hanging in there…

Flee from the crowd and dwell with truthfulness;
Suffice thee with thy goods, tho’ they be small:
To hoard brings hate, to climb brings giddiness;
The crowd has envy, and success blinds all;
Desire no more than to thy lot may fall;
Work well thyself to counsel others clear,
And Truth shall make thee free,
there is no fear!

Geoffrey Chaucer / Ballade of the Good Counsel

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(Good ol Geoffrey Chaucer holding a set of prayer beads like the ones I had with me today)

After an exceedingly long day…
My son and I finally got Dad home at almost 9PM.
Surgery was a bit over 2 hours and went well.
Recovery, however, was a different matter.

The tumor was / is large, so the surgeon took what he could,
leaving the rest…as it has become a part of the bladder.
It is fast growing and deep but he hopes that by trimming it,
he has curtailed the bleeding.

Dad woke straight away, ready to immediately depart for home…
that not being his eternal home, but rather his home with his chair and TV…

The problem however was his oxygen levels…they simply would not regulate.
He was admitted to extended recovery where we waited…and waited,
much to Dad’s displeasure.
I believe if I had suggested that we unplug him from all life sustaining devices
and hightail it out of there, he and that walker of his would have beaten me
to the elevators…

He came home with a cath…which the nurses gave me a crash course on
plugging, unplugging and replugging,
all with way too much dad TMI…
But hopefully that will be removed Tuesday at the post op appointment.
Pathology should be back by Tuesday as well…but I think the doctor is
pretty certain as to which direction that may sadly be headed…

However, taking the lead from a fellow southern belle, that often defiant Scarlett O’Hara…
“I’ll think about that tomorrow…”

Your prayers and well wishes sustained us throughout the day,
as some in the medical field doubted Dad coming through today’s ordeal in one piece…
Yet Dad is like that energizer bunny…mixed with a little of that old Timex watch ad…
all rolled in to one…
He takes a lickin, but keeps on tickin…
on and on and on….
thank the Lord!

It is now very late, or rather very early…so on that weary note…..
Good night,
good night!
Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night
till it be morrow

a large collective sigh…..

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.”

Shel Silverstein

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(my giddy, degree holding, son)

Did you hear that?

That sound of exhaling?

That whooshing sound Saturday morning…
the sound of a large collective, slow released, heavy sigh?

The sound of years and years of the breath held by two parents, their son…
and now a young wife…
along with a myriad number of friends and family…

A sigh that has actually been held for….
A lifetime.

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See this young boy?
This picture was taken on a balmy Friday night in May of 2007.
It’s the image of young man who had just graduated high school…
standing on the edge of a well anticipated future…

Yet what he, in his delirium of conquering the one mountain failed to realize that carefree night,
was that he was not yet finished climbing…
For looming in the distance, just beyond the horizon of his youthful exuberance,
lay a mountain range far more challenging than what he had just conquered….

That exciting evening, so long ago, indeed marked a successful passing….
The passing of a 12 year long struggle…

Yet the magnitude of the struggle to which I speak is most likely lost on those who have never
experienced or lived through a child who has had to struggle academically.

And whereas I have written about this struggle before…
That of his particular struggle and of our particular struggle as a family…
The massive weight and enormity of it all came rushing back to the forefront of my heart and soul
this past Saturday morning while sitting in a crowded gym of a southern university.

From that fateful day his first grade teacher called me, a fellow educator, telling me she had a concern…a concern that something just wasn’t right…
to finally sitting in a college gym waiting for a commencement ceremony to begin…
our road has been painfully long and arduous.

From the hard diagnosis of a crippling learning disability…(most likely inherited…)
later compounded by a diagnosis of ADD…
It was double indemnity that was sadly to be our unfortunate lot.

There were many hurdles, impossible hurdles…
And there was testing..lots and lots of testing.

There were the years of refusal to take the medications that were promised to help make things easier…
to finally relenting…
Then only to live with the ill effects of those medications on ones body…
Eventually going back to life without medical help.

There were disappointments…
and failures,
and lapses,
and anger,
and frustration…

There were tears…
lots and lots of tears…
from both child and parents.

There were tutors, reading camps, repeated courses, more tutors…
There was working, studying, studying longer and harder then others
There was the staying after, long after others were gone…
There were sacrifices…

And…
There were a few rare triumphs…
The acceptance letters…
Along with the…
changing of schools…
The changing of majors…
The sitting out…
The waiting…
The continued waiting…
The nos,
The not yets,
The not nows…
The too bads…

Yet there were hopes and dreams.
Always hopes and dreams…
Hopes and dreams that would never fade or go away…

And there was a determination to realize those very hopes and dreams…
just like anyone else who has hopes and dreams…
anyone else who was “normal”….
because wasn’t that what so much of this was all about…
just wanting to be normal like everyone else…

Knowing that you were not stupid…that you were not slow or dumb…
as they would whisper behind your back…
Knowing all the while that you were smart and that you could learn…
that you could excel…
that you could be like everyone else…by God!!!
And by God it would be….

You wanted to prove that you were normal…
Normal like those who didn’t have to struggle, didn’t have to work so very hard…
You wanted to be like those who made the good grades, who didn’t have to expend the energies…
You wanted to be like those who just made school seem… easy…

However today is not that day…
It is not to be that day for the retelling of the very long and hard fought journey of ours…
It is not the day for rehashing and re-living the difficulties nor for the recounting of all the struggles…
And it is not a day to expound upon our seemingly misfortunate poor dumb luck…

No…

Today is not that day…

Rather…

Today is THE day to rejoice…
It is a day to soak it all in.
It is a day to exhale.
It is a day to smile.
It is a day for tears.
It is a day of HOPE.
It is a day of DREAMS.
And it is a day of Thanksgiving and Gratitude….

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The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.

Psalm 6:9

Thanksgiving prayer

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(a pair of wild turkeys alert and hiding out in a mountain field / Cades Cove, TN / The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

(prayer of Thanksgiving /
The Book of Common Prayer / The Episcopal Church)

Rejoice even in the shadows

“It is supposed by some that religion makes people solemn, takes the sunshine out of their life, the joy out of their heart, the song out of their mouth. But the reverse of this is the truth. No other one in the world has such secrets of joy as has the Christian. Christ teaches his followers to rejoice. He bids them rejoice even in sorrow and trial.”
James Russell Miller

“There is strong shadow where there is much light.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(Spicebrush swallowtail on the meyer lemons tree / Julie Cook / 2015)

Rejoice, Rejoice. . .and again I say Rejoice. . .
Rejoice in finding the happiness and joy that is promised to you this day,
just as it is promised each and every day . . .
Despite the growing and lengthening shadows that threaten the very gift of radiant light. . .
Those shadows which grow ever more ominous and heavy,
Remember that you are a child of holy Light. . .that there is nothing which remains hidden from the knowledge of the Most High. . .not even in the darkest shadow. . .

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Philippians 4:4

Thankfully thankful

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

“Anything I cannot thank God for for the sake of Christ, I may not thank God for at all; to do so would be sin. … We cannot rightly acknowledge the gifts of God unless we acknowledge the Mediator for whose sake alone they are given to us.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(a brown English transfer ware Spode platter / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a turkey ready for brining / Julie Cook / 2014)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!
“Is that . . .”
A turkey in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler?
Why yes, yes it is.

And why do I have a turkey sitting in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler you ask?
Well, since I thought we could all use a good dose of humor today, I’m providing a link for the post I offered up this time last year. You know, the one about my attempts at brining a turkey. . . You remember the one. . . When I put the big bird in a brining bag, filled with the 5 gallons of solution only to have the bag split open in mid step as I began to transfer the very heavy and giant oh so wobbly bag of bird and brine to the refrigerator, only to have the entire contents of the bag, all 5 gallons worth of liquid, slosh out of said split bag, cascading onto my new kitchen rugs and all over the hardwood flooring?

You didn’t forget that little escaped did you?

Well incase you did, perhaps reliving that little holiday mishap is in order. I think by now, with all the food, all the family, all the weather, all the news we don’t want to think about, a little humor just might do us all some good!

It was the true stuff of nightmares and of legends all rolled into one. Plus it was a very cold rainy day—it’s all coming back to me. . .

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/the-brine-the-rugs-getting-lost-and-a-grateful-heart/

And whereas Dad won’t be making the trip over this year for Thanksgiving, as they don’t feel as if they can make the drive which means they won’t get lost again, we, on the other hand, will be going over to our son and daughter-n-law’s house to share, along with all of her family, their first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I’m certain there’ll be a story to share after this event of new togetherness!!

Despite not hosting this little annual shindig, I am cooking, not only brining but preparing to take this little fowl show on the road. Two cooked birds driving in the back of my car. . .hummmmm. Should prove to be very interesting later today. . .

When it came to this year’s brining, I was ready—the strongest bag I could find in the house was a cat box litter liner. Forget those whimpy brining bags, I needed hard core.
And as for some sort of reinforcement for the liquid and bird filled bag verses sitting a bag and a bird on some flimsy little tray, a cooler was the biggest thing I could find to put the turkey in.
Is brining necessary?
Heavens no.
I’ve cooked many a turkey without it, but when one is offering up Thanksgiving Turkeys (yes this year there are two) to one’s new in-laws. . .brining sounds impressive and will hopefully prove beneficial.

Yet before I let this day pass, basking in what I hope will be a thankfully successful meal with family, new family and fiends, I wanted to take a moment to thank you.
Yes, you.
All of my friends in this blogoshpere of ours who stop in for visits on this little blogsite world of mine.
I want to thank you for becoming a part of my circle of friends.
For your insights, for your prayers, your wisdom, your interests, your comments, your kindness and for sharing your life with me as you allow me to share mine with you.
I am blessed and my life has been made the richer for each of you!
So on this day of thanks, may I say to you, Thank You!
Now fingers crossed the new in-laws like the turkeys (yes, plural as in there are two big birds)
Happy Cooking!!

Longings

“Until the longing came again, like the longing that you hear in the whistle of a train that is going far away. But the longing isn’t really in the whistle, the longing is in you—for the wonder and the loveliness that is in the world, and everywhere.”
Meindert DeJong

“Will it be here that we shall find a place which will not elude us, or which if it remains does not exert on us a culpable attraction? Or must we, leaning over the deck and watching the shores glide by, move forever onward?”
André Gide

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(a Georgia sky on a late November evening which heralds change is in the air / Julie Cook / 2014)

What does your heart
pine for,
ache for,
yearn for?

What do your senses
long to touch,
crave to taste,
thirst to hear?

Is it a familiar embrace?
The loving sound of your acknowledged arrival?
The sought after special glance?
The intimate gathering of your sacred and long outgrown surroundings?

The time is at hand. . .
Longing and expectancy are reaching a fevered pitch.
Tis the season of fanfare and making of merry.
Cascading emotions flow like wax from a candle.
Anticipated elation mingles with tremendous reluctance.

Where does one find oneself on those magical days?
Is it in the familiar or perhaps the far far way?
Is there work to be done or is time allowed for gatherings?
And what of the missing?
Long gone or simply far away?

Open arms long to welcome.
Relief for some, trepidation for others.
A cocktail of the joyous and melancholy poured up neat.

And yet, during this new season of
longing,
awaiting,
expectancy
there is One who waits, hidden in the shadow of
the fanfare,
the hoopla,
the crowds,
the travel,
the food,
the gifts. . .

Come thy long expected One
A single star brilliantly lights your path
Your name is whispered on the wind
Open arms long to embrace
The surroundings stark and simple
No fancy settings here
As cherubim long to sing you home
Your place at the table has been set
A homecoming is fast approaching
as our Thanksgiving finally begins

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(a Georgia sky on a late November evening which heralds change is in the air / Julie Cook / 2014)

Lessons from a garden

The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

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(the remnants of a strong gusty wind and thunderstorm–blown over corn stalks / Julie Cook / 2014)

Calamity!
Or so it appeared.
Just when I thought I had successfully, yet wearily, finished one apparent battle, vanquishing the hidden foes; I am suddenly blindsided by a more ominous battle unleashed by Mother Nature.
No rest for the weary. . .

Saturday afternoon a rather nasty little thunderstorm blew up. Strong gusty winds swept in from the Northwest as the sky overhead darkened to an ominous heavy grey.
We received about a 30 minute gushing rain, which I was happy to receive, as the yard and garden were all in need of some ample watering. It wasn’t until Sunday morning, when I actually realized how the strong winds of Saturday had ushered in a near catastrophe on Sunday.

My corn stalks had proved to be no match for the wind.
When they were just young tender shoots, I had spent a full day hand packing dirt up around their bases. . . all for this very reason–all in preparation for the tempests of summer.
Yet my best laid plans were simply no match for Mother Nature.

I spent the better part of the day, this hot Sunday, trying to salvage the stalks– propping them back up and repacking bases. Hoping for the best–that my bent and blown stalks will straighten back up and will not have suffered too terribly.

Moments such as these, as I spend hours in 90 degree heat, bent over, scrapping up fresh soil to pack around the bases of a multitude of corn stalks, gives me great pause.
A humbling pause.

I am reminded of the fragility of life and strangely of my simple place in this massive universe we call home.

I am reminded of those individuals, living in the heartland of this Nation, who are currently recovering from the deadly destructive and ferocious winds of tornados from this past week. Imagine those midwestern corn fields if a mere afternoon thunderstorm could lay waste to my own corn stalks! Not to mention the homes and business now totally destroyed or even gone. . .

I am reminded of the hardships of those first settles who originally claimed this Nation of ours as a new home. The sweat and toiled labor of clearing land, building communities from the ground up with only simple tools and determination, growing food for basic survival. . .
They did not have the luxury of, if the home garden failed, of running to the Farmer’s Market or grocery store to supplement disaster and failure. Their’s was truly a feast or famine existence.

I am reminded of a time in this Nation when the word “dustbowl” was one of the most frightening and destructive words known to a farmer. Faded black and white images capture a snapshot in time of the barren wasteland known as the Midwest– as the Nation fell into a grave time of hardship. Collapse of crops coupled with the collapse of financial institutions delivered a one two punch to the entire Country. How ignorantly smug we’ve grown today with our technology, global resources and imagined infallibility. Do we think we are immune to widespread disaster?

I am made most mindful of the small, yet important, lessons rendered from time spent working and reworking in a garden. Not merely from the reaping of the literal fruits of one’s labors but more importantly the reaping of the more intrinsic fruits of a life lived with reflection and intent.

1. Patience—as in “have they sprouted yet, bloomed yet, turned the right color yet?
Are they ready yet??!?
The answer for the longest time will be NO—
not until suddenly, on one single day, it’s all ready at once.

2. Perseverance—as in when the varmints sneak in when no one is looking,
and in one single dinning experience, can wipe out months of work and tending.

3. Awareness—as in if it looks cute, pretty, or odd it is either poisonous,
hungry or both. Don’t touch.

4. Preparedness—as in if you walk through the tall clover and grass
before the yard is cut wearing chacos (sandals),
a bee will sting you or fire ants will attack you.

5. Sharing—as in “we can’t eat all of this, who wants some or needs some??”

6. Timeliness, as well as, “there is no time like the present”–
as in it’s too bad if it’s hot, if it’s wet, if the bugs are out–
one must may hay while the sun shines–
as in get busy now!

7. Establishing and maintaining the importance of a good Work ethic–
as in working with ones’ hands, as in dirty manual labor is not beneath anyone
and is good for the soul—
plus you’ve got to “get at it” despite soreness, heat, and not feeling like it. . .

8. Life is cyclical—as in things wither and die, but in turn things sprout and grow

9. Frugality, Innovation, Thankfulness—as in “do not be wasteful and that water is essential to life”—be prepared to preserve and care for the bigger picture of our environment–as this is critical because nothing is guaranteed to last forever–make use of what you have and sometimes you must be innovative

10.Mystery and Awe—as in life, as well as death, there remains awe and mystery. As I am always reminded every day that I am the created and not the Creator. I am a steward of what has been given to me–I must care for it as the precious gift that it is and be thankful for the small as well as the large blessings helping those who may be hurting now, as we will all need help at some point in our lives.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
John 12:24

Looking for Love in all the wrong places

It is easy to go down into Hell; night and day, the gates of dark Death stand wide; but to climb back again, to retrace one’s steps to the upper air – there’s the rub, the task.
Virgil

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows.”
― Socrates

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The woods, still shadowed by night’s heavily veiled curtain, felt strangely cool as the iridescently dark sky shimmered overhead. Odd shadows danced from the corners of his eyes. Shrill chirps and buzzes humming steadily on the night wind offered an odd comfort. The crunching of dead leaves and the snapping of broken twigs, heard after each careful step, alerted any interested party to his position.

This spot seemed as good as any other as the pine straw felt strangely soft as he sat down settling underneath the large old oak tree. He sat deathly still waiting for first light.

Perfectly timed, as if right on cue, the loud crashing swoosh dropped down from the branches overhead. Hearing the sound of such heaviness, crashing through the hidden limbs and leaves, dropping down from somewhere just above his head, a small wave of excitement took hold.
He knew it was time.

“Putt, putt, putt.”
The vibrations of blowing through the small paper mouth call tickled the roof of his mouth.
As time slowly passed and the sun rose slightly higher in the morning sky, the odd guttural call, the primordial call of the yearly rite of Spring, echoed through the thicket.

“Putt, putt, putt”
The game of cat and mouse played on for almost 20 minutes.
“putt, putt, putt”
“Gobble, Gobble, Gobble”
It was a back and forth volley of calls and responses.
One member of this unseen tango hopes for a trophy coupled by a festive dinner–
the other member hopes to find a little bit of loving.

Strutting, in full feathered regalia, the giant Tom turkey slowly steps out from the protection of the trees. The strong internal urge pulling the turkey out of the safety of his cover, out to the open field in search of the awaiting hens—or so he assumes. . .

Spring is certainly all about the birds and the bees with today, the time of romance for some of Nature’s larger birds, being no exception.
One would think that turkey season should be open during the Fall of the year, as everyone prepares a Thanksgiving table featuring a beautifully roasted turkey. Oddly however, turkey season is a Spring event coinciding with the mating season.

They are beautiful birds being documented as having roamed North America 5 million years ago.
These majestic birds live in every state in the Nation with the exception being Alaska. They are even residents of Canada and Mexico. The early settlers preferred the roasted birds for their nutty tasting meat as the birds do forage on wild nuts–which marks the beginnings of our menu choice for our Thanksgiving celebration.
And had Benjamin Franklin had his druthers, the North American turkey would be the symbol of this mighty nation of ours, forgoing the American Bald Eagle.

The males are known for their vibrant blue heads, beards–a profusion of tufted hair which sprouts from their chests and for the length of their spurs–the large claw on the back of the foot used for defense.
As with most female birds, the female turkey is not known for her brillant coloring. She is more of a dull brown. The bland dullness is based on the fact that the females sit on the nests and must be camouflaged, being able to blend into their surroundings.

The greatest threats to the native turkeys are not humans but are actually coyotes, which attack and eat the young poults (baby turkeys), as well as raccoons which will raid nests in search of eggs.

A beautiful and majestic bird indeed.

The brine, the rug(s), getting lost and a grateful heart

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
― Oscar Wilde

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(the blasted turkey sitting in it’s brining bag in the basement refrigerator)

Last Sunday afternoon I accompanied my husband to Lowes as he was in need of some bolts and caulking. I love going to Home Depot and/ or Lowes as there is always something that catches my eye..a new plant, some bird seed, new rugs. . .and that’s exactly what I had in mind—some new throw rugs for the kitchen as the existing rugs are in a word–nasty. They were cheap and have not withstood life in the kitchen of a cookie.

As my husband headed off to the nuts and bolts aisle, I casually mention I’ll be heading over to look at the rugs, catching up to him in a minute. “What?” he irritatingly asks / states— as in ‘oh no, we don’t need rugs, we’re not here to spend a bunch of money, no, no, no. . .’ —Of which I reply “don’t get bent out of shape, I’m just looking” (please note the inflection that is used by a wife who say’s she’s “just looking”)

I cruise the carpet aisle spying the giant rugs hanging vertically from the massive warehouse ceiling. Hummm. . . I pull a couple of the throw rugs and runners out of the their cubbies, laying them out on the slick concrete floor. . . Hummmm. . . I read a couple of descriptions, pull my phone out for a picture or two. I roll everything back up, putting the little rugs back in their appropriate bins before heading off to nuts and blots where I find my husband studying the various sizes of cement bolts.

As he finds what he came for and we begin heading back the direction of which we had actually entered this massive warehouse store, making our way to where the check out counters are located, I causally state that “I need to run back and check the prices of those throw rugs again”–I can actually feel his eyes rolling back in his head as I cut off for the rug section again.

We meet up at the check out. As we are leaving, pushing out his buggy that now has a
2 x 4 dangling precariously out the front, I causally throw out that “I just may come back tomorrow and get those little rugs for the kitchen.” Note the use of the word “little” strategically placed in the sentence. Silence in the resignation of new rugs.

Monday afternoon I happily return home from Lowes with 3 new throw rugs and one runner as I’m more than ready to move out the stained existing rugs. I sweep, mop, and sweep some more before laying out the new rug pads. Next I gingerly roll out the the new runner, smoothing it in to place then I lay out the 3 smaller rugs strategically placing each in its distinct place–one by the cooktop, the refrigerator,and the dishwasher—the three places I spend the majority of my life.

I step back admiring the colors. “Oh dear! Are they too busy?” I ask the cats. Percy immediately goes over to the runner and lays down. I take that as a sign of approval. Once my husband get home from work I clock him to see how long it takes him to notice, that is, if he notices at all. 2 minutes. Not bad, I’m thinking. And even better, he’s complimentary, he actually likes them. Relief.

Fast forward to Tuesday. I think I’m going to be really smart, I’m going to spread out this Thanksgiving cooking business over the course of two days verses making myself crazy by doing it all on Wednesday. Piece of cake, I’ve got this! Dad and Gloria have agreed to come for Lunch with our son and his fiancé coming in that evening— I’ll be cooking and serving in shifts, but at least, everyone will be here, albeit in intervals.

Last year I thought I’d mix things up a little by brining my turkey. I’ve never had a problem with my turkeys being too dry, I just thought I’d do something a little different, as brining does seem to be the vogue thing to do. Impart a little flavor and try my hand at something new and different.

I prepared the solution–a couple of gallons of water, ice, salt, spices, salt, apple cider, and did I mention salt? I get the 5 gallon brining bag in the sink, place my 20lb bird in the bag and gingerly pour the giant black kettle of solution into the bag. I seal the bag, heaving the now massively heavy bag into a roasting pan to help balance it as I prepare to carry it to the refrigerator in the basement.

I take maybe 5 steps from the sink when suddenly there’s a snap then a sickeningly slurping sound erupts, followed by the glug, glug, glug of 3 gallons of liquid cascading out all over my wooden kitchen floor, the new runner and 2 of the smaller new rugs. “NOOOOOOO!!!!!!” I scream for no one but me and the cats to hear, sending them running. I’m paralyzed for if I move, more liquid will flow. “NOOOOOOOOOO” “AGGGGHHHHHHHH” Surprisingly I don’t cry. I’m in a panic!!

The wooden floors, the rug!! AAAGGGHHHHH!!! Towels, I need towels! I run to get every bath towel we own. I proceed to sop up all the liquid before it destroys the floor. I pick up my new, now saturated rugs” – — did I mention that it was 34 degrees outside and pouring down rain. I run outside in the cold rain, throw the rugs down on the oh so wet driveway, pulling out the garden hose to wash off the salty solution now soaking into my new rugs. Any one driving by most likely thought I’d totally lost any brain I had.

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(waiting for the runner to dry out)

I lay the remaining towels, now down to beach towels, in the garage, dragging my now heavy soaked rugs in from the rain, laying them on the towels, layering other towels on top and proceed jumping up and down attempting to “blot” them dry as best as I can on a pouring down rainy day. Did I mention it was 34 degress?

Back inside I continue sopping up the salty solution, mopping the kitchen floor, more towels. Not to mention how many times I now had to run the washing machine. The damn turkey (please forgive my language, it just seems appropriate at this moment in time) is still sitting in the brining bag waiting for transport to the basement sans the brine. I pull out another jug of apple cider, pouring it over the turkey, reseal the bag and drag it to the basement. I eventually bring the rugs inside to the laundry room where I drape them over the dryer and washing machine and the heat vent hoping they will dry out by Thursday.

Fast Forward to today, Thanksgiving. The rugs are back in place, a little wavy and a bit shimmery, even after vacuuming, as the salt seems to now be ingrained. The oven is full of delightful dishes offering up heavenly aromas. The stove has simmering and bubbly pots of savory goodness. The table is set, Round I may begin.

The phone rings.
“JULIE?”
Hey dad are y’all almost here? Dad yells into his cell phone as if I’m on another continent and the connection is poor.
“NO, WE’RE LOST AGAIN”
Ugh, are you kidding me? They got lost last time. They’ve only been coming here to this house for the past 14 years several times a year. Gloria is not one for the interstate–an hour’s drive takes her 3 hours as she likes to go by way of Tennessee to get to our house.
“Where are you Dad?”
“THE SAME BAKERY WE STOPPED AT LAST TIME”
“Tell Gloria to stay were y’all are and I’ll be there in just a bit”
I cut off the oven and everything on the stove, grab my keys and off I go. I find them sitting in the parking lot of an empty bakery and just like the commercial, I roll down my window and holler, “FOLLOW ME”. . .

We won’t talk about Dad sneaking a drink of his favorite libation, of which he’s not supposed to have, and then of him practically falling asleep in his plate, but at 86 I can’t scold him too badly. Or of him biting into a chocolate turkey and breaking his partial. Or of the hour drive here which takes them 3 hours and yet they refuse for us to come pick them up.

We won’t talk about round 2 when our son and fiancé came for dinner and of how he and his dad got into a fuss over money and school at the table. We won’t talk about my husband dreading opening his business tomorrow as the madness known as “black Friday” brings him such discontent. Or of how hard it is to run a business and not conform to being open on holidays and on Sundays as nothing remains sacred in this country. We won’t talk about the things that worry us as parents for our children or as grown children for our aging parents or of how we will manage to make ends meet for them as well as for us and of what the new year will bring to the business.

There’s so much not to talk about and yet there is so much that needs talking about. . as in my being so so grateful. . .grateful for the fact that I still have my dad, that he and Gloria still manage to visit despite getting lost; that my husband who has worked so very hard to make his business survive given our country’s economy, keeps tirelessly working to make it a go; that I was able to retire after 31 years of teaching to “tend” to this family of mine; grateful that our son can attend college and that he will be taking the LSAT next weekend; grateful that I can have food on the table which is lovingly prepared to share despite brining disasters; grateful that there could be new rugs; grateful that I have a family, for good or bad, who loves and supports one another the best way it knows how.

So on this day of reflection and of Thanksgiving, with the clear knowledge that God has blessed me and that He has blessed all of us beyond measure, it is with a grateful heart, I say AMEN!!

The Penultimate or the Ultimate? Wisdom from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(tree in Julie’s yard that obviously is home to “someone” / 2013)

A daily excerpt taken from “I want to Live These Days With You”
A year of Daily Devotions by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
November 25
The seriousness of the world is death. Seriousness begins where the world stops, where it dies, where the world has a boundary. Seriousness also begins where our life stops, where we are no more, at the boundary of time. The frivolity of the world is in the moment, the penultimate, the desire of the world, as John says ( 1 John 2:17). Now it’s up to individual people whether they want to live seriously or frivolously in the world; whether they want to stay with the penultimate or press through to the ultimate; whether they regard the desire of the world as ultimate or transitory. With Old Testament power the word proclaims to us a memento mori: think about the fact that one day the world will come to an end, and you will have to render an account of your life. Then the moment of death will come over you with the certainty that the world is a world of death, and that nothing can stand up to the power of time—except the one thing: eternity–and that it’s all over for you and me. . . .Let us think about the boundary of the world and of time, and something wonderful will happen. Our eyes will be opened up to the fact that the boundary of the world, the end of the world, is the beginning of a new one, of eternity. Here time loses its power to eternity, and the ultimate thing in the world, death becomes the penultimate.

The highlighted bold ending is my emphasis as I find this to be our true Glory–that we may one day utter, with great joy and confidence, “death where is thy sting”
(1 Corinthians 15:55)— for death no longer has the final word. The Resurrection and the life offered in the Victory which was and is a direct result of that Resurrection, which was offered and continues being offered, for both me and for you— that is the final Victory, that is the final Word. That is the ultimate. Amen Amen

The text is taken from Bonhoeffer’s writings and papers from Barcelona, Berlin and Amerika 1928-1931