Show us the way oh Lord. . .

“Others have seen what is and asked why.
I have seen what could be and asked why not. ”

― Pablo Picasso

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(a statue of Christ on the Charles Bridge , Prague, The Czech Republic / Julie Cook / 2012)

What is it that sets us apart form the other creatures on this planet our ours?
Other than that opposable thumb business?

What is it that makes us greater, wiser, better. . .?

Is it perhaps our ability to be compassionate and kind?
Perhaps to reason and analyze?
Or is it is our capacity to be creative. . .that ability to dream, to imagine, to think and therefore to compose, to construct, to paint, to sing, to sculpt, to dance and to build. . .

The ability to even take that which has been ruined and destroyed, even by our own hands, and to remake, rekindle and renew. . .?

I had not intended to have such a serious minded post again this week but it appears that forces beyond my control thought better of my initial decision. . .

Today’s news is laced, once again with the heinous beheading by ISIS of another innocent bystander–another victim to their ravenous thirst for innocent blood. This time it was an 82 year old Archeologist taxed with preserving and saving the ruins of Palmyra.
It seems they held this gentleman for the past month, torturing him in an attempt to discover where the vast treasures of this ancient, and to some holy, site were hidden. He never shared that information with his captors, who knows if he even was aware of hidden treasure, so it was another case of “off with their heads”. . .

Here you may find a link to the full story as found on the BBC . . .
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33984006

In Charles Kaiser’s book “The Cost of Courage” which I shared in yesterday’s post, Mr. Kaiser retells the story of the Vichy Parisian Mayor, Pierre-Charles Taittinger who, following the invasion of Normandy which was the telling realization for the Nazis that their time of Occupation in Paris, as well as all of France, was drawing dangerously to its finale, approached the Nazi’s high commander, General Choltitz, with his final plea for the Germans to spare the city.

It was well known and documented that if Hitler had to relinquish the City of Lights back into the hands of the Allies, then they would not receive a city at all but rather one that had been razed and burnt to the ground. Every bridge crossing the Seine, as well as every monument from the Eiffel Tower to Napoleon’s Tomb had been wired with explosives. The fleeing German troops were to detonate and burn everything in their wake as they left the city.

Monsieur Taittinger implored the General one last time:
“Often it is given to a general to destroy, rarely to preserve,” Taittinger begins.
“Imagine that one day it may be given to you to stand on this balcony as a tourist, to look once more on these monuments to our joys, our sufferings, and to be able to say, “One day I could have destroyed all this, and I preserved it as a gift for humanity.’ General, is not that worth all a conqueror’s glory?”
The General replied, “You are a good advocate for Pairs. You have done your duty well. And likewise I, as a German general, must do mine.”

History tells us that the General was wise enough to know that by now Hitler was indeed a madman and that the war, with the Soviets now advancing from the east, was all but over and that it would not serve the furture of Germany, whatever that further may now hold, to destroy what the French held so dear. There is more to the story, a series of interventions and seemingly miraculous moments which spurred the Allied forces to march upon the city in the nick of time, but I suggest that you read that story on your own as it makes for fascinating reading.

When the church bells rang out echoing across the city, with the deep baritone bells of Notre Dame leading the way, sounding the joyful news of the liberation of Paris, the General was heard to say, “that today I have heard the bells of the death knell of my own funeral. . .” He had sent the troops out from the city with having detonated only the bombs of one of the train stations.

What is it about our splendors and our glories, those monuments we construct, build, make and craft from generation to generation. . . those tombs and treasures we hold so dear and so ever important? So much so that we feel the urgency and need of being tasked with their care, their maintenance, their upkeep and their eventual preservation?
Is it because we see that these manmade wonders are some of the tangible evidence of the better part of our nature? That despite our ability to destroy, to kill and to promote war. . .deep down we know that we strive for the good, the beautiful and the enduring?

These wonders of ours link us to our past civilizations. These monuments of glory, grandeur and beauty of both joy and sorrow allow us to see from where we have come, and in turn we are afforded the opportunity to show future generations the part of us which is better, kinder, gentler, more humane —that side which chose to give rather than to take?

So on this day, when another has fallen victim to a dark and evil menace spreading outward from the Middle East, I am left with the simple prayer, “Oh Lord, show us the way. . .”

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(Duomo di Milano / Milan, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

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(The Bascillica di San Antonio / Padova, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

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(Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore / Firenze, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

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(Basilica Papale di San Francesco / Assisi, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

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( Basilica Papale di San Pietro / The Vatican / Roma, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

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(stain glass windows in The Basilica of the Holy Blood / Bruges, Belgium / Julie Cook / 2011)

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(Notre Dame / Paris France / Julie Cook / 2011)

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(détail, Notre Dame / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

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(Eiffel Tower / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

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(the cross that sits atop the Eagles Nest or the Berghof overlooking Berchtesgaden, Bavaria which was once Hitler’s private mountain retreat / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(St Stephens Cathedral/ Vienna, Austria / Julie Cook / 2013)

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St Vitus Cathedral / Prague, The Czech Republic / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(Rose window, St Vitus Cathedral / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(A section of the Berlin Wall / Berlin, Germany / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(a section of the Berlin wall / Berlin, Germany / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(The Brandenburg Gate / Berlin, Germany / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(The interior of the new German Chancellory, the Bundestag / Berlin, Germany / Julie Cook / 2013)

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Exterior of the Bundestag / Berlin, Germany / Julie Cook / 2013)

Just Peachy

One does a whole painting for one peach and people think just the opposite–
that particular peach is but a detail.

Pablo Picasso

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(a close up of a South Carolina peach / Julie Cook / 2015 )

Oh how our time is now quickly passing. . .
Gone too soon will be your tender touch,
your tickely fuzz upon my lips
and your lush sweetness dribbling down my chin. . .

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(peach pit / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(a close up of a South Carolina peach / Julie Cook / 2015 )

My small gift to you this morning… the joy of a little color

There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.
Pablo Picasso

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(Open air market flower stall, Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(Boston Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

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(Millennial Park, shore of Lake Michigan / patch of black eyed susans / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

Technology, Bah Humbug!!

“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
― Pablo Picasso

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.”
― Karl Marx

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Oh dear Lord, what is happening to me when I find myself thinking a quote by Karl Marx makes sense?!
Or even one from Pablo Picasso?
I know what you’re thinking. You figured all art teachers would like Picasso.
Well I’m not a fan of the bigger than life ego which Picasso could lay claim to. Nor am I a huge fan of cubism but I’d be digressing if I went off on that tangent.

How many times today have I bemoaned that “I hate technology”?
Was it the time I hung up my cell phone and put it away while it inadvertently “face timed” my son for about the 5th time?
Who by the way thinks face time is the greatest thing.
Who thinks that?!
It’s bad enough that I try looking presentable when I’m out in public, this whole face time business does not cast one in the best of light. You should have seen my hair on that screen!!

Or was it when I made the trip to Staples to find a new set of cordless phones for the house?
I really didn’t think the batch we had was all that old but for some reason there has been some crazy message on the phone claiming we had a “New Voice Message” complete with a blinking amber light that won’t go away.

I have an answering machine.
Why in the heck would my phone keep telling me that there’s some sort of new voice mail out there somewhere?
I tried pushing the buttons.
It promoted me to enter the access code.
Access code?!
What access code?
I push more buttons.
Some sort of busy sound comes up but the light is still blinking and the message is still listed.

I find the manual.
“Hold down the # button”
Okay, holding it down.
“Beep”
Oh thank God—no blinking light, no message.
The phone rings.
After hanging up, the message mysteriously appears again plus the phone is blinking again.
WHAT?!

My husband also notices the blinking light.
You know it’s big if a husband notices something blinking.
He tells me we must need new phones because a yellow light keeps blinking.
Really? I ask rather incredulously, “ya think?!”
But then he tells me, “no, don’t get new phones, I think the blinking light keeps the cat off the bed at night”
“What?!”
“Yeah, I think when she comes in the bedroom at night to jump on the bed, which always wakes me up, the light blinking by the bed, scares her off. . .”
I just shake my head at him as I walk out of the room.

So off I go to Staples in order to buy a new set of cordless phones.
And that’s another issue.
So many people today no longer have “land lines”
Land lines.
What is up with that?
Yes I have a cell phone, but if you want to have a decent conversation with someone that does not break up, cut off or sound as if you’re in a can. . .then a “real” phone is the only solution.
Hence my desire to keep a “real” phone in the house.
And I’m sorry but there’s just something odd about telling a person via this texting business that WYWH
I think saying “wish you were here” sounds so much nicer coming from a voice rather than a bunch of letters popping up on a screen don’t you?
How personal, how touching, how emotional can a letter be versers the tenderness of a voice?!
But then I would need to digress onto the tangent about this generation’s lack of the ability to communicate face to face—God forbid!
I mean really!

As I stand alone on the phone aisle at Staples, perusing the batch of cordless phones available, I pick out a Panasonic set— thinking the existing batch at home, which blink, must be a different brand. Sadly once home I see I’ve bought the same brand.
Hummm.
Surely these won’t blink.
Do you know how irritating it is to roll over in the middle of the night only to wake to a strobe light going off in the dark?. . .blink, blink, blink.
I am the type of person who prefers darkness when it comes to sleeping, not blinking lights.

Finally, once home, I unpack the box with all the new little cordless phones. I open the backs, putting in the batteries. I next go unplug all the current blinking phones–yes all 4 cordless phones blink.
I plug up all the new phones.
I proceed to conduct the initial test.
I call the house from my cell phone.
Nothing.
What?!
I pick up the new phone. Despite not being fully charged it claims that it’s working.
Hummm.
I look at the box.
“Make certain you hear a click when plugging in the phone line cord into both the phone as well as the phone jack”
I check the connections.
Ahhhh, the wall outlet end wasn’t pushed in all the way.
Whew!

Oh, I need to record a message.
I hate hearing my voice.
Who knew I sounded like a high pitched squeaky rat?
A high pitched squeaky Southern rat at that.
Ok, test number 2

It rings, sounding a bit odd, almost like a ring a cling—not a ring a ring.
Oh well, new phone—new sound. I can live with that.
Suddenly—again. . .WHAT?
Message: New Voice Mail
AGGGGHHHHHH.
I grab the manual. . .again.
It explains that one’s service provider must supply an access code.
Are you freaking kidding me?! I’ve got to call AT&T?
Trust me, the thought of being on hold for hours, only to speak with someone in India, is not how I wish to spend my afternoon.

A lady answers.
She can’t help me as it appears as if we are actually hooked up through UVerse.
What the heck? When did they become two separate entities? Gees!!
She transfers me to India.
I explain to the young lady, with the very heavy accent named Lisa, what my problem is and she reassures me that she understands and will be happy to help me.

She tells me I need an access code.
Ya think?
I explain that I don’t have an access code.
She then tells me that she’ll set me up with one.
I explain that I have an answering machine already asking why I need AT&T or UVerse, or whomever, providing me with a voice mail system when my phone has an answering machine.
She puts me on hold.
After a couple of minutes she comes back.
“Julie do you still see the message?”
Well it’s a bit difficult to see the message as I’m on the phone”
“uh”
“How ’bout I hang up the cordless phone picking up the wall mount phone?”
“Oh good idea, Julie”

I do what I can.

Sure enough—I pick up the wall mount receiver, putting down the cordless.
Message: New Voice Message.
“May I put you on hold again Julie?”
What am I going to say, No?
I wait again for Lisa to work whatever magic she does behind the scenes.
“Is it still there Julie?”
“Yes, but I have an idea. How about we hang up, so that when the phones’ not in use, I can check the screen?”
“Oh very good idea Julie, I will call you back in 2 minutes”

Low n behold. No message!!!
Hallelujah!!!!
The phone rings.
“hello Lisa”
“Hello Julie, I must tell you that this call may be recorded”
“Yes, Lisa, I know”
“Good news, there is no message”
“Oh Julie, I am so glad. Is there anything else that I can do for you?
“No Lisa, but I greatly appreciate your help.”

And so went my entire afternoon but at least I now have 4 new phones that do not blink nor post erroneous messages that simply never go away.

I’m certain that those of you who are reading this, who are of a certain youthful age, are flippantly thinking how old fashioned I am. You marvel over technology as it is all you have ever known. My son, the mid twenty somethings, are the last group who were not “babysat” by things like iPads. His world’s gadget was the Gameboy. My world’s gadget was the Barbie. Hummm

The technology gods can’t wait for my generation to die off.
Those of us who spend 10 minutes texting our children a mere “I love you” verses the clicky little ILY spit out in a nano second.
We enjoy hearing connected voices without the worry of data plans and over usage fees.
We enjoy voices verses letters.
We enjoy face to face conversations while being in the same room with other people verses being in a room full of people whose heads are cast downward, fingers and thumbs working feverishly while nary a sound is uttered.
We prefer real tangible books. The feel of paper, the weight and heft of a real volume.
We still enjoy the art of writing. Pen to paper. Not the click click of a key pad.
There are several boxes of classic vinyl LPs and 48s in the basement. . .
I miss them.

There’s just something about being “old school” and believe you me, I’m proud of it and still going strong. Now if I could just figure out how to use the remote to this new “smart” TV—what in the heck is a smart TV and why did we need one?!

“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation…tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.”
― Jean Arp