Greater love

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(flowers from a street vendor Grafton St. Dublin Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I bought you some flowers, well sort of, for Valentine’s day.
I wanted to say thank you.
I want to thank you for taking time out of your day and and of your life in order to stop by here….this little corner of the world I call my own..here on cookiecrumbs.
Your visits, your reading, your commenting, your support, your friendship are each deeply appreciated.
All of which has been your special gift to me…and means so very much.

The inception of the recognition of Valentine’s day being based on the martyred death of a 3rd century Christian, should never be lost in the hoopla and the hype of the overtly commercialized “holiday” we know today.

That this modern day recognition of Valentine’s Day, a day to honor, recognize and profess our undying love to those we hold dear or better yet, hope to dearly hold…
This day designated for spending, buying and bestowing…a day of all things red, beating hearts, flowers, chocolate, devotion and professing…
A day which should never overshadow that Valentine’s day, a day named for a saint of the same name and of which is certainly a day of love, is based on the selfless love of giving one’s life for another…with the greatest example being that of the blood shed by one who hung upon a cross…for you and for me…
for there has never been any greater love….

St Valentine was a bishop, and is thought to have been a physician.
He was arrested for giving aid to Christian prisoners awaiting martyrdom, and
while imprisoned he converted the jailer by restoring sight to the jailer’s daughter.
St. Valentine refused to deny Christ before the Emperor Claudius in the year 280 and won the
jeweled crown of martyrdom by his faithful witness.
The feast of St Valentine was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I

(as seen on a Catholic prayer card)

Praise the Lord and pass the Chocolate. . .

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
Victor Hugo

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(blooming beauty coneflowers / Julie Cook / 2015)

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. . .!!!
That’s me bursting into song. . .
And for whatever reason, whenever I’m heard to mutter the phrase “Praise the Lord” it is instinctively followed with another phrase. . . “pass the ammunition. . .
Which, I might add, is actually the lyrics to a real song—so don’t think I’m daft or crazy.

Praise the Lord And Pass The Ammunition was a song written in 1942 in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. . .now as to why that phrase flows forth as part of my singing repertoire, I couldn’t say- – -maybe it’s because of some sort of deep-seated Broadwayesque hidden desire on my part—or maybe it’s more aptly because I am now very tried and perhaps a bit slap happy. . . either way, I’m bursting forth in song as well as praise. . .

Dad came through the anesthesia like a champ.
For a shriveled up 87 year old, pale, bone thin individual, Dad is like the energizer bunny who just keeps taking licking after licking but keeps on thankfully ticking!
Inflammation and colitis sure beats what it was thought to have been!!

He’s barely eaten in 3 weeks. No sustenance nor nourishment to speak of nor nutriments staying in.
Weak and frail has been the name of the game.

After waking up, with the doctor telling him there is no cancer, Dad immediately wants to know what he can and can’t eat. He keys in on the doctor saying, ” Well I don’t think we need to starve him. . .”

Fast forward to our trek back home.

“Dad, would you like for me to stop by Chick-fil-A so I can order you a little bowl of their chicken noodle soup?”
This on a day that it’s 91 degrees outside.
“Well, that sounds good, but I’d really rather have one of their chocolate brownies”

“DAD, YOU CAN’T EAT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES, NOT YET!”
I practically scream as I then rationally try explaining that he’s barely eaten anything in 3 weeks and that his guts are still irritated and inflamed—he needs to go slow as he now needs meds to help bring a healing. . . needing to gradually build back up to eating “real” food.
Chicken noodle soup is a good start. . .

“Well”, Dad counters. . .”I’d still prefer a chocolate brownie—they’ll keep. . .just get me one for later”
Knowing good and well that his idea of later is in later this evening when he knows I’m good and gone, headed back out of town. . .I do not order the brownie. . .”Maybe for Father’s Day you can have chocolate. . .” I counter, much to his chagrin. . .

Yet despite ailments and chocolate requests, I want to offer my heartfelt “thank you” to each of you for your good wishes, thoughts, love and prayers.
Hopefully the meds will bring a healing and he’ll slowly get to add back real food, gain some strength and get back to what he enjoys most in life. . .sitting in his chair, watching Buck Rogers (yep, they still replay the 1930’s childhood favorite) all while eating, noshing, snacking and savoring on all things chocolate. . .
Praise the Lord indeed!!!

a simple “thank you” note

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was,
“thank you,”
that would suffice.

Meister Eckhart

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

― Thomas Merton

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(beauties at the garden center / Julie Cook / 2015)

Fussing
Cussing
Grousing
Whining
Complaining
Lamenting

Easily uttered, done and said

Wallowing
Groveling
Sniveling
Hating
Resenting

Self effacing, quick and easy

Negative grumbling
Self pitying
Wounded pride
As a deck stacks against life

Yet why not a sigh of relief?
A release of self?
Looking up, rather than down?
Out rather than in?

Thankful
Grateful
Appreciative
Lighter
Higher
Freer

Thank you. . .

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Thank you for the blue

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e. e. cummings

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(the first blue sky we’ve seen in ages / Julie Cook / 2015)

Months of empty cold grey nothingness. . .
My heart is lain heavy within me

Rain after rain after rain. . .
I’ve almost forgotten how to look up

Ice, sleet, freezing rain. . .
Bundled up hurrying, racing from out to in

Snow showers this morning. . .
Which have given way to a long forgotten and
Glorious blue sky. . .

In all of my woefulness and sorrow
In all of my frustration and worry
In all of my busyness and hurriedness
A small reminder appears. . .the sky, a bird. . .
“I am here my love”, now tenderly whispered
Reminding me that You are truly, ever-present
As it seems I have forgotten how to give thanks. . .

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(the joy of seeing a bluebird / Julie Cook /2015)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1-3

A small thank you to Bono in a growing world of ingratitude

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton

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(Black eyed Susan / Seaside, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

If you don’t already know this little fact about me by now, let me just remind you—- I am not the most “digital” oriented individual in this age of electronic technological wonderment. I am happily, rather, a much more simpler person really. Perhaps considered old fashioned by some standards. Appreciating the straddling of two worlds–that of the “that was then”–“this is now” best of both worlds.

I had recently caught a glimpse somewhere, on some commercial, something about U2 offering some sort of free iTunes download. As this seemed to coincide with Apple unveiling their latest must have device, my most uninterested brain thought there was a correlation—thinking that if you got a new phone, a free download followed suit. I don’t know, like I said, I wasn’t really paying attention and it wasn’t really on my radar because I’m happy with my older version phone as I continue figuring out how it works—plus I’m just not an ardent music fan.

Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly like music. I actually love Jazz, Motown, Classical and contemporary Christian. I like some R and B, some top 40, but I just don’t cleave to it as I once did when I was much younger. I no longer listen to music when I’m in the car—preferring the sounds of quiet and silence—or perhaps more like the sounds of a rather raging world. That might have something to do with 31 years I spent in a classroom filled with the never ending deafening din of teenagers chattering, arguing, screaming, laughing, fighting, and never ever shutting their mouths.

So imagine my surprise the other morning when I journeyed downstairs to the basement for my morning ritual of bonding with my emotionless nemesis—aka my time on the elliptical, when there was a change of tune, literally on my playlist. I have a small selection of tunes downloaded to my phone which I turn to during my morning “workout”– aka death march, which helps to drown out my suffering, huffing, puffing and snorting.

I have 4 little classic U2 songs which pretty much sum up my routine. I know exactly which one and at what place I should be on my daily death march, aka workout, with the playing of each song. Two rounds get me near the end of my time of servitude and torture, aka workout, closing out with the finale of a rousing rendition of triumph from the band Macklemore.

Yesterday morning, suddenly following “Beautiful day” came a most unfamiliar tune–something about being raised by wolves. “What in the world” I could be heard uttering with breathless concern. Fumbling for my glasses, as I worked to balance keeping up my endless rhythm of stepping, I grabbed my phone to investigate what had taken control of my playlist.

Low and behold, it appeared that my playlist somehow connected to that invisible “cloud” of which seems to be the latest technological otherworldly invisible hangout, and I received the “free” U2 download.
Hummmm.
How’d that happen I wondered.
I don’t even know how to “go to the Cloud!!”
And what in the heck is the Cloud?
Where is it?
Why is it?
and really. . .
How in the heck does something invisible work for everyone on the planet?!
It’s all so, otherworldly. . .perhaps even alienesque, but I digress.

So as I continued my workout,my act of homage to health, listening to this new album (here is not the place nor time for a critique but I do find it all to be a bit dark and melodious but we must remember that Bono and the boys did grow up in Ireland during the height of a very sad chapter in Irish history known as “the Troubles”, but I digress as usual), it dawned on me that I needed to tell Bono and the boys “thank you”

In a day and time when a rather youthful society has grown accustomed to the ubiquitous BOGO (buy one get one), the free this and that attached to purchases of everything from food to clothes from electronics to even cars—all of which I call the marvelous marketing hook, the simple act of saying a proper “thank you” has been all but forgotten.

If, you the consumer, come in for a “free” test drive, we, the dealer will give you a new iPad. If you the consumer sign up for our insurance, we the company will give you a “free” cruise. If you the consumer sign up for our phone service, we the company will give you, not one, but two, free phones. And of course there are the department stores with their mega 70% off sales. . . Really? Do we honestly think we’re getting something next for nothing? Do we really think these mega department stores, with their crushing percentage sales, are giving away their profit margin without making money. . .woe to the naive.

Consumers are sadly being duped into thinking they save and gain, which leads to an unrealistic inflated sense of buying power— this false sense of power is produced by a frighteningly slick and savvy Product Marketing, super sales, economic selling engine. Nothing, and I mean nothing in our economy comes for free–despite that incentive cash loaded gift card Wally world just gave you for spending your money with them. There must be give and take—it’s just that the need to feed the proverbial consumer machine comes with a growing ravenous appetite in order to keep our accustomed sense of well being in tact–it is a vicious economic cycle that continues to spiral out of control.

And sadly, all of this economic game of cat and mouse comes with a jaded consumer market left ungrateful and simply wanting and hungry for more. Give us more glitz, glamorous goodies, shiny and slick tricks and baubles all in order to get us to buy–more.
The enticement has become expected.
We have created our very own ravenous consumer monster—a monster of expectation and assumption.
There is no gratitude, rather only ungraciousness and a hunger of wanting more.
If we, the consumer, do not receive our incentive of something for nothing, we rile against the
provider of service and goods.

All of which in turn has lead to a generation that has either forgotten how or never knew how to properly say “Thank You”

I grew up in a place and time when it was expected that if I, as a child, received any sort of present or even the slightest act of kindness, I was expected to offer a hand written thank you.
And don’t think I can’t see you. . . I see you rolling those eyes and I certainly can hear the snide asides of “how archaic” and “who in the world sends a thank you note, let alone actually writes anymore? Who needs to write when all we do is peck on keyboards. . .”

Yes I know, this blog is produced via a keyboard—but trust me I have stationary, I write and I love snail mail! My early years of conditioning and acknowledging the need to offer thanks, leads me to a constant stream of written cards, notes and hopefully an obvious gracious heart.

And as it now appears that I have received a small gift, a free download of a new album by the Boys of Belfast, I need, I want to send a proper Thank You.

And whereas I’m not quite certain as to where I would need to write Bono, or to whether or not he would ever see such a note, I shall use my tiny platform in the blogosphere to offer a heartfelt “thank you” for the “free” album that has mysteriously descended from the proverbial Cloud into my most humble little playlist.

Now whether or not there is an “alternative” reason behind this suddenly “free” kindness, I don’t know nor do I wish to sound ungrateful or assumptive as to motives. As my grandmother would tell me, you just need to write the Thank You note, end of sentence.
so. . .

Dear Mr Bono,
I wish to express here, in this small blog of mine, a humble offering of gratitude. . .
I wish to offer you a heartfelt thank you for. . .
Firstly making music—music which offers hope, joy, soulful examination, lessons of history and most importantly for the assistance of aiding a middle aged woman, who is working her way to the goal of better health, the incentive to simply keep plugging at it. You do all of this by offering the gifts and talents of self by setting your time and skills to the writing and creating the rhythms and beats of a talented music making machine.
Secondly I wish to thank you for the acts of kindness and compassion I know you offer to an ailing world. You unselfishly use your platform to bring recognition and awareness to causes and concerns, as well as a voice to many of the voiceless, in this often tragic and sad world.
And Thirdly Mr Bono, thank you for the album you just gave me for simply turning in. . .
Blessings for many more productive years. . .
Sincerely, Cookie

Ode to all the types of mothers

“In the book Soldiers on the Home Front, I was greatly struck by the fact that in childbirth alone, women commonly suffer more pain, illness and misery than any war hero ever does. An what’s her reward for enduring all that pain? She gets pushed aside when she’s disfigured by birth, her children soon leave, hear beauty is gone. Women, who struggle and suffer pain to ensure the continuation of the human race, make much tougher and more courageous soldiers than all those big-mouthed freedom-fighting heroes put together.”
― Anne Frank

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(miniature rose / Julie Cook / 2014)

A happy day of remembrance to all the mothers out there.
To the biological mothers.
To the adopted mothers.
To the sisters who play the role of mother.
To the fathers who play the role of mother.
To the teachers who are mothers to so many.
To the friends who play the role of mother.
To the grandmothers who play the role of mother, again.
To all of those who love,
who work,
who cook,
who clean,
who work some more,
who dry the tears,
who pay the bills,
who bandage the cuts,
who bandage the hearts,
who know to say no,
who yell and scream,
who whisper “I love you”,
who pick up the pieces of the broken lives
who lie awake night after night wondering. . .
wondering where you are,
wondering how to pay the rent,
wondering how to pay your tuition,
wondering how to pay for your uniform,
wondering if you’re safe,
wondering if you’re happy,
wondering if you’re in trouble
wondering if they made the right decision. . .
To the hearts that hold your heart
To those who pray for you each and every day.
To all the mothers in our lives. . .
Thank you.

Happy Anniversary. . .to you and me…to us

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.
W. Somerset Maugham

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(a lovely mum from a bouquet, Julie Cook / 2013)

This lovely flower is the very first image I posted, exactly one year ago today, to this little blog of mine. Stating that we all needed a little color— reminding us of brighter days ahead.

The other post that day was a bit more reflective as I explained the impetus behind the inception of the blog. The reasons remain the same, much as they did this time last year. A retired educator who felt as if she still had things to “teach” and share, as well as a daughter who was beginning the adventures of dealing with an elderly father in the early throws of Alzheimer’s disease.

I didn’t know what to expect.
I pretty much figured I’d be rattling on to the wind.
I wasn’t necessarily a technology savvy individual nor was I much for social media preferring to eschew things such as FaceBook and Twitter.
Blogging seemed to allow space for the hidden writer, it was a blank canvas waiting to be filled.
It also provided an avenue of creativity for the retired art teacher—allowing for a new vehicle of expression–that being a bit of photography. Nothing fancy smancy, just the capturing of life, specifically that being images from Nature–affording me time to be in the place I love, out of doors.

You have allowed me to share with you my better moments as a human being, as well as those not so grand moments of my life. You have allowed me to do something that I had always wanted to do, but due to work and life. . .I simply had not the time—that being the opportunity of a chance to write. It is not that my writing is of any significance nor even something that is a virtue of our English Language. I have never been one who could spell and I greatly suspect my son inherited that learning disability of his from his mother as I imagine there just may be a bit of dyslexia lurking under my surface.

You have supported me during those heavier days of life. You have offered kind words, prayers, suggestions, and merely an ear to listen and a shoulder of support as I’ve grieved watching my dad slowly shrink from my world. The grieving continues today but I feel as if the initial sorrow has given way to the resolve of, borrowing from that most emblematic phrase, “Keeping Calm and Carrying On” —he isn’t getting better nor are the issues of trying to keep his world above water, but there is humor hiding in the frustration and sadness and just knowing that I can write about it, sharing it with you, has been a wonderful anchor in a stormy sea.

We have laughed together and cried together as you have allowed me to share in your life’s adventures as well. I have made many new and wonderful friends. Far away friends living in Australia, Bulgaria, Italy, England, Wales, Canada, France, the Philippines and India, as well as friends a bit closer–those from Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Maine, Florida and California to name but a few. 280 of you have honored me by following along on this blog of mine with almost 14,000 views, as well as a little over 1300 comments. All this from a little blog which was started a mere year ago with no ties to social media, from a person who just wanted to share her heart with others.

You are business people, educators, monks, priests, nuns, college students, high school students, single folks, married folks, grandparents—you are artists, photographers, woodworkers, cooks, bee keepers, world travelers, scientists, professors, mathematicians, philosophers, theologians, students, unemployed, overly employed, retirees, singers, dancers, friends and strangers. Some of you know me know me, others of you know me only from this blog.

Magically hiding in the midst of all of us is but a single element which binds and ties us all wonderfully together. . .that being the single thread from this journey we call life. We are all traveling along the same journey—one of birth, life and death. To travel along this sometimes joyful and sometimes woeful journey with other fellow travelers can be so very inspiring, so uplifting and so very beneficial. The singleness of our humanity inextricably unites us together, linking us all, for good or bad, as members of this family of humankind. As one who has been afford the gift of your wisdom, knowledge, experience, faith and love. . . it is I who now humbly wishes to thank each of you for the generosity you have shown to me—for the warmth, kindness, openness and acceptance. I have learned so very much from each you— from your lives and your life’s work. You have made me a wiser person, a more thoughtful person, a more open person, a grateful person.

So it is to you, on this 25th day of February, that I raise my glass offering you my heart and prayers for this, our Happy Anniversary!
Thank you. . .
***Also a little shout out to the two other blogs I contribute to via photography
The Legion of Door Whores (I know, I know. . .) legionofdoorwhores.wordpress.com
What light through yonder window breaks? whatlightthroughyonderwindow.wordpress.com

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