intimate contact

“You must make a sound and firm resolution to submit yourselves totally to His will and,
with a lively and steadfast faith, to receive from Him what you have to do for love of Him.
And in this (whatever may happen) to persevere with constancy to the very end.”

St. Angela Merici


(fresh goodies at Lowes / Julie Cook / 2019)

“I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus—-
one to one—-you and Jesus alone.
We may spend time in the chapel—-but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how
He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus—-
not from books but from being with Him in your heart?
Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you?
Ask for the grace; He is longing to give it.
Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart,
you will not be able to hear Him saying ‘I Thirst’
in the hearts of the poor.
Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person—-
not just the idea.”

Saint Mother Teresa, p.129-30
An Excerpt From
Manual for Eucharistic Adoration

crying in need


(baby goat pic found on the web)

There I was on a hot Friday the 13th afternoon in October—
did I mention it was hot?

Mid October and there has yet to be any near sighting of the
long awaited and highly anticipated Fall…

Anywhooo back to our tale….

There I was just coming out of Lowes, one of our big home improvement centers, headed for my car when I first heard it…

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Was that a sheep?????

“Must be the heat” I mused as I continued on my journey to my car,
with air filters in tow….

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

I stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of the parking lot…listening.

Baaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Without skipping a beat, the baying sound filled the entire parking lot.

Baaaaaaaaaahhhhh

A woman just getting out of her car stops dead in her own tracks right by me…
“What is that crying? she asks confused.

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh

We both are standing still as statues, listening….

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh

“I think it’s coming from over there” as I point toward a yellow pickup truck
several lanes over.

Baaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh

More people stop…mostly women.
The same question…”what is that crying?”

Baaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh

Finally I discern that indeed it is the yellow pickup truck that happens to have
a large animal carrier in the back of the truck bed.
The truck is one of those that has a full back cover for the bed,
of which was propped up as the animal carrier was wedged between bed and
cover. I could make out something white moving a bit side to side in the carrier.

Baaaaaaaaaahhhhh

“Is that a sheep?” another woman walking passed asks bewildered.

“That or a goat” I respond as we all now stare in the direction of the truck.

Baaaaaaaaaahhhhh

By now I’m feeling a strong urge to follow the cry, but reason tells me
“take the air filters to the car and drive on home…”…
or maybe that was actually my husband’s admonishement from afar
telling me “do not stop, we do not need nor want a baby lamb or goat…GO HOME!!!”

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Inside my car I can still hear the cries….

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

I roll down my window as I begin to pull out of the parking spot still feeling
a strong urge to go to this crying “baby.”

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

I notice several other shoppers, all women, making a bee line for the truck.

Inquisitive?

Absolutely…
but this draw was something much more than mere curiosity.

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

This poor baby goat or lamb was in dire straights as it was wailing for “mother”

Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

Finally pulling far enough away I no longer could hear the cries…
yet in my rear view mirror I could still see various women making their way over
to the truck…

Pondering as I drove….
was it the cries of a child, albeit animal, crying out in desperation that sent
out some sort of distress signal to the maternal instincts in the female
shoppers today??

The draw was strong to go attend to this crying baby…
I know because it was all I could do not to walk over to the truck myself.

And then the thought occurs to me—what of our own cries?…
those cries we utter and offer up to our unseen God and Father…Abba?

Those cries of anguish, despair, pain, desperation, sorrow…
Cries offered, or perhaps actually hurled outward and upward,
most often in distress or resignation…
cries of need and want…

And what of the One who hears those cries…is He not then drawn, even more powerfully
to our cries then we are to the cries of our own crying children….
So much so that He immediately runs to the sound each and every time!
As we rest assured, He runs…


(little lamb found on the web)

In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.

Psalm 18:6

Resurrections

“God is what he is;
Yahweh is who he is.”

Alec Motyer

The first thing the Cross does is cross out the world’s word by a Wholly-Other Word,
a Word that the world does not want to hear at any price.
For the world wants to live and rise again before it dies,
while the love of Christ wants to die in order to rise again in the form of God on the
other side of death, indeed, IN death.”

― Hans Urs von Balthasar


(a surprise resurrection blooming peony / Julie Cook /2017)

Late last Spring, early summer, I found myself wandering through the garden center of Lowes.
Whenever I’m feeling ‘less then’, blah or downright sad I often find myself wandering
the garden center.
Rows and rows of color, vibrancy and simply life…
abundant in the scents and sights of fullness, always seems to lift my spirits.

I either wander aimlessly, seeking some hidden sense of solace…
or I wander with a purpose…as in I come with the intent of purchasing something
to plant…
as in, there is a reason and a need for the wandering.

Last planting season I was seeking a few shrubs that were deer resistant but plants
that had more umph than some sort of boxwood or holly.
Something that could survive the full relentless Georgia sun.
A summer either baking and dry or sticky and humid…
Last summer it was hot and dry with a long lasting and oh so deadly drought.

I am a fan of the old fashioned sort of plants found in gardens that harken
to another time…a lovely sort of English cottage garden…
Those gardens that call to mind the thoughts and memories of those who have gone before.

So imagine my piqued interest when I spied a potted peony.
Peonies remind me of old world stateliness…soft while elegant.
Not flashy, not cutting edge, not loud nor garish.
A very southern old-time staple.

I am not a green thumb queen like our friend Natalie over on Sacred Touches
(https://sacredtouches.com)
I do however enjoy planting and working in the yard,
as it is extremely therapeutic for me…
It’s just that I don’t always have success and I don’t always know what I’m doing.

After checking out the price tag on the peony, I had a bit of sticker shock.
It was very expensive.
I asked one of the garden center folks if the peony could survive full sun.
She told me yes and that that was the last peony for the season…that she had already bought
one of the others despite it being a big splurge…she was just excited to get one.

Seeing that I was in the midst of the growing difficult life with Dad’s declining health
and the beginnings of his increasing needs as the life I had known had ceased…
I wanted, no I needed, something to bring me a bit of joy…
I figured a blooming peony could do just that.
So I too splurged and bought the potted peony.

Long story short.
I planted it.
I cared for it.
But we had a deadly drought.
Baking heat and a drought…

This is what the peony looked like come early Fall…

Dejected and sad I text Natalie the pictures.
Knowing her to be the queen of flowers, I shared my loss with her.
Natalie does indeed know a thing or two about flowers and plants
as well as a thing or two about heat and drought as she hails from Texas…
She told me not to dig up the plant…
“Just leave it, because come Spring, you might just be surprised.”
“Peonies are of a hardy stock.”
I suppose a Texas southerner knows a thing or two about hardy stock.

So as the winter came and my life grew more grey and difficult, I forgot all about the peony.

Fast forward to now…as I wander about in the wake of losing Dad,
going through the motions these last couple of weeks while trying to pick up the pieces of
what all he’s left behind,
I’ve been working slowly to bring some semblance of order back into my world.

Wandering about the yard, seeking newness and fullness, I caught my breath when I noticed
a little tuft of fresh greenery emerging from the recently replaced pine straw.
Cautiously over the past week, I’ve watched the little tuft get fuller and taller.
Then Sunday afternoon I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was a bloom.

A real resurrection of sorts….

And how timely that this garden resurrection should manifest itself during this most
Holy of weeks…

The weightiness and heaviness of this world…with its pain and overwhelming sorrow…
It is both frightening while at the same time complacent as it lulls us into feeling
that it is our home, our only home.
Dirty and broken, hot and dry…it clutches us, smothering us as it holds our
face in it’s grip convincing us that this world is all we could ever want or need.

Yet in that brokeness and loneliness of our empty hearts and souls…we yearn
for more.
While we shrink in the dryness…
we are spent…

So on that hot dry day of loss…
as a head drops to the chest and the last breath is released…
while the sky darkens and all hope leaves with that drying…

A promise is not forgotten…
and soon our world will change forever…
for the better…..

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:
Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses,
the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Luke 24:44

It’s time to reclaim my friends

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
Rabindranath Tagore

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(long abandoned blue bird eggs / Julie Cook / 2014)

I know they were just two trees.
I know they were sick.
I know they needed to be cut . . .
. . .yet they were more than just trees.
They were homes.
They were alfresco dinning.
They were shelter.
They were shade.

Adjusting to their absence is not proving easy.
Just walking outside, immediately into the blinding sun, is a constant and very hot reminder–as are the two massive bare spots now covered in straw.

There is one glaring change, however, that is proving almost too painful to bare.
The sound.
There is no sound.
No rustling of leaves.
No rush of wind.
Yet the most startling loss of sound is from my feathered freinds.
No chirping.
No singing.
No fluttering of my birds.

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This image of St Francis is on a little card I picked up several years ago when visiting Assisi. It is one of my favorite images of Francis. There is adoration, joy, wonderment, and even serenity.
Arms outstretched, wounds of a stigmata are bourn on hands and feet. . .and the birds rejoice!

The birds rejoice.

And so, with that notion in mind. . .it was time I took matters into my own hands—It was time for me to bring back my birds!! The bevy of constant activity and action taking place on a daily basis just past my window in the two beautifully majestic oaks–both now gone, now silent, now bare.

Fast forward to this morning. . .

I pulled into the massive parking lot, practically jumping from my car, immediately grabbing a buggy (aka for non southerners, shopping cart) and making my way inside the store like a crazy woman on a mission, I then make a bee line to the source of my need.

I push the cart past the ant poison, grabbing two cans–can’t ever have enough ant poison, past the displays of fake christmas trees (helllooo we haven’t even had Halloween yet. . .I digress), past the tropical plants,ooooo pretty orchids–pay attention!! all the way to the back wall.
Looking past the rows of fertilizers, past the potions of weed be gone, past the bottles of gopher poison (do we even have gophers and why should we be killing them??)
Oh, look, sacks upon sacks of rattlesnake killer. . .interesting. . .do I need that?
FOCUS!!!

Moving methodically along the shelf, I finally stop dead in my tracks, for at last, the path of searching and seeking has finally lead to that which I have so desperately sought—-the bird feeders, the bird seeds, the bird houses, the bird suet, the mealy worms?!. . .
EXCELLENT!!

“Cut down my trees. . .huh uh”
Defiant thoughts run through my head as I gleefully pile my buggy (cart) to the brim as if in a trance.

Once back home, it’s assembly time.
I bought a telescopic “pole” thingie, of which will take the place of a tree. I know, I know, it’s a stretch yes, but I was a girl scout—one must always be prepared and must make do with what’s available!!!
Locating a sledge hammer, I proceed to pound that sucker into the ground. It will afford me to hang up 4 feeders. Woooowhooooo!
I found a cute little suet house which holds two suet packs.
I found a really interesting feeder that holds 4 pre molded pods of seed. Oh the advancements in feeding the birds!
Ooooooo!!

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Finally putting on all the finishing touches, I step back to admire my bird “retreat”

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Hummmmmm. . .
Too much?
Ok, so maybe it’s a bit over the top.
Maybe it makes me look a tad desperate. Don’t answer that.
Maybe Peaches is not exactly a welcoming mat (welcoming cat, get it. . . digressing)
Now it is time to head back inside and wait.
And woe to first raccoon, with hot little paws, attempting to undo what I spent all afternoon doing–otherwise I’ll be right back at that store taking a close second look at that gopher poison. . .just saying.

When I’m feeling blue. . .or pink or purple or green. . .you get the picture

“When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue”

Phil Collins – Groovy Kind Of Love Lyrics

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

e. e. cummings

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(a sea of purple at the home improvement store /Julie Cook / 2014)

Maybe it’s the weather.
Maybe it’s the time of year.
Maybe it’s the barometric pressure.
Maybe it’s the boat load of tomatoes staring me in the face, taunting me. . .”cook us, now!”
Maybe it’s my thyroid. . .always the thyroid. . .
Maybe it’s the news. . .most definitely the news . . .
Whatever it is, I found myself feeling a tad bit out of sorts this morning.

More blah maybe than blue really.
We had had quite the storm yesterday afternoon which ran long into the evening.
Which lead to us waking to a thick humid fog.
Grey, be it summer or winter, spring or fall, can cause any spirited individual’s needle to point towards the melancholy.
Churchill had his “black dog”, I have more like a “black puppy”

On those days which find me feeling blah, blue, dispirited, out of sorts, off kilter—even when a good vigorous walk, a soothing cup of tea, a jolting workout or good night’s sleep just can’t seem to work their magic and shake off the relentless hounding of spirit, I have found one solution—Color!
What?
Yep, you heard me— uh, read me, color.
And no it doesn’t have anything to do with my having been an art teacher.

Plus I bet you thought I was going to say cooking, didn’t you?
And whereas I do love a nice trip to a fabulous cooking store, which one might imagine to be a soothing balm to ease any case of the “eh’s and the “ugs” —I find that color is actually more the quick fix—as well as usually the cheapest!
Or so I thought it was. . .

I needed some ant poison–I know, I can hear you, I’m always needing ant poison–but such is life in the South. . .
So I decided I would have to drag myself out of the house, despite a prevailing heaviness which was pressing me to “stay, just stay”. . .
I drove over to our local home improvement center, opting to go to Lowes vs Home Depot as the selection of “color” tends to be typically bigger and better. And as luck would have it the fall colors had arrived.

I mindlessly grabbed a buggy, aka, to northerners..a shopping cart. . .and, yes, I know a can of ant poison does not necessitate a shopping buggy / cart but I felt things were now out of my control.
I found myself mysteriously making a bee line to a beautiful flat of lovely “coralesque” snapdragons
“Oooooooo. . .” (think Homer Simpson in front of a box of doughnuts)

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(snapdragons / Julie Cook / 2014)

Before I realize it, two trays are in the shopping buggy.
“Mums, must have mums. . .
Oh, and they must match the snapdragons. . .” a far away voice begins to dictate directions. . .

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(a pot of mums / Julie Cook / 2014)

Somewhere in my head I’m hearing. . .”there needs to be a corresponding color. We (we, really?) did the mauves and magentas last year, time to mix it up. . .” this as I grab two four gallon pots of the yellow things. . .

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(Yellow things — Olivia Hypericum / Julie Cook / 2014)

“Cow manure, must have manure. . .and of course a sack or two of fresh potting soil. . .” again these voices in my head. . .
This is where it is best my husband is nowhere in sight.
A. he doesn’t get the need to buy flowers which may or may not survive the winter or for any season really. . .
and
B. who in their right mind pays for sacks of cow $h!t manure!?

Lastly the small voice reminds me to run inside to get what I came for, the ant poison.

And before I depart with my cartload of flowers, soil, poop, and of course ant poison. . .
I secretly pull out my phone, lest anyone think me a subversive flower terrorist, in order to snap a few images of the beautiful abounding color throughout the garden center—

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As I finally made my way to the check out lane, I triumphantly handed the sales lady my ant poison.
“This is what I came for” I emphatically announce.
As she warily eyes the remaining items in the burgeoning cart, with wide eye bemusement, she offered a flat “I see” as she proceeded to scan the bulk of goods in the shopping cart.

“Medicinal purposes” I am heard to respond, “purely medicinal . . .”
Feeling better already. . .

Brown, dried up and barren

“It was cold and barren. It was no longer the view that I remembered. The sunshine of her presence was far from me. The charm of her voice no longer murmured in my ear.”
Wilkie Collins

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Yep, that pretty much sums up my world this time of year—brown, dried up and barren–no longer the view I remember, much less like or care for. I don’t think I’ve realized how bad things really looked until today. There were a few things hanging on, a few herbs, even the mint—that was until the ominous Polar Vortex. A deep freeze is a sure way to go from green to brown in the blink of an eye.

Today however the sun actually decided to offer a brilliant display of bright light and the temperature, dare I say it, almost Spring like. Sadly snow flurries are predicted for in the morning–however be that as it may, today the warm sun actually drew me outside and I was not to be denied.

I hung the bird feeders back up, the ones that are up each day only to be oddly knocked down each night by the bear I keep telling my husband is lurking out in the woods. Never mind that no one has ever spotted a bear in our area— I, on the other hand, believe in the mystical bear of the feeders. At least I’m not like that nutty lady who swears a big foot lives in this area, but I digress.

As I ventured out into the warming light of day, the thought of running errands seemed to be a good choice of time. I opted to head to our local Lowes in order to buy some light bulbs.
Real light bulbs–while there are still a few normal ones remaining on the shelves. All this before the Government says we can’t have any more normal light bulbs—like they know what’s good for me regarding my light bulbs. . . hummmm
Those stupid squiggly bulbs, the ones we are suppose to now purchase verses the formerly real bulbs, are currently making my life miserable. Does anyone look good in fluorescent light?

NO!

And let’s not talk about the lack of brightness these squiggly things offer or how in the heck one is to dispose of the blasted things once their time is up ruining my life.
What was wrong with the regular light bulbs?
They were bright and complete with a little glass, a few little filaments, a little conducive base—
They didn’t make me look as if I had a skin disease, jaundice or as a sick vampire. I could read with them. I was happy.
Now the Government is telling me I can’t have my light bulbs anymore. Digress, digress, digress.

Despite this latest conspiracy, I did not come here today to talk about light bulbs. We’re suppose to be talking about brown, dried up, barren stuff. . .as in the pots and containers that are now empty and void of any and all forms of lush green life. . .as in my sad looking blueberry bushes that are now simply a jumble of twiggy brown sticks. . .

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During my little jaunt to Lowes, in order buy my new stupid squiggly light bulbs, something wonderfully exciting caught my eye. Something that made me stop in the middle of the aisle as if it was screaming at me.
WARM WEATHER OUT IN THE GARDEN screaming.
There in the middle of the aisle leading to the outdoor plants, I spy a brightly colored, brimming over the top, seed packet display. Rows upon rows of little seed packets for every kind of vegetable known to man—even a few I’ve not eaten before, all ready for Spring planting.
Joy residing in a packet!
Seeds— the beginnings of my “vegetative” life outside. Tiny miracles in a bag.
Oh the wonderful joy!!

May I just say that I went for light bulbs but I left with seed packets and fun looking miniature little growing greenhouses, some nice bags of potting mixture, as well as a renewed spring in my cold, light deprived, brown, dried up, barren step. Tis the season to get planting, and I can’t wait. Now what was that about snow in the morning??!!

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The brine, the rug(s), getting lost and a grateful heart

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde

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(the blasted turkey sitting in it’s brining bag in the basement refrigerator)

Last Sunday afternoon I accompanied my husband to Lowes as he was in need of some bolts and caulking. I love going to Home Depot and/ or Lowes as there is always something that catches my eye..a new plant, some bird seed, new rugs. . .and that’s exactly what I had in mind—some new throw rugs for the kitchen as the existing rugs are in a word–nasty. They were cheap and have not withstood life in the kitchen of a cookie.

As my husband headed off to the nuts and bolts aisle, I casually mention I’ll be heading over to look at the rugs, catching up to him in a minute. “What?” he irritatingly asks / states— as in ‘oh no, we don’t need rugs, we’re not here to spend a bunch of money, no, no, no. . .’ —Of which I reply “don’t get bent out of shape, I’m just looking” (please note the inflection that is used by a wife who say’s she’s “just looking”)

I cruise the carpet aisle spying the giant rugs hanging vertically from the massive warehouse ceiling. Hummm. . . I pull a couple of the throw rugs and runners out of the their cubbies, laying them out on the slick concrete floor. . . Hummmm. . . I read a couple of descriptions, pull my phone out for a picture or two. I roll everything back up, putting the little rugs back in their appropriate bins before heading off to nuts and blots where I find my husband studying the various sizes of cement bolts.

As he finds what he came for and we begin heading back the direction of which we had actually entered this massive warehouse store, making our way to where the check out counters are located, I causally state that “I need to run back and check the prices of those throw rugs again”–I can actually feel his eyes rolling back in his head as I cut off for the rug section again.

We meet up at the check out. As we are leaving, pushing out his buggy that now has a
2 x 4 dangling precariously out the front, I causally throw out that “I just may come back tomorrow and get those little rugs for the kitchen.” Note the use of the word “little” strategically placed in the sentence. Silence in the resignation of new rugs.

Monday afternoon I happily return home from Lowes with 3 new throw rugs and one runner as I’m more than ready to move out the stained existing rugs. I sweep, mop, and sweep some more before laying out the new rug pads. Next I gingerly roll out the the new runner, smoothing it in to place then I lay out the 3 smaller rugs strategically placing each in its distinct place–one by the cooktop, the refrigerator,and the dishwasher—the three places I spend the majority of my life.

I step back admiring the colors. “Oh dear! Are they too busy?” I ask the cats. Percy immediately goes over to the runner and lays down. I take that as a sign of approval. Once my husband get home from work I clock him to see how long it takes him to notice, that is, if he notices at all. 2 minutes. Not bad, I’m thinking. And even better, he’s complimentary, he actually likes them. Relief.

Fast forward to Tuesday. I think I’m going to be really smart, I’m going to spread out this Thanksgiving cooking business over the course of two days verses making myself crazy by doing it all on Wednesday. Piece of cake, I’ve got this! Dad and Gloria have agreed to come for Lunch with our son and his fiancé coming in that evening— I’ll be cooking and serving in shifts, but at least, everyone will be here, albeit in intervals.

Last year I thought I’d mix things up a little by brining my turkey. I’ve never had a problem with my turkeys being too dry, I just thought I’d do something a little different, as brining does seem to be the vogue thing to do. Impart a little flavor and try my hand at something new and different.

I prepared the solution–a couple of gallons of water, ice, salt, spices, salt, apple cider, and did I mention salt? I get the 5 gallon brining bag in the sink, place my 20lb bird in the bag and gingerly pour the giant black kettle of solution into the bag. I seal the bag, heaving the now massively heavy bag into a roasting pan to help balance it as I prepare to carry it to the refrigerator in the basement.

I take maybe 5 steps from the sink when suddenly there’s a snap then a sickeningly slurping sound erupts, followed by the glug, glug, glug of 3 gallons of liquid cascading out all over my wooden kitchen floor, the new runner and 2 of the smaller new rugs. “NOOOOOOO!!!!!!” I scream for no one but me and the cats to hear, sending them running. I’m paralyzed for if I move, more liquid will flow. “NOOOOOOOOOO” “AGGGGHHHHHHHH” Surprisingly I don’t cry. I’m in a panic!!

The wooden floors, the rug!! AAAGGGHHHHH!!! Towels, I need towels! I run to get every bath towel we own. I proceed to sop up all the liquid before it destroys the floor. I pick up my new, now saturated rugs” – — did I mention that it was 34 degrees outside and pouring down rain. I run outside in the cold rain, throw the rugs down on the oh so wet driveway, pulling out the garden hose to wash off the salty solution now soaking into my new rugs. Any one driving by most likely thought I’d totally lost any brain I had.

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(waiting for the runner to dry out)

I lay the remaining towels, now down to beach towels, in the garage, dragging my now heavy soaked rugs in from the rain, laying them on the towels, layering other towels on top and proceed jumping up and down attempting to “blot” them dry as best as I can on a pouring down rainy day. Did I mention it was 34 degress?

Back inside I continue sopping up the salty solution, mopping the kitchen floor, more towels. Not to mention how many times I now had to run the washing machine. The damn turkey (please forgive my language, it just seems appropriate at this moment in time) is still sitting in the brining bag waiting for transport to the basement sans the brine. I pull out another jug of apple cider, pouring it over the turkey, reseal the bag and drag it to the basement. I eventually bring the rugs inside to the laundry room where I drape them over the dryer and washing machine and the heat vent hoping they will dry out by Thursday.

Fast Forward to today, Thanksgiving. The rugs are back in place, a little wavy and a bit shimmery, even after vacuuming, as the salt seems to now be ingrained. The oven is full of delightful dishes offering up heavenly aromas. The stove has simmering and bubbly pots of savory goodness. The table is set, Round I may begin.

The phone rings.
“JULIE?”
Hey dad are y’all almost here? Dad yells into his cell phone as if I’m on another continent and the connection is poor.
“NO, WE’RE LOST AGAIN”
Ugh, are you kidding me? They got lost last time. They’ve only been coming here to this house for the past 14 years several times a year. Gloria is not one for the interstate–an hour’s drive takes her 3 hours as she likes to go by way of Tennessee to get to our house.
“Where are you Dad?”
“THE SAME BAKERY WE STOPPED AT LAST TIME”
“Tell Gloria to stay were y’all are and I’ll be there in just a bit”
I cut off the oven and everything on the stove, grab my keys and off I go. I find them sitting in the parking lot of an empty bakery and just like the commercial, I roll down my window and holler, “FOLLOW ME”. . .

We won’t talk about Dad sneaking a drink of his favorite libation, of which he’s not supposed to have, and then of him practically falling asleep in his plate, but at 86 I can’t scold him too badly. Or of him biting into a chocolate turkey and breaking his partial. Or of the hour drive here which takes them 3 hours and yet they refuse for us to come pick them up.

We won’t talk about round 2 when our son and fiancé came for dinner and of how he and his dad got into a fuss over money and school at the table. We won’t talk about my husband dreading opening his business tomorrow as the madness known as “black Friday” brings him such discontent. Or of how hard it is to run a business and not conform to being open on holidays and on Sundays as nothing remains sacred in this country. We won’t talk about the things that worry us as parents for our children or as grown children for our aging parents or of how we will manage to make ends meet for them as well as for us and of what the new year will bring to the business.

There’s so much not to talk about and yet there is so much that needs talking about. . as in my being so so grateful. . .grateful for the fact that I still have my dad, that he and Gloria still manage to visit despite getting lost; that my husband who has worked so very hard to make his business survive given our country’s economy, keeps tirelessly working to make it a go; that I was able to retire after 31 years of teaching to “tend” to this family of mine; grateful that our son can attend college and that he will be taking the LSAT next weekend; grateful that I can have food on the table which is lovingly prepared to share despite brining disasters; grateful that there could be new rugs; grateful that I have a family, for good or bad, who loves and supports one another the best way it knows how.

So on this day of reflection and of Thanksgiving, with the clear knowledge that God has blessed me and that He has blessed all of us beyond measure, it is with a grateful heart, I say AMEN!!