well that didn’t go as planned now did it?

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
Allen Saunders


( I snapped this little spine chart yesterday sitting in the exam room waiting on the doctor / Julie Cook /2019)

Pour yourself a cool glass of lemonade and pull up a chair, this may take a minute.

Yesterday I found myself sitting in the orthopedic’s exam room waiting on the doctor.
They were kind to work me in as I called on Memorial Day and they were closed.
During grandmother duty this past Saturday, something went awry in my back…
I knew when it happened…much like 3 years ago when I could be found in the same office.

Last time it was two herniated disks.
This felt much the same…sooo I knew the drill.

Shots in the back for now…we’ll see how that works before we pull
in the big guns as we did last time with an epidural and nerve block.
Sigh.

Things like back issues, bone issues…any medical issue really, in almost all cases,
have a hereditary leaning.

We inherit so much from our parents and from those even further down the line from previous generations.

That’s in part why our doctors are always asking us if we have a medical history for __________
allowing you and I to fill in the blank.

When you’re adopted, you almost never really know the answers.
You never really know a thing about any sort of medical history.

They don’t send home care instructions or medical charts with babies who are being adopted.
Well, they didn’t in 1959 when I was born.

So I usually tick the boxes on my doctor’s charts with an NA or an “I have absolutely no clue”

Every medical issue I’ve ever stumbled into during my lifetime has seemed to be an anomaly…
an out of the blue sort of occurrence.
Who knew this short person who has been relatively active her entire life would have bone
and back troubles?

I certainly didn’t.

I’ve written about my having been adopted on numerous occasions.
When I first began this blog 6 years ago, I pegged adoption to be one of my “discussion” topics.
We former educators always think along educational lines…so much so that when I started writing,
I was all about wanting to inform and educate…
Be it about cooking, art, travel or adoption…education was the impetus.

But in the middle of those 6 years, God redirected my words…
I found I wasn’t sharing much about those sorts of topics anymore but rather topics
God had lead me to share.
And who am I to argue with God??

But for whatever reason, I am back to revisiting the topic of adoption…
In great part, due to my concern over this culture of death we seem to be living in…
a culture that puts money, lifestyle and convenience over the sanctity of human life…
but I digress.

Adoption is a funny thing.

We adopted children are actually given a second chance at life.
Aborted babies, not so much.

Adoption is either a hard and painful choice for a woman or it is relatively simple.
It just depends on the woman.

Yet adopted children, those whose adoptive parents are very open and transparent about the adoption,
live with the knowledge that they, in essence, have two sets of parents…
a biological set and an adopted set.

It’s just that many fathers in the biological set may or may not know that they had ever fathered a child.
But that is not to be the pig trail for today’s discussion…we shall stay on topic.
Educators do try to keep the discussions on track…not unless they see a teachable moment taking
place in the diversion…today, we are on track.

A couple of weeks ago, before baby James got so sick, I wrote a post about my search for my biological parents.
Well, not totally an in-depth tale and not so much about my parents, but actually, a search for my mother.
Suffice it to know, things did not go so well.

The link is here:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/i-think-we-could-have-been-friends-and-i-do-have-some-really-nice-lamps/

However I want to back up a bit.

I was born in 1959 and adopted in 1960.

There was a little book put out in those early days for adopted parents to read to their adopted children,
a book read when the adopted parents deemed their adopted child was ready…ready to learn
the truth and could help explain the situation.

Dad read me the story when I was about 5.

I loathed that little book and I loathed the story.
Suddenly I felt separated from everyone I thought I knew as mine.

I then set out living my life,
while trying to keep the feelings of separation from that life, at bay.

I think we call that suppression.

This was the first post I wrote about my adoption—
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/who-in-the-heck-is-sylvia-kay-and-what-have-you-done-with-her/

I didn’t want to talk about being adopted nor think about it.
If I did, then my neat and tidy little world wouldn’t be so neat and tidy.
Plus I fretted about my parents and their feelings…I never wanted them to feel hurt or
pain that I was really not theirs, but rather that I was someone else’s child.

The child playing a role far beyond her age, responsibility or capacity.

For you see their second adopted child, my adopted brother who was 5 years younger than
I was, was a mess.
His life with them and the life of us as a family was doomed…
because in essence he was doomed.

He did not handle being adopted well at all, and we all suffered grievously.

It is probably one of my better posts, despite the difficulty in writing it as well as the pain
in re-reading it of which adds to the re-living…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/

So I suppose we could say adoption has almost haunted me my entire life.

Once, when I finally became a grown woman with my own family, I wanted to learn more.
I wanted to be able to know things for my son’s sake.
Mainly medical information, but genealogy as well.

So 10 years ago, I was troubled by those nagging questions.
Adopted children live with questions.
That’s not a bad thing…don’t educators always say, no question is a bad question?
And I thought I’d seek a few of the answers.
I had always told myself, because of what my dad had lived through with my brother,
that I would never search for my biological parent—
I knew that the thought of possibly “losing” his only living child would be too much.

So rather than seeking the answers to the big questions, I decided to look for smaller answers.
But when I did find those “answers”, they only created giant gaping holes in the story
of who I was.

I reached out the Family’s First, Georgia’s Adoption Reunion Registry—
it is what the Atlanta Adoption
Agency, the place I came from, had morphed into.

For a small fee, they would provide me with my redacted case files—
no identifying cities, last names
or any hints as to people, states, cities or places.

But the story left larger questions.

Questions I would sit on for another 10 years.

Dad died two years ago.
I now have grandchildren.
I continue to look in a mirror wondering.
What is in me that is now in those grandchildren of mine?…and whose DNA is in them?

My doctor and I had talked about me doing one of those popular DNA tests so I could
find out some medical
information to pass on to my son.
She preferred 23 and Me as it provided the best medical info.

And so I did—I did so also hoping to find some sort of family.

I found a 1st cousin in Tennessee.
When I saw his information pop up on my computer screen, I felt my heart stop.

I nervously reached out to this man and shared the story of me that I knew.

That is an on-going story but he is my first cousin on my dad’s side of the family.
He is almost certain his second cousin is my half sister—but they are all still
working on that.

The story I shared added up.
Jobs, dates, etc.

I felt euphoria.
Which quickly faded as they have lives, they are busy and a long lost sibling is
not top on their radar…
but that is not to say that they have not been kind and helpful and eventually
want to meet and share pictures.
But they are younger than I am and are in different places.
My birth dad, one of the three brothers, their uncles, has since passed away…
so no reunion there.
And as I say, that is a story still in the making.

During all of this, however, I opted to reach back out to Families First.
I was ready to pay a larger fee for a full-fledged search for my biological mother.

The social worker told me they always start with the mother.
If she is deceased, then they share information and move on to a search for the father.

She told me that I was to come up with a top 10 list of questions I wanted to be answered,
as well as a letter is written directly to my birth mother.

At the time, I was feeling a bit disconnected…perhaps it was a protection mechanism as
I was almost stoical bordering on flippant in my going forward with all of this.
I was generic in my questions and really didn’t have a full 10.

The social worker told me that they enlist the aid of a private detective and don’t
be surprised if the search takes up to 6 months.

I then tucked all of this away on a back burner.

Yet I was actually becoming a bit of an internal emotional wreck.

But as life would have it, our second grandchild was born nad life quickened.
There were some complications and time was not my own.

I really wasn’t thinking about adoption searches anymore.

But then one day out of the blue I received a call from the social worker informing me that
they had found my mother and she was indeed still alive.

I felt an electric jolt of excitement–a smile filled my face.
Hope of sorts was entering my life’s quest.

The social worker now wanted those questions and that letter—
in hopes of giving them to my mother
when she reached out to her.

I wrote fast and quick…I didn’t want to overthink or reconsider.
I wrote without even reading over what I wrote—
a letter filled with gratitude and kindness
and well wishes…and lots of typos.

And then I waited.
And life got busy, again.

So it was not until the other week when my husband and I were getting ready to
walk out the door that my phone rang.

I immediately recognized the name of the social worker and I stopped dead in my tracks.
She had been good to keep me up to speed via email, but here she was calling.
I fumbled all over myself answering and offering pleasantries.

What had begun as a rather low key nonchalant search of curiosity now had turned into
something much more…
It had grown into the notion of me seeing all of this as a second chance…a second chance
with a crucial relationship in life.

Yet I’ve known of family horror stories—those who were seeking, just as I was,
only to find disaster.

I was well aware of the risks—yet I was willing to take those risks…
because I wanted to know who made me who I was…who I am…
all those nuances that are simply the by-products of personal shared DNA.
Who looks back at me in that mirror every day.
Who has helped to build this wall inside of me?

The social worker started the conversation with,
“Julie, I heard back from your mother today through her attorney…”
I swallowed hard and stammered “attorney”…as in “oh, ok, well that says it all does it not?!”

I felt a sicking weight hit my guts.

The room shrunk in around me and I felt as if I might suffocate.

My family has had enough dealings with attorneys as of late due to
deaths and wills…here we were to go again.
Nothing with an attorney is positive.

She continued—she wants nothing to do with you…” you were from the past and
that is where you are to stay.”

Hot tears now formed in my eyes.

I wanted to yell into the phone that “you tell that attorney and that woman
that I am a good person. A kind person…
a person who I think she could be proud of…”

But I didn’t.

I was the baby she bore prematurely, without any prenatal care.
The baby she fled her family over, moving out of state.
The baby who she ended her relationship with my father over—
a man who had asked her to marry him.
She was 23 and he was 28—yet she said some things and things went too far…
and she ran—she ran from everyone and everything…and she ran into hiding.

She was a nurse who didn’t seek prenatal care.
She delivered under me using an alias.

Even a different hospital then what is on my legal birth certificate.

She gave birth and left the hospital that day.
But the social worker at the time noted in the files that twice she was called back
because I was sick
She was worried and had tears in her eyes when returning to the hospital.
The social worker noted that she was still very much emotionally attached to my birth father
despite his having moved on and becoming engaged.

So many questions.
Such a sad past.
And that was where I was to stay…in her sad past.
A past that could have had a happier ending.

The social worker told me that because of this, she was unable to share my
questions and letter.
I half-heartedly laughed telling her it was a letter chocked full of grammatical errors and
typos as we both laughed.

I asked if she could, perhaps clean it up and send my letter to this attorney.
I even almost found myself asking for the attorney’s name before I thought better—
knowing all of this was such an anonymous process, protecting her identity.

In the state of Georgia, one’s adoptions records remain sealed under the court of law.
They may only be opened by petitioning the court and the reason better be pretty darn good.
Curiosity and the answering of questions are not good enough reasons.

And so that is why I wrote that post the other week.

Tomorrow I will post the letter I wrote to my mother.

I figure what the heck.

The social worker was having to send some sort of affidavit to the lawyer for my
mother to sign—
I suppose a paper to put in my file that states she is not to ever be contacted
and my records…may never be seen.
Despite the fact that they are also my records.
As in mine and just as much mine as hers.

I told the social worker, to again, please assure this attorney that it had not my intent
to invade into this woman’s life.
I also told her I figured this would be how it would end.
“Why is that Julie” she inquired.
“It’s just my luck Stacy”

After writing that post the other day, a dear blogger friend, Dawn Marie,
in Pennsylvania offered this comment:

I am so sorry, Julie.
But even sorriest for the woman who opened her womb to you, but not her heart.
I will pray for her.
And I would ask you to consider perhaps this “rough” ending was put in place by God
to protect you & not harm.
He revealed, through her calloused legal action, a lot about her –
perhaps sheltering you from further harm.
May you be at peace.
A warm hug sent your way to uplift you.

I’ll add a few more words tomorrow when I share my letter.

After I hung up the phone I dropped my head like a small child might do,
and sobbed into my husband’s arms.
A double rejection.
The grown me, the grown 60-year-old woman, crying like a small child whose
own mother had rejected her…again.

But as Dawn reminds me…God is in the midsts of all of this
just like he was when in 1959 when I was conceived and born…
and later in 1960 when I was eventually adopted.

When we opted to go down to the beach for a few days last week, I thought it would be
a time that I could ponder, contemplate and make sense of things…
and to natually lick my wounds.

Yet God thought differently—no time for self-pity…
He called us to race home to be with our grandson who was rushed to the hospital.

See…life, my life, does go on.
It goes on in three blood relatives…
My son and his two children.
Of whom mean the world to me.
They are mine and I am theirs.

Some reasons in life we know,
some we do not—
The best we can do is to always pick ourselves up when we fall and move one foot in
front of the other–
always moving forward…and never back.

The letter tomorrow.

it’s baaaaaaaackkkkkk….

“Yea, I shall return with the tide.”
Kahlil Gibran

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(a flock of gulls, Santa Rosa Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2016)

Today I thought we’d take a break, venturing far from the tales of woes of my
on-going trials and tribulations…
preferring rather to take a gander at the behavior of seagulls and the similarity they seem
to have with repetitions in history….

Have you ever walked along the shore and approached a
flock of gulls milling about the sands?
They congregate en masse, especially near where any humans congregate…
all in hopes of snagging forgotten scrapes of food…

If you don’t believe me…offer said mass a piece of bread and suddenly…
you’re Tippi Hedren in a scene right out Hitchcock’s The Birds….

Anywhoo, back to our train of thought….

While out casually strolling the beach, all one must do is to
venture too closely to a group of gulls and the birds immediately scatter…
either scurrying out of a perceived harm’s way or quickly taking to flight.

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Once you, the perceived danger passes, they return right back to
said spot of just hanging out and waiting…
It’s what gulls do…

This gull image came to mind yesterday when I came across the following news story
regarding Vladimir Putin’s desire to “resurrect” the KGB…The former Soviet Union’s
dreaded and oh so mysterious Secret Police…

An odd correlation perhaps…
but actually really rather appropriate.

We must remember that Putin is a former KGB man who rose through the ranks to where he is today…
One of the most powerful men on the planet.
Whereas you younger ones may think that lofty position belongs only to any US president,
perhaps it’s time for a small history lesson…

Old school USSR days were nothing like this new Mother Russia business
of a happy Federation today…
It was the old school dark days of a Cold War…
as the cloyingly murderous scent of Joseph Stalin still lingered heavy in the air.

It was the days of suspicion, mysterious deaths, poisonings, spies, counter spies, double spies,
mysterious disappearances, iron fists, gulags, suppression, oppression, lies,
total power control… and lots and lots of secrets…

So just when you thought it was safe to be Russia’s friend again….
Here comes the following story…

http://abcnews.go.com/International/russian-president-vladimir-putin-reportedly-planning-reforms-effectively/story?id=42190514

It’s as if the world went out one day walking, much as we do at the beach…
but for our story here, the world was out walking and demandeding an end to Soviet Communism…

Those die hard Soviets, feeling the surmounting world pressures, quickly scattered.
However the die hard and dyed in the wool Soviets, never disappeared…
much as the world had thought and hoped.
They merely flew away and waited…waiting until the perceived threat passed…

They simply waited until the world passed by and forgot…

Because that’s what happens with us human beings…
we tend to adhere to that whole ‘out of sight out of mind’ school of thought…

So just when you thought Putin’s Russia was now more like us, you might want to think again…

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 6:16-19

The absurdity of uncertainty found in the Omniscience

…I can inform thee of nothing…”
excerpt from a prayer by A. W. Tozer

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(a stream flows though Gleanlough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Did you read that?

I can inform Thee of nothing…”

As in absolutely zero…the absence of anything and everything…

As in….
What can be said that is not previously known?
What single thought can be pondered that has not been previously revealed?
What emotion can be felt that has not already been felt?
What “oh by the way, I meant to tell you _____”
with the blank having long been filled in eons before one even learned to speak…?

No “by the ways”
No “I meant to say”
No slipped out “my bad”….
has ever passed without a prior knowing long before it was ever first thought or uttered…

Wrapping thoughts and minds around everything ever done and all things ever said, thought or felt…
knowing that all that was and is and will be…has already been seen and is known now and always by one and only One…

No secrets
Nothing hidden
Nothing private

For the One who has always been.. is that close…to you

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Psalm 139:1-6

Within

“What is Above is Within … the Circumference is Winthin, Without is formed the Selfish Center, and the Circumference still expands going forward to Eternity.”
― William Blake

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(opening to a bluebird box / Julie Cook / 2015)

What lies within the heart of a man?

Is it compassion
Benevolence
Kindness
Purity
Generosity

Perhaps it is goodness, maybe virtue?
Empathy or Mercy. . .
Perhaps it is a bit of each. . .

All being the minute fragments endowed to the created by the masterful Creator

No one can see deep into the darkness
The secret places within

Yet, in the endowment of the gifts from the Master Creator,
The gift of freedom was to be paramount.
The ability to choose. . .
Right or Wrong
Truth or Falsehood
Love or Hate

Somewhere in the hidden places within,
A struggle ensues.
Wrestling with choice overshadows all. . .
And yet, there are those defining moments when
There are no battles, no conflict. . .
The decision is without choice. . .
And it is easily made

There is sacrifice
Charity
Selflessness
Giving
Offering
Humility
Grace
Mercy
Tenderness
and most importantly
Love. . .

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(Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird / Julie Cook / 2015)

Hidden Past

“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”
― Augustine of Hippo

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(remnants of a long forgotten still found deep in the woods of Troup County, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

Buried deep throughout hills and woods, since Revolutionary days, from Pennsylvania to Florida, a clandestine world once flourished.
Scattered debris of the silent ghosts of a former world, now fade into dark shadows.
Discarded pieces of a secret past.
Gaelic roots
Whisky
Moonshine
Stumpwater
Hooch
White lightning
Rotgut

Fires burned under the cover of moonlit nights
Jugs loaded into burlap sacks, dropped silently into black water creeks, whisked swiftly down stream to waiting hands.
Barrels of sugar
Bags of corn
Copper coils
As one man’s income becomes another man’s poison.

Chances are that today’s woodland wanderer will stumble upon pieces of this mysterious time.
The remnants of illegal lives hidden deep from prying eyes.
Broken shards of pottery, pieces of colored glass and rust coated metals fade from memory under dying leaves.
Taxes were levied
Rebellions were quelled
Taxes were repealed
Wars were fought
Taxes re-levied
As prohibition begins
Speakeasies thrived
Revenues refused
as people died

Pieces of history from a nation’s vices lay broken and forgotten
For good or bad, it is our past
Volatile, Secretive, intoxicating
Lives were taken and lost
Fugitives
Mobsters
Revenue Men
Mountain Men
Triple X

Walking in the woods seeking solace, peace, wonder
Yet finding history, stories, secrets
Voices hide behind the trees
as shadows move through the night
Echoes of a past. . .
both yours and mine.

(*** To be out walking and exploring an area that has yet to be claimed by the insatiable appetite of urban expansion, only to happen upon the past endeavors of the men and woman who once inhabited the area of which I am currently traipsing, I am always amazed and certainly surprised. Be it the pock marked caves and deep holes nestled in what was once considered uncharted woods, all of which were once dug by those who thought gold was hidden underneath the ground. . .to the broken bits and pieces of the clandestine stills which once laced these back woods throughout the South—I am awed and most astonished to have a glimpse at dreams and secrets of those who went before me. These small reminders which act as pieces of the thread which weave the once rural highlands and lowlands of my southern culture together.

Growing up in Atlanta, I can easily remember when the new trendy spin-off upstart cities, those that have broken away from the all encompassing umbrella of the mega Fulton County, home to Atlanta City, were but the pastures and fields of the farmers who called north Georgia home.

My high school was built in 1968 and was just barley 4 years old when I entered it’s hallowed halls. It was considered new, trendy, modern and on the leading edge of the massive urban sprawl sweeping Atlanta’s expansion northward. Before there was Perimeter Mall, a completed GA 400, the “Mcmansions” of which Atlanta is now so famous for, or the cities such as Sandy Springs, John’s Creek, or Milton. . .there were still farms, dense deep woods, and a now forgotten “country way of life” which truthfully, I miss.

The woods surrounding my high school, the woods that gave way first to the high school’s cross famed country course, followed by the now massive exclusive neighborhoods, the area was full of the would-be mines, the dug out holes and caves, of those who just knew there was gold in “them thar hills”.
I can still wander in the dense woods of the far western counties of Georgia, those counties which still remain more rural than urban, finding the remains of those who thought they were safe to create a secret yet lucrative business for homemade whiskey, better known as moonshine. The forgotten broken remains of stills lace the backwoods of Georgia.

These remnants of day’s gone by, which are now rarely seen or found, due to the gobbling up of a hungry need for growth, not only offer intrigue to our history of development, but the nostalgic humility which comes to those who are fortunate enough to catch a small glimpse of what once was. . .)

Keeping Christmas

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and lonliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thougts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!”
― Henry van Dyke

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It’s time to roll up our sleeves, knocking out some of that holiday cooking!! I always start with one of my husband’s favorite accompaniments to any holiday meal— featuring that most holiday festive little red orb, the cranberry. But to accompany those tart little beauties, a citrus is necessary. . .hence, our story of the lowly calamondin and it’s cousin the kumquat.

A couple of months ago you may remember the picture of my kumquat tree–it was heavy laden with nice bright green round orbs. I was in a bit of a panic as the green orbs needed to hurry up in order to turn a luscious orange before the first frost. Long story short, the tree is now living in the basement with green orbs which are finally deciding to turn orange, slowly but surely.

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The reason behind the need for a kumquat tree is actually for the provision of a key ingredient in a highly guarded important seasonal family recipe. My aunt, who lives in south Florida, yes the one now minus a kidney, who by the way is doing quite marvelously thank you very much, use to make a delightful holiday relish. It was called Martha’s cranberry calamondin relish. What’s a calamondin you ask? It’s a sour little orange looking type fruit and is a key ingredient in the cranberry calamondin relish–hence the name.

About a year or so ago I asked my aunt for the recipe, thinking I’d try my hand at this amazing little relish rather than wait for jars to arrive via a visit or UPS. My aunt was a little shady about the whole thing. What’s the deal I was wondering. Is she going to give it to me or not? Finally I wore her down. I wrote feverishly as she recalled the ingredients over the phone, and double checked the accompanying e-mail. The last sentence of her e-mail was chilling.
“Immediately delete this e-mail and don’t you tell anyone this recipe or I will have to kill you”

Hummmm. . .I think it’s written down in some sacred tome that it’s ok for relatives to say that sort of thing to one another as I think there is a fine line between love and hate in families—as no doubt many of you are currently discovering during your own balancing act during this lovely holiday season.

My aunt can be a scary person so I heeded her ominous words.

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The recipe is simply divine. My husband loves it. He eats it by the spoonfuls. It’s tart and sweet all rolled into one. A heady concoction that pairs so beautifully with holiday meals. It is somewhat reminiscent of a wild lingonberry sauce. I once had something similar served alongside a hearty plate of sauerbraten when traveling throughout Austria. Something about the sweet tart coupled with a gamey savory—a beautiful amalgamation of tastes converging in one’s mouth.

Yet the one huge glaring missing key to the success of the recipe, if I was going to try my hand at tastebud heaven, were the calamondins. Has anyone, who lives outside of some tropical region, ever heard of a calamondin? I for one had not.

Think, think, think. . .

What could I use as an alternative??? I know, what about those kumquat things they sell at the grocery store–the ones I only see during the holidays as if they are imported small treasures from some exotic land. . .aka Florida?!

Which brings us to the small purchase I made a couple of summers ago—a small burgeoning fruit ladened kumquat tree. Sadly, I realized much later, that my little tree would never produce the required amount of fruit for the recipe so I would still need to supplement from the grocery store’s seasonal stock pile.

And I suppose it is safe for me to tell you that I have tailored this recipe to me and my own culinary skills—adding a little bit of this and a little dash of that—yet it is the image, that is burned on the inside of my retinas, that simply forbids me from sharing verbatim the full recipe here with you today. I will, however, share the images of it all coming together- – –


Step 1, you will need a bunch of these:

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and a bunch of these succulent garnet beauties—

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Assemble all your ingredients—oops, I forgot to showcase a couple of key players. . .oh well, just use your imagination as to what they may be—

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Oh, and you’ll need one of these. . .

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WAIT!! Is that a Coke?! You didn’t say anything about a Coke!! Well, I saw a leftover can sitting on the counter. . .so just a splash, as I am a true southerner, Coke goes into everything we consume.

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Don’t forget to release the Kraken—

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Simmer away listening to the pop, pop, pop of those little scarlet gems

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Voila–Cookie’s new and improved cranberry kumquat relish—–

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And let’s not tell Martha we talked about any of this shall we. . .

And as I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

revealed secrets give way to waiting

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.”
Andrew Wyeth

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(rainy day in Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

Once all the blooms have faded, the last scarlet leaf floats away and those transit warm weather residents have packed up, moving elsewhere, the stories of a season, or sometimes two, reveal, for good or bad, their secrets.

The canopy of trees and shrubs, full of their once glossy leaves, which acted as an insulating blanket, covering and concealing the birth of fawns and the hatching of chicks and poults—all providing sanctuary to the pups and kits who called the woods home, now lay barren, exposed and painfully open to predator and foe.

Our Autumn, Nature’s explosive time of glorious fading, is now giving way to Winter’s often harsh time of waiting and anticipation—Nature’s Advent. It is throughout the long winter, with its snow, rain, ice and cold, that Nature patiently and expectantly waits, hunkers down and fortifies itself while looking forward and toward a Spring which will offer to all the long suffering— a renewal of life.

The cyclical rhythm of life, which so beautifully mirrors that of our deep and abiding faith, is certainly instep as we find ourselves preparing to begin our own season of waiting and watching–expectant anticipation.

On this new day to this new week, may the unseen secret stories of life slowly, yet delightfully mysterious, make themselves known–may you, in your time of expectant waiting and anticipation, find peace with what has been, as well as with what currently is—I pray that your season of Advent will yield not only to hope but to an unparalleled sense of joy. Amen, amen.