one word…


(The Mayor driving herself these days trying to save on staff expenses /Julie Cook/ 2019)

EXHAUSTED!!!!

Just got home from working all week in the Atlanta Woobooville office.
The Mayor did not slow down all week as she pressed forward with all agendas—
adding to the list as she went.

There was…

Breakfast
Napping
Dressing
Bed making
Sorting laundry
Brunch
Playing
Lunch
Napping
Snacking
Supper
Learning to call her dog by her name… Ayyyye yiiiii (Alice)
Standing
Squatting
Falling
Shopping
Picking up the dry cleaning
Dusting
Re-dressing
Diapering
Rolling
Pushing
PJs
Sleeping

Not all in that order…but close.

As Chief aide, I could barely find the stamina to keep up.

For all you grandparents, and even great-grandparents out there,
who have no choice but to raise your grand and great-grandchildren by yourselves,
without the help and assistance of extended family—You have my deepest respect!!

The little ones are extra demanding while the older ones can be an entirely different,
and even frightening, ball of wax.

Hopefully, there will be a post tomorrow offering something a bit more meaty and full of
depth provoking thought…
that is once I actually rest sleep!

I had taken the latest book we were just talking about early last week The 21
as I was hoping to sneak in a page or two at night…
However, the priority was reading a variety of status reports (aka the Children’s Bible) to the Mayor
who oddly kept a short attention span during reading time…
she is just so hands-on in her job…always finding important things that need doing.


(The Mayor is very obsessive with the sorting and resoring of laundry / Julie Cook / 2019


(The Mayor did seem interested in my latest read, albeit briefly before she thought to tear the cover)


(the Mayor meeting with a representative from the Crab association /Julie Cook / 2019)


(does anyone notice an opportunitst lurking near the Mayor–
seems as if everyone wants a part of her time or even food)


(a small new ride, a gift from the Pig association as in Pepa Pig / Julie Cook / 2019)


(sweet dreams for a busy Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:9-10

selfishness and self-preservation vs selflessness and the love of the game

“It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.
This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up.
Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it’.”

Audrey Hepburn


(UGA kicker Rodrigo Blankenship)

Anyone who knows me, knows I love college football!

I’d say it was simply because of an innate love that was passed down to me from the sports-loving
genes of my dad…
but since I’m adopted…it must simply be from the gene pool of another.

But that’s the thing, my dad loved college football.

He lived and breathed for New Year’s day…that holy day of all things football.
I’ve written about this love affair of his before.

Back in the dark ages, back to the time of my youth…those early heady days of the 1960’s…
it was a time before things like a picture within a picture, split screens, Hulu, red zones…
or even color TV for that matter…were a thing.

My dad would haul every TV in our house into the den so he could
have all three major networks playing simultaneously…just so he wouldn’t
miss the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl or the Sugar Bowl…
or any other bowl game that was airing.

I obviously inherited that love by osmosis I suppose.

And as I’ve settled in to enjoy this year’s bowl season, I must confess, I have a few issues.

Issues such as the way the powers that be have set up this playoff mishmash.

The top 1, 2, 3 and 4 teams that are all vying for the top prize are sitting pretty
while other very deserving teams are left out of the coveted top 4 positions.
Cinderellas with no invitation to the ball.

And on top of that wouldn’t you know it…those powers that be also wrote in a little clause for this
playoff business that it can’t be revisited for discussion for at least 12 years.

Really?
Geeeees….

I just don’t find it fair for those undefeated teams who are passed over–think Central Florida…
teams unable to have any sort of chance to participate in a playoff with the argument being that they don’t
play the same caliber of teams as say those top seeds.

But I’m thinking that if you are a Division 1 team…
then should not all Division 1 teams have an equal opportunity for the coveted trophy of
National Champion?

You’re not Division 1 for nothing right?
Be they a Notre Dame, a Central Florida, a Boise State or an Alabama.

But such decisions were not left to me to decide.
And no one ever said life was fair.

There is, however, another more troubling issue that leaves me particularly unsettled this bowl season.
Something that boils down to a fine line between selfish self-preservation and that of selflessness
along with the simple love of the game.

The trouble is with the current mindset of those players who are currently draft-eligible and who
have decided to opt out of their perspective team’s bowl games.
Opting out and deciding not to play— preferring rather to sit out the game lest they get hurt and mess
up their chances for a nice high draft position.

This little predicament is leaving their coaches and teammates scrambling to fill in the
gaps before a major televised ball game.

Do bowl games even matter?

Well they matter to rankings and they matter to monies earned by schools for ticket sales
and they matter for future recruiting.
Plus they matter for the bragging rights of being a top alfa dog for a year.

Many of these kids who are going to school are on scholarships…
having earned a coveted “paid for” position on the team.
They, in turn, for the most part, have free food, free books and free tuition for their
wanting to play football.

But of course, it is their option and choice to go to a school to play.
And they usually opt to go to the school who offers them the most buck for their bang.
Hard work and talent leads them to this choice.

(now there are other sports and other scholarships, but I am focusing on football only)

The NFL, however, dangles bigger carrots in front of the faces of these kids
than whatever a college could dare offer.

Thus a kid can and at times is encouraged to “quit” school, in order to enter the draft.
“Oh you can always go back and earn a degree later, but you can only play at the top of your
game for a limited time” rings the argument.

According to the NFL official rules,
“To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for at least three years
and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season.
Underclassmen and players who have graduated before using all their college eligibility may request the
league’s approval to enter the draft early.

Players are draft-eligible only in the year after the end of their college eligibility.

We are actually seeing sophomores who are eligible for the draft, forgoing the thought of finishing
playing four or five years for their school while earning a degree…all just to play for the NFL.

While the thoughts of “fame and fortune” dancing enticingly around the heads of these young men.

There are those who try to justify this phenomenon.
They argue the notion of hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars,
being the greatest incentive as to why so many of these “impoverished” or struggling kids want
to move on.

Money talks.

Yet the respected retired coach of the Colts and now a football commentator, Tony Dungy, in his book
Quiet Strength notes the high percentage of NFL players who eventually end up divorced, broke or both.
Noting that all that glitters is not necessarily gold nor does it last.

Yet many argue that a large number of these kids come from broken homes or impoverished homes,
and are living on the edge of either succumbing to and falling through the cracks to things like
gangs and trouble if they aren’t given such wonderful financial incentives.
While very few seem to be singing the praises of rising above the negative by earning a degree and
finding success outside of sports.

Like Coach Dungy, I don’t buy the empty arguments of the hurry up and join the glamour of the
NFL mentality and I don’t fall for the money carrot argument.

Oh I get it and I see it but I don’t find it a viable argument…
that being that this is their only ticket out of a life considered less than.

I personally think a college degree will help a great deal more with forging a life that is content
and fulfilled verses that of a draft pick.

However, the draft pick promises the big bucks fast while the degree and the eventual job
will be a slower building to that long sense of security.

I think it is a poor precedence allowing players to opt out of playing for their school’s respective
bowl game just so they don’t get hurt and mess up jockeying for a draft position.

We are doing kids such a huge disservice when we cut them slack from the responsibility they
have to their school, to their team and to their teammates when we “allow” them the “right” of opting out
of a commitment because the money carrot has dangled early and most brightly.

Case in point Michigan had about 4 or 5 kids sitting out their bowl game against Florida.
The Gators won and I’m not complaining as I like to see fellow SEC schools win but
I feel that those boys who opted to sit out their final game of the year,
a game that was an honor as their team had won the right to play in a bowl game,
yet, in turn, they let down their fans, their coaches and their teammates…
for selfish and self-preserving reasons.

One player, however, a young man who is also draft eligible, and who needs surgery following the
season before participating in the draft, stated that he was indeed disappointed by his teammate’s
decision to sit out and that he would have to be dead not to play the final game for
his school and team.

Now that is a young man who has a love of the game and a sense of responsibility to and
for his team, his coaches and his school.
He has a team mentality.

And maybe that’s what’s missing.

We are no longer teaching responsibility or duty or honor, or even sportsmanship or what it
means to be a part of a team, a part of something bigger than ourselves…

We see this at the college level, at the high school level and now, sadly, at the
little league level.
It’s called the trickle down effect.

We have allowed our sports to become bigger than the various games themselves.
And in turn, we have lost those team building qualities that instill in both
young men and women the meaning of selflessness and that there are things greater in life
then that of the individual.
As in it takes a team to win a game, not merely one player.

Just another reason as to why I hate those end zone theatrics.
There is no room for showboats on a team full of individuals who work together to make those
successful moments for the team as a whole.

Rodrigo Blankenship is a kicker for the University of Georgia who was a walk-on and redshirt
freshman.
After his first year with stats that would make veteran kickers envious, 26 for 26 kicks,
he was informed that he would not be receiving a scholarship.
He might be offered one the following year but that was by no means a guarantee.

Most kids and their families would consider transferring over such news.
Transferring to a school that would give a scholarship as the family could certainly use the
assistance.

To have worked as hard as he had worked helping aid the team week after week in consecutive
wins throughout the season,
yet to be denied monetary assistant when those all around him had long been given their
scholarships, was news hard to swallow.
Yet Blankenship loved his team and his school.
He wanted to stay, despite the snub by the School’s Athletic Association.

“In 2017, when Blankenship was a redshirt sophomore, he hit a 30-yard field goal with 3:34
remaining to give Georgia a 20-19 lead against Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs won the game by that score, and the post-game locker room scene included Blankenship
proudly announcing to his team, upon a prompt from Smart,
“I’m on scholarship,” followed by a roar of celebration.

(Red and Black)

There are thankfully all sorts of stories like Rodrigo’s…
stories of selfless players who persevere without the rewards of glamour or money
but the sad fact remains that there are currently a good many players across this country
who are sitting out of bowl games because they are putting personal gain above that of their teams
and schools…and that speaks volumes as to what our culture and our Sporting Associations are teaching
our youth and to where we place our values.

We will be whatever we teach our young…be that good or be that bad.

I’ll go back to watching football now, but I’m afraid it will have one more grey cloud
hovering over its legacy.

Go Dawgs!

Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4

work or rest…a star seems to be born

“When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better. ”
Mae West


(Autumn loving her first trip to the beach)

All work with a little play…a grandmother’s work is never done…

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7

a darker side of play….

“Grown ups are complicated creatures,
full of quirks and secrets.”

― Roald Dahl

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(Gaylord the walking dog circa 1960)

No, this isn’t a tale about child predation or anything as awful or evil as that.

No…. this is actually a story about the naiveté that we use to find in our
favorite childhood toys…
and to what those once happy and comforting memories may be sadly morphing into
during these odd days of the 21st century….

Candice Bergen has often lamented that when she was growing up she was actually
jealous of Charlie McCarthy.
Charlie was the ventriloquist doll, aka “dummy” that her Dad, Edger Bergen,
used during his early days of Vaudeville…
moving to radio and eventually television.
Candice was often introduced to audiences as Charlie’s little sister.

charlie_mccarthy_edgar_bergen_x
(Charlie and Edgar 1938)

Yet there has always been something rather creepy about a ventriloquist’s doll.
Hollywood cemented that notion deep within our psyches with the creation of those
infamous B rated horror flicks featuring the puppets dating back as early as the 1960’s.
Even later with children’s shows such as Goosebumps in the early 1990s,
our need to be creeped out was capitalized on with the notion of a puppet having a mind,
albeit evil, all to itself.

When I was a little girl I had a Chatty Cathy doll.
Not a ventriloquist’s doll, but one that “spoke” none the less.
I don’t really remember her but my Dad tells me about it all the time.
She was a doll who, when a string was pulled, would speak.
An early prototype to a conversing playmate.

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She was large for being a doll and had a complete ensemble of clothes that she could change into
with the aid of her “playmate”…aka me.

Personally I preferred Gaylord.
I actually remember Gaylord…although I am told I referred to him as gayhog….
He was a dog, complete with plastic bone that would stick to his magnetic nose.
Gaylord could actually walk when pulled on a leash.
My love for Gaylord was probably because we didn’t have a dog…

So yesterday afternoon as I was reading the latest headline offering from the BBC, imagine
my alarm over the words “German parents told to destroy “spy” dolls.”

Naturally I opted to read further…

It seems that the latest and greatest “talking” doll Cayla,
which somehow uses the internet in order to “talk,” can be hacked…
Allowing for the doll’s conversing with, say her real-life playmate,
to be anything but innocent or naive.
There could be all sorts of responses or commands that would be more sinister and twisted
in nature.

I have provided the link to the story…
be sure to click on the brief video clip as that it most telling

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39002142

I suppose we are sadly learning that there is no bastion of innocence remaining….
Which I suppose leads us to just another reminder that we can’t ever be too careful
as to who or what we listen to…

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10

The bench

“Seated here in contemplations lost, my thought discovers vaster space beyond, supernal silence and unfathomed peace”
Giacomo Leopardi

The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.
Wendell Berry

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(remnants of a red cedar picnic bench / Julie Cook / 2015)

Fifty years ago it came to be.
The red cedar picnic table, along with the accompanying two benches, just appeared one hot summer afternoon out back on the fenced green lawn, sheltered under the shade of the tall pine tree.
It was long before central air-conditioning.
Every window in the house was wide open.
It was cooler out rather than in.

These were the days before every home had a two, three or even four car garage.
Despite cheap gas, frugality reigned.
It was a time when everyone was home more often than away.
A time when families and neighbors would gather together outside in order to cool off, simply sharing the riches of one another’s lives.

Backyard cookouts, neighborhood block parties, a time of lazy summer days. . .
Life was delightfully slower back then.
Most moms were home, as dads were at work and the kids whiled away the hours outside.
Kick the can
Hide-n-seek
Stickball games
Collecting evening fireflies
Catching crawfish in the creek
A single voice calling out “Marco. . .”
while a handful of youthful voices echoed back “Polo. . .”

This was the time before toxic waters, child predators and electronic this and thats. .
There was no need for cell phones. . .parents knew kids would be home at dark.
High fashion consisted of tee shirts, cut offs and a new pair of keds.

Popsicles dribbled down chins,
As everyone shooed the flies aways from the platter of ice cold slices of watermelon.
Winning the seed spiting contests always went to those who still had their front teeth.
Mothers were insistent on everyone wearing their tennis shoes while youthful feet clamored to be free
“I don’t want to hear it when you get a splinter or step on a yellow jacket. . .”

A neighborhood full of youthful energy each took their places at the table, sliding onto the benches oh so gingerly so as not to rub bare legs carelessly over the red cedar wood.
“Everyone look this way and smile”. . .
As the Kodak flash cube blinked and clicked with the advancement of the film.

The paper plates were ladened with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Lays potato chips and fritos along with freshly washed green grapes. . .however it was to the ice-cream sandwiches and fudge bars that all eyes turned.
“Now ya’ll wait a while after eating–I don’t want you running around making yourselves sick. . .”
As the moms sipped iced coffee and puffed on their cigarettes.

Yet sadly, time always has a way of catching up with Life.
The children grew up and one by one, grew away.
With each passing summer there were less and less members gathered around the table.
The joyful chatter of youthful exuberance grew silent
The pine straw fell, covering the table as the benches remained empty and bare.
Abandoned and finally forgotten. . .that is until today.

Fifty years later, a lone bench is found hidden deep in the woods.
Time and the elements have each laid claim to the table and fellow bench, but the lone single bench remains much as it did—waiting and inviting any and all who might wish to sit a spell while spending a summer’s evening listening to the sound of the whip-poor-will and the distant echo of the laughter of children.

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In April, even the birds are happy

While the cock with lively din, Scatters the rear of darkness thin; And to the stack, or the barn door, Stoutly struts his dames before; Oft list’ning how the hounds and horn, Cheerly rouse the slumb’ring morn”
John Milton

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(two different images of turkeys, strutting toms / Troup County, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014
and contrary to popular belief, yes, this is the time for turkey activity, not November during Thanksgiving as on would believe)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A fragrant sweetness wafts lightly in the air from newly formed blossoms beaming bright in April’s first light.
Overhead, the endless blue ski beckons the aimless wanderer to come linger in its vastness,
All as the delirious breeze gently invites all to come lay down and drink in the heady scents and sounds of Spring.

Creation rejoices as both animal and insect ready themselves for the annual rituals of courtship. Neon colors, puffy shimmery feathers, shrill accented chirps, all various signs and displays of Nature’s love notes.
After the dormant silence of winter’s long slumber, the cycle of life begs to begin again.

Vibrancy and life mingle sweetly together offering tender notes of renewal and hope,
while a garish and overt Spring preens and prances before cold weary eyes.
Come dance and play is the rally cry of this season
Rise up you sleepy souls, whispers the wind, time is of the essence, Nature’s beguiling charms summons all to waste not.
Come quickly my friends, for it is now time to dance.