Captain’s log—has it been almost a week????

“The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things,
wherein poor souls can cast all their needs;
it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sadness,
an ocean of humility to drown our folly,
an ocean of mercy to those in distress,
an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

I went back to the grocery store yesterday…
The sign reads, ‘meat custom cut the way you like”
I ask, what meat???

We’re all hunkered in and down in the house…all together.

And right now, we’re all having to make sacrifices…

Consider changing the Sheriff’s big messy diapers…
they have now become a massive joint effort…

I actually took my chances today and in a moment of desperation, I went to Target.
I walked in carrying my own Lysol wipes.
I bought the Mayor a dart shark board.

Plus some sidewalk chalk…but it’s now supposed to rain for the next three days…
of course it is…

Luckily we can play darts sharks and fish
in the house.
Or fill an empty water bottle full of dried rice, screw the cap on tight and shake it
till our heart’s content, or I’m crazy.

And in the middle of all of this new craziness that we’re each finding ourselves
living in, I really don’t know what should be considered new, normal or merely insane.

I have a dear friend in Florence, Italy…I’ve tried getting in touch with her now
for over a week…not a word.

Each day there is a new tally of loss.
Italy has not experienced losses like this since WWII

And what about Spain?
Iran?
France?
The US?
My state of Georgia.
My county?
My city?

I walked outside this afternoon and I heard the birds.
This is such a wonderful time of year to hear the melodic symphony of singing.

I can actually see Spring rounding the corner and I think life is oh so normal.
Oh so rhythmic.

But yet I know it is anything but normal and our ‘oh so taken for granted’
rhythm has been broken.

We only think that we are living with inconveniences.

We grumble.
We grouse.

But what we are seeing, experiencing goes far beyond inconvenience.
This goes beyond our grumbling and complaining.

And I think it is slowly dawning of those who had thrown caution to the wind and went on
living life as if nothing was different…I think maybe, just maybe, they might finally
be getting the memo…life is now very different.

I had read a friend’s post today and she said in all of this craziness she had actually forgotten
it was Lent—and it dawned on me that I too had forgotten Lent as well.

But then I considered the thought that I hadn’t actually forgotten Lent…but rather
I am living Lent.
We are all living Lent.

In this desert wasteland that we now find ourselves wandering,
I am assured that both good news and Hope remain.

Victory is waiting for us on the other side of this desert.
We just need to keep making our way through the barren wasteland because when we do,
we will find Christ waiting with open arms…in part because he walked this desert long
before we ever took the first step.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Captian’s log, day 3…bartering, laughing, crying…empty shelves…what then?

If I had my life to live over again,
I would elect to be a trader of goods rather than a student of science.
I think barter is a noble thing.

Albert Einstein

Ok, so I don’t have any Lysol wipes let alone packs of toilet paper.
And I’m hanging onto the less than 10 rolls we’ve got.
But I would love to trade, say, some frozen blueberries from this past summer
if you’re still interested…

I have not wipes nor toilet paper– for this is what specter greeted me this morning
at my grocery store…
The ghost of stores shelves past.

My past or long past you muse…
long past…for our time has been one of amplitude and plenty.


(my store’s shelves / Julie Cook / 2020)

I came, this morning, however, for diapers, waters, fresh fruits, and vegetables
along with some kid and adult-friendly snacks.
I would have liked to have gotten some more chicken and pork chops—but there were none.
I was fortunate in that I got the last pot roast.

The egg shelves were no better.


(Julie Cook / 2020)

I managed to snag the far left top dozen.

And sugar…..
Well forget it….there wasn’t a sack of sugar to be had in the entire store and cooking oil
wasn’t much better.

The milk you ask.
Ha!

I was met at the door with the managers wiping down all carts before they handed them over
one by one to each entering customer.

Walking in I was met by a flurry of mostly older shoppers, many decked out in full masks and gloves.
Eyes darting intently here and there over the top of the blue sterile masks.

Yet the gal in the floral department was busying herself with her flowers and for the
briefest of moments, I felt a sense of what was…normal.

The carts now whizzing past me with nervous eyes peering over masks jolted me back to
a frightening new world I’d woken up to.

And what world is this I’ve woken to?

My dentist has canceled my appointment for next week since they’re closing their office.
The shopping center, where our grocery store is located, was much less full given
that the Belks store is closed, as are some of the smaller retail shops.
Just Publix and Target were open—and now their hours are limited.

I watch the cars driving up and down our street and I wonder where they are going.

Our daughter-n-law and the Sheriff are coming down this afternoon to join us and the
Mayor—leaving our son, the dog, and cat at home while he works from home.
Our daughter-n-law will be teaching “remotely’ during the day while we watch the kids…
for how long, is any one’s guess.

If the sun comes back out and things begin to dry out…
life with a rambunctious two-year-old might smooth itself out.

And I am cooking…a lot– but nothing over the top fun as I’ve got to
manage the eggs, milk, sugar, and oil that we currently have.

So as I pushed my cart up and down aisles more empty than full, with fellow
shoppers looking more suspicious at one another than kindly…
I felt warm tears welling up in my eyes.
I felt a sense of deep melancholy wash over me—but I quickly pushed it
away.
I had to be a normal person with a positive outlook for tomorrow.
Not one of the blue masked, darting eyes people!

By the time I got home, my husband wanted to know if I had gotten any frozen foods
or canned goods.
He’s our resident Eeyore with a black cloud over his head.
He also has a friend he’s known since they were kids who has become a
sort of gloom and doom prepper.
He’s watching way too much news.

“Buy up all the cans of beef stew you can find” he lectures my husband.

I told my sweet Eeyore that I had gotten some boxed chicken broth, frozen tater tots
(for the Mayor) since all the frozen mac-n-cheese was gone. I wanted to buy fresh things…
he then warily chides me…what happens when all the fresh is eventually gone
and the shelves remain empty…what then?

And in the back of my mind…I pondered…what then??

remnant

I ask then: Did God reject his people?
By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.
Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—-
how he appealed to God against Israel:
“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars;
I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”?
And what was God’s answer to him?
“I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

Romans 11:1-6


(the morning dew covers an emerging weed / Julie Cook / 2020)

I don’t know about you but I’ve felt very frustrated as of late.
I’ve expressed some of that frustration over the past several days.
And it seems that over the past oh so many months, I’ve loudly voiced frustration
in the sense of being held hostage.

Held hostage by our legislators.
Hostage by a seemingly shifting culture.
Hostage by the growing tide of secularism.
Hostage by the intolerance of the left.

I feel almost alone in a dark deep forest…all alone as the enveloping warming safety
of the day’s sun dims and the hungry predators begin to emerge..seeking someone to devour.

As a Christian, the frustration that my thoughts, feelings, and faith matter not
to our current culture is both frustrating and sad.

Christians have long been persecuted, since the dawn of our faith, so why I feel suddenly
newly threatened is perhaps odd.
It’s pretty much part and parcel of being a believer.
Yet having grown up in a Judeo/ Christian Western society that is now
trying to desperately rid itself of its own foundation, I feel cut adrift.

As a conservative American who relishes morality,
I am now scorned by the progressive left and an ever-growing secular population.

I am considered out of touch, uneducated, deplorable, laughable,
smelly (their word, not mine) and totally subservient to the most elite left along
with an angry and intolerable leftist culture.

But for the record, I do not shop at nor do I care for Walmart…
prefering to spend my time and money at Target.

And since Socialism is the new darling,
and abortion is touted as a sacred right…never mind the mystical mystery
of pregnancy and birth, I am anathema to the growing masses for feeling so
totally opposite to the rising tide.

Maybe you too are feeling suddenly, or perhaps slowly, out of place.

Mark over on hatrack4 voiced this very thought
https://hatrackley.com/

Mark commented on my post yesterday…
The Boy Scouts removed ‘square’ from their pledge,
because that wasn’t cool (Cub Scouts).
You missed ‘square’ and ‘civility’, unless I missed them.
As my wife keeps saying, “I don’t belong here anymore.”
Maybe I never did.

My response:
I kept the list simple as I could because otherwise,
I could write a post simply on
those pieces of civics that are no longer a part of our society—
I agree Mark in that I don’t feel as if we belong here anymore—
are we really hearing Americans talking as if socialism is a good path for us to take????
You spoke of a remnant yesterday—
maybe that is our reason for being here now at this crossroads of time…

He concludes,
Maybe so. We can hope, pray, and search for the remnant.

We were each commenting that we felt removed from our current time.
Out of place really.

Perhaps it’s simply our age.

Perhaps it’s the attack on our Christian faith.

Perhaps it’s the attack on the America we thought we once knew.

We have each felt the growing divide, the hostility directed toward the faithful
along with the seeming demise of Christianity in the West.

Mark noted that we need a remnant.

And that reminded me of a story David over on https://nwelford.wordpress.com
recommended to me a few years back.

It was a somewhat obscure tale…a tale that takes place between 1940 through 1953
on the island of Lewis, a part of the Scottish Outer Hebrides.

A wild and lonely place that takes much abuse from the northern Atlantic ocean.

There are several books and pamphlets out regarding the tale of which are written by
Duncan Campbell. Campbell was a Scottish evangelist, best known for being a leader in what is
now known as the Lewis Awakening or Hebrides Revival

The tale begins with two elderly women.
Two women who feel alone.
Not exactly literally alone but rather more spiritually alone.
Their faith is deep yet their community seems to have forgotten what faith is all about
and thus they are each deeply troubled.

Yet they know that God will honor a remnant that remains in the land and they
hope to be that remnant.

They begin to pray that God will bring about a revival to their community.

Below is a slight on-line snippet of the tale followed by a link to the
full article.

It is now my prayer that the remnants remaining in America will take to their knees…

Now I am sure that you will be interested to know how, in November 1940-1953,
this gracious movement began on the island of Lewis.
Two old women, one of them 84 years of age and the other 82-one of them stone blind,
were greatly burdened because of the appalling state of their own parish.
It was true that not a single young person attended public worship.
Not a single young man or young woman went to the church.
They spent their day perhaps reading or walking but the church was left out of the picture.
And those two women were greatly concerned and they made it a special matter of prayer.

A verse gripped them:
“I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.”
They were so burdened that both of them decided to spend so much time in prayer twice a week.
On Tuesday they got on their knees at 10 o’clock in the evening and remained on their knees
until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning–two old women in a very humble cottage.

One night, one of the sisters had a vision.
Now remember, in revival, God works in wonderful ways.
A vision came to one of them, and in the vision she saw the church of her fathers crowded
with young people. Packed to the doors, and a strange minister standing in the pulpit.
And she was so impressed by the vision that she sent for the parish minister.
And of course he knowing the two sisters, knowing that they were two women
who knew God in a wonderful way, he responded to their invitation and called at the cottage.

That morning, one of the sisters said to the minister,
“You must do something about it.
And I would suggest that you call your office bearers together and that you spend with
us at least two nights in prayer in the week.
Tuesday and Friday if you gather your elders together,
you can meet in a barn-a farming community, you can meet in a barn-and as you pray there,
we will pray here. Well, that was what happened,
the minister called his office bearers together and seven of them met in a barn
to pray on Tuesday and on Friday. And the two old women got on their
knees and prayed with them.

Well that continued for some weeks–indeed, I believe almost a month and a half.
Until one night; now this is what I am anxious for you to get a hold of–
one night they were kneeling there in the barn, pleading this promise,
“I will pour water on him that is thirsty, floods upon the dry ground”
when one young man, a deacon in the church, got up and read Psalm 24.
“Who shall ascend the hill of God? Who shall stand in His holy place?
He that has clean hands and a pure heart who has not lifted up his soul unto
vanity or sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing (not a blessing, but the blessing)
of the Lord.” And then that young man closed his Bible.
And looking down at the minister and the other office bearers,
he said this-maybe crude words, but perhaps not so crude in our Gaelic language-he said,
“It seems to me to be so much humbug to be praying as we are praying,
to be waiting as we are waiting, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.”
And then he lifted his two hands-and I’m telling you just as the minister told
me it happened-he lifted his two hands and prayed, “God, are my hands clean?
Is my heart pure? ” But he got no further. That young man fell to his knees and
then fell into a trance. Now don’t ask me to explain this because I can’t.
He fell into a trance and is now lying on the floor of the barn.
And in the words of the minister, at that moment, he and his other office bearers
were gripped by the conviction that a God-sent revival must ever be related to holiness,
must ever be related to Godliness. Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?
The man that God will trust with revival-that was the conviction.

When that happened in the barn, the power of God swept into the parish.
And an awareness of God gripped the community such as hadn’t been known
for over 100 years. An awareness of God-that’s revival, that’s revival.
And on the following day, the looms were silent, little work was done on the farms
as men and women gave themselves to thinking on eternal things gripped by eternal realities.

http://www.revival-library.org/index.php/pensketches-menu/historical-revivals/the-hebrides-revival

Captain’s log…aid and comfort

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
James Baldwin

Captain’s log:
800 days 8 days and counting and still no sign of
the ship home…or is there…???

Ok, so I am in no way, shape or form a Trekkie however I did grow up watching the original
Star Trek whether I cared for it or not–all because my little brother liked it…
it was to watch either that or the fake and phony WWE Saturday night smackdowns with
“Mr. Bionic Elbow, Tapdance on your Tonsils himself, Dusty Rhodes”

And yet oddly I could always relate to that one opening line from each Star Trek episode…
Captain’s Log
as I was an avid keeper of a diary and marker of time.

And so since I have been stranded on/ in this barren planet house of
our son’s with a mending Sherrif, I thought I should attempt a transmission from this great beyond,
attempting to connect with the outside blogosphere…
maybe even getting beamed up—or is that beamed home?

The Sherrif has been mending quite nicely…that is until recently.


(a typical male out shopping/ Julie Cook/ 2019)

And no that is not a picture of him at the local jail but rather in the shopping cart
of the local Target (pronounced Tarjay)

And here he is even attempting to take after his sister, the Mayor,
by showing an odd affinity for his toes…


(evening bath time and toes/ Julie Cook/ 2019)

Meanwhile, the Mayor has been her busy self with all sorts of mayorial business.


(a Mayor who loves her flowers/ Julie Cook/ 2019)

Here we see her actually working in her yard—the Mayor has not quite yet grasped the concept of
deadheading spent blooms, preferring rather to remove all blooms…

She fancies herself as a natural-born landscaper as we see her assisting her “Da” in
gathering up pine straw…

She has also been busy in the decorating process as she had installed her very own new
additions to the main bathroom…voila


(the Mayor very own toilet / Julie Cook / 2019)

Yet unfortunately, during what was supposed to be a week of productive healing,
I must report that the Sherrif has gotten an upper respiratory infection
along with a throat infection…we’ve been to the Pediatric Urgent Care earlier in the week.

And thus, in like kind, the Sheriff has graciously now passed along this malady
to his day nurse and chief woobooville aid.

Since the Sheriff is still very puny, we are scheduled to go see his pediatrician this afternoon.

A six-month-old who cannot blow his nose and who is constantly coughing, as well as
drowning in a sea of mucus as his throat is sore and hoarse…
squeaking and croaking rather than cooing and babbling, is well, troubling.

So hopefully, this now ailing nurse will then be able to depart, late this evening,
after nearly 9 days of constant care, beaming homeward—
we hope… while the Sherriff begins to finally dry up!

Prayers said that the Mayor and the remaining staff will stay as healthy as possible!!


(the Mayor comfoting the Sheriff / Julie Cook/ 2019)

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

separation anxiety and the big blue ball

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire;
it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.”

Roger de Bussy-Rabutin


(a post meltdown Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

We were on a mission.

The Mayor was in need…

In need of a ball.

And not just any ball would do.

It needed to be a big ball.
Something to lift,
to roll,
to throw,
to kick.

And so a trip to Target (pronounced as Targé) was first on the day’s docket.

Up and down the aisles we looked.
We were searching high and low,
fearful our quest may be in vain.

We found golf balls, tennis balls, soccer balls, footballs, baseballs,
softballs, nerf balls…

Then finally, as patience was beginning to wane, we stumbled upon a giant end-cap
metal bin containing three lone summertime blue balls…all marked clearance.

And out of the 3 large blue balls, it was the blue ball on the bottom of the other
two blue balls that was the Mayor’s ball of choice.

Of course, it was.

Once I figured out how to get the giant blue ball out of the bin while moving
the other blue balls out of the way, the Mayor delightfully proceeded to hold the
big blue ball throughout the duration of our jaunt.

We opted for self-checkout.

Everything was going great until I had to “take” the big blue ball from the hands of
the Mayor in order to scan it.

It seems that a rather loud meltdown ensued.

As soon as the ball was scanned and I handed it back to the Mayor, the meltdown
blessedly subsided…
That was until it was time to get the Mayor and the big blue ball in the car…
something that could not have been accomplished simultaneously…
it was a conundrum that bumfuzzled the Mayor’s understanding.

As you can see on the Mayor’s face—the horror of separation was great until
she was finally buckled in and the big blue ball was back where it should be—within her embrace…

The end of our journey…a complete success!


(once home, the Mayor forget the big blue ball and opted for a new tennis ball–sigh)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 ESV

musings of a retired educator…

“The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always becomes a bit different,
as soon as it is put into words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly—yes,
and this is also very good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this,
that this what is one man’s treasure and wisdom always sounds like
foolishness to another person.”

Hermann Hesse


(a bunch of wilted and rotting swiss chard in the trash / Julie Cook / 2018)

Or so that was the impetus behind my wanting to start a blog 5…ish years ago..
I was a retired teacher who still had things to “teach”…
or so I figured.

But then ‘it’ happened.

It happened not all at once but rather it came upon gradually…slowly and almost undetected.

It was life and we all know life brings with it…change.

Life changed.
I changed.

It happens.

But that didn’t mean that I didn’t have musings or things I still felt compelled
I needed to “teach”…
I did and I do.

Take for example the above image of the spent swiss chard.

I like swiss chard.
I grew it myself once when I use to have a garden.

I had a garden when I first started blogging.
I blogged about my garden…
then ‘it’ happened.

Life happened and things changed and now I don’t have a garden to blog about.

So now I buy swiss chard at the grocery store.
I like to chop it and sautee it with bacon, onions, a little chicken broth and salt and pepper.

The swiss chard you’re looking at is in the trash.
As has been the last five or so bunches of swiss chard I’ve brought in oh so many weeks.
They’ve all been sent to the rubbish bin…because ‘it’ happened.
Life happened and my swiss chard wilted and got past its prime and I had to throw it out.

Life can be that way…wasteful as well as expensive.

Life can also grow and expand or it can shrink and shrivel.


(two cousins enjoying the human’s couch / Julie Cook / 2018)

I had two cats when I started my blog.

I still have the two cats, but I also have a granddog that has come to stay with us since her new
human baby sister arrived.

They’re all staying with us.

Because ‘it’ happened.

Life brought new life and old life had to go back to work so now older life is caring for the
new life and the two cats and the dog.

And since all these lives are currently living under our roof,
I find that I visit places like the grocery store and Target a lot more often then I use to.
And sadly waste more and more and more swiss chard as life keeps getting in the way.

Take for example yesterday when I had to go to Target for a few things for the new life currently
living under our roof.

Look what I saw for sale…

Politically Correct band-aids.
For when life gives us boo boos.

They are marketed as diverse band-aids.
Skintone correct.

Yeah, right.

Kind of like a Crayola crayon box—talk about diversity in a box.

Because even band-aids have now decided to be all about diversity and the politically correct.

“Genius” some would muse.
“Why didn’t I think of that” others would lament.

All the while I look at traditional band-aids while shaking my head as I know they match
my skin tone about as much as a strip of duct tape does.

Simply put, they don’t.
So let’s not pretend that cream colored band-aids are just for creamed colored folks…
Next, we’ll be changing the color of gauze or surgical tape…

I think the clear band-aids were more along the lines of correctness.

These stips of sticky color are just one more example of members of the bandwagon
jumping on that proverbial train ride while touting that diversity brings everyone together…
yet failing to understand that diversity is really all about splintering.

And then there were these desk signs…

I’m a girl.
I have a granddaughter.
I’m all for equal pay for equal work no matter who’s doing the work…
But if the furture is all about being female…where does that leave our male population?
And where will that leave the making of more males and yes, more females…???

Sigh…

Another example of all things marketing taking life to the same level of
the militant movements of activism…
Hurray for more militant activism…

Sigh…

But happily, I am pulled back to thinking about that new life currently,
yet temporarily, living under our roof.

She got very sick this past week.
Life threw us a tremendous curveball.
A frightening, scary, grab you by the collar, curveball.

When we got home from the second hospital, after a very frightening couple of days
of touch and go, her grandfather presented her with her first bouquet of flowers.

See…this is what life and new life can do to older life.

It can make older life think and do things it normally would not have thought about
or done before…
Like walk up the sidewalk to a store selling flowers in order to bring the sickly little
new life a pot of pretty purple flowers.

Which brings us to a hard part of new life.

Sleeping.

Some new life is all about, well, life…sleep is not an important factor…
because sleep precludes one from , well, taking it all in.
It gets in the way of eating, being held, having diapers changed and missing out
on the older lives scattered about.

And so we now introduce the Finnbin

A couple of years back, before I had this new life in my life, I read an article about
babies in Nordic countries who sleep outside—even in the dead of winter.
Parents make no never mind about meeting up at a cafe for a coffee while their babies hang out,
outside in the sub-zero temps, bundled up, yet happy as little snuggly clams.
They claim babies sleep better out in the fresh air versus inside…
makes sense as I have been known to go a bit stir crazy when I can’t get outside.

I thought the concept intriguing at the time and that perhaps our Nordic friends
were on to something.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21537988

And so when this new life came into my life and had a nice new crib, a functional pack and play
and two Mama Roos yet still found sleep elusive,
I recalled the story of our Nordic friends and the other stories I’d seen about
Finnish babies sleeping in boxes…
yep boxes.

A box seemed a bit safer then shoving the new life outside to fin for herself in a stroller.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415

And so, in desperation…I found the Finnbins.

Boxes for baby sleeping—albeit made in America, The Finnbin is a Finnish style sleeping
baby box.

The concept tips its hat to the Finnish Government providing all new parents-to-be with
a baby sleeping box full of all kinds of goodies for new parents to be.
Finnbins make great gifts for expectant parents.
We’re hoping it will provide a happy and much cheaper alternative spot to this new life’s
other more expensive sleeping devices.

Or maybe the stroller will just have to do….

Maybe I’ll go to the store tomorrow and pick up a new bunch of swiss chard…

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

feed the birds

“. . .All it takes is tuppence from you
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag
Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries
While overhead, her birds fill the skies. . .”

Lyrics from Feed the Birds / Mary Poppins

IMG_1391
(no this is not a bird / Julie Cook / 2015)

Tuppence, two pence, pennies on the dollar—that’s what it once cost to feed the birds.
A handful of bread or grain sold by a simple street vendor to be tossed out to the pigeons, who would descend en masse, happily and greedily gobbling up nary last crumb.

Today’s birds seem to have more expensive taste.
Kind of like everyone and everything else these days—some sort of bird inflation I suppose.
I paid $12.99 at Target for a sack of black oiled sunflower seeds this week, that being the sale price. A sack which fills dad’s entire feeder.
I buy my birds the nut and fruit seeds which are even more expensive.

It wouldn’t be any big deal I suppose but it’s a lot more than just birds eating the feed and that sack of Dad’s won’t last 3 days. There will be days that my birds will have to go without as they like to eat me out of house and home. And it wouldn’t be that bad had the grackles not moved in and the raccoons hadn’t figured out how to open all the feeders in the middle of the night cleaning me out of house and home.

But Dad is a different story, his birds may not go without.

I filled his feeder up last Thursday.
The feeder was empty as of Tuesday.

The phone rings and I see it’s dad calling.
I break out in a cold sweat as I fear the worst. . .one of them is down for the count and can’t get up and I need to call an ambulance and come quick.
But yesterday’s call, thankfully, was not that sort of call.

“Julie, when you come up tomorrow, how ’bout picking me up some bird feed, we’re all out”

I bought it yesterday Dad.

“Oh, you’ve got some already?”

Yes Dad, that’s what I said.

“Will you bring it with you?”

Yes Dad, it’s already in the car.

“So you’re bringing it with you?”

YES DAD!

“When are you coming?

TOMORROW. . .

This conversation lasts a while. . .

There are the cute little chipmunks at his house who scurry about on the back porch, below the feeder, scrounging for dropped seed. . . so cute. . .
Or that’s what I thought until I watched the chipmunk scamper scale up the brick, dashing tearing its way up the screen and precariously
jumping onto the feeder. . .Hummmm. . .
What a cleaver little sweet creature. . .hummmmm

“Dad, the chipmunks are climbing the house to get to the bird food. . .
“Oh I know I just love watching them, aren’t they cute. . .
Hummmmm. . .

IMG_1394
(the chipmunk birdseed stealer as seen from Dad’s kitchen window / Julie Cook / 2015)

And yet there are other, more sinister varmints feasting on my hard bought feed.

I was sitting in the den with dad watching one of his never ending 1930 black and white movies when suddenly a loud bamming and booming hits the roof.
KAPOW
Followed by a sound of someone or something ripping the screens off the sunroom porch window frames.

DAD!!??? WHAT IN THE WORLD???!!!”

“Oh, that’s the squirrel.
He just loves the bird food”

Racing out to the porch to see what has attempted to tear part of the house off its foundation, I spy a giant grey squirrel hanging upside down from the gutter reaching his body out, stiff as a board, away from the house and grasping the feeder. I believe they call that sort of stunt planking.
The birds are now noisily perched in the trees expressing their great disdain for this usurper.

I proceed to watch this greedy grey acrobat race from the bush, to the gutter, to the screen, to the feeder over and over for the remainder of the afternoon.
Never allowing a single bird to gather near.

You should know that this squirrel is as big as a very large house cat. With the fullest prettiest tail I’ve ever seen on a squirrel. Not so for neighboring squirrels who are scrawny and lean.
Dad’s squirrel is super squirrel and he loves this squirrel.

Actually my dad loves all animals.
Not that I don’t, I certainly do but I do not give money to every organization on television who uses those sad big brown eyes staring back at me while Sarah McLachlan is sadly singing “In the arms of the angel”
This is a man who unknowingly, or knowingly as it depends on who you ask, has been giving money to what some have deemed a terrorist organization— PETA.
Not that giving money to animal rights activists is a bad thing, but the whole activist wording leaves me a bit nervous. People who kill other people because of animal violations scare me just a bit. Not that I haven’t wanted to beat people senseless who abuse animals, but to act in an organized vigilante sort of kill or be killed mentality just makes me, like I say, nervous.

I didn’t know about his funneling giving generously of money until I took over paying his bills. He had letter upon letter from PETA sitting in the black hole of an office, aka my old bedroom, when he was at his worst–just getting the mail and putting it away, never to look at it again—hence why I finally had to take over—it was either that or the IRS was going to put him in jail. Plus I feared PETA may send strong-armed big men out to get their annual, hush money, donation.

So now, we are no longer funneling giving away money except to the power company, the phone company, the gas company, the insurance company, the care service as well as to the Government. . .

And of course to big fat grey squirrels as I’m now off to buy yet another bag of feed to take up later this week.
At 26 bucks a week, I just may need to take out a tuppence loan in order to feed the birds. . .

IMG_1625
(a small mess remains from the birds and squirrel / Julie Cook / 2015)

IMG_1627
(the never ending feeder / Julie Cook / 2015)

I am as mad as a wet hen!!

Anger is one letter short of danger.
Author Unknown

“The robb’d that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.”
― William Shakespeare

DSCN3753
(one of the chickens that calls my dad, neighbor / Julie Cook / 2013)

No this hen is not wet and I don’t think it’s exactly mad but it was the best visual I had for this post regarding my being mad.
I’m not just mad, I’m furious!
I’m so mad, I can’t see straight.
As my students would have said, I’m so mad I could dot someone’s eye!
I am so beside myself that if I could, I’d snatch someone up by the collar and clock them one!!

As you know, I tend to lead a rather low key, low profile, low technology sort of life.
Pretty old fashioned.
I don’t do any of that social media business.
I dont TIVO
I don’t HULU.
I don’t do on-line banking.
I have one credit card and one debit card.
My life pretty much consists of the grocery store, Target (pronounced as Targé), the pharmacy, the dry cleaners, a monthly visit or so to the liquor store to procure any necessary medicinal supplies of something nicely fermented and aged plus the occasional Lowes or Home Depot run–and here is where the trouble began. . .

This morning I decided it would be nice to order a new pair of TOMS shoes. I love TOMS—not because the shoes are great by any means but more so because it is a “get one give one” company. A purchased pair of TOMS leads to the giving of a pair of shoes to someone across this planet in need of shoes.

As the purchase was not expensive, I thought I’d just use my debit card.
Well, oddly the purchase wouldn’t go through.
“Strange. . . ” I thought but chalked it up to maybe something to do with using my debit card verses my regular credit card.

Later I made a run around town for a few small items. I ran into a local shop to pick up a few things. As I went to pay for my purchase, using my debit card, something again rather strange took place.
The card wouldn’t go through.
Hummmmm.
Thinking I had put in the wrong pin the clerk told me it wasn’t the pin and it appeared that I needed to go over to the bank to figure out what’s going on.

Writing a check (and yes I still have a check book as some local business still do not have credit / debit machines—which is actually quite refreshing) I paid for my items and made a beeline straight to the bank.

Once at the bank I proceeded to explain to the teller that for some odd reason I couldn’t get my debit card to work, twice. I knew I had money in the account and thought that maybe the magnetic strip was messed up or the pin, or who knows. . .
Looking at her screen of my pulled up account she asks “Did you make a purchase at Sears?”
“Sears???!! No, I haven’t been in a Sears in years”
“How about $500 at a Walmart?
“WHAT???!!!WALLMART???!!! I don’t even go in Walmart!!!”

She proceeds to tell me that my card has been red flagged over some suspicious activity. She gave me a number to the credit protection agency, told me to call them in order to verify the activity and then I’d have to get a new debit card.

Are you kidding me??!!!

I proceeded to sit down in the lobby of the bank, call the agency on my cell phone, confirm that I had not made the purchases, hang up, then move over to a desk with two women who were in the fraud department of the bank.

The nice ladies pull up my account, again.
It appears my card has been to Illinois, Kansas and south Georgia to name but a few locations all on Saturday and Sunday.
By this time I’m feeling the heat rising to my face.
I am feeling sick to my stomach, I am in a panic and I am mad.

Luckily for me the only thing that went through was a $5.42 charge at a Sears in Illinois.
The other big charges, like the $500 charge to Walmart and the charge for some motel in Kansas were all declined.

The nice bank ladies took my card, cut it in half before shredding it, ordered a new debit card and flagged my account as having been compromised—which led me back to Home Depot.

We’ve all heard or read in the news of the identity and credit breach affecting Home Depot as well as Target . . .
Thankfully my Target Red Card was not affected. Which has made me realize my troubles had to be from Home Depot.

It was Easter and I had gone to Home Depot to get a few things in order to put together an Easter basket of goodies for our son’s new house. . . rake, shovel, broom, hedge trimmers, pruning shears, etc—“stuff” a new home and yard owner would certainly be in need of. . .when I recall using my debit card.

AAAGGGGHHHHH—-I am robbed putting together an Easter Basket—go figure.

Months later the news is rife with the latest and egregious data breach affecting millions of shoppers at Home Depot. As I had not noticed anything “fishy” on my bank statement, all these many months following the news of the breach, I breathed a sigh of relief and went merrily on with my rather boring rut filled life.

That is until today.

Luckily for me, I am only out a little over $5.00, of which the bank will be crediting back to my account.
I know those who have had their entire identities stolen— living now a nightmare existence.

The little ladies at the bank were nice, thorough, efficient and full of advice and warnings. However, I already thought I was pretty savvy.
I do not use my debit card in restaurants, or for fast food, or rarely for on-line purchases, or even when I travel to Atlanta to shop. I simply use it here in little ol Carrollton. But even life in little ol Carrollton is not free from predators, thieves, criminals and crooks.

It’s really hard for me to wrap my brain around how other people can so readily, easily, and often time craftily and creatively, steal from others.
Like I say, I could certainly dot someone’s eye right about now. . .yet despite my anger, my panic and my feeling of betrayal or of being somewhat broadsided out of the blue, I am sad.
Sad that we live in a world that grows less and less safe and trusting with each passing day.

The wolves lie in wait, waiting to devour the unsuspecting around each corner. One more signal that I need to regroup and rethink how I live what I thought to be a rather dull, rut filled and routine laced life.
Maybe the less information out there is better?
Maybe cash is the only way?
Maybe there is something to getting off the proverbial “grid”
Maybe I need to find some deserted island out there with my name on it?

A sad sign of the times to be sure.

Here are a couple of things to look for if you suspect any fraudulent activity on a debit card:
—many thieves are patient, usually waiting weeks or even months after a breach–do not relax your vigilance of monitoring your accounts and statements
—It usually starts with a small insignificant transaction –prime example my initial $5.42 which raised the red flag.
—fraudulent transactions often take place over a weekend once banks are closed for several days in a row.
—I was fortunate that my bank did flag that initial fraudulent transaction and consequently declined the ensuing transactions taking place all over the country.
—be smart when and where using a debit card

. . .yet sadly, the times, they are a’changing and it matters not how safe and smart we think we may be— people will still choose to do bad things and bad things will still happen to good people.

So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.
Job 5:16