Blink and you just might miss it

“I am somewhat exhausted;
I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Dying Detective


(the first morning of the New Year as everyone made it to midnight, and look it)

I don’t know about you but I am somewhat exhausted.

Is it my age?
Was it the holidays?
Is it both??

Sprinkle in a heavy, or is that heavenly, dose of The Mayor and Sheriff.

They both go fast and hard…wide open…until


(The Mayor pushing around her little Sheriff, literally / Julie Cook / 2019)

they crash…falling in their tracks as the need to recharge runs deep
and is impossible to ignore.

And as hard as it can be for me to keep up or keep track or keep going…
I am reminded that in a blink of an eye…I will turn around and they will run,
or rather make that drive, off on their own all too soon…

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121

The before and after the magic…of Santa…

“Of course there is a Santa Claus.
It’s just that no single somebody could do all he has to do.
So the Lord has spread the task among us all.
That’s why everybody is Santa Claus.
I am.
You are.”

Truman Capote, One Christmas


(the local Atlanta Channel 2 news Santa tracker report)

During the local new’s weather segment, Santa appears on a television in the house
of children across the land. He tells all the little boys and girls that he’s on his way…
and suddenly little people start losing their minds.

They don’t really know why they’re losing their minds…it just seems to be
the seasonal thing to do.


(The Mayor seeing Santa on the televison


(The Sheriff shares his sister’s enthusiasm)

And of course, there are always some who don’t lose their minds but rather think
their ‘parents’ have lost their minds by dressing them in a Christmas sweater.


(Percy not a fan of his sweater)

And here is the image of the aftermath…the moment the air, the energy and
the enthusiasm has left the room…

All having left once Santa came and went…
Gone and departed once the packages were shredded open…
Removed along with the boxes and paper now filling the recycle bin,
Swallowed and digested with the final morsels of savored Christmas foods.

Pure exhaustion…


(moppie and her posse / Julie Cook / 2019)

I could write something philosophical or even offer a psychological treatise about
the evils regarding Santa and children…the evils of secular Christmas vs religious Christmas,
the evils of the hypnosis of our commercial and materialistic world…
but I don’t want to do that…

Rather, I want to relish in what is now the memory of a Christmas that just was.

As a grandmother, I know that such moments are more fleeting on my end but seemingly
everlasting on their young end.

I’m simply going to savor this moment, this time given to me as a gift.
God’s gift to me.

I do so while thanking Him for the universal gift He gave to all mankind…
that of his only begotten Son…

Children and Christmas are certainly a magical combination…

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

expectation, seeking and knocking

We may despair at scandals we hear about in the Church.
True reform may seem impossible. Beware the tempter! Rather than succumbing
to the despair and apathy to which the tempter seeks to lead us,
let us instead embrace God’s call to share in Christ’s sonship and participate
in his work of redemption…
Transformation is possible, but only to those who trust in him.

Michael Patrick Barber
from Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know

“Mary remained with the donkey at the very entrance of the street while
Joseph sought a lodging in the nearest houses—in vain,
for Bethlehem was full of strangers, all running from place to place.
Joseph returned to Mary, saying that as no shelter was to be found there,
they would go on farther into the town. He led the donkey on by the bridle,
and the Blessed Virgin walked beside him. When they came to the beginning
of another street, Mary again stopped by the donkey,
and Joseph again went from house to house in vain seeking a lodging,
and again came sadly back. This happened several times, and the Blessed Virgin
often had long to wait.
Everywhere the houses were filled with people, everywhere he was turned away …
Joseph led the Blessed Virgin to [a] tree, and made her a comfortable seat
against its trunk with their bundles, so that she might rest while he
sought for shelter in the houses near. …
At first Mary stood upright, leaning against the tree.
Her ample white woollen dress had no girdle and hung around her in folds:
her head was covered with a white veil.
Many people passed by and looked at her, not knowing that the Redeemer
was so near to them.
She was so patient, so humble, so full of
hopeful expectation.
Ah, she had to wait a long, long time;
she sat down at last on the rug, crossing her feet under her.
She sat with her head bent and her hands crossed below her breast.
Joseph came back to her in great distress; he had found no shelter.
His friends, of whom he had spoken to the Blessed Virgin,
would hardly recognize him.
He was in tears and Mary comforted him.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich, p.185
An Excerpt From
The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary From the Visions of
Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich

“But thanks be to God…”

But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57


(Lynch Creek Farms)

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the land
Democrats, and even some Republicans, seemed mad at the man…

Articles of impeachment were hung in the chamber with glee
in hopes that all votes would pass as quickly as could be

The nation tried to carry on with its holiday of cheer
while Democrats greeted the President’s supporters with half-hearted sneers

With Madame Speaker dressed in her mock funeral black
I wanted nothing to do with this presidential attack.

Despite a time that was to be merry and bright…
I avoided all news keeping this debacle from sight…

…..

And thus this entire governmental spectacle has taken hold…

It’s taken on the heaviness of a thick black cloud hanging wearily
over an otherwise merry and joyful time.

All except for those who had “merry impeachment” parties and
dinners last night…and those who clapped in the house upon the resulting vote.
Shameful and boorish behavior by folks who just don’t grasp the magnitude.

This brouhaha that kicked off on election night 2016, has consumed our news outlets,
it has divided this nation deeper and further, it has overshadowed much more important
issues affecting the entire nation and it is doing its darndest to steal
our Christmas joy…

I oddly think that that is indeed Speaker Pelosi’s mindset…
to steal the joy, hence the black and now they’ve all left town…
heading home for parties and fun while leaving the nation and
their unfinished business, hanging in a lurch.

However, could this not have waited until say January…when we’re all already
depressed from dealing with our post-Christmas letdown and seasonal affective
disorders stemming from the lack of light, the gray days and cold winds???

Yet the stealing of joy is exactly what Satan would like.

I am, however, still left feeling very sad as well as mad…
or is that more angry than mad?

I am mad at our governmental leadership.

They have forsaken their duties to govern, write legislations,
vote to pass or pass on various laws…
all because of an obsession that began three years ago along with
a fast leaning slant toward socialism.

Everything about governing has been put on hold all in order
that ‘they’ may “impeach” a president who has committed no crimes.

Now I must confess, I missed Andrew Johnson’s impeachment
as it was slightly before my time…
but the near impeachment and ensuing ‘abdication’ of office by Richard Nixon
made a deep and lasting impression on me.

It made me sad seeing the uglier and smugger side of our politicians
at an age when I could understand what divisiveness was all about.

It was not so much from President Nixon, who I was deeply disappointed in,
but it came from the ensuing three-ring circus that followed the discovery of the
Watergate break-in, clandestine figures like “deep throat” and
the infamous Watergate tapes.

I had never felt so remorseful for our Nation as a whole as I did then—
only to have been surpassed had I been living during the Civil War,
which undoubtedly would have left me feeling fractured just like our country.

For you see, I don’t get mad at the Democrats as a whole nor do I get mad
at the Republicans as a whole…instead, I get sad for our Nation as a whole.

This is so much more than a them vs them…it is rather an us vs us.

I did not care for Bill Clinton.
He looked directly into a camera lens and lied to a nation.
I had to keep our young son from the room during the news lest he
wonder about the constant talk of blue dresses and oral sex…
How would you have explained all of that to a young child who hadn’t a clue about sex
and then have to also explain that was all about our President?

You can’t and you don’t.

I also hate the fact that I feel as if I have to defend the fact that I am a woman
who is conservative.
Yes, I am college-educated.
Yes, I am well-read.
Yes, I have a deep understanding of history.
No, my husband does not tell me how to vote.
Yes, I am a Christian.
No, I do not like how often immature and childish our President acts.
Nor do I not like his tweets or lashing out…

But I see his childishness as the direct reaction to equally childish behavior…
for our government has become a place for children’s tantrums and their tit for tat.

I do, however, like the fact that this President has made good on his promises…
promises that other politicians seem to forget once they come to power.

Think Jerusalem.

And the issue is perhaps not in ‘coming to office’, but rather the ‘coming to power’…
because so much of our troubles stem from not office but power.

I also like the fact that we have a strong economy, a strong stock market, the lowest
unemployment rate in ages and a President who fights for the little guy.

We elected a businessman, not a politician…
and in that lies much of the angst.

We know and understand the leadership, or perhaps that is the lack of leadership, from our
politicians…many of whom are lawyers…we don’t necessarily understand
governmental leadership from a business mogul.

For the record, I am not a deplorable nor am I ignorant.
And as a Christian, I would like a Christian leader…but I’ve yet to find one.

David was at times a most wretched king who made very evil and selfish decisions…
but God still used him to lead a people.

Am I suggesting Trump is a David?
No.
But it shows us how God can use bad for good.

Oh and by the way, this is not Nazi Germany and Trump is no Hitler…
I do not want to hear that comparison ever again because there is no such comparison.
That demeans the 6 million people killed in the Death Camps.
As well as the approximate total of 75 to 85 million killed simply due to the war…
add to that the millions killed or sent to gulags following the end of the war by Stalin.

No, that is not Trump.
That is not our country.

I am a Reaganite…plain and simple.

But I will never be made to apologize for who I opt to vote for or not vote for.

So don’t scratch your heads as to why this latest impeachment has some folks
sad and not gleeful.
Do not demean those who do not share your excitement.
Do not shame others for their right to vote and right of choice.
Some elected officials leave me wondering but the vote was not mine to make.

And no Speaker Pelosi, you are a lifelong politician, I do not buy
your theatrics of solemness or sadness.

This is not a happy time in our Nation…

Yet I was reminded last night that I am to give thanks unto God.
He has already overcome the world…

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom, since before time began,
befall us suddenly, all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance
we say that this is accident or luck, but to our Lord God it is not so.”

St. Julian of Norwich

what comes from the Spirit

“The adorable Heart of Jesus is our comfort, our way, our life.”
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(a winter treat blooms / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The experience of the Church and the saints demonstrates a general law:
what comes from the Spirit of God brings with it joy, peace, tranquility of spirit,
gentleness, simplicity, and light.
On the other hand, what comes from the spirit of evil brings sadness, trouble, agitation,
worry, confusion, and darkness.
These marks of the good and the evil spirit are unmistakable signs in themselves.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe

‘unthankful day’???

Ingratitude is always a kind of weakness. I have never known men of ability to be ungrateful.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ungratefulness is worse than a cancer; it eats away at your soul;
blinding your heart and eyes to the beauty and miracles that are
all around us each day in our lives.

Geraldine Vermaak


(a storefront window seen in Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2019)

Well, I certainly hope everyone had a warm, happy and thanks-filled Thanksgiving!

Whether yours was small and quiet or large and raucous, I hope you had
some time for a bit of private and or even vocal reflection…
being able to reflect upon what it was and is that you have in your life to be
thankful for and over.

I made mention, in one of my posts prior to my brief Thanksgiving hiatus, that
I was concerned about our society’s obsessive frenzy over of all things black,
cyber and local shopping for Christmas, as we hurridly hop from Halloween to Christmas
flippantly glossing over Thanksgiving…

That in our zest and zeal, for all things of consumerism and materialism,
we forget the importance that first and foremost, there must always be gratitude.

Like many other families and individuals, our little crew took the show on the road
this Thanksgiving.
We ventured to Georgia’s first city…the city of her inception, Savannah.

There’s a bit of personal history there and I’ll chat about that another day…
but for today, my focus is on that of being thankful.

Thursday, before we were to sit down and break bread over our own Thanksgiving dinner,
we enjoyed a leisurely stroll throughout this Southern historic city.
As we made our way through the city’s shopping district, we noted that there were
actually, a few businesses open, while the majority were closed for the observation of Thanksgiving.

As I would expect nothing less.
Families and individuals being able to take a day for a national observation of
gratitude.

I stopped in front of a local business that had posted a bit of a diatribe on their
storefront window extolling the importance of an “Unthanksgivng Day” as they
opted to stand with the indigenous people.
Decolonize this place they said??

Huh?

First I thought to myself, “here you are closed, on a national day of Thanksgiving so
perhaps you should have actually been open to show your true discontent…
or is that malcontent?
But instead, you were closed, most likely indulging in the day…”

And then I pondered the notion of decolonization…as in are we all to vacate this
Nation of ours, heading back to whatever land was that of our ancestors,
telling the last one out to leave a single light on.

The following day, I caught a news story in the same vein of thinking.
It was a story about how the disgruntled, or is that disgraced,
former football QB Colin Kaepernick, who had attended an
“Unthanksgiving Day” on Alcatraz Island, of all places, vocalized his endorsement for
an Indigenous People’s day while espousing the need to do away
with Thanksgiving.

Sigh.

Again, I thought, ‘here is a very blessed young American man who has had so very
much in his life to be thankful over and for, yet he’s promoting the notion of
being Unthankful…”

It makes no sense to me.

Am I the only one who sees the egregious irony in someone having been adopted
as a baby and in turn, afforded so very much love and opportunities, opportunities
found in a great land of freedom and just that, opportunity, and yet here he is touting
a day of Unthanksgiving?
Is not this unthanksgivng just another word for ingratitude?
As in unthankful?
As in ungrateful.

Oh, I get it.
I get what this is all about.
I get the gist behind all of this being that our Native American populations have grievously
suffered over the centuries at the hands of the white European’s first arrival and then
the ensuing conquest of the new land.

I have often said we owe a great deal to our native Americas past and present,
but try as we like, we cannot rewrite our history.
We can’t do away with Columbus Day despite his treatment of the locals upon landing…
because he also opened a great door.

We can’t discredit that.

We can’t decolonize a nation or toss out Thanksgiving because Pilgrims
have gotten more attention than their local native hosts.

That is what much of this millennial disgruntlement seems to be about…
a desire to rewrite an often less than stellar history.

But here’s the thing—you can’t rewrite your history…it is what it is.

It is there for better or for worse, in hopes that you will learn from it
not erase it just because you don’t like it.
It will not disappear no matter how hard you try to turn it into
something it never was.

That you will learn from what was
Grow from what was.
That you do not repeat the negative of what was.
But rather that you may find that which must be celebrated and
in turn, offer thanks…

Do not grouse.
Do not complain.
Do not lament.
Do not have a temper tantrum over that which you do not fully grasp
understand or truly know…
And do not whine over that which you cannot change.

But rather learn, grow and rejoice.

Be grateful.

Do not ask what is there to be grateful for…
the list is endless.

Be thankful for the others, who went before you, offered their lives
so you could live in a place that allows you to grouse, to complain
to have temper tantrums while you opt to hashtag everything that
comes across your phone.

Find your gratitude not your negativity.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more
people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:15

Hummmm…..

Yesterday’s infusion becomes today’s coagulation, which in turn,
becomes tomorrow’s clarified nectar…or so I’m hoping.

cookie

Now let’s retrace our steps.

Yesterday we peeled 11 lemons and added the peels (minus the white pith) to 3 cups
cognac and 3 cups brandy…and let it steep for 24 hours.

And thus we’ve gone from this on Monday…

To this on Tuesday…

A curdled heady aromatic pot of who knows what.

Waiting for about 2 hours, I next poured the coagulated mess through some cheesecloth
and a fine-mesh strainer.

After staining, the remaining liquid will be moved to the fridge where it will sit for
another 24 hours, allowing any remaining “curds” to settle.
After sitting and settling, I’ll strain the liquid through a coffee filter.

Benjamin Franklin used a jelly bag…or so said the recipe he’d
handwritten and shared with a friend.
Aren’t handwritten recipes great?
They just keep getting passed around…albeit it spotted, yellowed and torn.

I don’t know what a jelly bag is and thus, doubt I own one…
hence the coffee filter and cheesecloth.

I did previously add to this putrid looking mess some cardamon pods, a single star anise,
a broken cinnamon stick, a fully grated nutmeg along with 2 cups of lemon juice,
1 1/2 cups of sugar, 4 cups of water and 4 cups of boiling milk…

All resulting in the curdled mess now staring up at us from the pot.

I dared to taste it, stealing a small spoonful this morning.

It’s pretty boozy as well as heavy on the lemon.
Maybe too lemony—

I was hit with a taste of bitterness but of course,
that was before I added the sugar, water, and milk.

I’m beginning to think that 11 lemon peels and 2 cups of juice may have been all of
a bit of an overkill.

But Ben said to do it and so I did.
How can I argue with the man who wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac?!

The sampling I had tasted down at the beach had been made with pineapple.
Since I’m not a huge pina colada, tropical drink kind of fan, I stuck to Ben’s original recipe
and opted not to introduce any pineapple.

I did deviate slightly however and threw in a few cardamon pods.
I like cardamon as it reminds me of a warm Fall cozy evening.
I also sprinkled in some cinnamon along with the broken stick as I like a heavy dose of
cinnamon in my Fall goodies.

I’m now wondering if adding a vanilla pod might have been a nice touch.

As you can see in the picture below, the curds were caught in the cheesecloth…

The strained liquid, which is still rather cloudy and reminds me of apple cider, will sit
for a day or so before it goes through more filtration.

The taste is spicy, warm, and again, very boozy…but in a soft sort of way.

We’re off to see the Mayor and Sheriff tomorrow so the final presentation will have to wait
a day or so longer— but trust me…
we’ve come this far and by gosh, we will have an official presentation if it kills me…

And let’s hope that drinking this stuff won’t…kill me!

I’ll also pass on Mr. Franklin’s recipe.

And I suppose that there might be some of you wondering why in the heck I would go
to such trouble just to make a simple drink…or more aptly, a most complicated drink?!

Maybe it’s because the mountain was there and I wanted to climb it…
Maybe it’s because I’ve been missing that creative spark in my life.

Or maybe it’s in part because it’s something that harkens back to a
different day and time.

It takes us back to a time when taking one’s time was appreciated.
It was a time when taking the time to do something that was somewhat painstaking
and was in turn, shared with others,
was equally appreciated as both a product and a preparation.
There is a deep sense of satisfaction in that.

It harkens to a time when we didn’t take everything for granted…
knowing that we could simply run out to a store and buy what our tastes might
be yearning for…
As in there were no grub hubs or uber eats back then.
The work from our hands filled our needs and wants and thus that was where our satisfaction
was found.

It was a time when things like lemons and spices were not readily available.
So when you could find them, afford them, they were savored and relished.

And thus savoring and relishing while feeling a sense of accomplishment and gratitude
is certainly reason enough…or at least it is for me.
And since it is indeed Fall…there’s no better time for slowing down,
savoring and reflecting upon some past simple pleasures.

Cheers!