.
However it soon became obvious that bats like a fresh scented crevice—
the now pair of bats paid the dryer sheets no never mind—
Continuing to fly out at night and back during the day only to roost
in a clean scented crevice.
At least they are clean scented loving bats.

As I was now to my last resort, other than taking a flamethrower to the awning which I would imagine would result in a small fire…I grabbed a can of hornet spray, aimed and fired.

Out shot the bat, narrowly missing my head…

So today, with this latest little guy back and obviously up to his same idea of moving in,
I have decided he must have a very short memory and now needs a refresher course in eviction.

So once again, this evening, when the sun goes down and this sleepy
little thing decides to finally get up, and seek the myriad of disease carrying mosquitoes…
I’m going to douse his bedroom with wasp poison—
and pray he decides to move on once the sun comes up….

Otherwise I might just go purchase said flamethrower….

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*****This little brown bat is native to Georgia.
Recently, their declining numbers have alarmed both scientist and
wildlife management specialists alike.

Bats, like frogs, are first responders to changes in the environment.
Their declining numbers indicate that environmental troubles are afoot.
Currently there is an epidemic, in the state of Georgia,
which is adversely affecting the little brown bat population.
It is known as WNS—white nose syndrome.
It is a fungus that is decimating entire colonies…by the millions.

This little bat is most likely a male as they tend to roost alone.
They are marvelous insect gathers.
But in close proximity to humans, they do raise a concern.

This little bat is obviously aggravated that I keep snapping his picture
all the while as he’s trying to get his beauty sleep…

And the broom is a real pain in his behind….

Please visit the following Georgia wildlife link for more information concerning
the plight of the little brown bats….

http://www.georgiawildlife.com/WNSFAQ

Expecting the unexpected

“There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected: the expected for which one has refused to prepare.”
― Mary Renault

“The expected always happens”
― Benjamin Disraeli

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(an unexpected visitor rising up from the woods / Julie Cook / 2015)

It was early Sunday morning. . .my husband was outside as I was still in, cleaning up the kitchen.
Suddenly. . .out of nowhere, there is a voracious, deep engulfing sound reverberating from some place out and up.
“What in the world is he doing” I wondered as the cat flew past me racing into the house in a pure panic.

“GET THE CAMERA” I hear reaching up through the closed windows.
Racing outside to the shouts of my husband and the mysterious intermittent dinosauresque blast of sound.
“DO YOU SEE IT??!!” IT’S OVER THERE. . .”
Careening my neck and squinting my eyes I peer toward the woods. . .
Woods. . .
We live on 5 acres of what was once pure pasture surrounded by woods. What is it that is seemingly so large, so massive and so ravenous sounding which is about to come forth from the cover of dense woods to devour us. . .shades of Jurassic Park play through my mind. . .a T Rex, perhaps a wicked little valasoraptor is about to break through the trees, racing toward my direction. . .

When from out of nowhere, the tip of a hot air ballon peeks above the tree tops.

I don’t know. . .I don’t think I want to know. . .how, why. . .where does a hot air ballon come from in the middle of the woods in the middle of the countryside. . .who knew. . .

Which brings us to today and my visit to Dads. . .

I had departed early for Atlanta this morning feeling pretty good about everything. . .the weather was great with a bright beautiful sun rising brilliantly in a deep blue summer-like sky. . .the traffic for a Monday morning was delightfully manageable and heck, I had seen a hot air balloon at my house the morning prior, this was a great day and it was to be a simple easy visit with nothing pressing. . .no major decisions, no crisis. . .

One might say that’s what I get for “assuming” all is well, for being complacent or simply for being lost in the joys of Spring. . .silly me. . .

Too long of a story to express.
There are no words. . .
It was the twilight zone meets a breaking heart
Sad
Frustrating
Exasperating
Hard
Bewildering
Aggravating
A “you’ve got to be kidding me” kind of day. . .

Just know that it was the type of day that left me driving home, in tears, debating
stopping traffic on both sides of I20, climbing on top of my car and simply screaming for the world to stop. . .

I was a girl scout.
I know all about being prepared.
I’m a mother. . .
A career long educator—teenagers for heaven’s sake!
I know all about the plan B’s of life
So why did I not see today coming?
Why do I continue to think things will be predictable, calm, routine. . .
These two people have dementia, as well as a host of maladies besetting
bodies that are betraying the owners. . .

Expect the unexpected.

God prepares us for that.
We are strangers in a strange land.
We are the apparent enemy of the state, as we are the heirs apparent to the glory of the Son.
We are the adopted sons and daughters, not of this world, but of God almighty. .
And yes, we know all about the unexpected and yet it is to the expected, the known promise to which we cling. . .as I look to comfort myself with the notion that I must continue looking for those unexpected balloons of wonderment rising up from the dark woods of my life. . .

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
James 4:13-15

Signs

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
― David Eddings

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.”
George Bernard Shaw

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(the signs of things to come in this black oak tree, a myriad of forming acorns / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sitting out on the back deck yesterday evening, something up in the nearby oak tree caught my eye.
“What in the world?!” I hear myself asking out loud to the cat.
Ok, so my asking the cat ‘what’s up in the tree’ is for an entirely different sort of post–let’s just stick to the current question at hand—and that happens to be what’s up in the oak tree.

Thinking I know the answer to my own question, I dash inside searching for the camera—remember, it’s never where one needs it, when one wants it.
Finally locating and immediately grabbing said camera, I zoom back out to the deck in order to zoom in on the tops of the tree.

Yep, I knew it—the tree is loaded with acorns.

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“And that means what?” you’re wondering. . .
It’s a sign silly.
“A sign?”
Yes, as in a sign, a prognostication, perhaps even a harbinger.
“A harbinwho?
Harbinger—as in an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.
Of course I suppose it doesn’t have to be all that dark and sinister—it can be a heralder or announcement of something maybe positive to come—

“Such as?”

A hard winter or not a hard winter.

“Hummmm. . . ”

I have noticed a couple of wooly bears.
“Wooly who’s?”
Wooly bear caterpillars–those prickly black and reddish caterpillars which make their presence known this time of year.
They’re harbingers too you know.
As in harbingers of a bad winter.

However I suppose it is only the middle of July. . . Who wants to think about let alone chatter about harbingers and winter when it seems most of us are still trying to forget this past winter ?!
And anyway, in case anyone was paying attention, St Swithin’s day was Tuesday, July 15th.
As in:

St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

All of which means that it was hot and sunny here on Tuesday. According to St Swithin— it’s going to be hot and dry for the next 40 days!
Do you have any idea what that’s going to mean for my plants and my water bill?!?!?

As a former girl scout, I do think it is always best to be prepared. . .
One certainly never knows when the weather is going to change.
Keeping watch for the harbingers and signs of impending change is most important. . .

And now if you will please excuse me—I need to go out and check on those bulls across the street. . .if they’re laying down, you can count on that needed rain!! St Swithin or not!