May we all remember…

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

“All we have of freedom, all we use or know –
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.”

Rudyard Kipling


(BBC)


(News.com.au)

I know what you’ll say.
I know you’ll shake your head.
I know your pride will cloud your agreement.
You’ll disagree…
You’ll say I’m wrong…
Or you’ll simply be dismissive…subjecting me to a land of ignorance and deplorables.

But never the less… there are just some things that I believe our cousins from across
the pond get right…so much more so then we do ourselves.

And one of those things is the pausing of the day in order to remember…

A Queen, clad in black, sporting the tri bloom of the red poppy.
A stalwart and determined 93-year-old monarch flanked by wreaths of red poppies.
A usually stiff upper lipped emotionless woman who stops to wipe away a single tear.
All because she remembers.

She remembers.

But the question is, do we?

Perhaps she remembers more clearly because she has lived on the soil where
wars have been fought.
Or that her family has borne the brunt of carrying an ancient Nation during those wars.

Our soil has, on the other hand, been spared.
Other than our own war of division and now a new odd war of terror, our land has remained
basically untainted by world wars.

However, we cannot say the same about our people.

We have sent countless numbers of young men and young women toward the sound of gunfire rather
then holding them tightly in our arms, safely back home.

Some of them returned, some did not.
Some returned…different.

For those who did and have returned, they have done so changed…
both physically as well as emotionally.
And as long as humans have wars…this sad reality will continue.


(Dailymail)


(US wounded at Omaha Beach / US Army file)


(image courtesy American Grit)

Remembrance Day
Armistice Day
Veteran’s Day

Call it what you will.

It is a specified day in November, always the 11th, in which the British Commonwealth,
Canada, the European Nations, Australia, New Zealand, The US…
each pause to mark the recalling of the sacrifices made…
sacrifices that were readily and freely offered so that our collective nations might remain free.

Originally it was a day to mark the end of WWI—it was on the 11th hour of the 11th day
of the 11th month that the war ended when the Germans signed the Treaty of Versailles.

Sadly and most ominously little did the world know then that that treaty would actually usher
in a new and even larger horror—only to follow suit not long after…
A more terrible horror than the first…

And so thus the UK, who marked Remembrance Day yesterday on Sunday with the laying of
poppy clad wreaths on tombs, monuments, and graves, now remember two world wars.

Perhaps one of the more poignant moments during yesterday’s ceremony in London was when
the Queen’s wreaths were placed on the Cenotaph.

The Cenotaph is an empty tomb and monument in London that is a physical and tangible reminder that
not all soldiers come home…as many physical remains still lie elsewhere…
on foreign soil, long forgotten.
Buried or merely lost to the decay of time.


(The Telegraph)

And so we Americans will pause today, on this Monday, November the 11th, to offer our
own remembrance.
Banks and the Postal services will be closed.
Some schools and businesses will close.
Some communities will have parades.
As a president lays a wreath in Arlington at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


(courtesy Conservative Daily News)

But I fear that this nation of ours will not unite in its remembrance.
It will rather remain divided.

Say what they will about their monarchy, seeing their Queen shed tears during her public
remembrance of those who gave their all will draw the British closer, not further apart.

Our Nation will continue to throw caustic jabs at her President.
Her governmental leadership will continue insulting and publically hating one another.
Some in leadership will continue to cry out, hoping to drown out the somber markings
with their own shouts for socialism and that of antisemitism and progressive liberalism…
All of which are the makings of the unforgiving black hole that only aids to usher in the very
thing we now pause to remember…
that of broken nations, wars and eventual loss.

Her people will continue attacking one another over perceived political wrongs.
There will be little in the way of a national coming together in order to remember.
The bias will be heard and seen throughout the newsfeeds.

And so yes, I believe the United Kingdom, who has her own wealth of woe, as Brexit comes to mind,
does a far better job standing united in order to recall and to remember those that
they have loved and lost.

There are a few lessons this proud nation of ours still needs to learn…
A humbling remembering is one of them…

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by Major John McCrae, May 1915

the melodies of woo

Men are April when they woo,
December when they wed.
Maids are May when they are maids,
but the sky changes when they are wives.

William Shakespeare

“In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
Alfred Tennyson


(sweetgum tree with a traveling minstral perched high above / Julie Cook / 2018)

I heard it long before I saw it.
Loud yet sweetly melodic.

I scanned the area.
Surely it was close…but as I followed the harmonious calls,
my eyes carried me out toward the backfield meadow then high atop a sweetgum tree.

And there they sat…or more aptly put, swayed gently in the afternoon breeze,
balancing ever just so at the very top of the tender tip-top branch of the sweet gum tree.

Uncertain as to whom I was exactly listening to serenading his love, I grabbed my camera
in order to zoom in to identify this lofty crooner.

And low and behold, it was my resident mockingbird…singing ever so sweetly, ever so tenderly,
ever so joyously to the young lady of his fancy who just so happened to be sitting on
a nearby branch.

Ode to a young man bird and his fancy of love…
sadly, she flew away…

The Young Man’s Song
W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

I whispered, “I am too young,”
And then, “I am old enough”;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
“Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,”
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

Oh, love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away,
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

best laid plans right?

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

‘To a Mouse’
Robert Burns

The Cross!
There, and there only though the deist rave,
and the atheist, if Earth bears so base a slave;
There and there only,
is the power to save.

William Cowper


(Wood mouse image by Andrew Everhale)

The best laid plans of mice and men…..

Ok…. so first Lent seems to have come and almost gone…
Mainly because we had a baby come Feb 17th with what started as a panic but
eventually turned thankfully to joy…

Next it was nearly 3 weeks there, then they all came here.
Then back there…
There is still very little sleeping when it’s dark…

Lent…hummm…

We managed to get a sweet little Easter dress, a little monogrammed sweater, an Easter
basket that is good to go…

Then the first of this week there was a trip to the Urgent Care for mom–

I was there to watch the baby while my son and daughter-n-law dealt with what was
thought to be food poisoning.

I’ve been around long enough to know I usually know more than Urgent Care…
what older mom, and now grandmother, doesn’t trump Urgent Care?!
My diagnosis….not any ol run of the mill food poisoning.

So I’ve brought the baby back home with me while the young parents spent a day in the ER
as my daughter-n-law got morphine, and an IV and multiple tests run…
then it was home with prescriptions and time left to wait on labs…

So as this has been anything but a typical Lent for this family…
as Easter weekend, complete with a brand new first Easter dress and a first visit to
mom’s small family church is all very much up in the air…
and with this little world of ours being somewhat upside down…

Today is still Good Friday.

We are still entering the holiest week of the Christian Faith.

Saturday will still be Holy Saturday…

And Sunday will still be Easter…

So despite all that life and this world throws our way…those best-laid plans of both
mice and men, moms and grandmothers…
Jesus still vanquished Death!

Alleluia!!!

To a Mouse
BY ROBERT BURNS
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss ’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Do not go gentle…

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(Tremont Rd / Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Oh where does ones thoughts go during the mindless drives of back and forth….
Memories come racing back to the forefront of consciousness…
foggy images of childhood slowly refocus…
The happy battling to outweigh the bad…
Songs, rhymes, games, trips, stories…
as the years long past muddle with the present miles ahead…

My current life has ground to an abrupt halt as his current life is slowly departing….

It started out with one day a week…
then two….
then three…
then every other day…
and now it is every day…

Sigh…

It is all so hard…

There are good days, more lucid days…
and then there are bad days…which are growing in number…
then there was the day he tells me I needn’t bother in coming back…
because he won’t be here…

He was…

For we do not know the day nor the time…

That is not to be of our choosing…
only unless we tempt to usurp His timing, His giving, His taking…
claiming it as our own omnipotence.

And so we wait within this odd dance between life and death…
sorting out our strange place within the passing of these two elusive partners..

It is said that Dylan Thomas wrote this poem for his dying father…
as I now find it most appreciate….

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Old mother wren

“He who shall hurt the little wren…
Shall never be be’loved by men.”

William Blake

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(images of a mad mother wren / Julie Cook / 2016)

A mother wren decided to build her nest, lay her eggs, raise her brood under the tarp covering of our tractor which sits underneath our back deck.
Since the babies hatched about two weeks ago, there has not been a moments peace for human nor cat who enjoys sitting on the deck or even venturing in the back yard for a stroll.
We have all been chased back inside and as for bush hogging the pasture, forget it…the grass will just have to keep growing until 5 babies can leave the nest….

Here they are two weeks ago…

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Here they are today…

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A Wren’s Nest
Among the dwellings framed by birds
In field or forest with nice care,
Is none that with the little Wren’s
In snugness may compare.

No door the tenement requires,
And seldom needs a laboured roof;
Yet is it to the fiercest sun
Impervious, and storm-proof.

So warm, so beautiful withal,
In perfect fitness for its aim,
That to the Kind by special grace
Their instinct surely came.

And when for their abodes they seek
An opportune recess,
The hermit has no finer eye
For shadowy quietness.

These find, ‘mid ivied abbey-walls,
A canopy in some still nook;
Others are pent-housed by a brae
That overhangs a brook.

There to the brooding bird her mate
Warbles by fits his low clear song;
And by the busy streamlet both
Are sung to all day long.

Or in sequestered lanes they build,
Where, till the flitting bird’s return,
Her eggs within the nest repose,
Like relics in an urn.

But still, where general choice is good,
There is a better and a best;
And, among fairest objects, some
Are fairer than the rest;

This, one of those small builders proved
In a green covert, where, from out
The forehead of a pollard oak,
The leafy antlers sprout;

For She who planned the mossy lodge,
Mistrusting her evasive skill,
Had to a Primrose looked for aid
Her wishes to fulfill.

High on the trunk’s projecting brow,
And fixed an infant’s span above
The budding flowers, peeped forth the nest
The prettiest of the grove!

The treasure proudly did I show
To some whose minds without disdain
Can turn to little things; but once
Looked up for it in vain:

‘Tis gone—a ruthless spoiler’s prey,
Who heeds not beauty, love, or song,
‘Tis gone! (so seemed it) and we grieved
Indignant at the wrong.

Just three days after, passing by
In clearer light the moss-built cell
I saw, espied its shaded mouth;
And felt that all was well.

The Primrose for a veil had spread
The largest of her upright leaves;
And thus, for purposes benign,
A simple flower deceives.

Concealed from friends who might disturb
Thy quiet with no ill intent,
Secure from evil eyes and hands
On barbarous plunder bent,

Rest, Mother-bird! and when thy young
Take flight, and thou art free to roam,
When withered is the guardian Flower,
And empty thy late home,

Think how ye prospered, thou and thine,
Amid the unviolated grove
Housed near the growing Primrose-tuft
In foresight, or in love.

William Wordsworth

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(images of a mad mother wren / Julie Cook / 2016)

STOP!!!! There’s another sheep. . .

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel 2:21-23

DSCN0884
(a sheep farm on the road to Killarney / Julie Cook / 2015)

STOP THE VAN!!!!
“I can’t get a good shot while we’re moving. . .the sheep isn’t budging, you’re going to hit it!!!!!. ..”

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(a sheep sits contently on the road somewhere in County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

And so was the almost daily drill of the journey.
Stoping and going— for here was a sheep, there was a sheep and everywhere was a sheep sheep. . .

It is the poignant reminder that throughout each of our lives we will, inevitably, find ourselves on our very own and personal road to Damascus.
Wether we are believers or not.

And depending on our own perspective, it is either joyfully or frustratingly that most of us will end up on that same road over and over again, throughout our lives, as it often seems to take more than one chance encounter for things to truly sink in.

It is a road that we ourselves have each personally carved. A road that initially appears to be leading us in the direction of our thoughts, dreams and sights. . .a course that we perhaps set long ago, affording the opportunity of venturing forth, moving forward, as we seek our supposed heart’s desire…

Yet, if the truth be told, it is a road of destiny complete with the blinding encounter so often necessary to realign a misguided path. It’s just that for some of us, we need a constant stream of “encounters” before we finally “get it” and allow things to finally sink in…

Be it mere happenstance or Divine Intervention, we are struck, knocked upside the head and thrown to the ground, blinded and overwhelmed by whatever it is that is necessary in order to get our attention, change our course, wake us up, turn us around while eventually leading us to our true and proper path.

And so this journey was not really different from any other…

Setting off I had hoped, anticipated and even expected… something—but as to what that something was, it was not clear. . .

There were the sheep…

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Those symbolic, innocent yet oddly mentally challenged creatures that have always spoken to my heart.
Gazing out the window, with my head resting on the glass, I stare mindlessly at the myriad sea of gently grazing animals as familiar words whispered through my thoughts…

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Luke 15: 1-7

Yet this idyllic gentle image, laced with with its warm sense of safety, peace and security, was suddenly jarred apart by the blinding image of sacrifice and suffering that punctuated the seemingly pastoral image of serenity with the mysterious utterance of a long ago vision which poured itself out upon my thoughts like the deeply crimson colored blood oozing from a fresh cut. . .

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Isaish 53: 7-9

At some point there was a wistful private reflection spoken aloud by simple habit as we all gazed upon a mysterious landscape… “how could any of this be seen as the mere happenstance of the collision of random particles…”

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(Lady’s View over the Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Somewhere along the Dingle peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(somewhere along the road in County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I came seeking the wisdom buried deep in the past of what was as I strained to hear the ancient voices that lay hidden below my feet. . .

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(an unknown grave marker / Julie Cook / 2015)

Delightful to me to be on an island hill, on the crest of a rock,
that I might often watch the quiet sea;

That I might watch the heavy waves above the bright water,
as they chant music to their Father everlastingly.

That I might watch its smooth, bright-bordered shore, no
gloomy pastime, that I might hear the cry of the strange birds,
a pleasing sound;

That I might hear the murmur of the long waves against the
rocks, that I might hear the sound of the sea, like mourning
beside a grave;

That I might watch the splendid flocks of birds over the well-
watered sea, that I might see its mighty whales, the greatest wonder.

That I might watch its ebb and flood in their course,
that my name should be–it is a secret that I tell–“he
who turned his back upon Ireland;”

That I might have a contrite heart as I watch,
that I might repent my many sins, hard to tell;

That I might bless the Lord who rules all things,
heaven with its splendid host, earth, ebb, and flood…

Poem attributed to St Columcille (521-597 AD)

Yet it was late, when it was all almost over, with so much having been said and done, seen and savored…
Three spoken words resonated more deeply than any other morsel offered previously to my weary and worn five senses. . .

Be at Peace. . .”

And so, having fallen from my horse, stuck blind and confused—the clarity of something and someone so much more than myself has come clearly into focus—the scales having been removed from my eyes– and for the first time in what has been a lifetime, I can see…

And so it is…

“Be At Peace”

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(a sheep gazes out over the Atlantic among the cliffs of County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

The importance of keeping one’s head

Never bend your head. Always hold it high.
Look the world straight in the eye.

Helen Keller

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(a preening gull /Henderson State Park, Florida / Julie Cook / 2015

We can hang our heads,
cover our heads,
hide our heads
or. . .
we can keep our heads,
raise our heads
and hold our heads high. . .

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling