the right side of history…where will we be?

The history of the West is built on the interplay between these two pillars:
Divine meaning and reason. We receive our notions of Divine meaning from a
three-millennial-old lineage stretching back to the ancient Jews; we receive
our notions of reason from a twenty-five-hundred-year-old lineage stretching
back to the ancient Greeks.
In rejecting those lineages–in seeking a graft ourselves to rootless philosophical comments
of the moment, cutting ourselves off from our own roots—
we have damned ourselves to an existential wandering.

Ben Shapiro


(Michaelangelo’s God from The Sistine Chapel)

And we’re also remembering the guiding light of our Judeo/Christian tradition.
All of us here today are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
sons and daughters of the same God.
I believe we are bound by faith in our God, by our love for family and neighborhood,
by our deep desire for a more peaceful world, and by our commitment to protect the freedom
which is our legacy as Americans.

Ronald Reagan, Former U.S. President (1980-1988)

I had to take my husband to the hospital yesterday for a nuclear stress test–
the glowing type of test I suppose.

So while I sat for my near four hours, I had the foresight to carry a new book with me…
The Right Side of History
How Reason and Moral Purpose Made The West Great

by Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is, if you’ve never seen nor heard him, is a young sharp cookie.
Not like this cookie here in cookieland…but a much younger and much smarter cookie.
A good kosher cookie.

Ben is a 35-year-old Orthodox Jew.
He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a married man with two young children.
He also happens to be a conservative commentator which labels him as persona non grata
or better, a pariah.
An outcast from what is considered our progressive liberal mainstream society.

Each time I’ve had the opportunity to catch an interview featuring Ben as a guest,
I have been greatly impressed with his views, data, and points.

His interviews are reminiscent of when I was teaching high school and was listening to our
debate team kids engaging in debate “presentations”.
Barely discernable facts spouted off at the speed of light.
It took a gift of keen listening in order to keep up.

Ben tends to spout off his facts in that same machinegun type of fashion.

Yet in Ben’s case, he has had built quite the resume of political journalistic prowess.

And so I sat in that lovely waiting room with its lone TV on the game show channel,
with my trusty highlighter in hand…that was until it ran dry.
I then grabbed a pen out of my purse and went to town.

At the beginning of this latest book, Ben recalled a moment when his wife once asked him
if he was happy.

Now being the smart young husband that he is…
Ben readily noted that when a spouse,
in particular one’s wife, asks if you’re happy…that can be a dangerously loaded question.

He shared that she asked this question during a rather stressful period in their lives—
their children were young and naturally required, as children do, lots of time and attention.
His wife had a career as a doctor while he was in the early stages of working with
his business partner trying to get their website and podcast venture off the ground–
all the while traveling the country, busy with speaking engagements.

Ben took the question deeper… to that of a question as to when was he was the most happiest—
and that answer was found on the Sabbath.

Ben is an Orthodox Jew who cuts off the world for 25 hours each weekend when he
and his small family take time to observe the Sabbath.

No TV
No computer
No work
No politics.

Only God, then family.

He recalls a traditional Jewish saying…
“the Jews didn’t keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept the Jews”

Ben makes the point that politics is not the driving force for his happiness despite
the fact that it is the pursuit of politics that is where he makes his living…
yet it is the same revelation that our founding fathers also knew.
Our faith is our root—not our politics.
A root that came to us on Mt Sinai.

However this is where we’ll stop for the time being.
Whetting your whistle.

This is a meaty book—
a book that is steeped not only in our Nation’s history but steeped in that of
Western Civilization’s root history–
the history of both our Western Civilization and that of our Judeo/ Christian roots.

A root system we have taken for granted as we are currently watching its erosion.

Like I say—more to share in the coming days…

“Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds requires us to live with moral purpose.”

Ben Shapiro

tis the season or just one of those days…

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Dr. Seuss


(sterilizing The Mayor’s things in the wake of her departure / Julie Cook / 2018)

Let’s face it…we all have those days when we feel like a giraffe with our heads
stuck in a pot of boiling water.

Perhaps you’ve never looked at it that way before, but admit it, it makes perfect sense.

Maybe you’re not exactly frazzled.
Maybe you’re not terribly overwhelmed.
Maybe you’re not running behind.
Maybe you’re not stressed.
Maybe you’re not tired.
Maybe you’re not a bit melancholy.
Maybe you’re not a bit stretched.
Maybe you’re not a bit depressed.
Maybe you’re not overly busy.
Maybe you’re not apprehensive or anxious.

Maybe you’re none of those…

Maybe it’s because you’re totally overflowing with the love and joy that has come to you
from this season…as in you’ve had one too many cups of the bourbon-laced eggnog
and now you’re delusional…
or you actually managed to grab a-hold of the true meaning of Advent and this Christmas to be.

Or if the truth is told…maybe… just maybe…
you’ll admit that you’re really feeling a few of those heavier things…
Actually, maybe, you’re feeling more than a few.
Maybe you’ll admit to the truth…
you’re feeling all of those and then some!

Hence a giraffe with its head stuck in a pot of boiling water.

So good, we are now on the same page.

I was tackling the laundry yesterday in the wake of The Mayor and her two closest aides
recent visit…

When I thought that I really wanted to cook some little something that seemed
holidayish and festive.

But time…
Where was the time?

Now I’ll happily tip my hat, any day of the week,
to all those women out there who have superpowers in that they
can work outside of the home, clean their house, wash all the clothes, run all
the errands, shuttle the kids, finish the presentations and reports,
cook festive holiday goodies, complete all the shopping, decorating and wrapping
while still making time to go to the gym, write greeting cards, read a book, and post
the latest decorative things they’ve accomplished to Pinterest or Instagram.

And if your name is not Martha Stewert, you probably haven’t done half of those things,
let alone two or simply even one to the utmost of your ability.
And no fair if you have a maid, a nanny, or a small army of assistants following you around.

I actually do think that I was once able to accomplish much more when I was a
younger woman who was working outside of the house while tending to all things of the house
and raising a husband and a child.

I have no idea as to what has happened except that I simply got old.

But by George, I was determined to make something festive today if it killed me.

Every winter, I have to haul the citrus trees, that I keep in large pots
outside throughout the late Spring to early Fall, to the basement when freezing
temperatures arrive.

One tree that I’ve had now for many years has gotten so big,
that I was left with no choice other than to sacrifice it…
I can no longer move it, even with the hand trucks,
so it will be the guinea pig.

As the question remains, can a citrus tree survive a winter in Georgia?
I’ll let you know.

But the Meyer lemon tree that is now happily safe and sound in the basement,
is loaded with ripening lemons. It’s not looking too good as they don’t like
an abrupt change in climate but the looming question…
what am I to do now with all those lemons??

I opted for a tried and true southern favorite recipe…something that makes me always think
of my mom…
That being lemon squares.

Not the most festive perhaps but they are relatively easy and certainly tasty.

And as I do tend to gravitate to the melancholy this time of year as I find myself
missing those who are now no longer present in my small world…
mother’s lemon squares were calling.

Mother wasn’t known for her cooking or baking prowess, but those things she did
manage to succeed with while being in the kitchen are now treasured.

So the lemons squares it would be….

But where was her recipe…


(just one small pile of old cards and notes)

It’s amazing how over the years I’ve amassed such a plethora of old, spotted and stained
envelopes, note cards, papers, and even old receipts all covered with the scribblings
both of myself, family and friends.
A myriad of recipes which have been meant to be tried, tested and savored…
and yet with the advent of all things internet…it’s almost too easy to click
a button rather than dig through the drawers, books, and cabinets seeking that one
lost recipe.

Finally, I found what I had written down from my mom’s recipe…
but as to where her original handwritten card currently rests eludes me…
but this would have to do. Yet I had already moved to a different recipe as I couldn’t
find this one in time.

So as this is the time of year for gifts and gift giving…and since I use to share a lot more
about cooking and recipes when I first started this thing called a blog—
here is a copy of mother’s recipe along with the one I mismashed for today’s
Lemon’s squares…

Merry Christmas!!


(mother’s recipe)

Ingredients:
For the base:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups sifted flour (I like King Arthur’s unbleached)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
For the filling:
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
the juice from 4 lemons (1/3 cup but I actually used just shy of a 1/2 cup)
grated lemon peel from the four lemons you’ll juice
(grate them whole before cutting and juicing)
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
(it is a nice rounding out of the often harshness of fresh lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 9×13 pan—I spray baker’s joy on the bottom and then line the bottom with
parchment paper that I cut to fit. I then spray the parchment paper
(you can use butter and flour if you prefer)

Set the prepared pan aside.

In a mixing bowl sift the 2 cups of flour and the 1/2 cup confectioners sugar—
using a pastry blender, cut in the softened stick of butter until the mixture looks
like grainy sand—and holds together when handling.

Press this mixture down into your prepared baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until lightly
browned and puffed.

Cool while you prepare the filling.

In a bowl stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar, the grated lemon peel, a dash of salt,
1/4 cup of flour add the lemon juice, extract and then the beaten eggs until all
is incorporated.

Pop in the oven and cook an additional 25 minutes.

The filling will puff and might slightly brown just a tad.

When it’s finished baking, remove the pan and place it on a cooling rack,
allowing the pan to cool down.

(here is where some suggest putting the pan in the fridge to cool for at least two
hours but I just let it rest on the counter)

When cool—I dust the top with powered sugar—
I use a small mesh sieve that I shake over the pan
which adds a nice light dusting.

Next I use a bench scraper to cut the bars or you can use a knife

So before you’re hung up to dry, have yourself a merry little lemon square…

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:7

A beating heart

What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.

St Augustine


(sunrise as soon peeking through the trees / Julie Cook / 2018)

Consider the heart.
A muscle that beats, according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 60 to 100 beats per minute.

That’s every minute of every hour, of every day,
of every year over the course of one’s lifetime…

According to Gizmodo:
Humans and chickens are outliers in that we get 2.21 billion and chicken
gets 2.17 billion beats (I wonder how many actually see that much).
But a lot of other animals teeter the 1 billion line:
horses, pigs, rabbits, elephants, cats, whales, etc.
Animals big or small, fat or strong,
fast or slow—it seems like there is a magic number for us all.
Other than small dogs. They got the short end of the stick.

According to Runner’s World
First of all, for the record, let’s just do some simple math.
Let’s say you’re a sedentary dude with a resting pulse of 60.
Each day, your heart beats 24*60*60 = 86,400 times.
Now let’s say you’re a real nut who takes up running and works up until you can go
for an hour every day with a pulse of 160
(which is likely an overestimate).
As you get fitter, your resting pulse drops to 50.
Now, in any given day, your heart beats 23*60*50 + 60*160 = 78,600 times.
So in fact, by running, you’re saving 7,800 beats every day!

I say all of this today about hearts as I’m off for a stress test.
I’ve never thought much about something that is actually working nonstop 24/7
never skipping a beat.
Like most everyone else, I take things like beating hearts, breathing lungs, digesting guts
all for granted until something goes awry.
Then suddenly their amazingness comes flooding to the forefront of consciousness as we
are immediately awed, annoyed and panicked all at once in the span of a split second.

Well, I have a thing called premature atrial contractions, so sometimes my heart gets
a little erratic…but I’ve had it for oh so many years and have gotten pretty much use to
the occasional catching of breath and fluttering deep within.
My doctor hasn’t fretted, nor have I…
More nuisance than worry.

And that’s not the reason for the stress test, but we’ll talk about that little reason later once
I get the good word following the results.

Seeing the sun peeking, glowing and pulsating through the trees the other morning made
me immediately think of that most sacred heart of Jesus…

The image of the Sacred Heart came racing to clarity in my mind.

An amazing image captured by man of a beating heart in a man, yet beating
for the Divine.

A crushingly humbling yet overwhelmingly moving image that leaves me awed…
remembering that in each of us remains a tiny piece of that very divine organ…

No matter our purposeful or flippant life choices…
our willingness or our refusal
our kindness or our selfishness
our openness or our disagreement
our love or our hate…

We each have a tiny beating pulsating piece of the Divine deep within our being–
a remaining, functioning and existing saving piece of Grace…

May our life’s prayer, our life’s purpose, be that we not only yearn to feel His heart beating
within us—much like a mother-to-be can hear the heartbeat of her unborn child via an ultrasound—
but that we will allow it to inspire our approach to a purposeful and Divinely inspired
Grace-filled living of life…

The Latin phrase at the bottom of this 18th-century painting by an unknown artist
is a verse from John–
For God So Loved The World…..
John 3:16

And so we are saved by the loving Grace found within that heart…
A heart that we, in turn, must act as a living example to and for a world in need.

“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature,
is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us,
and at the same time,
an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men.”

Pope Pius XII

We all need a little levity now and then…D*mm-it!

“My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say,
and then to say it with the utmost levity”

George Bernard Shaw

IMG_1861
(my Christmas present, Touche Bleue the Dammit Doll / Julie Cook / 2015)

I don’t know if it’s a teacher thing or not…
But my daughter-n-law, who is indeed a teacher…middle school… bless her heart, gave me, her mother-n-law and former long time high school educator, a most wonderful and oh so practical, useful and most needed Christmas gift.

No it wasn’t a gift card for some sort of luxurious day of self-indulgence at a spa.
It wasn’t a fancy little bottle of some highly potent libation intended for celebration.
Nor was it a shiny bauble, a box of chocolates, something to wear, to play, to read or to watch…

Rather it was something to use when one’s blood pressure has risen, when one is seeing red, when one is madder than a cold wet hen or for when there is no where to run in order to let out a good primal blood curdling scream…..

It’s for when only a good old fashioned whacking and smacking will do…

Just the ticket when needing to beat, to bang, to smash, to hit and to knock the bejezzers out of….a something rather than a someone!

For this is my very own “Dammit Doll”
(and yes I know how the true word is spelled but they, the makers, spell it with two m’s)

The Dammit Doll is intended as an instant stress reliever.

Had a bad day?
Whack it.
Had a really bad day?
Knock the crap out of it.

I’ve decided to keep mine in my car.

Not because of some insane need to vent a bad case of road rage during my travels to and fro from my dads, although that really isn’t all that bad of an idea…

No, this Dammit Doll lives in my car as my travel companion to and from dad’s.
Her name is Gloria, and I knock the crap out of her.

My aunt has been visiting from Florida for the past two weeks, helping me with things at dad’s…she’s now beating Gloria the doll before and after getting out of the car each and every trip to dads…
I think the stress relief need is contagious….

Hummmmm….

This is what happened to Gloria the doll today when I was at Dad’s…..

IMG_1876

For today (or actually yesterday for those of you reading this) was that bad…
or crazy depending on your particular view
Crazy bad sums it up rather nicely for me.

Oddly, not only was Gloria the doll bammed, whammed and whacked—
today she ended up under the car…
Run over, backed over and smushed into the pavement—it was just that kind of day..

So I must say that I am grateful for my Christmas gift as it has been most apropos, necessary and strangely needed and even useful –offering a much needed outlet for stress as well as a wonderful dose of levity and humor in a time when life’s situation would be simply overwhelming and utterly frustrating.

And of course anything which helps with stress as well as the sorting out of all the up and down on-goings and dramatic sagas at Dad’s and Gloria’s……oh……. yeah, you’re right…that is odd isn’t it…Gloria the Dammit-Doll has the same name as my stepmother…whoa……. who knew???

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go give that doll another good whack…..

What’s wrong with this picture?

“We don’t adore icons,
we us them to adore God”

Fr John Sexton

DSC00762
( Vasari’s Annunciation / The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

Over the course of this past weekend, an interesting story made its way into the news, which just so happened to catch the eye of this old art teacher.

Now you should know that I was a little more than bothered, as well as troubled, by this story as I have already touched on this sort of subject before and like any decent teacher whose students fail to comprehend the key components of a well delivered lesson, my feathers became just a bit ruffled…yet if the truth be known, this individual “student” had obviously totally skipped class altogether that day.

It seems that someone out there has decided to not only take issue with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York but has decided to go so far as to file a law suit—

“For what?”…. I’m hearing you ask…

Well it seems that upon a recent visit to the Met, as this individual was viewing some paintings of the museum’s collection of several Renaissance and Baroque masters depicting Jesus Christ, this said individual suffered “personal stress” as the images contained, typical of the time, images of a “white” Jesus. This individual is now claiming that these images of a white Jesus are racist and should be removed.

I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type.
Imagine that, white Renaissance Northern Europeans painting images of a Jesus which looked just like them!
Shocking??
Not a bit…
But rather indicative of the time, the culture, the history, and the existing knowledge of the world—let us consider the audience of these white Northern European Christian artists…other white Northern European Christian type individuals.

I almost came unglued right then and there as I read, then later watched, the story.
A huge collective “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” should be reverberating as we all read of such lunacy.

If I had a ruler in hand, I would knock this said student upside the head as this is probably the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. But then given this day and age I would be fired as well as sued over such…sigh

First may I just say that this country has so many more glaring issues and concerns and so many more truly needful cases trying to work their way through our already dysfunctional legal system that a suit as frivolous and as ridiculous as this is a shameful waste of both time and money.

Do I feel “personal stress” when I view an exhibit of African Art, Asian Art, Hispanic Art, Native American Art, Muslim Art (although Muslims do not depict images of individuals), etc…
No, of course not.
Can I and do I understand and appreciate that art collections are more often than not, mere representations of various time periods and or cultures?
Of course I can and I do—

This entire story has me shaking my head.

It seems that a case such as this has found its little loopholes of merit as the museum receives federal monies, lots and lots of monies—so this individual and his legal eagles have thought that perhaps there is not only a little issue of separation of Church and state but also a throw back to a 1964 civil rights ruling…that a white painting of Jesus in a federally funded museum violates a civil rights act….

Which in my mind rivals with a giant exasperated “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

It’s one thing that someone out there looks at a painting of Jesus depicted as white and cries foul as that’s not exactly historically accurate. As he wasn’t white–he was a middle eastern Jew. I somehow think that our atheist brethren out there would / could and may have take / taken issue with the whole historical accuracy of all of this as to them, Jesus may or may not have even existed in the first place… and if they agree he did exist as mere mortal, then that whole crucified, dead, buried and risen depiction would and most likely might send them running to lawyer up as it were…

Has this politically correctness business of ours not yet gone too far people??!!!

Stories like this give me a headache because I am incensed that there are people out there who waste precious energies over things that are so trivial and meaningless when we have innocent people dying around this globe due to radical extremist ISIS nuts out there who want us all dead…. and we’re going to waste our time worrying about stress caused when someone looks at a 500 year old painting of a white Jesus in a museum!!!!

What part of any of this story sounds right, rational or makes any sort of logical sense??????

I’m pulling a snippet of that previous lesson I was talking about earlier with a link to the original lesson on an icon….

I don’t want to give an in-depth mini history lesson today regarding icons, or of this particular image, as there is so very much out there in the form of books or on the web for the curious to discover. I simply want to share with you something that is very meaningful to me. I think it is important to share with others the things that significantly impact our own lives as those are the things that make us who we are.

As a person who grew up with Western Christianity, or that of the Roman or Latin branch of Christianity, I was always accustomed, as no doubt you were, to what typically is considered to be images of Jesus. Benevolent images of a young man of fair skin complexion, soft brown hair and beard who most often had blue eyes. But the problem with that stereotypical image is that Jesus was not European. He was a Middle Eastern Jew. Therefore that meant he most likely had a more dark or olive skin tone, with a thicker head of very dark hair. He was an orthodox, meaning devout, Jew, so it is theorized that he most probably wore the hair ringlets as do the modern day Hasidic Jews. His features were not as close to ours in the West but rather he was closer in appearance to those currently living in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, etc.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/pantocrator-2/

Historically rich are what our museums are and very well they should be.

Museums are places which thankfully exist around this globe, making available to us the wonders, marvels and lives of those from the past…allowing us to share in our collective history as humans.
And Lord know, the Renaissance was such a rich time in our history as developing human beings!

Who isn’t intrigued by the art work, scientific discoveries, architectural triumphs and sheer wonders of the Renaissance…a pivotal turning point in the history moving man from earthly dark to light…

Woe to this individual who can’t relish in the freedom he has been afforded, along with the readily available access and ability, to be able to go see these historical and beautiful bits and pieces—there are other places, other nations, around this world where there is not the freedom nor ability afforded to see or share in such…how dare he now complain that viewing such has caused him stress—you want stress—go visit the families who lost their children and loved ones 3 years ago at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre as we sorrowfully mark that sad anniversary this week….
Or go to Paris and Belgium and feel the weight of sadness, anger, frustration and worry in the loss of life as the world is still reeling from those horrific attacks as we now mark the one month anniversary to that tragedy.

You don’t like a painting?

Move on from said painting, finding one you do like…it’s that simple.

My hope for this country—and that list is gravely long, is that we can get our act together as a Nation, to truly see what it is that is most important to us as a whole—and that is that we take care of the elderly, the infirmed, the young, the homeless, the hungry, the less fortunate, our environment, the dying and the needy….
That we can stop for just one day from being so utterly self absorbed and self obsessed, that we can reach out beyond our own wants, our incessant need to tweet, post and the taking of one more self absorbed selfie…tossing all of that nonsense and worthlessness aside as we reach outwards, far away from self, outward to those around us who are in desperate need both physically as well as emotionally and more important spiritually….

God have mercy on us all….

Quick get the umbrellas. . .cause when it rains. . .it pours!

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle.
I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

Mother Teresa

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
Thomas Paine

DSC02334
(buckeye butterfly wandered into the garage away from the scorching heat / Julie Cook / 2015)

When I was younger, I did not always bear up very well under the heavy stifling blanket of turmoil, tragedy, stress or disaster.
My reactions often immature, unbridled, angry, resentful, beaten and lost.
I have come to learn, albeit it often reluctantly, that it is from the exposure of such catastrophes, coupled with the passage of time, which all act as an abrasive agent to toughen the thin skin of youthful emotions and tender feelings.

Tenacity is forged in the fire of trial, tribulation and misfortune.

I don’t think any of us is ever immune from such.
Everyone, at some point or other during one’s lifetime, will find themselves faced with, what at first may seem insurmountable, yet once the dust settles and the options weighed, becomes one more link in the chainmail of life’s armor.

A personal world is turned upside down most often by forces unforeseeable and unpreventable and as random as they come.
We will find ourselves asking the angry and accusatory questions of “why” and “how” while a balled up fist waves defiantly at an unseen God.

I wish we could all just hide under a rock someplace. . .a place faraway and immune from tragedy and the often cruel events of life—yet sadly there is no such safe haven in which to run and hide.

And yet it is my faith in that unseen God, the God of all creation and time, the One who I know to be far bigger and greater than any trial or tragedy in my life, the One who bears my burdens and sustains me in the palm of His hand— It is through Him, coupled by my faith in Him, that allows me to put one foot in front of the other and continue trudging through this thing we call life. . .

And please note that I did not say that that faith and belief or even that God himself makes the pain, the sorrow, the struggle, the suffering any bit easier—it does however, make it bearable.

Therefore if you should see a woman walking down the street carrying an open umbrella overhead when there is nary a cloud in the sky with zero chance of rain in the forecast. . .and not one who carries such to avoid exposure to the sun—just know that it is most likely me–as I am well aware that when it rains it pours.

“If you’re going through hell, {by all means} keep going.”
Winston Churchill

Please continue in your prayers for my daughter-n-law and her family as they slowly begin to feel their way in the dark as they determine what to do in the aftermath of the devastation of the fire which took their home.
As her grandfather tearfully lamented. . . “over 70 years of my life is now completely gone”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Bushwhackers, bare feet and a needed cure all

IMG_1400
(my son and his wife toast a first anniversary with a “bushwhacker” / FloraBama / Julie Cook / 2015

DSC01521
(the infamous FloraBama sign / the state line / Julie Cook /2015

This is a tale of a little bit of bad leading to a whole lot of good.
And no, I’m not talking about anything scandalous, risqué, illegal, unlawful or even sinful—just barely on the negative side of the whole moral radar.

I visited the Rivera this past weekend.
And no, it wasn’t that Rivera.

It’s a long story which started out several months ago when my husband, the one who doesn’t seem to check calendars, schedules or much of anything else when he blindly accepts an invitation for an outdoorsman’s dream adventure. In this instance, it was a deep sea fishing adventure that was actually an invitation extended to both my husband and son.

Now such an invitation would naturally be quickly chomped at and swallowed by both these two outdoor loving enthusiasts. . .
Trouble was that the weekend scheduled for the trip out to sea was the same weekend that marked a huge milestone in our family—-it was to be my son and daughter-n-law’s first year wedding anniversary.

Being the sentimental one that I am, I just didn’t see any good coming from a One Year Anniversary being spent apart—especially when it was by choice for a pleasure fishing trip verses say, deployment overseas, work, or catastrophic illness.
The long and short of all of that is that my husband relented in the fact that the two woman of the clan “would have” to now tag along.
Not to fish mind you, but to tag along to say, the beach.

My life as of late, as you all well know, has not exactly been my own.
Stress and worry simply do not do justice when describing life with Dad these days.
Getting away did not seem prudent, practical nor wise.
Guilt and anxiety actually dug deep.
Yet something buried way down in my psyche screamed GO! For Heaven’s sake, by all means GO, and don’t look back!!!!

Now this fishing trip was to set sail from an area known as the “RR” or in the immortal words of Kenny Chesney, “the Redneck Rivera”
Not being a fan of country music nor of things denoted “redneck,” this would not exactly be a place I’d jump to visit as I am one who prefers the subdued, the quiet, the classic and the serene.
When I think of Rivera, I think of sophistication, charm, elegance and “haute” this or that . . .
Throw the word “redneck” out front and suddenly the sound of dueling banjos streams through my brain.

Upon arrival, to our home away from home for the weekend–which by the way was a very nice and stylish condo perched on the beach with little to nothing having to do with “redneck”- the sound of some rather loud music, emanating obviously from a live band jamming out somewhere nearby, filled the air.

I had heard strange tales of a local establishment and of its most infamous concoction, a Bushwhacker, in the general vicinity of our stay.
A den of iniquity of sorts linked to all things college and debauchery is what I had imagined and as it turned out, my imagination wasn’t far off course. . .

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(a wooden clad honky tonk situated on the Alabama / Florida line–perched in-between high-rise condos and parking decks)

The FloraBama, circa 1975, is a mecca for that whole “party on the beach” mindset of the young and often dumb—With the clientele of this particular establishment being not all so young, yet all equally lacking in better judgement.

Never one to miss a famous local attraction, I was game for a little look see. . .as well as a sampling of the oh so famous beverage!
There is a reassuring picture of President Obama sipping a Bushwhacker when he once visited this “business” no doubt on some sort of campaign adventure—so my rationale being, what’s good for the President, must be good for me as well, right???”
What’s the harm in a little chocolate, coconut, frozen medley with a few other added ingredients, served up like soft serve in a disposable cup topped with a cherry? Harmless enough right??

Well I won’t bore you with the details.

I won’t belabor the exploits of the young men and middle to upper aged woman, I watched from afar, stumbling along the beach as I simply shook my head.
Nor shall I understand the site of the older woman dressed as purple and gold Mardi Gras bags of beads, hung over their shoulders by suspenders with feathery boas cascading from their heads, as they paraded along the beach–participating in some sort of odd contest. . .
I won’t bask in reliving the happy thoughts of spending countless hours simply bobbing up and down on my blue noodle just like a lost little cork adrift in the placid Gulf
(note—noodles are for kids and I’m not proud)
I mustn’t speak of my now extra crispy red skin despite having sprayed—yes it hurts.
I shan’t rattle on about all the lovely fish that were caught–very tasty.
I won’t relive the image of my jaw dropping and mouth hanging agape as I entered into this haven of indulgence as my two younger protégées were left wondering if I hadn’t just fallen off the proverbial turnip truck. My college days having long since passed.
I shan’t confess to going barefoot for two solid days, traipsing in and out of the ocean, the beach, the “entertainment establishment” for a few Royal Reds (aka the best shrimp on the Gulf) over and over.
I shan’t expound on how good a trip, albeit it quick, sans shoes, worries, cares, agendas. . .can be for the spirit and soul of the weary. . .

But I will gladly extol the tastiness of a bushwhacker. . .

And may we all remember that obviously what happens on the Redneck Rivera, stays on the Redneck Rivera. . .or so say the Mardi Gras ladies. . .