I’ll wait until October….


(Scrooge played by Alistair Sim and the Ghost of Christmas past play by Michael Dolan / 1951)

For all intense purposes…the calendar date reads December 6th—well past October.
But this was my lament and statement back in say, June…

“I’ll wait until October”

Let’s back up a tad…

At the end of spring and the start of summer, we had finally decided to “makeover” two
of the three bedrooms upstairs that were long in need of redoing.

The third room that was already up to speed, is our guest bedroom.
A room that we had lovingly dubbed “Martha’s room”
as it was where my aunt would stay when she’d come to visit.

Of the other two rooms–one had been out son’s room.
A room he vacated, for all intent purposes, in say…2007…upon high school
graduation.

He occasionally returned throughout college for a few extended stints
before heading off to a fraternity house and later various apartments…and blessedly
basically forever upon graduation.

He is now married for almost 6 years, with two kids…
I think we were safe and in the clear for changing out the room.

However, that’s not to say that the door doesn’t always remain open should a need ever arise…
but it’s just that the content is now drastically and delightfully altered
as the room has been brought up to speed.

The other room had been pretty much a catch-all for things such as a
weight machine (something our son never seemed to think much of in order
to take it with him when he finally moved out–sigh),
along with boxes and boxes of files that had been dad’s world, of which I inherited
when he was no longer able to care for himself.

So my husband and I discarded, sorted, thrashed, regrouped all the stuff that was to
stay and all the stuff that was to go, turning that last room into a lovely home office of sorts.

However, it now irks my husband to no end that I went to a great deal of trouble,
not to mention expense, decorating and arranging with some wonderful old pieces
I’d found, just to simply continue using the kitchen table for my “workspace.”

He, on the other hand, uses the office religiously.

When he retired, he was accustomed to having had an office.
A place where he kept his files, bills, notices and where he sat down
to pay bills and do paperwork.

On the other hand, as a teacher, I was used to simply grabbing space at a clean table.
Hence, my affinity for the kitchen table.
I also like the wall of windows in the kitchen which provides ample light.
Much like my classroom use to provide.

I did have an “office” but “the office” consisted of a computer table with the bulk of the
room being, more or less, storage space and where we housed the kiln.
I, therefore, preferred the open space of the classroom.

For a while, following dad’s slow demise, my home “workspace” was moved to the dining room
table as the papers and boxes were growing exponentially and the kitchen was simply not the place.
Following dad’s death and the gutting of the two rooms, I moved dad and my
“stuff” to the new office.

Since the closets in those two made-over rooms were now basically gutted,
I thought I would store a few of my more cherished and ancient family Christmas ornament
boxes in the two vacated closets.

“Get them out of the attic,” I told myself.
The summer heat, in a house’s attic in Georgia, is deathly.
The winter is equally as harsh.
Not the place to store things of “treasure” but sometimes
that’s all one has.

The boxes contained much loved and long passed down ornaments.
With each ornament telling a story.

One box contained the porcelain Christmas angels and tiny nutcrackers I’d been
collecting since I was in high school.
Gifts along with those offered by long-gone family members.
Boxes that always quickened my heart each Christmas when I brought
them out to the tree.

I thought the move out of the attic would help their survival.

HA!

Do we call that the best-laid plans…????

Almost as soon as I moved the boxes to the closet, I placed one on a shelf
in order to come back when I’d next move in a few more, allowing for me to
rearrange my sorting.

Suddenly, there was a loud crash.

UGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Before even looking, I knew.

Sure enough, the porcelain angel box was on its side as pieces of angels were
strewn across a closet floor.

I opted to play Scarlett–for tomorrow would be another day…


(Scarlett following Rhett’s departure / Gone With The Wind / 1939)

I uprighted the box, scooped up all the pieces, dumping them back in the box,
all willy nilly, and closed the top…
I stopped long enough to announce aloud to no one but myself,
I’ll worry about this little disaster in October.

The small disaster was more than I could deal with or bear that day.
Or seemingly any day thereafter.
I dreaded what I would find and I dreaded the meticulous gluing that would ensue.

Well as time past, I kept reminding myself about October.

July came and went.
August came and went.
September came and went.
October…came and went.
November came and went.
December is here.

I have decided there will be no tree this year.
The first treeless Christmas in 60 years of my life.

Nor is the manger scene box unpacked or moved from the closet.

It’s not so much over the broken bits and pieces of my Christmases past but
really because the kids won’t be able to come home before
Christmas comes and goes as both work and other demands of time will keep them away.

The plan is that we will go up on Christmas Eve to spend the night.
And I’ll go up in about a week to get the kids and help out at home.

The tree is a pain to haul up from the basement–it’s large and cumbersome.
The decorating requires various ladders.
Not to mention the hauling of the ornament boxes down from upstairs.

The fluffing of the tree, the sorting, and unpacking of the ornaments—
only to turn around and pack it all right back up.

A friend of my husband’s had offered to help him haul up the tree but I told him
not to worry.

“I don’t think we’ll put up the tree this year.”
“But why?” he implored.
“Because no one will be coming home, it’ll be just us.”
“Well, the two of you can enjoy it”
“Well, it’s an awful lot of work for just two people to stare at.”

Maybe it’s the melancholy of the season.
Maybe it’s the fact that the house will be quiet.
Maybe it’s the fact that we’re both a little older.
Maybe it’s the lunacy griping our Nation.
The country is being railroaded and no one seems able to stop the madness.
Maybe I’m simply tired.

The jury is still out, but I’m pretty certain there will be no tree…

One day, some cold rainy day, I’ll pull out that box of
debris and start gluing things back together…

But for now…I did at least manage to get the lights and decorations up outside…
so no one passing by the house is any the wiser that on the inside,
only the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

Oh and by the way, my son stole the stockings I had made for his little crew…
they’ve been spirited off to Atlanta only to hang on the same mantle
my stocking once hung…
So the stockings I’ve hung are quite the hodgepodge.

Hummmmm…
maybe Ebenezer was right, “wouldn’t it be better if I just
went home to bed?”


(Alistair Sim

Ebenezer : [to the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come]
I am standing in the presence of the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come?
And you’re going to show me the shadows of things that have not yet happened but will happen?
Spirit of the Future, I fear you more than any spectre I have met tonight! But even in my fear,
I must say that I am too old! I cannot change! I cannot! It’s not that I’m inpenitent,
it’s just… Wouldn’t it be better if I just went home to bed?

“Our freedom always has this marvelous power to make what is taken from us—by life,
events, or other people—into something offered. Externally there is no visible difference,
but internally everything is transfigured: fate into free choice, constraint into love,
loss into fruitfulness. Human freedom is of absolutely unheard-of greatness.
It does not confer the power to change everything,
but it does empower us to give a meaning to everything, even meaningless things;
and that is much better. We are not always masters of the unfolding of our lives,
but we can always be masters of the meaning we give them.
Our freedom can transform any event in our lives into an expression of love,
abandonment, trust, hope, and offering.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 58
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

the purse never lies


(cheatsheet.com)

I’m old enough to remember that as a little girl, I had my very own pair of little
white gloves that I was to wear each Sunday when we attended Church, because
that is what was done back then.

It was a time when men dressed nicely in their finest suits and women wore nice dresses
hose and heels.

A more refined and truly polite time that was not as casual and crass as we are today.

Some may say how stuffy and fussy it all was but at the time,
it was all I knew and now with hindsight, I rather like it.

As a child, I was also expected to wear my gloves to other nice events that we, as a family,
might be attending…be it dinner out to a nice restaurant or even when in the 6th grade,
we all took ballroom dancing lessons…
White gloves were a must for any young lady no matter your social class.

Yet no matter the occasion, gloves were always to be worn when attending anything
with my grandmother Nany.

Nany was my dad’s mother and she minced no words when it came to presenting oneself
out in public.
I think that’s why it is to this day I won’t leave the house without makeup
and or looking somewhat put together…
I might have on jeans and a ball cap, but my face will “be made up” by gosh!

I also think that’s why dad was more slouchy, especially as he got older…
never one to care much about his appearance, I would often have to get him
to change clothes before we went out.
His brother, my uncle, never owned a pair of jeans and rarely do I remember
him without a tie, but my dad, on the other hand, was happy in jeans,
a wrinkled dress shirt, an ancient cardigan with or without moth holes,
and always white socks.

Nany taught me to always put my ‘best face forward’…meaning—being presentable
no matter the situation…
I find that there is a great deal of wisdom in that.

So when it came time for me to enter the workforce, I spent my entire teaching career,
despite being a high school art teacher, ‘dressed for success.’
And I use to instill that same mindset within my students—dress the part,
and the part will be yours…

I also remember Nany always having a purse hooked to her arm…
never ever a shoulder bag or tote, but a purse only…
one to be worn in the crook of the arm.

Much like we see the Queen do.

I’ve never thought anything of the Queen and her constant companion…her purse,
because the Queen is of a certain era much like my grandmother despite the fact that the
queen is more the age of my only remaining living aunt–well into her 90’s

Many folks have often wondered as to why the Queen needs to even carry a purse
otherwise known as a handbag.

I’ve heard tell that the Queen actually carries what most women of a
certain time period carries…
lipstick, a small mirror, a few throat lozenges, a pen, a note pad, her reading glasses…
But I’ve also heard tell that the purse doubles as a bit of a secret messenger.
As in a sly little spy.

From House Beautiful

Lucky for Queen Elizabeth II, she has no need for house keys.
And we bet you would never catch her running around her house (um, palace)
looking for her misplaced cellphone. Which begs the question:
What does she keep in those famous Launer purses she carries around every day anyway?
Well, royal biographer, Sally Bedell Smith, got the scoop.

Back in 2012, Smith revealed that the Queen always keeps a mirror, lipstick,
a pen, some mint lozenges and reading glasses on hand.
And on Sundays she brings a few small bills “precisely folded” to give as a church donation.

But apparently her purse is more often used as a way to send signals
to her staff than anything else.

“It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag
move from one hand to the other,” royal historian Hugo Vickers told PEOPLE.
You see, this is a signal the Queen uses to indicate to her staff that
she’s ready to wrap up her current conversation.

However, you might not even know it’s happening – they’re that discreet.
“It would be done very nicely,” Vickers says.
“Someone would come along and say,
‘Sir, the Archbishop of Canterbury would very much like to meet you.'”

Other cues Queen Elizabeth uses?
According to the Telegraph, if she puts her handbag on the table at dinner,
it means she wants the event to end in the next five minutes.
And if she puts her bag on the floor, it shows she’s not enjoying the conversation
and wants to be rescued by her lady-in-waiting.

But Vickers says the most dramatic gesture of all is spinning her ring,
which tells her staff she needs to be rescued immediately.
Fingers crossed this never happens to us!


(Euronews)

So when I look at this picture taken over the weekend of Her Majesty sitting amongst
the NATO World leaders, of whom she had hosted at a reception for at Buckingham Palace,
I am imagining that under those black gloves, the Queen is spinning her
wedding ring off her finger…as in will someone please rescue me from
these people…NOW!!!!

It seems that during the reception, several world leaders, the prime ministers of Canada,
Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, along with Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter,
all didn’t realize that there just happened to be a live mic near them recording their conversations.

They were enjoying drinks and jokes.

Why am I reminded of a fraternity party?

Their conversation was that of jocularity, jokes and laughing…
laughing at the expense of another world leader not present in the group
nor who was privy to the group’s jokes…
that member being the President of the United States, Donald Trump.


(US New and World Report)


(International Business Times)

Once the footage was made public and began making the viral rounds on all things social media,
The President, the brunt of the jokes, was understandably both hurt and mad.

Some will say he had it coming.
Some will say it simply shows his low esteem amongst his leadership peers.
Some will say what’s the big deal…

So what does an angry President Trump do—he packs up his things
and leaves the meetings for home ASAP.

For what it’s worth, I have two feelings about this.

My initial reaction would have been much like the President’s—
as in I would have been taking all my marbles, going home both hurt and mad.
I would be feeling like that kid everyone always talks and laughs about behind their back
but suddenly all go quiet when the kid walks up asking what everyone is laughing
about.

However, on the other hand, I would really have liked for the President to have stayed.
To have been the bigger man amongst this group of smug sophomoric immature leaders…
knowing what they had said, he would have stayed—making them the uncomfortable ones,
Standing his ground and in the end, most likely, having the last laugh.
Because if the truth be told, he actually had the last laugh as he got what
he went to get for the US from NATO.

So what might be the one take away from all of this is that there is but one leader
who has it probably more right than all the rest…
that being The Queen.

We never hear of her ever engaging in locker room humor.
She does not get chummy with others, preferring to keep a professional relationship.
She keeps her political opinions to herself.
She is gracious and engaging and is always respectful of her guests,
whether or not she agrees with their views.
And she will never ever do a sit-down interview for all those wagging tongues
(Her children and grandchildren, however, are another story)

And whereas she is not setting national policy nor is she an elected official
voted on by the people for the people, she is a leader none the less…
She sets a standard of how to carry oneself in a public fishbowl

So what might be the real secret to the Queen’s long success in the public eye…?
I think we all know…
it’s the purse.
Because the purse does not lie.


(yahoo.com)

indoctrination, starting young…beware!

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking
educated people seriously.”

G.K. Chesterton


(the Pteranodon family from PBS Dinosaur Train)

I was the only one left behind that Christmas Eve day…
that being myself and The Mayor of course.

One of our numbers was still at work, one had to run to the bakery and the other to
run errands…
I learned a long time ago, you never ask too many questions on Christmas Eve.

As my daughter-n-law was dashing out the door, she volunteered to turn on the television
so I could be somewhat entertained… that is if caring for the Mayor is not entertaining,
let alone consuming, enough!

I normally don’t watch TV during the day…albeit with the exception being during
the Bowl season…
yet sadly there were no bowls to the season currently bowling due to the
Christmas observation….so I was more or less nonplused regarding a
TV on or off.

Plus The Mayor is not really one to “watch” much television herself, of which I pray
will be a habit which will carry on throughout her life…
However…I must confess that my dad was a TV junkie and, in turn, aided in turning
his number one partner in crime, aka my son and The Mayor’s dad, into a bit of a
TV aficionado.

So as everyone went their merry way this merry day, The Mayor and I found before us
what appeared to be a cute little cartoonesque show airing on PBS.

Television options for children, airing throughout the day, leans toward either a Disney
channel or a Nickelodeon channel…
and I must confess, my days of watching Disney and or Nickelodeon
went the way of the growing up of our son.

And for the record, I tend to like PBS—that would be if we could scratch out their money
raising marathons, of which I totally understand when it comes to maintaining a relatively
commercial free world, however, it usually cuts into my enjoying Andrea Bocelli
in mid tenor beauty.

So we settled ourselves into watching Dinosaur Train.

A mini parental seal of approval promo introduced the show informing viewers that this
particular couple’s son actually learned his ABCs by watching Dinosaur Train.

Hummmmm…

The show’s intro begins with a catchy little tune as the shot zooms in on a nest of 4 eggs…
three eggs suddenly hatch into what I thought were pterodactyls but I was mistaken,
they were pteranodons…so much for my dinosaur knowledge!

The 4th egg hatched into what looked like a little orange T-rex while
Mother Pterandon sang that despite this orange oddball mixed in with her obviously
biological winged group, they were all about being an inclusive family embracing
differences because different species don’t matter in a family because their
family is all about inclusiveness… (eyes now rolling)

Hummmmmmm I mused as I sensed a nod to culturalism…

I was simply waiting for the ABC lesson.

Since it was Christmas Eve, I wondered if there’d be some sort of Christmas theme.
We had just caught the tail end of a cartoon cat singing about Hanukkah, so surely
dinosaurs could be singing about Christmas.

However, there were no ABCs nor anything about Christmas.

As cute as the show was, complete with a real human paleontologist, popping in with
some neat little fun facts about dinosaurs, I quickly learned that Dinosaur Train
was a victim of…or maybe that should be more like an accomplice to,
our modern culture’s obsession with all things anti-Christian
with a heavy pro-progressive left leanings to quasi inclusiveness while turning
out all remnants of Christianity…
SIGH.

The theme of the day for the dinosaurs was celebrating not Christmas nor Hanukkah but rather
the Winter Solstice…
REALLY?

Here it was Christmas Eve for crying out loud and this was a children’s show…
and yet the programming gods in their infinite wisdom found the need to celebrate
all things, Pagan.

Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years.
This start of the solar year is a celebration of Light and the rebirth of the Sun.
In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel.
Today, many people in Western-based cultures refer to this holiday as “Christmas.”
Yet a look into its origins of Christmas reveals its Pagan roots.
Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the “Invincible Sun”
in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations.
Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday
of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized.
January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi,
was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice.

Circle Sanctuary

Gotta love the Pagans who continue with their not so veiled attempt at connecting the
dots between early Christianity to that of the day’s pagan heritage…
It seems they think once a pagan, always a pagan…God forbid there could
be any true conversion to the belief in the Grace of Salvation.

And the best person we should look to who actually did a phenomenal job of incorporating
the current day’s beliefs while teaching the new Christian faith to the local
pagan population would be St Patrick…

In a previous post that I wrote regarding dear St Patrick, I noted that
Patrick spent 40 years of his life wandering the mystical Pretanic Island,
preaching and teaching to the Druids and the Celts.

The Celts were actually a fierce warrior nation comprised of the bloodlines of Vikings,
Danes, Druids, Picts, and members of the northern regions of ancient Albion
(northern Great Britain). And as an island people, these superstitious tribes
were deeply connected, attuned to, as well as dependent upon the land.

Ireland was a rich and fertile island due in part to being on the receiving end of
the warming and wet energies of the Atlantic gulf stream.
Patrick knew that the best way to get the attention of the Celts was to utilize
those things that were common and entrenched in everyday life.
A prolific example being the humble clover.
The clover was a perfect teaching tool as it so beautifully manifests the image of
the Holy Trinity.

To this day the shamrock is synonymous with Ireland’s Christian spirituality and heritage

In another post, we learned a bit more of Patrick’s teaching…

It is said that the pagan Celts considered the sun to be an integral part of their worship.
Circles have been found etched and carved on many excavated Celtic ruins.
I think it’s rather easy to understand the importance behind worshiping the sun for the Celts—
if you’ve ever spent much time in Ireland, you know how wet and grey it can be.
There are parts of Ireland which receive up to 225 days of wet rainy weather each year,
in turn, making any and all sunny days a rare and treasured commodity.

Patrick had to be innovative if he wanted to get the Celt’s attention and gain their trust
as the ultimate goal was total conversion and allegiance to the one true God.
So Patrick set about with a brilliant plan combining both a component most important
to the Celtic nation, that being the sun–a revered circle,
bridging the abyss to the most important image to Christians,
the Latin cross, with the addition of a circle ringing around the cross–a
combination representing both sun and Son as the circle is also a Christian
symbol representing God’s endlessness.

As a teacher, I can honestly say that there is no better way of teaching something new than
making connections with what one already knows and understands.

(both full posts found here:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/la-fheile-padraig-sona-dhuit/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/good-for-the-goose/)

So yes, there was a great deal of overlapping with what had long been entrenched
with the superstitious and very keen people who were linked to all things seasonal
while introducing the new religion of Christianity. The overlapping has melded into
the Christian faith we recognize today.

But the premise, for these past 2000 give or take years, remains consistently the same.
Jesus Christ is the resurrected son of God….as is stated in the Nicene Creed.

WE BELIEVE in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

Yet most theologians and Christian scholars agree on one thing…
that December 25th was most likely not the exact date of the birth of Jesus.

The extrabiblical evidence from the first and second century is equally spare:
There is no mention of birth celebrations in the writings of early Christian writers
such as Irenaeus (c. 130–200) or Tertullian (c. 160–225).
Origen of Alexandria (c. 165–264) goes so far as to mock Roman celebrations of
birth anniversaries, dismissing them as “pagan” practices—a strong indication that Jesus’
birth was not marked with similar festivities at that place and time.
As far as we can tell, Christmas was not celebrated at all at this point.

biblicalarcheology.com

I say all of this as I actually recalled a few past posts written by two more learned
individuals than myself…more learned in regards to the theology and history of our faith.
It’s those two favorite across the Pond clerics…Pastor David Robertson, aka the Wee Flea
and that rouge Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden.

They have both noted, with great alarm, the insidious indoctrination of our children
that seems to be creeping in earlier and earlier.

https://theweeflea.com/2018/12/13/now-theyre-coming-for-the-nurseries/

https://ashenden.org/2018/02/28/christianity-the-antidote-to-cultural-brainwashing/

Thus the one important lesson that I learned on this Christmas Eve as the Mayor and
I thought we were settling in to watch some cute little flying dinosaurs,
be they pterodactyls or pteranodons, teaching us our ABCs…
I learned that culturalism and anti Christian rhetoric is alive and well
in children’s programming…and it seems that a heavy dose of indoctrination
is coming faster and earlier than we may have ever imagined.

Thus as Believers it would behoove us all to be ever vigilant with our children…
no matter how young they are…remember… imprinting begins very early.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your strength. Take to heart these words that I give you today.
Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away,
when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist,
and wear them as headbands as a reminder.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen.
Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!
And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.
Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai,
where he told me, Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them.
Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live,
and they will teach their children to fear me also.”

Deuteronomy 4:9-10

confessionals

“The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder.”
St. Augustine of Hippo


(an Italian confessional in St Peter’s / The Vatican, Rome / Julie Cook / 2018)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,
that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16

Let me back up a tad…

Back at the end of June, my husband retired.

He had spent 50 years running a small family business.

It was not how he had wanted to spend his life.
It was not his dream.
But it was his lot in the world of his sense of duty.

So when he made the decision to throw in the towel after 50 long grueling years,
I knew I wanted to do something special.
Something memorable to mark such a monumental occasion.

But what would be special?

A trip perhaps?

And perhaps not just any trip.
Perhaps a bucket list sort of trip.

For my husband, however, his idea of leaving this country has simply been crossing over the
border into Canada.
Not that anything is wrong with wandering into Canada…
but Canada’s border wasn’t in the bucket.

The only time my husband had truly left the country, as in the continent,
was in the mid-1970’s.

He was in his sophomore year of college, playing college football, with his eye set on
dentistry or even coaching…
but at the behest of his father, or more like the demand of an abusive alcoholic father,
he stoically left where he was happiest and went to the Joseph Bulova School
in Queen’s New York where he eventually earned a degree in Horology.
That being the study of watches and watchmaking.
And with that followed studies with the GIA institute to become a gemologist and
diamond graduate.

Never his plan but rather what his father demanded what he was to do with his life as
he felt obliged to do so.

Following two years of surviving ad enduring life in New York,
this small town country boy was then sent to America Somoa where he managed the Bulova Watch Plant
for a year’s time.

It was following this year in absentia, a year of living on a 5-mile wide and long island that he
vowed, that if he ever made it home, he’d never leave the country again.

And that vow stuck…for 50 long years.
With, of course, Canada being excluded.

So now let us fast forward to a man 69 years of age and finally retiring…
I told him that if he would like…if he was willing…
I would make the bucket list trip happen.

And so he actually delightfully agreed.

The bucket list trip had always been to Normandy, France.

Or rather, it was to the beaches and towns of the D-Day invasion.
The places where regular men were to be unknowingly transformed into heroes…
heroes because these average young men willingly gave up their lives for all of
Western Civilization’s precious gift of democracy and freedom—
a gift so woefully tested by our current society.

I will soon write about this personal pilgrimage of sorts within the coming days…
but before I do so, I want to address my concern over a current global obsession.

An obsession that only those living under rocks must be missing.

If you’ve ever found yourself traveling outside of the US and after a long
day or either business or touring, wanting to simply fall onto a bed while flipping on
a television hoping to catch a familiar sound of someone speaking your own language,
chances are your choice has been limited to one of two channels…
CNN International or the BBC International.

Both of which have a heavy dose of progressive liberalism in their slant
on global happenings.

Such was our lot during this recent Supreme Court nomination fiasco.

We were subjected to the willy-nilly, the sky is falling Henny Penny sense of
hysteria coming from the news anchors of CNN International.
I actually caught each and every nuanced slur and sensationalistic little dig.

So I will giddily confess…I was greatly happy to be out of the country during all of the
obsession over the Kavanaugh hearings…
or more aptly put…the grilling, the scrutinizing and the personal persecution
of a seemingly decent man, husband, father and professional.

I will not belabor this latest idiocy of ours as I am sick of it all.
Sick of the latest low we, as a Nation, have sunk to.

That we have actually allowed ourselves to conduct governmental dealings as a sleazy
tabloid trash reality show would do…of which I find disgusting…
disgusted over our irreprehensible assinine behavior…is beyond my soul.

Scintillating and titillating are two words I would never have ever considered using when thinking
about, let alone describing, a hearing process working towards the nomination of a Supreme
Court Justice…
Rather we should consider words steeped deeply in the tedious law-minded legal policies
and ponderings of a judicial system.

If we are now wanting to use the haphazard adolescent behavior from our teenaged years
as benchmark measures for our adult appointments and advancements then I fear every last
human being will be in store for a rude awakening if not a ton of troubles.
For what young person among us hasn’t done something dumb, shameful, wrong, illegal
and or simply arrogantly stupid?

For is that now how we, in part, learn?
Learning from youthful idiotic mistakes and poor choices as we make our way
to adulthood?

We just pray, as do the adults in our lives, that such mistakes and poor youthful judgment calls
are not overly detrimental, utterly devastating or sadistically dubious…
and yet sadly, in many cases, they are…

Consider the adolescent bravado of living fast, furious and large while mixing life and death consequences…
James Dean comes to mind.

And no, we are not talking about pathological psychosis that gives way to bizarre heinous actions.
Here we are talking about poor judgemental actions by, more often than not,
self-centered egotistical youth not the actions of psychopaths.

And so when recently visiting St Peter’s in Rome while passing by a confessional booth…
I was struck immediately by our human sinful nature.
Something that hangs over us like a heavy dusty suffocating curtain.

I grew up in a liturgical church…a church with the prayers of confession and confessions
to a priest…all being the norm.
I for one often found myself on that confessing end, seeking both prayerful wisdom and direction
from those more knowledgeable and wizened than myself as I made my way through the muddy waters of
growing up balancing on the wire between my newly professed faith while finding my way as a willful
teenager.

Absolution.

Absolution which we graciously offer to those who seek forgiveness…
the ultimate absolution granted to each of us from the one who hung on a cross.

“Go and sin no more” said the Jewish rabbi to the adulteress woman.

The confessional is a sacred form of sharing from the penitent to the priest.
It is a protected sharing…protected even in a court of law.
For it is a sharing between penitent, priest and God.
And yet, I somehow sense that our rabid politicians and progressive liberal culture,
coupled with the hyper-rabid news media, would find the confessional null and void
for the sinners among us…as they seem to find themselves above reproach…

Yet who among us is worthy of casting that stone?

My concern is not with what took place 35 years ago by a supposed 16-year-old kid
and those who can and cannot recall the who, what and wheres of cloudy recollections…
but rather with the dubious ploys used by those who simply hate a president and everything
attached to his tenure.

Such that they seek a saint amongst the sinners…

May God have mercy on us all…

If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

civil discourse

“Of our thinking it is but the upper surface that we shape into articulate thought;
underneath the region of argument and conscious discourse lies the region of meditation.”

Thomas Carlyle


(big sister Alice with her boy friend Sonny / Julie Cook / 2018)

Civil discourse…
two words…
the first-word meaning—courteous and polite
the other word meaning—a conversation

Put them together and you have a ‘courteous polite conversation.’

Yet that is not exactly what we are witnessing taking place across this society of ours.

Firstly let’s take a look at our current protests emanating from within our schools.

This is a bit of a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it’s a good thing that our kids are upset over the escalating violence
taking place from within our schools—of which are, in actuality, their schools.

But let us be specific here…this violence we’re speaking of would be gun violence
and gun violence only.

It has nothing to do with the fighting, the rampant profanity, the disrespect,
the brawls, the knives, the unwanted sexual advances, the thefts or the bullying
that continues taking place…
all of which continues to happen on a daily basis in many of our schools across this nation…
nor does it really address the fact that many of these kids who are coming to school with
these guns are known to and by other kids…that no one necessarily sees the coming storm or
acknowledges a hand in the making of the storm is both problematic and disconcerting.

And granted that is not always the case, as we have sadly seen at schools such as Sandy Hook…
that these are not necessarily known kids on anyone’s particular radar.
In the case of Sandy Hook, we had an older teenager coming into an unsuspecting elementary school…

So not each shoe obviously fits every foot.

We are on a case by case basis.

We are also talking about frustrated minors..aka adolescents.

Adolescents, as we all know, is a time of an emotional roller coaster full of angst
and hormones.
Emotions run high, deep and quick.

When I was a student in high school, Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement had just hit
their zenith.
Protests, sit-ins, love-ins, demonstrations had all become standard words within the
vocabulary of our Nation.
We had witnessed college kids “expressing” themselves…
so naturally, high school kids felt equally as strongly yet were perhaps frustrated by the
inability to truly take part in the sweeping discontent as seen on many college campuses.

At the turn of the decade from the 60’s to the 70’s, I was in the 8th grade—
which was a part of our 8-12 high school.
A beloved teacher was fired for supposedly moonlighting as a bartender.

There was a walkout.

The principal came out of the school with a bullhorn—he told the disgruntled student body
that if they, the students, didn’t immediately return to class, there would be
disciplinary actions against those students insisting on continuing with the walkout.

Naturally, I went right back inside.

I didn’t want to get in trouble—not with the school nor with my parents who would be livid
if I decided to show my “butt” by being defiant and disrespectful to the rules and authority
of our principal and the school.

A couple of years later, during my senior year, I remember very clearly when the senior
class had prepared for some sort of no-show day…
The principal had gotten word of the senior class opting for a massive skip day so
he called in the class officers—of which I just happened to be vice president.
He told us, in no uncertain terms, that if we participated in the skip day—
there would be serious repercussions.

Now if this sort of thing happened today…the idea of a principal “threatening” a
group of students with repercussions for participating in a skip day…
well, there would be undoubtedly parents up in arms as lawyers would be circling
the wagons salivating to get involved…
Least of which would be the ACLU, who mind you, would be jumping on the bandwagon
sputtering nonsense about the civil liberties of students and threats against minors.

Our principal explained that we were the leaders of our class and that we were to set
an example of doing what wasn’t necessarily the popular thing but doing that which was
the right thing…
There were rules about skipping school and if we opted to skip…
well, there’d be penalties for our poor choices.

Needless to say, the four of us were in school that day,
along with a handful of other mindful students.

In the end, did I simply miss a good time or had I learned an important life lesson?
I would say that latter.

As a former high school teacher, I can honestly say that I appreciate the passion
many of our kids are displaying for wanting to take a stand against the gun
violence happening in their close-knit worlds.

But…

at the same time, our schools have rules about things such as disobedience,
defiance and rule-breaking…
where things such as walkouts and or demonstrations fall directly under said headings.

Schools should not be “punished” for maintaining a standard level of discipline.
If one system supports a national walkout—that’s fine…
Such being a school system’s prerogative.
Yet no one should punish or shame those schools or districts who decide to hold onto their
standards, rules, and approach to discipline versus participating in a walkout.

I was more than slightly incensed last evening when I heard an Atlanta lawyer interviewed
on the local news using his legal language insinuating that students had been
“pressured, intimidated and bullied” by school officials over their wanting to walk
out when the school had issued a ban on doing such.

If your school was one to opt out…well then…that’s that is it not?

We live with rules…whether we like it or not.
A civil society.

And our kids are just that…they are kids.
While we, in turn, are the adults.
Sometimes the responsibility of the care entrusted to us over our kids comes in the
form of rules, discipline and even tough love.
Adults are entrusted to make the rules…rules which are in place to help govern
a civil society.
And as adults, we are charged with the care of our students and children and the fact
that they must understand that we set rules for a reason.

Obviously, our legislators need to act…
And as adults, it is our responsibility to see to it that they do act—
and if we don’t like how they act…we therefore voice our objection and vote
them out of office.

Is it not our responsibility to support our school administrators who
need to be allowed to do their jobs—
of which…is to keep our kids safe, orderly and educated.

These moments, which we have been witnessing around this Nation of ours regarding the
disgruntlement our kids, are what we call “teachable moments”…
moments when its ok to deviate from the curriculum and lessons at hand as we address
a bigger issue.

But allowing the protests and defiance to take on a larger than life momentum,
as well as a life of its own, in turn, creates a disservice to each and every victim…

so…do we do our best to work toward a means of civil discourse
or do we simply allow our children to begin living as we adults are…
living by throwing civility, laws, and rules totally out the window as
the end means…
getting what it is we think we need and want by any raising the loudest and
most disruptive clamor—
Becoming a society that gets what it thinks it wants by making demands and
strong-arming any and all sense of order or civility…

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof,
for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Dear future mom….

Yesterday as I was reading over a few of my favorite blogs, I came across a video clip under the title of “Slouching toward tyranny” on the blog Dover Beach.

My curiosity was piqued as I wondered what slouching, as in drooping, toward tyranny
and a smiling young lady with Down Syndrome had in common with one another.

It was soon very evident what brought these two seemingly polar opposite entities
catastrophically crashing into one another.

I’ll let you click on the brief French Television advert that never was…
before I continue our conversation….

“Slouching toward tyranny.
25 NOVEMBER 2016

“This is how a free people slouch toward tyranny. Here is an excerpt from a Catholic News Agency article. The short commercial mentioned in the article is below.

“On Nov. 10, the French Council of State, a body of the French government, ruled that the short video was inappropriate for broadcast on French television as a commercial.

In a decision upholding the French Broadcasting Council’s earlier ban of the video, the Council of State said it failed to meet the criteria for a public service announcement. In its reasoning, it pointed out that the happiness of the children shown in the video was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.””

If you are like me, after watching this clip, there are probably tears flowing down your cheeks.
Tears of joy and tenderness and hope…
always hope…

I taught high school art for 31 years before retiring 4 years ago.
During the course of three decades, I had the pleasure of working with all kinds of kids.
I taught in a public city school system for my entire tenure.
I worked with every color of kid you can imagine and a myriad of nationalities–
and yes, even illegal immigrants…
I taught kids with all levels of intellect…
those who were considered and tested gifted as well as those kids with both
physical and cognitive disabilities and deficiencies.
All mixed in within one class…
no separation, no division, no segregating, no distinction.
Simply kids…

This is not the first encounter I’ve had in recent weeks with an article or
video clip highlighting Down Syndrome children and the alarmingly and rapidly
growing cultural clamoring over the rising questions of should such pregnancies,
where by various testings an at risk child in utero has been identified,
should that pregnancy be allowed to come to term or should such a pregnancy be terminated,
as in aborted…

Sally Phillips is a British actress and a woman of deep Christian Faith.
She is featured in a documentary on the BBC raising the question about a world without Down Syndrome.

If you do not already know, I am the product of adoption.
I was adopted during a time when abortions, all though preformed were done so very clandestinely.
It was a very taboo back ally sort of affair…so adoption was much more prevalent,
as homes for unwed mothers were numerous.

There are those who would then take that notion and use it as a rallying cry for the legality of such, keeping it from being back ally clandestine.
But I would disagree.
There is no justification for itemized death.

I have very strong feelings about pregnancies and the bigger picture that far transcends
that initial act of sex–
For you see I don’t look at sex as merely sex,
as an act of satisfaction…
but rather always as, depending upon age and health,
the potential act of procreation.

And how our culture has disregarded such an intimate union of two individuals as something as trite,
the fulfilling of the physical, something causal or even wanton is beyond my soul.

And now we enter a new arena—where man enters the realm of God—
deeming who may live and who may not…

I have problems with that.

Shame on the French for deciding not run that advert letting both women and men
know that it’s ok to see the pregnancy of a child with Down Syndrome to completion.
The fact that they felt the showing of such an ad would trouble the conscious of those
women who had opted to “lawfully” abort their babies,
is one more reminder that we have ferried ourselves across the river Styx as we have
left the realm of the living opting to cross the river while embracing the realm of death…

“Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable,”
Pope John Paul II

“Many people are concerned with children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today- abortion which brings people to such blindness.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I am what I am….

“I am what I am,
and that’s all that I am.”

Popeye

popeye_black_white_cartoon
(Popeye the sailor man)

I grew up watching, and loving, the old black and white cartoon exploits of Popeye the Sailor man–
That one eyed, pipe smoking, old salt of a sailor…
Along with his sidekick and girlfriend Olive Oyl, the antagonist, Bluto (later known as Brutus),
as well as little Swee’Pea, Wimpy, Poopdeck Pappy, the She Hag and Alice the Goon…
Popeye has been one of the longest running cartoon comic strips having made his debut in 1929.

Popeye was a bit of a rough neck yet was always the good guy.
Whenever he found himself in a jam or was having the living tar beat out of him by Brutus…
which always stemmed from some sort of fight over a girl, in this case the skinny and whinny Olive Oyl…
Popeye would always pull out, from nowhere, a miraculous can of spinach…
He’d bust open that can,
swallowing the contents whole,
then he would proceed to swell with muscles and superhuman strength…
all of which would allow him to beat the ever living slop out of Brutus…
or whomever was causing him woe.

Moms all over the country used that idea and image of Popeye eating spinach in order to get their kids to eat their spinach. And back in day, spinach came from the grocery store in a can…nothing like the healthy fresh stuff of today.

And as far as I was concerned, it worked…I’d eat my spinach every time…

Popeye was famous for mumbling and singing to himself but one of his more vocal and
enunciated phrases was
“I am what I am and that’s all that I am”

And out of the blue…this morning…that very expression…
came racing back…
out from the depths of a stored away childhood,
racing to the forefront of now…

“I am what I am and that is all that I am…”

Me…
yes…
simply me…
nothing more, nothing less.
Just me.
No spinach,
no bravado,
no pretense,
no falsehoods of expectations or promises…
for good and for bad…
just me.

Striped away of everything and anything that gives off some sort of “other than”
and false perception…
I am…
just me…

And given my life’s precariousness of these current days…
the fact that I am not super human, despite ingesting as much spinach as I can, I am…
simply…
me…
nothing more
and nothing less.

My dad loved seeing / reading Popeye in the “funnies”…
as he still calls the comic strip section of the daily newspaper to this day, the funnies…
as in funny papers….

It’s the fist section of the paper he pulls out.
No longer does he scour the front page with its gloom and doom…
nor the stock section with its constant state of ebb and flow….
Dad has always scoured over the comic section of the paper first and foremost.
Because he likes to, needs to, laugh.

Just as he has always gravitated to watching cartoons….
preferring, always, those cartoons from his day and time….
Popeye,
Dick Tracey,
Buck Rogers,
Little Orphan Annie
and Superman.

My dad has, for better or worse, always been a kid…
Which was great when I was a kid and when my son was a kid…
but not so great as I grew up and needed a “dad”…

That whole dad thing…responsibility, paying bills, working, caring for a lawn…
you know,
dad things…
none of those things were his cup of tea.

Oh don’t get me wrong,
he did it all, worked, cut grass, paid the bills….
but it was always obvious he hated it and would get out of it as much as possible—
which usually meant every weekend.
Sleeping away the day and doing as little as possible.
While my friends dads were all out and about…
I had to make excuses that my dad had worked all week really hard, so now he was tired.
I now know that it was just a matter of my dad being lazy….

And now, at 88, he’s wanting to get out of all this cancer business…
which I can’t say I much blame him—
because who in their right mind wants to deal with that devastating “c” word….
None of us,
that’s who!!!

I learned a while back that I had to accept dad for who he was / is…
and that’s a man who is simply more kid than adult,
as that meant I had to be more adult than kid…
not exactly fair, but no one ever said life was fair.

Yet during these coming days…
days that I know will only grow more weary and taxing…
for both dad and myself….
I’m thinking I might just need to stock up on some Popeye’s spinach…
because I’m going to need all the muscles I can get!!!!

God said to Moses,
“I AM WHO I AM”;
and He said,
“Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel,
I AM has sent me to you.'”

Exodus 3:14