there’s no place like home…for so many reasons

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once,
“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid
or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures,
following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea


(being home, for James, is a okay / Julie Cook / 2019)

Lots to say but not being afforded much time, I really just wanted to let those who have
wondered and been praying for our little family…that James got to
come home Friday evening!!

He came home with a 6 month supply of antibiotics.
He will have to be checked out between his pediatrician and Pediatric Urology
surgeon most likely weekly until he grows enough for surgery…
of which will  be in 6 months.

Because he is now so susceptible to infection that is why they are basically keeping him on
meds until he can have the surgery…lest he has to return to the hospital with
a high fever.

And for those of you who have had to either be in the hospital or keep watch over a loved
one who has, you can certainly relate to the joy of getting to finally head home.


(James channels his inner Batman / Julie Cook / 2019)

James has been a stalwart trooper throughout all of this…
his sister on the other hand…
well, let’s just say that the Mayor may have taken advantage of taxpayer money by
misappropriating funds to furnish herself a small oasis of a vacation while her
brother, the Sheriff, was out of the picture.


(The Mayor and Woobooville Chief aide enjoying a break from the unseasonable heat / Gregory Cook /2019)

But as we can all plainly see, The Mayor remains defiant over such allegations…


(trying to keep the hair out of her eyes, The Mayor does not like anything on her head/ Julie Cook / 2019)

We finally took the Mayor back to her Atlanta Office yesterday only to return home today.
But not before this Chief aide at the Sattelite Woobooville office ruptured another
disc in her back.

Shades of three years ago—except this time, it was from the constant picking up of a 24 pound Mayor
who likes to stay on the move.

The Chief aide is now on the floor gravitating between ice packs and heating pads…
and will call the Orthopedic Clinic tomorrow or Tuesday…depending on when they’re open.

Yet despite the hell of this past week that we have just journeyed through,
we give thanks, Glory, and Praise that the Mayor and her new Sheriff are finally
back together again at home—
despite her reluctance to ever admit such.
Always the fickled politician.


(The Mayor nonplused about going home / Julie Cook / 2019)

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through
the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:2-5

immune?

“A child who is protected from all controversial ideas is as vulnerable as
a child who is protected from every germ.
The infection, when it comes- and it will come–may overwhelm the system,
be it the immune system or the belief system.”

Jane Smiley


(more ripe muscadines / Julie Cook / 2017)

“As Maine goes, so goes the Nation”

A popular and most likely long forgotten expression, which dates back to the turning
of the 19th to 20th centuries…
As it seems Maine had a knack at her picking leaders…
elections that became the accurate prognosticators to presidential elections.

Maine was known as a bellwether state, or that of being a bit of a trendsetter.
It seems that “Maine’s September election of a governor predicted the party
outcome of the November presidential election in 19 out of the 26 presidential
election years from 1832 to 1932, or 73 percent of the time.
(wikipedia)

Eventually Maine’s prediction proclivities gave way to other states becoming
the standing trendsetter.
From Vermont to Ohio to Florida…to who knows the next trendsetting state…
as our likes and dislikes rustle in the breeze like fallen and dried up leaves.

For we as a people have always been a rather predictable lot…
with both our likes and dislikes, of which have always been rooted in a strong
belief system.

Yet what was traditionally tied to a value system, that being a reflection of what we considered important and which in turn reflected our our voting habits,
has been in recent times seemingly turned upside down.

Because as society and culture, that belief and value system has been undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts.
No longer are we as predictable as we once were because we have grown both jaded and fickle.

We use to know what was of importance…
and we were never ashamed to admit such.

We treasured our faith, our families, our nation.
Everything else simply fell into place underneath.

We were tenacious about it.
We sacrificed for it.
And we defended and protected it…
unto the death.

We were civic minded and duty minded…both of which were tied into our values
of faith, family and country.
People around the globe actually admired this shared value system of ours.

We knew the good guys….
and they always seemed to be us.

And then one day, what particular day no one really knows for sure, all of that
changed…because we changed.

What was once held as sacred and important became something else.
What exactly that is… we’re simply not certain.
But different it is.

Yesterday I noticed that two of my favorite across the pond clerics had each
posted the same political cartoon along with a fiery disdain.
That being the Rev. Gavin Ashenden and The Rev David Roberston.

Both residents of the UK, one in England the other in Scotland…
both members of different denominations…One Anglican and the other
Reformed Presbyterian.
Yet both men have neither cowered or shied away from taking a sound
stand literally in the name of God for that God and His very Word.

There is no compromise nor bending to cultural norms for either of them.
God’s word is just that, God’s Word.
It matters not that said Word is no longer considered popular
or favored by the masses.
It matters not that our culture is such that it wishes to rewrite God’s Word.
It matters not that society has decided that God did not mean what He actually
said nor that He and His Word have each failed to keep up the the times.

And each one of these men of God have taken a great deal of flack for their faith
as well as for their defense of that Faith.
Each man has been maligned, not surprisingly, by the British press.

So when each cleric took to posting a defense for a
poor fellow who is currently being depicted in the latest snide
UK political cartoon…a conservative politician being castigated for his
Christian Faith, I took notice.

Not necessarily a supporter of all of this particular Tory’s views,
each of these shepherds have however gone out of their way to be very vocal,
crying foul regarding this recent new low media attack against a man who is committed
to not only to his political principles but ardently committed to his Christian faith.

Each minister notes that the media is not only attacking a politician, which is certainly nothing new, but now the attack is against this man’s faith, his
Christian Faith—ridiculing it and anyone else who just so happens to proclaim
to be a Christian.


(The Times)

Please read their postings on each of the following links:

The Man Who Could Make Me Vote Tory

A letter submitted to the Times for publication. 

So if you think that that large body of water which separates our two lands is enough to keep us immune from that same sort of attack against a Faith that you just happen to hold dear…you best think again…

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.
As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
That is why the world hates you.

John 15:19

fall of the legends

Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends.
One Stab–Legends of the Fall

“History has its truth, and so has legend. Legendary truth is of another nature than historical truth. Legendary truth is invention whose result is reality. Furthermore, history and legend have the same goal; to depict eternal man beneath momentary man.”
― Victor Hugo

IMG_0758
( Schönbrunn Palace Gardens / Vienna, Austria / Julie Cook 2012)

Each day, another individual who lives in our limelight, bites the dust. . .

A well known major network news anchor embellishes his in-field reporting (aka tells lies).

Another older well known and long married nationally syndicated news story reporter has been carrying on a tawdry and torrid, and now very public, affair with a much younger married woman.

A revered married and highly decorated Army General is accused of disclosing highly classified information to his biographer who also happened to be his key love interest.

Another news anchor fails to disclose his political contributions to a high profile presidential candidate which now clouds his “non biased” honest reporting.

A beloved actor and comedian is suddenly accused of a litany of sexual assaults spanning the past 30 years.

The hottest new NFL quarterback hopeful, who was living the life of the fast and furious, has spent the past 6 months of the off season cleaning up in re-hab.

Many an up and coming national political figure has been discovered to be leading a dubious double life—

Plug in any name from any state or any county and it would all sadly fit. . .

It seems that each and every day we read, we hear, we watch as another national and / or local “famous” figure falls quickly from grace.

And it’s not always a famous individual. . .

Atlanta is coming off of an unprecedented, and very nationally embarrassing, public trial of a myriad of its city school system educators who cheated on their students National Standardized tests.
Teachers going to jail for cheating.
The very people who stress to their students the importance of honesty.

It’s pretty obvious that we are living in a world that is less than keen on taking the high road.
Perhaps we’ve become a low road kind of people.
As in low is easy, cheesy and sleazy.

Morality seems to have hit the road long ago. . .moving on without leaving a forwarding address.
The current mindset is simply one of no remorse— but rather remorse comes only with being caught at whatever it was one was simply caught doing.

Mea culpas have become so common place that we have come to expect contrition as opposed to valor.

It sure seems as if man is a flawed and fractured creature.

One would think that we are a most hopeless lot.
That we are in such sorry shape that God has washed His hands of us and simply moved on. . .
And that would pretty much sum up what we deserve.
We’ve made our beds and are now destined to lie them.
Dante painted the picture rather vividly in 1337 with his 9 rings of hell. . .
Hell in a hand basket with no looking back.

And yet. . .

Within the dark days of our fallen ways, there remains a single ray of hope. . .

Grace.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:1-10

To Rome and Jackie with Love

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
Albert Schweitzer

CIMG0683
(photograph: skyline of Rome looking toward The Vatican,The Janiculum hill/ Julie Cook/ 2007)

Isn’t there something most magical about the Roman skyline?
Particularly the vista that is punctuated by the magnificent dome of Michelangelo’s
engineering genius.
Are you aware that it is Roman law that no building may be built which exceeds the height
of St. Peter’s?
I love Rome, as I’ve written before.
It is a city that is dirty, loud, lurid, raucous, serene, historical, artistic,
trashy, holy and very very real.

I’ve often mused that I could live in Rome…usually, until I step in the mountains of dog poo
which line the sidewalks or when I get a good whiff of the unmistakable stench of human urine
wafting up from the stairways leading down to the Tiber River.

For Rome does have its flaws……

I cannot, however, think about Rome without thinking of a very dear friend.

I lost this dear friend today, Wednesday.
She actually died last night from a lengthy bout with cancer–an ongoing battle that
seems to have plagued her for most of her adult life.

A mutual friend and former colleague called me this morning with the news.
I had been receiving regular texts, as she had been rushed to the hospital
last week and was in ICU.
The texts were from one of her daughters who was updating the progress of her mom…
it seemed she was greatly improving daily…
that is, until yesterday evening.
She was only 78.

She was a colleague, mentor, friend, mother figure and a darn good high school
math teacher.
She was also the mother to two grown girls with families of their own as well as the former
wife of a rather notable Speaker of the House…
a Speaker who shall remain nameless as this is the place today to simply remember my friend.

She had battled colon cancer long before I had ever known her.
Her famous husband, or so the story goes, went to the hospital when she was
in the midst of her struggle with cancer and that of a life-saving surgery,
asking for a divorce.
That was the “hear-say” story, as she was not one to hang out the old dirty laundry—
and we always respected her for such and never asked for any clarification.

She never bashed him, never said a derogatory word, despite having much right to
do so… giving his philandering ways and the years of sacrifice she had made for his
rise in the state then national political picture.
She always respected the fact that he was the father to her children and therefore…
we never talked about him nor of that former life.

It was during those times when this former husband, who would try his hand at national
politics, that her life would be examined as if under a microscope by the press,
again and again.

Despite wearing the title of “ex” wife, she still seemed fair game for political fodder
or so deemed our oh so pious media (please note the sarcasm).
Reporters actually sat outside of school, in the bushes and trees for a shot, even approaching
fellow teachers for a “story”….
As we all did our best to protect her and her privacy.

The news was never flattering of her, describing her as the “ugly” one–
as she was the first of three wives.

How dare they!

She was a real woman, a real lady actually.. not one of those stretched and augmented women
not starched or altered as the many women of Washington are.
She was not a “trophy” to be lead around on a leash as if on show.
She was a beautiful lady.

I often thought of the qualities of Winston Churchill when I thought of my friend.

She was tenacious and fierce if need be—like a mama bear protecting her cubs…always
to the death.
She was like Yoda, a wise sage always full of the wisdom gained by a life lived
long and well.

She had suffered polio as a child, known sorrow and sacrifice as an adult, and
was toughened by the years of hard work… yet in the end, she was never bitter nor sad.
Her body often betrayed her as she battled countless near death illnesses,
yet all the while she managed to have a new trip or adventure in the works while
living life with chemo, radiation, hospital stays, neuropathy and lastly a stroke.

We’d never know when the cancer came back because she never really spoke about it.
She’d just be sick, fight, recover and run to another life adventure.
With skydiving being one of the last big adventures.

It was this friend that taught me to live life like there was no tomorrow—
as she herself never knew if tomorrow was promised to her or not.

It was this dear lady, this dear friend who knew of my love of Italy and
of all things Italian.
It was this friend who knew I had lost my own mom when I was young and who was
now struggling as a young wife, mom, and teacher…

She took it upon herself to befriend me and gently guide me through the often murky
waters of life.
I remember being devastated when she retired.
She was the old guard at school, the wizened sage who kept us younger teachers
in tow.
She made us laugh, think, fight and always do the right thing by our students
and ourselves.

Once she retired, we did not stay in touch as often as I had wished as our paths
simply diverged.
She was now was hanging out with the other retired teachers while traveling profusely—
With Italy being the last big trip…

It was right around the time when Pope John Paul II was quite ill and actually just prior to
his death that she told me she’d bring me a memento back, something about him…for she
knew my deep admiration for the Pope.

All the while she encouraged me to go soon if I could–as she always found
travel to be one of life’s better teachers.
She brought me back a beautiful image of my beloved pope and I did manage to
make that trip a few months following John Paul’s death—
heeding her advice to go—always go…

I’d see her, from time to time, in Target or at the grocery store—
which just so happens to be the last place we actually talked.
Funny how grocery stores are so prominent in our lives.
Those off places where we run into those important folks who seem to pop in and out
of our lives…

She’d often frequented my husband’s business, sending me her “hellos”
via my husband.
Each time she’d come in the store, he’d come home from having seen her
with the latest story of the latest adventure—

After the stroke, I recently sent a card to the rehab center in Atlanta
where she had been moved while working on regaining strength, speech, and mobility.
I told her in my card that here it was, time for me to finally retire,
and off she moves over to Atlanta…
I was all ready to start our travels and would be waiting on her—
for her to get better and for her to be ready to go, once again…

Sadly, it looks as if she went on without me.

Thank you, Jackie, for everything you ever taught me—–
I will miss you.