Thankful

As seen on a rural church sign:

It’s not happy people who are thankful…
It’s thankful people who are happy


(painting by Henry A. Bacon 1877 of Mary Chilton stepping onto “Plymouth Rock” /
Mary Chilton is my long ago relative)

Back in the early 1950s my grandmother, my dad’s mother, did extensive genealogy work.
She had her reasons and I confess that I am so grateful she did

It is because of her exhausting work that both my family, my cousins and I,
have a valuable gift of our lineage.

Lineage, that being the line from whence we come.
Even the Bible offers us the extensive lineage of Jesus—
We are also all a part of that same extensive lineage, yet that story is for another day.
Today’s tale is about a single family’s lineage and the gratitude for that lineage.

Now if you’ve read my posts regarding my adoption,
you know I actually have two family trees.

I have a biological tree that I know very little about.
And I also have an adopted tree, a tree and a people that have each embraced me
as their own.
It is a most extensive tree.

What my grandmother started almost 70 ago was no easy task.

She had to do a lot of leg work on her own as well as seek the help of many others.
She had to write a myriad of letters and make many personal phone calls to various state
record departments as well as to state historians in order to enlist their help in
researching her family’s past.

This was long before there were computers, databases, DNA Genealogy companies—
as archaic landlines were the standard norm.
Most calls were considered long distance…meaning you paid extra for long-distance calls.
But my grandmother was determined.

What she didn’t realize then, in her seemingly very personal quest, was
that she was giving her lineage, her grandchildren
one of the greatest gifts she could give.

That of a collective uniting history.

In those days there were no immediate connections, so her quest took time.

She had to request birth, death and marriage certificates.
She had to scour family bibles and records.
She had to have documents notarized and verified.
She traveled to courthouses.
She had to get the assistance of others in other states to visit distant courthouses
and churches and cemeteries in order to do a large portion of the digging.

For you see, my grandmother knew she had come from a line of people who
were important to the founding of this now great nation and she needed the proper
validation to be able to be granted the acknowledgment by such organizations as
The Daughters of The American Revolution, The Daughters of the Mayflower, The Pilgrims Society,
The Colonist Society, The Huguenot Society, etc.

This woman, who was born in 1896 in a small country town in the middle of the state
of Georgia, had actually come to be there by way England.

But from England, it was first to Plymouth…and from Plymouth, Massachusettes it was
to various towns in the colony of Massachusetts then to the city of Bristol in the colony
of Rhode Island, next, it was to the city of Savannah in the colony of Georgia
and finally to the tiny town of Molena in the state of Georgia…
but the final resting place was to be Atlanta, Georgia.

Her 10th great grandmother was Pricilla Mullins of London, England.
Pricilla Mullins was married to John Alden of Essex, England.
John was a cooper aka, a barrell maker.
John had a dream and Pricilla shared her husband’s dream.

They were on that fateful ship that we tend to remember each Thanksgiving,
just as we remember that first colony of Plymouth and of that first
celebration of not only survival but the beginning of thriving in a new land.

The Alden’s first daughter born on this new mysterious land was named Elizabeth–
the purported first white European girl born to the Plymouth Colony.

So yes, Thanksgiving is important to me on a family’s historical level…
but it is more important to me as a grateful American.

For it matters not how we came…be it those who were first here on the continent,
or if we came via Plymouth, a slave ship, Ellis Island or came with a visa in our
hand seeking citizenship…we have come…
We also have come in various shades of color.
Red, White, Brown, Black, Yellow…

We fought and died creating a new nation just as we’ve fought and died keeping her free.

It troubles me terribly that our society has developed a tendency to gloss over Thanksgiving…
basically jumping from Halloween to Christmas in one fell swoop…
But we can blame that on our obsession with materialism…
which is in actuality a loss of thankfulness.

Yet what is most troubling is that we now have many voices crying out that we rename this
day of thanks.
Some smugly stated that this is only a day of overindulgence and eating.
They claim Thanksgiving is not a day this Nation should recall let alone recognize.

One of our fellow bloggers, Citizen Tom, offered the following post regarding
our Nation’s Thanksgiving observation and celebration.

I highly recommend taking the time to read his post as it is a beautiful reminder
as to why Thanksgiving matters.

AN AMERICAN FIRST THANKSGIVING

This from President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next
to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being,
who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is,
or that will be–
That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–
for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming
a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions
of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–
for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty,
which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner,
in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government
for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–
for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed;
and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;
and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath
been pleased to confer upon us

Healing

“I didn’t expect to recover from my second operation but since I did, I consider that I’m living on borrowed time. Every day that dawns is a gift to me and I take it in that way. I accept it gratefully without looking beyond it. I completely forget my physical suffering and all the unpleasantness of my present condition and I think only of the joy of seeing the sun rise once more and of being able to work a little bit, even under difficult conditions.”
― Henri Matisse

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(roses / Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)

I’m traveling bright and early over to Atlanta today, taking my son to a specialist at Emory as we seek some much needed healing of body. Complications from the kidney stones are not getting better but seem to be worsening.

As we travel to Emory I am very mindful that Dr. Kent Brantly is currently in Emory’s infectious diseases facility for treatment of the dreaded Ebola virus he contracted while in Africa treating the growing number of victims of this frightening virus. Tuesday Nancy Writebol, a missionary also in Africa to help those victims of the virus, as well as, the second American to contract the virus, will arrive in Atlanta for treatment.

I am aware, as a mother, how I am concerned over the health of my now grown son–I can only imagine how the families of both Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol must feel. The fear of the unknown coupled by the knowledge of what a virus such as Ebola can do to the human body with a vicious and deadly rate of speed.

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(roses / Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)

Today may we all offer our hopes and prayers for healing.
Healing for all who are currently afflicted by illness of both body and mind.
May we remain prayerful for those suffering in Israel and Gaza.
May we remain prayerful for those in China who were affected by yesterday’s deadly earthquake.
May we remain prayerful for those in Ukraine and Russia as that portion of the world remains in crisis.
May we continue to be prayerful for the families who have lost loved ones on both the Malaysian planes–one downed and one still missing.
May we pray for all in Africa who are afflicted with Ebola.
May we pray for all the healthcare workers throughout this world who work tirelessly to bring hope and healing to all who suffer.

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(roses, Boston Public Garden / Julie Cook / 2014

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5

Are you a blamer or maker?

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
G.B. Shaw

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(lovely patch of wild flowers Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)

Our lives are an endless procession of choices.
To do or not to do
To go or to stay
To walk or to run
To move or to be still
To quit or to act
To speak or to be quiet
To act or to react

There was one thing, one bit of cookie advice, that I would tell my high school students. . .
“Life is full of choices and you will certainly have your share. . .”
“But the number one choice you’ll always have will be that you can either choose to be a victim in life or not—
you can choose to be proactive or reactive—-
always choose to be proactive!

Sadly today we hear so many people, from all walks of life, bemoaning the stacked deck of cards Life has dealt them— lamenting over the unfair, painful, paralyzing circumstances divid out by this cruel master card dealer.

There is whining, wailing, complaining and the heavy gnashing of teeth.
The energy and time spent over the layers of excuses, the rationalizing, the oh woe is “me-ing”. . .
Which in turn leads to the stagnant inability to move forward
“We’ll I can’t because of this”
“I won’t because of such and such”
“I wish I could, but. . .”

Layers upon layers of the cant’s, the “woulda”s, the “shoulda”s, the “coulda”s
We are creating a society that prefers to sit back, watching and waiting to receive rather than one which prefers to move forward. The recipients are beginning to outweigh the doers.
There are those who are so busy explaining their poor circumstances and the reasons as to why they’re down on their luck, spending precious time wallowing in inactivity, that they miss the opportunities to get up and move their way forward.

Life is about hard work.
The old saying, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” has been sadly transformed today into an expected free lunch.

It is important to offer help, aid and assistance to those hurting and indeed, as at some point in life we will all find ourselves in such a position—but, and this is the key, it to also exceedingly important to be able to offer opportunity for growth and movement forward as this is the essential key to the wellbeing of the Human Spirit.

A hand up will be needed by all of us at some point, but then to be sent forward is the most important component to that offerings of aid and service.

Human beings are wired to be doers in life.
We are not hard wired to be inactive receivers.
Sadly we grow spoiled and lazy, preferring to sit back waiting for whatever it is that
will seem to fill our needs and make us happy.
Life is still about building and making.

May we be mindful that we still have so much to be done
and it won’t get done with us merely sitting back waiting and watching.

The silent passing of life

Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
― Ernest Hemingway

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(small sparrow in the fountain outside of The Old North Church / Boston, Mass. / Julie Cook / 2014

“[S]he Is Not Dead

I cannot say, and I will not say
That [s]he is dead. [S]he is just away.
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
[S]he has wandered into an unknown land
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since [s]he lingers there.
And you—oh you, who the wildest yearn
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him[her] faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him[her] still as the same. I say,
[S]he is not dead—[s]he is just away.”
― James Whitcomb Riley

Ann Alexander Cook
1928-2014

What? You talking to me?

We live in deeds not years In thoughts not breaths In feelings not figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives who thinks most, feels noblest, acts the best.”
― Philip James Bailey

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(wary eyed pigeon, Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

When my son was a little boy, he and I spent a great deal of time together. And not that it’s odd for a mother to spend a great deal of time with her child, my child happened to be only child with our living in a separate community from the one in which I taught, way back in the middle of 20 acres of woods. I was pretty much his only playmate, up until it was time to start school. His dad worked long hours so it was often just the two of us.

A favorite pastime would often find us curled up on the couch watching his favorite shows, with cartoons being a big part of our viewing. My dad had spent time with me watching cartoons so it just seemed natural for me to do the same with my child. And I must admit that those are some of the best memories I have of those simple easy days spent contently together–nothing special, no big deal–just he and I simply enjoying being together and laughing as we watched a silly cartoon

One of the cartoons we both enjoyed watching was the Goodfeathers.

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Goodfeathers was the cartoon’s world take on the movie the Goodfellas. I’d never seen the Goodfellas movie but I knew enough about the movie to know that it was a story about the Mob. The cartoon was so tongue and cheek and such a funny take on the stereotypical life of Italian Americans and Mob life that I think I probably enjoyed it as much, if not more, than my son–and if the truth be told, most likely on a vastly different level. That subtle little nuances that only I could pick up on.

The Goodfeathers even had their own version of Marlon Brando’s role from the Godfather–a role portrayed by the Godpigeon.

good feathers

And so it was, on an idle evening stroll, along a beautifully old victorian era street lined with the brownstones of days gone by, that I spied a lone pigeon lounging along the rim of a bird bath. My proximity to him seemed to make no never mind, so I stopped long enough to take his picture.

Later, when I was actually going through the myriad of pictures I’d taken throughout the day, I noted the wary eye this pigeon shot my way–with the immediate thought and words of a young Robert de Nero—“What, You talking to me?”
Which in turn immediately sent my thoughts tumbling back in time, many years prior to a delightful time of joy and innocence when a mom and her young son lived a simpler time of contentment. . .

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(cookie and little cookie, on his wedding day / June 7, 2014 –and it should be noted, he’s little cookie 😉 )

Snippets of Life through a couple of Psalms

I am like a pelican of the wilderness:

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(pelican in flight, Destin, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

I am like an owl of the wilderness,
like a little owl of the waste places.

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(Vienna Zoo / Schönbrunn Palace / Vienna, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012

I lie awake;
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.

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(pigeon atop roof of the Old State House / Boston Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014

When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.

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(praying mantis / Julie Cook / 2014)

For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears

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(embers in the BBQ / Julie Cook / 2014)


Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

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(seal swimming / Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada / Julie Cook / 2012)

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(basking sea lion, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada / Julie Cook / 2012

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(the tip top of an orca, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada / Julie Cook / 2012)

lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,

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(Georgia clouds / Julie Cook / 2013)


you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,

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(Watten, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

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(espaliered apple tree, Mondsee, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,

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(neighboring Georgia bull / Julie Cook / 2014)

kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,

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(Web image of painting of Henry VIII)

young men and women,
old men and children.

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(homeless man, courtyard of The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(young boy posing for mom’s picture atop the duckings in Boston’s Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)


Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

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(full moon over Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Jewish and Christian religious groups de
(web image of a rally in support of Israel)

Praise the Lord.

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(happy flowers covering Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014 )

Peace

We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
William Ewart Gladstone

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(A beautiful swan in the pond of the Boston Common’s garden / Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

I feel as if I want to yell at the top of my lungs “HOW DID I MISS THIS?!”
Last evening, after watching the umpteenth report regarding the Malaysian Airliner 17 which was shot down over the Ukraine, it suddenly felt as if I’d been hit in the face with a brick.. . .a “helloooo” moment.
I felt as if I was hit in the face with a stalk realization I’d been missing, or it had been so clouded and colluded. Something that has been there all along but finally revealed as tangibly real, as if a curtain has been finally lifted.

I am almost 55 years old.
Do you know, realize and comprehend that for my entire life, my entire 55 years, I, you, we have lived with a suffocating cloud of angst and agitation from and by the USSR, now Russia?

Ever since WWII it seems as if the Government of the former Soviet Union, now Russia, has relished in being a thorn in the side of the United States. And perhaps they, the Russians feel the same about the US.
I don’t know.
Be it a Cold War with the constant threat of annihilation under the threat of Nuclear attack or today’s posturing and jockeying of which is eerily pulling us all backwards rather than forward. . .
Our relationship with Russia is once again sliding backwards.

My earliest remembrance from grade school was the worrisome drills we would practice as the constant threat of a Nuclear War seemed tenuously imminent. It was a worrisome burden for grade school kids who wondered where we would hide when the Soviets shot the missile at us, fretting what would happen to our parents if such should happen while we were at school and our parents were at work and home. Obviously this is certainly no way for children to grow and thrive—not living in a state of constant worry and fear. But could we not say this same sense of insecurity is true today for so many other children around this fragile globe of ours?

An entire generation of us grew up with that very real threat and worry–and yet we’ve marched forward ebbing slowly away from a constant threat into a state of cautious forward progress. We marveled watching a Polish Pope work steadily and steely toward forcing the hand of an entrenched Communist Regime as President Reagan implored President Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”

And now, it is as if we have stepped back to a time that remains dangerous and perilous.
Shadows and question outnumber clarity and openness.
Trust has vanished.
Rhetoric is now the name of the game.
Sanctions, false truths, mysteries, rebels, lies, no ownership, battles, missiles, encroachment. . .all shades of a dark time that was— which oddly, is again, now.

Add to this the ongoing battles in Israel and I feel as if I’m in a time warp.
As far as we’ve moved forward, we have moved equally that much farther—backwards.

Peace
Cooperation
Coexistence
Support
Love

May we accept nothing less.