it’s high time we all suck it up

“Life is not a problem to be solved,
but a reality to be experienced.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

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(medival painting of St Christopher and the Christ Child / artist unknown but it looks like a Bosch contemporary if you ask me / Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The painting above, along with it’s beautiful ornate frame,
is really quite lovely is it not?

It is a piece that belongs to a private country manor estate in Ireland…
an estate that has been turned into an exquisite hotel and golf resort.

I, the average guest, would not have been able to enjoy seeing the piece had the hotel
thought to place the painting in storage,
hide it in some backroom office…
or carte it off to the attic as it depicts the image of
St Christopher carrying the Christ Child.

There is debate as to whether or not St Christopher ever existed.
There are even some circles that have decided to “un” saint this said Christopher…
Add to that, that here is a display of an image of the Christ child–
would we want non-believing guests to be offended by its presence?

So perhaps St Christopher’s painting should be altogether removed……

But before you begin to cry foul,
we will return to that thought in a minute…
However… let’s first chat about a little current event article shall we….

The following article, which I read yesterday on Fox News, got this art teacher’s knickers in a huge twist.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/08/11/historic-paintings-moved-to-controlled-campus-rooms-after-university-finds-them-harmful.html

In a nutshell, the article tells the tale about a college in Wisconsin that has been home to several paintings, 80 years old or older, that depict white fur traders / trappers (most likely French Canadian trappers) alongside a group of Native American Indians.

These paintings are indicative of a time in which the northern regions of this country, all along the Canadian border, were rife with white European fur traders, trapping, buying and selling furs as they encountered both hostile and hospitable Indian tribes who happened to call that area home.

It seems that a student diversity group has taken offense to the paintings…
paintings that have hung rather ambiguously on display at this college for many decades.
The issue being…
that the paintings show the Native American Indians in a subservient role to the white trappers.

“The controversy over the artwork began when the school’s Diversity Leadership Team complained the paintings were offensive to Native American students and promoted acts of “domination and oppression.”

They have demanded that the paintings be removed.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??????!!!!!!

The College President, doing the dance of all things politically correct thinks he’s struck
a win / win by removing the pictures from public view, moving them to a private office
while noting that anyone wishing to see the paintings, may make an appointment.

Again, Are You Freaking Kidding Me????!!!!

How would one know to make an appointment if one did not know the paintings existed in the first place?

Hence why we hang art….
to share with the public.

I would think a public institution can and should hang its art publicly for the tax paying public to enjoy…..

Sigh…

This is about the most asinine thing I thing I think I’ve finally read, heard and seen in this on-going madness of our overtly PC now loving world.

We have birthed a nation of now the thinnest skinned people on the planet.

Our Millennials and Generation X kids need to learn to suck it up.

Just as we, the older generations, need to do the same by putting our collective feet down to say—
“hold up there…
You wait just one minute now before you have a temper tantrum over things you consider
to be poor taste…
as that’s not poor taste…
that is simply put, history…

As in…
that was then,
that’s how it was…

Like it or not.

You need to get over it…
Take it for what it was…
Learn from it…
And see it for what it was…
NOT for what it is through your current lenses of today…

As in…
That’s what and how it was in that particular time and place…
Let’s look rather at how far we’ve come!…
How far we’ve come to today,
THIS time and place….
Rejoice that we have come this far…
So far that we now have the descendants of those “subservient Native American’s”
currently enrolled in school, right alongside you!…”

History, our history as a people, is as fabulous as it is sinister.
There is both good and bad.
And that is that.

And just because we have what some wish to consider to be a most open minded society…
one that is all about all things tolerant…
on the flip side of that overt tolerance is the fact that we can’t seem to tolerate our less then stellar moments of the past.

How’s that for your 21st century ying and yang?

If you want to get mad about how Native American Indians have been treated as a whole by this great Nation of ours, you may just want to read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.
That 1970 published tale that explores the systematic decline of Native Americans at the hands of a growing nation comprised of white European settlers alongside their black African slaves…

As it actually starts with the germ warfare introduced by Christopher Columbus and company…

But oh, forgive me, let me be correct…. Christopher Columbus is his anglicized name,
since he was Italian we should us his Italian name, Cristoforo Colombo…
but since he sailed under the Spanish flag, then maybe we should use his Spanish pronunciation
as we do wish to be oh so correct….Cristóbal Colón

See how stupid this can all become….???

And we just keep letting it get more and more stupid by the minute.

Rather than turn from our history, those parts that can make our modern learned skin crawl,
or turn our history into some watered down bland and benign mush,
we need to see it for what it is, what it was—a time of then..
not a time of now.

I’ve said this before, our 21st century lenses cannot wipe away those events,
those times and moments that would not and could not happen today
because we now consider ourselves too smart,
too educated,
too tolerant to have ever allowed such to take place….

We cannot ignore what happened,
what was wrong,
what should not have been…
For we cannot strike it from our past by ignoring it,
hiding it,
removing it,
pretending that it has nothing to do with us…
because that’s exactly what it was…
It was us!

That was us then…
it is not us now….

We cannot hide what we were.
Because what we were, has made us who were are today..
And we have learned to be better by our grievous mistakes and injustices.

We learn by our past.
If you sterilize your past,
white wash it,
sugar coat it,
distance yourself so far from it—
you are opening a vacuum for repetition.
Mark my words…

So, back to the painting of St Christopher ….
Or should we say, Ágios Christóforos which is the Greek wording…
as debates rage at to where St Christopher, or Christ Bearer as Christopher means in Latin,
was born–some say it was Canaan, but he is first mentioned as being in Greece and assumed Grecian…
but some say he was originally known as Reprobus…
He was martyred by either one of the Roman Emperors Decius or Maximus II Dacian…
And he may actually be the martyred Egyptian Saint Menas…
…confused yet?

The story of whoever Christopher may or may not have been is not the important issue…
The important component is that he had an encounter with Christ and from that moment,
he was never the same…
just as others who encounter Christ are never the same…
It was from that encounter that he then traveled to minister those who were being martyred
for their faith—bringing encouragement and comfort…
as he too would be eventually martyred…

And so we have history–
martyrs of faith then
and
martyrs of faith now…
History we can’t seem to easily erase away

History on a continum…
both good and bad…
and the question is, are we learning…

there must be something in the water…

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”

― Norman Maclean,

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(a thriving viola / Julie Cook / 2016)

Somedays we write our posts laced with happiness and smiles,
As other days we find our posts derived from the midsts of infectious laughter.

Some posts are written when deep in thought…
While others are written briefly, gliding across the screen…
with the lightness of a feather,
caught innocently on a Spring morning’s breeze.

There are reflective posts written as mirrors of the times…
While others are written in anticipation of our promised tomorrows.
As still there are those posts written forlornly…
remembering all that has ever been…

Some days posts are written through eyes filled with tears,
with tear streaked cheeks and the ache of breaking hearts.

They are written through the frustration of helplessness…
and at times, through the desperation of hopelessness….

Some days they are written selfishly for ourselves…
While other days they are written without our conscious knowledge,
only intended for those “others” out there in need…

Today is no different…

A post is composed.

Today it comes from the heaviness of a battered heart.
The tears have somewhat dried,
yet the wet streaked tracks remain etched on cheeks hiding a set jaw of clenched teeth.

A call, a text, is often all it takes to change the day.
As ongoing battles loom out of reach and out of control.

The story is the same, merely growing longer.
Harder to smooth out.

Lives long gone are keenly missed as their empty presence cuts through both space and time…
Their losses suddenly feeling as fresh today as they did so very long ago..
like a searing knife falling through cold butter.
Effortlessly the hurt floods back.

Having been left alone to deal with it all seems, today, almost monumental.
Resentment for all that was comes crashing to the forefront.

Choices made, always the choices made, effect more than ourselves,
Yet at the time, who thinks of others or future others affected?
Our choices are selfishly seen as our own…

Born a fixer,
I fix things.
It’s what I do.
Yet as life will always have its way,
we each quickly discover that fixing is not always possible…

So we, the fixer and the observers, are relegated to helplessly and hopelessly watching…

Expendable is what we quickly become when the lost look to holding on to what they have.
Desperation and panic trumps rationality and ties that bind.

It’s like the song that gets stuck in one’s head.
Over and over it plays, seemingly without any end.
Never seeming able to string all of the verses together…
in order for it to end.

And just when you think you are broken, be it for the day or for life,
dropped to your knees with the tears freely flowing,
A word, maybe two, maybe several…suddenly surface from somewhere deep within your head…

“couldn’t fight back the tears so I fell on my knees…
Saying, “God if you’re there, come and rescue me….”

“Something In The Water”
By Carrie Underwood

He said, “I’ve been where you’ve been before.
Down every hallway’s a slamming door.
No way out, no one to come and save me.
Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me.

Then somebody said what I’m saying to you,
Opened my eyes and told me the truth.”
They said, “Just a little faith, it’ll all get better.”
So I followed that preacher man down to the river and now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger

There must’ve been something in the water
Oh, there must’ve been something in the water

Well, I heard what he said and I went on my way
Didn’t think about it for a couple of days
Then it hit me like a lightning late one night
I was all out of hope and all out of fight

Couldn’t fight back the tears so I fell on my knees
Saying, “God, if you’re there come and rescue me.”
Felt love pouring down from above
Got washed in the water, washed in the blood and now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger

There must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water

And now I’m singing along to amazing grace
Can’t nobody wipe this smile off my face
Got joy in my heart, angels on my side
Thank God almighty, I saw the light
Gonna look ahead, no turning back
Live every day, give it all that I have
Trust in someone bigger than me
Ever since the day that I believed I am changed
And now I’m stronger

There must be something in the water (amazing grace)
Oh, there must be something in the water (how sweet the sound)
Oh, there must be something in the water (that saved a wretch)
Oh, there must be something in the water (like me)
Oh, yeah

I am changed (I once was lost)
Stronger (but now I’m found)
(was blind but now I see)

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(Carrie Underwood, The Grand Ole Opry / Julie Cook / 2015)

Undone

The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.
Oswald Chambers

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(another year, another tree tossed over the back deck / Julie Cook / 2014)

Undecorated
Unlighted
Untangled
Undone

Once again another tree is drug through the house, leaking a vast trailing carpet of dried needles.
Hoisted up and over the railing, only to fall unceremoniously with a sickening thud,
onto the hard cold ground below.
Off to decompose on the compost heap or off to the lake to create an underwater hiding place for Spring’s spawning fish.

For what’s now done cannot be undone–as time now moves forward, taking us all along with it.
We are slowly beginning the transition of the past to the future.
Packing away all that was, anticipating all that is to be.

Ancient mysteries have played out once again as we recall what has drawn us to this time and place.
For what was set in motion so long ago, with the birth of a single child, cannot be undone with the discarding of a tree, the packing away of ornaments, the traveling back to home and school, the ending of the festivities. . .the parties, the dinners, the services, the sales, the returns. . .all pieces of the ending of a season.

And no matter how much we work to change, pack, repack, stash away, move, transition from this to that. . .there is no act of man that can ever undo what was done that single night, so long ago in that tiny desert village, in that small cramped stable under the watchfulness of that single star.
For what God has wrought, no man can undo.

You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD. “I have chosen you as my servant so that you can know and believe in me and understand that I am the one [who did this]. No god was formed before me, and there will be none after me.
I alone am the LORD, and there is no savior except me.
I have revealed it to you, I have saved you, and I have announced it to you. There was no foreign god among you. You are my witnesses that I am God,” declares the LORD.
“From the first day I was the one who did this. No one can rescue people from my power. When I do something, who can undo it?”

Isaiah 43:10-13

Now

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Henry Stanley Haskins

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.
Pope Paul VI

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(tufted titmouse enjoying breakfast / Julie Cook / 2014

Don’t look now, but like it or not, Monday morning is here again.
Adding a bit of the proverbial insult to injury, it’s pouring down rain. . .
yet I suppose it could be worse. . .and we do need the rain. . .

So for better or for worse, we don’t have much of a choice now do we?
Yes Monday it is and it is here. . . as in it is here all day.
The weekend has officially passed and is now “in the books”. . .it has come and gone and for some of us, the passing of the weekend is a good thing—for others of us, the end has come entirely too soon.
Last week, is just that, last week. . .as in, for good or bad, it is well behind us.
And now, spread out before us like a wonderful new book waiting to be explored, is this brand new day and this brand new week complete with its rain, cold and snow.

As in here it is, right NOW!!!

Tomorrow, followed by the end of the week, then followed by the upcoming weekend, and then the following week, only to be followed by next month. . .are all simply ahead of us—as in there is nothing we can do as we have no control as to when or how or if those days will ever come. . .

The importance of today is simply that, the importance of the now. . .as in the only thing that really matters is today and of the now of today.
Do you think it possible to learn how to embrace the now of this moment of today rather than worrying about those things which took place yesterday or fretting about the things that will happen tomorrow?

When I was in high school, Pope Paul VI was the pope occupying the chair of Peter and the overseer of the Catholic Church.
Giovanni Montini, the prelate from Milan, was what I always considered to be a rather austere, seemingly quiet and a bit cold academic—a most learned man–yet very different from his predecessor, the jolly and loving John XXIII as well as for his two successors, the ever smiling and shy John Paul I and the most charismatic and mystical John Paul II.

For this rather bookish academic to have uttered the words of today’s quote, that we should learn to seize the day, seemed to be a bit out of character. And yet it is for this very uncharacteristic comment from a very reserved spiritual leader on the world stage, which has brought a smile to my face and a small spring to my step.
If Pope Paul VI says that life is too short and therefore each day, each “now,” is to be embraced, enjoyed and celebrated, then by george, who am I to refute such sage advice??

So on this new day to this new week of this month of thanksgivings, may we be mindful of the words of Pope Paul VI . . .”whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows. . .”

The gift

Gift better than Himself God doth not know,
Gift better than God no man can see;
This gift doth here the giver given bestow
Gift to this gift let each receiver be;
God is my gift, Himself He freely gave me,
God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.”

― Robert Southwell
(also known as Saint Robert Southwell–a martyred English Catholic Jesuit, known for being a clandestine missionary in Post Reformation England)

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Conspicuous
Pretty
Inviting
Beckoning

A pretty little box, with a simple white bow, sits for no one in particular.
There is no sign of the one who placed it on the counter. There is no specific occasion in which one should or would leave such a gift.

Seeing such a box arouses curiosity,
wonderment
expectancy
delight

It begs to be unwrapped,
opened
explored
enjoyed

Just seeing such a box evokes excitement,
anticipation
joy
happiness

How does one wrap up insatiable Love?
How does one offer Light to the darkness?
How does one give Hope to the hopeless?

The gift of Life is given by the taking of a life.
The gift of Redemption is bought with 30 pieces of silver.
There are no pretty boxes or pretty bows on Golgotha
No sense of excited expectancy.

The gift evokes suspicion,
uncomfortableness,
trepidation
fear

When did forgiveness cost so much?
When did the accepting of a gift cause embarrassment?
When did refusing a gift become commonplace

And yet the season of gift giving is once agin close at hand
With too much spent on pretty boxes and pretty bows.
Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold fit for a king
while a mere babe offers the greatest gift of all

Memory

Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(an old home-place in the middle of nowhere western Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

The old metal spring frame screeches obnoxiously with the slightest turn and twist.
Eyes blink in the inky blackness haplessly trying to focus.
No street lights, no city glow, just the twinkling of a million stars filling an endless sky.

The mattress thin and lumpy, ancient army surplus, offers little in the way of comfort.
The unzipped sleeping bag certainly not refreshing in the stifling humid summer’s night air.
There’s no breeze, no movement, no relief. . .only the shrill symphony of sound produced by the profusion of an endless sea of tree frogs.

Lying in the darkness, with arms folded under head, staring upward at the nothingness in the tiny musty room, pleasant thoughts race across the expanse of time.
Old wooden planks pop and groan recalling the countless steps which once trod over the roughly hewn surface.
Fading laughter mixes with the steady hum of cicada.

The once binding tie of whispered secrets now mingle together with the rising smoke from the countless crackling fires.
Age old stones, stacked artfully together generations earlier, blackened by years of thick heavy soot, offer a warm, smokey, familiar welcome.

The intimate faces, which form a memorable past, collide in the middle of this darkened night, with the new faces of a current life.
The difference between now and then spans across an endless abyss of time and space.
The experiences of “then”, which make the current moments of “now”, merge mindlessly together resulting in the singleness of one

Lying in the darkness on a hot humid night, with all that was and with all that is, tenderly forming the basis of the dreams yet dreamt, heavy eyes now close as muscles give in to the weariness of time, while a magical dance of a thousand fireflies sparkles, beyond an old broken window, as the singleness of now is made whole by the union of then.

Birthdays, Ice Makers, and Medicare? part II

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Thomas Jefferson

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Okay, so yesterday we left off with the rant of a poor husband who had just turned 65 and found out he had to pay for something he was forced to sign up for, against his better wishes, with no option of opting out–aka–Medicare.
The whole choice but no choice scenario
And we were left with the laughter of a thousand far off voices when he mentioned he thought Medicare was something the Government did for free for it’s “seniors”—not that he’s a senior.

And just as we begin to recover from his near apoplexy over receiving the initial Medicare bill, we pick up right where we left off. . .

I quickly call me aunt.
When all else fails, always call Martha. . .

“Yep, you pay”
“If he was drawing Social Security, it would come out of that, but since he’s not, hence the bill.”
We thought it was a free service.
Hysterical laughter now from the receiver of the phone.

The following morning, the bill was gone. My hope was that he carried it to work in order to pay it, otherwise I suppose I should be looking for us a new home, say in, Argentina or Bolivia. Isn’t that where you go when you need to hide out?

Let’s switch gears for a minute.
Since there was indeed a birthday and a rather memorable one at that, we need a present right?
A good present.
Enter the ice maker.

We have an LG refrigerator. LG refrigerators are known for having notorious dysfunctional ice makers. I even wrote the president of LG, just after we got the fridge, complaining. I was told we could call in a service order to request a replacement, of which I did. Number two ice maker was equally as poor.

Each evening I hear the same litany regarding “that sorry ice maker” and how a refrigerator he had back in 1920 made better ice then “that sorry thing over there”
Over there is against the wall in the kitchen and as for 1920, I exaggerate just a tad

When I was mulling what to get for his birthday, I had an ingenious thought!
A marvelous thought!
As in the best present ever sort of thought!
Enter the small portable ice maker!
Genius!

I did my homework.
I researched all the little ice makers I could find information on, reading reviews and consumer reports. I settled on a Smart Plus (Smart + )
I ordered it from Amazon.
I love Amazon but that’s for another day.

In a couple of days FedX pulls up to deliver the ice maker.
I put a bow on the box and wait for the big day.

On that special day marking the 65th year on the planet, I bring out the big box with the big bow.
“I told you not to get me anything, we need to save money and here you are buying presents. . .what is it?” as a smile forms on now a childlike face.

He digs into the box like only any kid would and could.
He finally realizes what it is . . “OH WOW–AN ICE MAKER” (you should be hearing childlike glee as you are reading)
We read the instructions and I explain that I’ll need to thoroughly wash it out and run a couple of test batches first in order to get that “made in China” smell and taste out of the machine—as in yes, it is indeed made in China.
He’s happy.
I’m happy.
It’s a good birthday.

The following day, I run out to the store in order to buy a couple of gallons of distilled water as I understand that distilled water makes for clear cubes. And yes, this machine is to make the round tube like cubes, not the half moon things he hates out of the refrigerator.

I plug it in, add the water, set the controls, wait a tad—then woosh, the little machine churns out water.
Ok, maybe it’s not cold enough yet.
Again Woosh, again water.
I feel around inside the little ice making tubes.
They are not cold.
Hummmmm. . .
Not cold at all.
Aren’t things like refrigerators, freezers and ice makers suppose to be cold?
Again, I reset the numbers.
Woosh, water.
Again, woosh, water.

WHAT??
AAAGGGGHHHH!

Wait a minute.
When you plug in a refrigerator, large or small, aren’t you suppose to hear a motor? A motor like in a compressor??
The freaking compressor is not coming on.
Are you freaking kidding me!!!?
At this point I think I kicked the open drawer by my foot which was open and housed my mixing bowls. I now have 4 less mixing bowls.

When my husband comes home, I break the bad news hoping that he’ll know how to make it work. Maybe I’m not plugging it in correctly?
He pittles with it and declares it to be indeed a dud.
The compressor will not come on.

AAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

I’m furious.
“Can you get your money back” he asks almost pleading for the affirmative.
“Yes danmnit” as I sadly put the thing back in the packing styrofoam and into the big box.
I contact Amazon.
They issue a packing mailer and I proceed to write a “to whom it may concern” letter to Smart +
lambasting an ice maker made in China. . .why can’t an American Company produce a product in America, using American ingenuity, putting Americans to work, where American workers take pride in producing quality American products???? What’s happened to this country???!!!!

UGH!!!

The perfect present goes back from whence it came via UPS.
The following day, I go to the mall in order to buy a back up present–the standard boring dress pants and shirts. Same ol same ol birthday goods–with these high end dress clothes, from a very reputable and long established high end American men’s clothier–with their very high end clothes being made in. . .wait for it. . . Malaysia.

(Picture my head hung very low) UGH!

Oh and did I mention that the insurance company sent out a giant booklet regarding the birthday boy now being a part of Medicare. And no, I couldn’t tell you if it is A, B, C, D, E, or F. . .
Seems that since he is now enrolled in Medicare, he’s no longer to use the doctor, his primary healthcare doctor, here in our town, he’s been using for almost the past 25 years–as Medicare says he must go elsewhere.

AAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Bolivia eh???