why he’ll go to Heaven and I won’t…

I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here.
This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…
Come further up, come further in!”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


Salut St Marie, Canada / Julie Cook / 2017)

Ok, so that’s probably not the most logical, theological or rational assessment
of who is and who isn’t Heaven bound…

But it’s how I often feel about my husband…

He’s a shoe-in…and well, the jury is still out with me…
or at least that’s how I often feel.

He’s good like that.

As in a much better person than I am.

He’s very generous.
He yields to others willingly.
He’s tender-hearted.
He can be emotional..unafraid to shed a tear.
He’s kind when others are not.
He defers willingly and graciously to others who don’t deserve it.
He will always step aside for those rushing past despite his falling back in line
or missing out.
He gives freely of his time to those who take it readily for granted.
He’s old school.
He’s modest.
He’s polite.
He’s content being last despite having always been a stellar All American athlete who
knew what it took to win…which he did back in the day.
He’s a gentleman.
He doesn’t begrudge.
He doesn’t disparage.
He has a simple and humble faith…

I on the other hand..well I attribute my more aggressive, bossy, helter-skelter demeanor to
being born and raised in the city verses his more country lineage.

Take today for example…

We’d gone over to Atlanta to help take the baby out for her first dining experience at a
real restaurant for what we hoped would be an enjoyable lunch for all in attendance…
ie. the exhausted set of new parents.

I grew up in this city and I can honestly say that I don’t recognize it anymore!

One of the past mayors once coined the phrase, “Atlanta, a city too busy to hate…”
I wonder if that mayor had ever driven himself around town,
say during the height of rush hour?

Not only has the landscape drastically changed with landmarks being mowed
down making way for bigger, better and glitzy…very few true Atlantans exist.
It has become a city of transplants.
No one even has a southern accent anymore…except maybe just me.

Driving in town is now much like driving in Rome, Italy.
Chaos living on the edge.
Lanes don’t seem to matter…
signals, lights, signs are all just adornments with the unspoken knowledge that they simply
are not to be followed.
Speed limits are merely numbers and considered totally optional as they are actually more
of a hindrance.

I was naturally driving today.

I always drive when we go to Atlanta because traversing the infamous Perimeter, aka 285,
is not for the faint of heart.
It takes a daredevil with an overtly aggressive mindset…
something my husband is not and has not.

Also, DOT illuminated roadsigns constantly alert drivers as to issues further down the road,
making the need of having a Plan B always essential.
Of which we had to do this past Sunday afternoon when the notice was flashing that
police activity had all lanes shut down near where our exit was located…
so I had to exit long before the impending backup and find an alternative route.

Think roller derby except with cars…
Cars that are driving a good 20 to 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit…
yet we are reminded that speed limits here are optional.
Everyone is jockeying for position.
Cars going 90 mph on a 70 max mph interstate are as common as the name Peachtree on
every other street while each one prefers driving unbridled and uninhibited…
having no one near to block their progress.
Throw in a few carjackers also fleeing on the interstate as they don’t care who they
hit or cut off.
There is indeed a reason for those DOT signs always posting the number of roadway
fatalities…

Since we’ve installed a car seat base in my car, I opted to drive us all to lunch.
The baby, my son, and husband were all piled in the back seat while my daughter-n-law
and I commandeered the front.

As we approached the main thoroughfare, we stopped at the red light.
As any normal driver would do when seeing a red light, I stopped.
Isn’t that what a red light means…stop??

The opposite traffic had a turning arrow.
Arrow lights in Atlanta are really fun.
Even when they end and turn back red, cars continue turning…
as if the red light is non-existent.

These moments make my husband nervous as he begins grousing and loudly complaining as
to why anyone would want to live in this city.

Cars will turn in front of oncoming traffic until the mass of oncoming cars
dares to simply run them over…then they’ll stop….like they should have
when the light actually turned red.
This is a reason as to why the city has red light cameras now in place.

Like a camera will get these people to actually stop…yeah right….

So as I had the green light to go straight, I wanted to do just that…go straight.
But the opposite on-coming cars just kept turning on their red light arrow.
Finally, I had no choice but to lead my line of cars straight…
right into those trying to turn against us.
I laid on my horn.
At this point, my husband wanted to open the car door, discreetly exit and walk home.

The driver of the fourth car that continued turning through a red arrow looked right
at me and proceeded to throw the F word my way.
Really???

Here I was going, as I should, on a green light, having even allotted these idiots
free time to cut me and an entire line of green light cars off and I get cursed.

I hit the horn again.

By now my husband is having apoplexy and my son is ready to fight someone as he’s had to cut
his teeth in this city.

Long story short—we finally got through the intersection in one piece.

Lunch was delightfully uneventful.

And everyone in the car was more than ready to get the heck out of the city and head back
to the country…

So the next time when you hear the news or our politicians tout that those who live in the
more rural areas of our states are ignorant, backwards, deplorable, limited…think again…
they are actually the smarter ones amongst us.

And driving in the city is enough to make anyone lose their religion, even my poor husband…

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name,
and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
And then will I declare to them,
‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matthew 7:21-23

oh it ain’t no thing…

“The Americans have found the healing of God in a variety of things,
the most pleasant of which is probably automobile drives.”

William Saroyan

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(my uncle Paul and my dad, the kid working the last drop of Coke, circa 1936 / on the steps of the state capital of Baton Rouge, Louisiana—road trip via Hwy 78 out of Atlanta)

Sitting for over two hours this morning on the interstate, not moving more than an inch every 15 minutes, I felt almost compelled to roll down my car window and personally shout an apology to all those license plates around me.
“On behalf of the Governor of the state of Georgia and the Mayor of Atlanta, I want to personally apologize to you Texas, to you South Carolina, to you Tennessee, to you Alabama, to you Mississippi, to you North Carolina and especially to you Connecticut…that your journey to your destination, wherever that may be, has found you sitting tangled in this jumbled mess of woven concrete known as the interstates that weave in and out of Atlanta….
I AM SORRY”

This country’s interstate system, which is mostly known as the Eisenhower Interstate System, is celebrating its 50th year of existence. Sitting as I was this morning, debating whether I should simply get out of the car and walk, I was not in any mood to put on a party hat and eat cake.

According to Norman Mineta, the US Transportation Secretary….
“The Interstate highway system is essential to America’s prosperity and way of life. Since its beginning 50 years ago, the Interstate network has provided a vital link for connecting goods to markets here and around the world and bringing together people from our nation’s cities, towns and rural communities.”

The Federal Highway Administration states on its website that…“From the day President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the Interstate System has been a part of our culture as construction projects, as transportation in our daily lives, and as an integral part of the American way of life. Every citizen has been touched by it, if not directly as motorists, then indirectly because every item we buy has been on the Interstate System at some point. President Eisenhower considered it one of the most important achievements of his two terms in office, and historians agree.”

Please excuse my eyes rolling in my head, but I’ve just spent almost 6 hours in my car today traversing said networks of prosperity intended to link my rural world to my dad’s urban world—something that should have consumed all of 2 hours max of some of this time of mine remaining on this earth verses the 6 that I graciously offered up to Father Time with no chance of getting even a millisecond of it back.

I wonder how Ike would have felt sitting for 6 hours on one of these roadways of his when he could have been out playing a round or two of his beloved golf instead?!

Yeah, yeah, I know….the interstate system was touted as being the bees knees for linking our country together…on saving time, money and gas as now point A and point B would be seamlessly connected… smooth and easy sailing…
Those roadway founding fathers had no idea that the commuting public would multiply like rabbits and that the number of cars which would fill up those roadways would eventually become so numerous that the interstates would become obsolete faster than anyone would have cared to guess.

I was having to meet the installers at dad’s today as I had had to get Dad a new dishwasher. The dishwasher is a tale unto itself but today we must focus on one thing and that one thing is the interstate system…at my age, I can only handle one comedy of errors at a time.

The installers were lamenting their commute home from Dad’s this afternoon as there is just no easy way in or out of Atlanta….and I had to concur.

As luck would have it, the dishwasher was up and running just in time for me to hit rush hour traffic. Praying I would make it home before it was time for me to go to bed, plus praying I would make it out alive, I exhaled greatly as I merged into the standing still sea of cars and trucks.
As I precariously snaked my way along the serpentine interweaving of cars, I opted to exit while the getting was good, taking an “old” way home—

This “old way” was in use long before there was a President Eisenhower or a highway system named for him. It was my road home that, as a young man, my grandfather traversed during the early days of his up and coming company—P. H. Nichols and Company.
The road linked him with his clients and customers westward.

This old way, was indeed old.
It was tired and used up like a cheap bottle of wine which had turned to vinegar.
The luster having long faded with bitter notes around each bend in the road.

My aunt called me on my cell phone to check in on how things had been with dad and started the conversation by asking me where I was.
“I’ve just passed Hub Cap City” I unceremoniously replied.
“You got off the interstate?!!” She exclaimed more than asked.
“Why not???…I could either sit on the concrete and pray I wasn’t killed merging onto the next interstate, or I could go a little slower down memory lane….”
Memory lane was calling my name…

This “old highway” was / is very old.
The battered and bruised businesses of days of yore now stand as empty broken shells….
the cheap and tawdry strip malls whispering of grander days all gave new meaning to the word “seedy”.
It was a stretch of road that my mother would have reminded me to lock my doors as my husband would certainly have had a fit that I was even there in the first place.

But this old forgotten “highway” was the same road my dad had taken with his father on his very first grand American road trip.
The same road anyone would have taken prior to 1965 westward out of Atlanta.
It was the time my grandfather, in 1936, had taken his two sons on a grand road trip to Texas and back.
A working trip we would call it today.

As I drove over the great Chattahoochee river, twice, and past roads that whispered of that fateful war between both North and South, reminders of the crossings by those various brave generals and their rebel bands, the signs outside of the used up little cafes and diners boasting of such delectables as “ain’t no thang like a chicken wang”, I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of things that once had been and those things that are trying, in vain, to remain.

Somewhere between the chop shops, the wrecker services, the long closed filling stations and the questionable BBQ joints, of which I make a mental note, I saw the shadows of dusty country roads that had once seen far more cattle crossings than cars.
Kudzu now engulfs and devours the once proud family owned motels offering many a tired traveler a welcoming respite while on the road. Ghosts and specters of the once proud and booming age of Americans and their automobiles.

The old way was no quick way as I ambled behind school buses, dump trucks and those who thought the “back way home” to be quicker than the interstate.
We all thought wrong.
Red lights, stop signs and those “Sunday drivers” on this Monday in no hurry clogged the road coming and going.
Yet I was met around each curve and each dip in the road by the thoughts of a grandfather I had hardly known.
There was something oddly comforting and familiar in this rotting, decaying and dying American artery.

Hours later after having left dad’s, I called letting him know that I had finally made it home in one piece—Dad thanks me for having come to oversee the installation of the dishwasher and worried over how long it took me to get home…
After recalling the cheeky sign for chicken wings, I offer a wearisome yet contented response…
“oh it ain’t no thing…

Haste

“Gentlemen, why in heaven’s name this haste?
You have time enough.
Ages and ages lie before you.
Why sacrifice the present to the future,
fancying that you will be happier when your fields teem with wealth and your cities with people?
In Europe we have cities wealthier and more populous than yours, and we are not happy.
You dream of your posterity;
but your posterity will look back to yours as the golden age, and envy those who first burst into this silent, splendid nature, who first lifted up their axes upon these tall trees,
and lined these waters with busy wharves.
Why, then, seek to complete in a few decades what the other nations of the world took thousands of years over in the older continents?
Why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts?
Why hasten the advent of that threatening day when the vacant spaces of the continent shall all have been filled, and the poverty or discontent of the older States shall find no outlet?
You have opportunities such as mankind has never had before,
and may never have again.
Your work is great and noble;
it is done for a future longer and vaster than our conceptions can embrace.
Why not make its outlines and beginnings worthy of these destinies,
the thought of which gilds your hopes and elevates your purposes?”

Lord James Bryce

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(Autumn in Cade Cove / Julie Cook / 2015)

Lord Bryce was the British Ambassador to the United States from 1907-1913.
He witnessed first hand the advent of the American Industrial Revolution.
A time of almost unchecked growth and development by an overtly zealous people.
The seemingly vast natural resources, which for a time appeared to be almost limitless, were in actuality, being gobbled up at an alarming rate.

Timber, land, crops and even animals were not to be spared during the boom of American growth and development.This was the time when the passenger pigeon, a bird that once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, was hunted to extinction. Buffalo were well on their way to the same fate as were thousands of ornately feathered birds of the Everglades which provided the plumage for the day’s high fashion of ladies hats.

If it was there, we felt it was ours for the taking.
Our appetites were ravenous as it became impossible to satiate our hunger.

Thankfully wise men such as John Muir, Stephen Mather and Theodore Roosevelt, to name but a few, saw the dangers of the Nation’s maddeningly rapid growth and appetite for all that it saw.
Lands which were directly in harm’s way began being designated as National Parks.
Animals that were on the verge of eradication were granted protection.
Laws were enacted to put the brakes on our quest of all that was in sight.

Yet it seems as if Lord Bryce’s observation is as telling today as it was over one hundred years ago.
As we are continuing to sacrifice the present for the future.

The photo above is an image of Cades Cove taken last fall.
Cades Cove is one of my most favorite places…yet I am not alone in my love of the Park.

The Cove, as it is so lovingly referred to, is an area of great historical as well as environmental significance within The Great Smokey National Park. Located just outside of Townsend, Tennessee, it boasts being on the “quiet side of the Smokies” as it rests in the shadow of the mega busy and ultra touristy Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Yet it is said that the 11 mile one way loop within Cades Cove is one of the most heavily visited sections of the National Park—more so than that of any of the other great parks.

An estimated 2 million people visit the Cove annually (with an estimated 9 million visiting The Great Smokey Mountains Park as a whole) with the heaviest onslaught being late Spring through mid Fall.
With 2 million annual visitors, how many cars do you imagine drive that 11 mile loop?
If you have ever been caught in the often 3 to 4 hour traffic jam nightmare of too many cars trying to make an 11 mile loop at once, then you know it is far too many.

But the question of what to do with all those cars and all those tourists has plagued Park officials and Government leaders for years. The Park, the Cove in particular, is one of the heaviest air polluted parks in the country…

What to do will all those cars and all those people is indeed vexing.

It should be noted that this sort of problem is not indicative only to the Great Smokey Mountains alone…

Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, the Everglades… these parks know all too well the repercussions from the growing onslaught of tourism—the true love / hate relationship of our national parks.
Yet these areas, these lands, these parks with their vistas, wildflowers, snowcapped peaks, their crystal blue lakes, their truly wild animals and their wide open spaces are our legacies to ourselves…they are our reminders of what this country was in its rawest form. They are our gifts to ourselves…yet it appears, for better or for worse, we very much enjoy these gifts…maybe if not a bit too much…

So yes, we are indeed a hungry people as we continue living our lives in great haste…
With this being the 100th year of the National Park Service, we are aptly reminded that we have a handful of precious gifts scattered throughout this great land of ours which are in desperate need or our thoughtful care and consideration.
In our often zealous nature, we sometimes have a tendency to love a good thing to death…

In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world –
the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
The galling harness of civilization drops off,
and wounds heal ere we are aware.

John Muir

Can love come in a box…along with the wisdom gleaned from the road

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

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(Meet Namar Nich, the latest member of the family / Julie Cook / 2016)

To quickly answer the question posed in today’s title…
…in a nutshell…
“no”
Love cannot come in a box….

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Yet what exactly might come in a box you ask…??

Well…

Comfort can come in a box.
A little excitement can come in a box.
Sustenance can come in a box.
A brief moment of happiness or even a little joy can come in a box.
A small respite can come in a box.
A dose of fun can come in a box.
A bit of a diversion can come in a box.
Something new, old, borrowed or blue can come in a box….

And in our case, a little needed levity can come in a box…

Meet Gloria the Dammit doll’s new friends….they came, in a box, from China via LA
(yeah I was a little bummed discovering this crew is not a “Made in America” friendly clan)

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However, sad as it may be, only one friend out of this foreign lot is going to be staying…
The others have places to go and people to see…
As in anxiously expectant homes already in need and waiting desperately for some comfort, joy, new, excitement, diversion, happiness, fun and levity to arrive…

Meet Namar Nich

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Handsome little devil isn’t he?
Puffed out chest, beautiful mop of hair…
and those eyes….absolutely dreamy….

Gloria can hardly contain herself…you can see it in her face….

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Notice that coy little smile of hers and see how her eyes just dance at the first sight of Namar…

What kind of name is Namar you ask…
Well if you must know…
My dad graduated from Emory University in Atlanta in the early 50’s, where he was a member of the
SAE fraternity. Upon completion of his degree from Emory, he then moseyed on over to GA Tech and earned another degree…this coming from a man who really didn’t like school…
but do you want to know what Dad did like?
He liked beer.
As I suppose most college boys, as well as most fraternity boys, do…they indeed like beer…
And in Dad’s case, it was an obscure Philadelphia brew of the day, Namar Beer.
And if I could guess, it was an inexpensive beer as we must remember dad is cheap a most frugal individual.
His college stein, that now sits proudly on a table at my son’s home, has the lovely seal of Emory University on the front and the name “Namar” elegantly printed on the back.

Years back, when I was much younger, I had taken dad’s mug out of his curio cabinet for further inspection.
I was really impressed with the whole college seal but as I flipped it around, reading the name on the back, I was greatly intrigued.
Assuming “Namar” was some deep dark secret ritual name from his time spent at college, I can remember asking him with stately reverence what it stood for.
With eyes sparkling wide, I anxiously readied myself for some marvelous tale as to the meaning of “Namar” when he causally replied…
“oh that was the name of my favorite beer…guess I drank a good bit of it as my friends nicknamed me Namar Nich…”

REALLY?

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(a can of Philly’s best, Namar Beer…looks more like a can of motor oil…)

Needless to say one more tiny bubble burst in a long line of bursting bubbles as one more notch to Dad’s pedestal was knocked out from under the once loftier height….He’s now somewhere below sea level…but I digress…

And now you must remember that Gloria the Dammit doll had told me several weeks ago that she was tired. She has been working her fingers to the bones as life at Dad’s has been harrowing at best.
Gloria, my stepmother,….oh yeah, isn’t that the craziest thing, she and Gloria the Dammit doll both have the same name…anywhooo…Gloria, the stepmother, has been…well…not good….and when Gloria isn’t good and Dad isn’t good, which is how life has been as of late, Gloria the Dammit Doll is busy.

So I had promised to find Gloria a friend.
A helpmate who would help share in the load of balancing both the lives of my dad and stepmother….

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So off to Atlanta the three of us went…

The journey was the typical harrowing adventure when traversing the Atlanta interstate system.
Pot holes litter the highway which provide drivers with the same sense of riding a roller coaster just at a speed of 75 mph or greater depending on one’s foot and the need to keep up with the traffic flow.
Bouncing up and down, thankful to be buckled in and praying not to pop a tire…

Yet there was a bit of enlightenment during today’s journey.

The first happened along by way of a homemade roadside placard that was situated on a power line just to the right side of the interstate.
A large painted wooden board announced to one and all:
“Jesus is coming…Be Patient”

I couldn’t help but chuckle out loud.

I mused to myself…that yes, He is indeed coming back…
and with the way things are going in this broken down world of ours,
I know that I for one have been more than a bit anxious as to His ETA…or estimated time of arrival!

There’s a lot of wisdom in that sign…
He’s coming…it isn’t a question of yea or nay…He’s definitely coming…
Rather the concern is all in the timing…as to when exactly He’s coming…
and I can assure you that it won’t be in my preferred time frame that’s for certain—

Timing is God’s and God’s alone…and I am behooved to be mindful of such.
God’s got this…I don’t…which is often far too obvious…
I just have to trust knowing it’s all in His hands.
Not an easy task, especially with my current life in Atlanta,
but it’s not in my hands…it’s all in His….

And as I continued driving over to my life in Atlanta that is totally out of control and certainly out of my control, I am sweetly reminded that God’s got this….suddenly a wonderful sense of comfort washed over me… as I continued racing toward my destination with both Gloria and Namar in tow.

The second little life lesson gleaned happened one interstate over while I was driving past a tanker truck.
Glaring for all to behold, printed in bold black letters on the back of the tanker was the sign “if you’re getting passed on the right, you’re probably in the wrong lane”
Luckily for me I was to this guy’s left.

And here we have life in a nutshell…life by way of the world’s standards…
“hurry up or get over because the world is ready to pass you by…”

Both moments dealt with time…
One being God’s time,..or better yet, God’s timing…
while the other focused on the time of this world.
Both of which play into the craziness I call this life of mine…
with the single important factor being….
which of these two times will I abide by…??

I think I prefer the former of the two….

More to follow on life with the new couple, Namar and Gloria….
and of course the older couple…Mr Mole and Mrs. Loon

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:3

life is a highway

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long

Chorus from Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats

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(sitting on Atlanta’s infamous 285 / Julie Cook / 2015)

It was a beautiful blue sky, polka dotted popcorn cloud, kind of day.
The kind of day one should be on a road trip to the beach. . .
Not the kind of day to be racing the 70 miles over to Dads. . .

I get a call Saturday afternoon from the care giver. . .
The only thing I can understand and make out is
“911,
can’t breathe,
Ms Gloria. . .”

I immediately call Gloria’s son telling him the ambulance is on its way
as I’m grabbing my keys, racing out the door.

One would think that a Saturday’s drive to the city would be a piece of cake.
Idyllic,
Quick,
Easy,
Just a carefree sort of blue sky kind of day,
A beautiful day for a drive. . .

Suddenly there is an odd sound coming from somewhere in my car or my head, or. . .
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Atlanta does all of its interstate roadwork on weekends.
Upon my approach to the Perimeter, aka 285, I notice that traffic is backed up and at a dead stop.
Hummmmmmm. . .
Quickly deciding I’ll be smart. . .
I’ll just head straight, going straight through town, hitting the connector.
You know, downtown,
As in downtown. . .
As in Petula Clark now singing in my head. . .

So go downtown
Where all the lights are bright, downtown
Waiting for you tonight, downtown
You’re gonna be alright now, downtown

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
Hysterical laughter is again raining down from what I have determined to be the mystical traffic gods.

It’s a stop and go drive the entire way. . .
Are you freaking kidding me!!!!!???
It’s Saturday for heaven’s sake!!!!!!!

Here’s the question—
If I drive on the emergency outside lane, bypassing the madness, would a state patrolman
cut me any slack if I told him I’m trying to get to my dad’s as my 87 stepmother may be having
a heart attack?
Do I take the chance. . .
Hummmmmmm

Long story short—-
Thankfully Gloria checks out fine.
With a few non threatening concerns to be addressed at a later date.
Dad is now much calmer
And life is back to its normal level of surrealism at 4825

As the sun begins to set, with everyone settled back into place,
it’s time to make the trek back home.
Traffic should be better, right?
It should be a breeze getting home. . .right?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
The traffic gods are laughing again.

Stop and go.
45 minutes sitting on 285 when I should have been long gone,
It takes me an hour just to get on to I20 in order to head out of town.
Stop and go the entire way home. . .
It’s Saturday. . .
Are you freaking kidding me????

Does anyone ever go home, or get to where they want to go???

Oh. . .and should I be concerned when a storm chaser van, changing lanes, pulls in front of me
exiting onto my same exit?

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I scan the blue sky and popcorn clouds.

I follow the storm chasers. . .
wondering, what’s in store for me further down the road. . .
when suddenly, I burst into song. . .

“Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside ev’ry darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won’t hesitate
To break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today”

Life is a Highway
Rascal Flats

Expect. . .

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
Henri Nouwen

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(a wet quince bloom / Julie Cook / 2015)

Driving on Atlanta’s notorious “top end perimeter, otherwise known as 285. . . the oddly shaped loop which circles around Atlanta proper like a cowboy’s lasso around the neck of a steer, is to any driver, the coming together of the perfect storm.
From stopping suddenly, to herkyily jerkily bolting like a bullet en masse along with tractor trailer trucks, buses, motorhomes, dump trucks, pickup trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, cars and emergency vehicles, all dodging and weaving in a precarious dance between speed, traffic and death is unlike any high stress experience imaginable.
And sadly, it seems as if it is indeed a near or complete death experience, on any given day, for any unfortunate motorist. A sometimes unavoidable necessary evil to traverse.

If it’s not the typical snarl of Atlanta’s Rush Hour, which begins around 5AM or better, lasting until around, say the lunchtime hour, only to ramp back up around 2:30 and lasting somewhere between 7 and 8 PM. . .throw in an accident and the constant ongoing road construction or frustratingly the added construction of the Braves brand new state of the art baseball stadium, any time spent on this particular interstate is truly a white knuckle adventure to say the least.

So imagine my double take this morning as I was barreling making my death defying peaceful morning commute into town to Dad’s when glancing, ever so quickly, over at one of those large electronic roadwork signs perched over the interstate which flashed, not the speed limit, not the travel time between the next conjoining piece of interstate but rather flatly reading. . .
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

WHAT? I quickly glanced back over to the sign but the sign was now about a mile behind me as I was keeping up with the manic flow. . .
What a novel thought.
Pertinent information such as weekend hours of construction, lane shift dates and times, road fatalities are the usual fodder for these giant roadway signs. . .not exactly the place for philosophical waxing and waning. . .yet truly not only a good piece of wisdom for the harried motorist, but for the average person simply trying to navigate throughout their day.

Was God trying to tell me something as I made my way to the awaiting and ongoing loon factory at Dad’s?
Expect the Unexpected. . .hummmm

For good or bad, thinking ahead to what could be either figuratively or literally down the road is a good piece of wisdom.
Take nothing for granted, be prepared, think ahead, anticipate, take no prisoners, go forth, keep going and no matter what, go forward, don’t stop and never go backwards. . .

As I continued on my raceway drive to Dad’s, I considered what lay ahead–of me, of my day and of my life. . .
What would be waiting?
Who would be waiting?
How would poor ol Dad be today?
How would the caregiver be fitting into their lives?
What of the loons flying about, laying in wait with those haunting sounds. . .
Thoughts of what could be, what would be. . .
Yet one thought remained. . .
No matter what was down the road, what was around the corner, what was waiting for me at Dads. . .
God was already there. . .
He knew
He knows
And that’s okay by me. . .

I will always expected the unexpected
I will keep a vigilant eye out for what waits down the road. . .
All the while knowing that God is with me, behind me as well as ahead of me,
as I travel to whatever that may be. . .

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2