Before and after…the question

The south facade of Notre Dame before the fire…


(South exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

Now the upper portion of the same facade, after the fire…


(Associated Press)

Despite the brilliant blue sky, the delightfully warm late afternoon sun,
a heaviness continued to linger…

I dumped a portion of the hardwood chunks of charcoal into the grill then used the
lighter to ignite the charcoal.

When the soft yellow-orange glow began, I closed the lid, cracking open the vents while I
proceeded to wait.

Soon enough, I opened the lid as the flames rose while the burning wood chips popped
and crackled.

I stared down into the grill, filled with those yellow-orange licking flames,
while I purposely and intently listened to the sounds of both fire and wood.

My thoughts seemed to have gotten stuck on an unseen replay button…
replaying the scenes from yesterday’s images of both Notre Dame and of the fire.

I thought of each trip, over the past decades of my life,
that I have walked into that cavernous and overwhelmingly
historic and spiritual “house” of worship.

The sounds of my own footsteps echoing off the soaring stone walls and massive pillars
as my steps reverberated against the barrel vault high above my head.

Awe stopped me in my tracks as my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting
while the hints of pungent incense lingered in my nostrils.

I grappled with the magnitude of the historical and the physical while my mind
wrapped around the Spiritual impetus for this seemingly gargantuan whale that
had suddenly swallowed me whole.

The rising flames in the grill jerked me back to the present and my need
to get about my grilling supper…

I would say that this historic and catastrophic fire is proving devastating
on a great many levels.

The world is painfully mourning an iconic cultural loss.
Paris is mourning a devastating loss of an iconic piece of her home’s heart.
As we the world mourn both an artistic and architectural loss.

The proverbial bucket list destination for tourists and one of the spiritual
pilgrimage destinations on the lists of the faithful is now forever changed…
just as much of humankind is now changed.

But what I think is even more important, the fire has shaken loose a deeply hidden
sense of loss found in most of Western Civilization…it is a loss on a subconscious level
that we’ve never been able to put our finger on…
a loss that has long existed…one we have subconsciously known
was there but yet we didn’t know.

It is the loss of our Christian Spirituality…
our Spirituality that we have allowed to slip from, not merely our
hands, but from our very psyches and souls.

Yesterday I offered a response to a friend’s comment on my day’s post regarding
the fire and that comment has now lingered in my thoughts…

“someone I was listening to last night posed the question—– and I’ll paraphrase-
‘With so much of Europe becoming so secularized—–we’re seeing these massive ancient bastions
of Christian faith becoming more and more like museums rather than houses of worship.
With everyone now clamoring to rebuild…
the question we must be asking ourselves is what are we rebuilding?

Are we rebuilding a museum that lost so much art, etc…art that can never be replaced…
or are we rebuilding a church, a house of worship?…

I find that to be the very key question for our very postmodern Christian selves”

It is not lost on me that we are in the midst of the most Holiest of weeks within
all of Christendom while in the midsts of an ever-shrinking Christian faith
in our culture.

This fire is yet another visceral image of our own human tragedy and the fall of man.

It shakes loose our hidden sense of grief and loss over our flailing and fragile faith.

Christ descended into the depths of a raging fire of our very sin…
and on the third day, He rose from those ashes…

May we now use this sense of loss and grief, allowing our faith to be rekindled as we too rise
upward out of the ashes of what has become such a sinful loss…

Loss no more..but only gain…as the spire rises again…

“So you’re giving up?
That’s it?
Okay, okay. We’ll leave you alone, Quasimodo.
We just thought, maybe you’re made up of something much stronger.”

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

foreshadowing

The letter to the Hebrews was written to confirm the early Jewish Christians in their faith in Jesus,
the Messiah-Savior. The writer takes a recurring theme that Jesus Christ is better because He is superior.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate Word from God!

This is a reassuring, strengthening message to us in our day.
Hebrews lets us know that while our Christian faith surely was foreshadowed in and grew out of Judaism,
it was not and is not dependent on Judaism. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ,
spoken while He was here on earth, still speak to us with spiritual authority.
At one time He reminded His disciples that new wine must never be put in old, unelastic wineskins.
The parable was patent:
the old religious forms and traditions could never contain the new wine He was introducing.

A.W. Tozer


(sun halo / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

We had taken off these past few days for a little R and R.

The small adventure was actually a Christmas gift from my husband that was planned for late January…
because who doesn’t need a little R and R in January?

Well… maybe those who live in the Southern Hemisphere don’t need a break because they’re already enjoying
their “summer” while those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are bearing up under our winter.

Our trip destination wasn’t any warmer than home…in fact, we arrived just before
a massive storm.
Storms ushering in frigid air and gusting winds.
But the scenery was not my same scenery and that was welcomed.

Something about the lingering grey, brown and barren that leads to sensory deprivation…

I was still suffering (as it continues to linger) from my allergic reaction to the lethal antibiotic
along with a full-blown case of the winter crud…
I was certainly not keen on traversing far from the comfort of my own bed or couch while
feeling so bad.
But plans were plans and any spare time that’s been set aside needs to be utilized…
or so said that look on my husband’s face.
It was his gift and he didn’t want it to go for naught.

One thing I will agree upon is the fact that a change of pace is always good for a winter-weary
soul, despite any and all protests to the contrary.
And Lord knows, I was indeed full of protests.
However, it was just for a couple of days…short and sweet…and surely, I could manage a few days.

And so  in hindsight, after our having arrived back home, I will confess that the change-up in routine was
actually welcomed although warmer sunnier weather would have been ideal.

Saturday afternoon while actually being outside enjoying the fact that the sun was truly trying
to make her presence known, my husband and I, looking skyward at the ever elusive and coquettish sun,
we both noticed an odd phenomenon…
there was a halo around the sun.

I told my husband that a halo around the sun means snow within 3 days.
Kind of like a halo around the moon meaning rain within 3 days…
or when the cows lay down…

“Hummmm”

We hadn’t even made it home from our 4-hour car jaunt this morning when both our phones began
sounding simultaneous warnings—in stereo from both the Weather Channel and Atlanta’s news…
“A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for your location”
with a prediction of upward of 2 or more inches of snow…

Hummmm

So I suppose we’ll see by Tuesday whether this sun halo was on to something…

Nature has a marvelous way of offering hints as to what will be.

Why then should we find it surprising that the God of all creation would so choose to use
His vast creation to, in turn, offer us His children hints of what is to be…

And in case you hadn’t noticed, God is certainly on the move…

Everywhere around us we are experiencing a great new wave of humanity’s interest in
spiritism and devil worship. I must take this as one of the signs that God’s age of grace and mercy
is approaching the end point. It tells us that the time may be near when God proclaims,
“I have seen enough of mankind’s sin and rebellion. It is time for the trumpets of judgment to sound!”
If we are willing to add the appeals from the Book of Revelation to the weight of the other Scriptures,
we discover God saying to us that the earth on which we live is not self-explanatory and certainly
not self-sufficient.
Although the earth on which we spin is largely populated by a rebel race, it had a divine origin.
Now God is about to enforce His claim upon it and judge those who are usurpers.
He is saying that there is another and better world, another Kingdom,
that is always keeping an eye on the world we inhabit!

(A Tozer Devotional https://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=181)

when the sacred becomes the forgotten

Those who love desire to share with the beloved.
They want to be one with the beloved, and Sacred Scripture shows us the great
love story of God for his people which
culminated in Jesus Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pray always for all the learned, the oblique, the delicate.
Let them not be quite forgotten at the throne of God when the simple
come into their kingdom.

Evelyn Waugh


(detail of the face of an antique french crucifix I bought several years ago at
an antique show / Julie Cook / 2017)

The other day when I was listening to the latest segment of Anglican Unscripted
featuring my favorite man of the cloth and rebel with a Cause, Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
I was struck by something the good bishop said—
yet it wasn’t something you would have thought would have or should have
made any sort of profound impact on me or on anyone else for that matter—
but it did.

I would bet that it wasn’t even something that the good bishop would probably
have thought anyone really even noticed he had said.

Bishop Ashenden was offering a bit of an aside about a recent trip to Normandy…
just idle chatter really with the host—
as it seems Normandy is a place where he and his wife often enjoy visiting
as it seems they have a “retreat” there in Northern France.
And it just so happens to be a place where they seem to enjoy visiting various
antique / flea markets…

The good bishop made mention that during such shopping adventures,
he’s always on the hunt for all things nautical.
A nod to his father who had severed in the Royal Navy during the war and had taken his young son on many a sailing adventures.

But it wasn’t to sailing or to all things nautical that caught my attention but rather
the single one line he offered just following his explanation of his antique quests…
and that being “and to rescue crucifixes”

Seems the good bishop also keeps an eye out for the antique and vintage crucifix.

Funny….I do too.

And I have for most of my life.

When I was maybe 11 or maybe 12, my dad took us on a “vacation” as we drove
from Atlanta to Lake Charles, Louisiana to attend the wedding of my oldest cousin.

Dad thought he’d be smart and kill two birds with a couple of stones by
turning our having to attend a wedding into a family vacation—
as well as marking his and mom’s anniversary which was to take place while
on the road.

We stopped in Mobile on the way out and toured a submarine.
We went to Vicksburg and Natchez to visit old stately plantations and now silent battlefields.
We visited with cousins and family in both Lake Charles and Monroe as I even found
a first young love in our cousin’s neighbor—a boy about my age.

On our return home, we stopped in the Big Easy to get a youthful education on
the more profane side of life…
Bourbon Street, to a preteen and her 6 year old brother, was truly an eye opening
life lesson.

While in New Orleans, we visited The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France,
otherwise known to most folks as St Louis Cathedral.
It was in the bookstore that dad bought a small marble replica of Michelangelo’s
Pieta. He also bought something for me…a small black wood and silver crucifix.

That crucifix sat by my bedside, resting on the bedside table for the remainder
of my growing up…a symbolic and tangible link to the words
spoken in Matthew–“Lo, I am with you always, until the end of time…”
this was the hand reaching out to literally hold my hand–
especially over the years when I would find myself scared, sad or upset…
He was always there.
It even went with me to college as well as beyond.

And it seems that I’ve had an affinity for such ever since.

Now this is not a post to defend or deny the image of a crucifix,
I’ve done that.
Nor is this a post to defend or deny the Christian’s undeniable link to the image
of the cross,
I’ve done that.
Nor is this a post about the notion of the cross becoming a trendy fashion object
rather than a sacred religious symbol,
I’ve done that one as well.

But I do want to look a little further into this notion of “rescuing crucifixes.”

I’ve obviously been doing just that since as long as I can remember—
Often times in my purchasing history, these crosses have started out as new.
Yet as I grew and aged, finding myself visiting various flea markets and
antique shops, first with my mother then later with my aunt and friends,
I found myself unconsciously gravitating to antique Christian religious items.

My gathering has not been relegated only to crosses but there are small figurines
of the saints, Orthodox Icons, very old ‘finger’ bibles or the Book of Common Prayer
and even very old rosaries….

With the largest rescue being about a 3 foot tall, badly damaged,
very old, antique French plaster crucifix.
A crucifix that I would imagine to have once been a part of a local parish
church somewhere in France.

I’ve written about this cross before…and it is an interesting post about the
cross and its known history…a tale that, now having finished The Book Thieves,
makes me even more keenly aware of European religious items and books that have
been long lost, destroyed and or misplaced…all the victims of two world wars.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/the-relic-the-mystery-and-theres-just-something-about-those-eyes/

But it wasn’t until I heard Bishop Ashenden actually verbalize the notion of
‘rescuing crucifixes’ that the thought dawned on me—

Why are we having to rescue them?

Why have they come up so randomly and obviously missing in the first place?

These items that someone once held dear and precious–
items instrumental to ones spiritual life and growth that are now simply sitting
forgotten on some dusty old random shelf of some shop or tucked away in some
booth at some sort of flea market…has me actually more sad then vexed.

And so I wonder, when was it exactly, when did we allow the sacred to become the
forgotten…

And in so doing…are we allowing our very faith to fade….

“Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go
into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land;
and I will leave none of them there any longer.

Ezekiel 39:28

The tale, Part I

“A year jammed full of adventure and misadventure,
strides forward and many steps backward, another year in my topsy-turvy,
Jekyll-and-Hyde existence.”

Anthony Kiedis


(the lone baggage carousel in the Pellston, MI airport / Julie Cook / 2017)

What do you notice about the picture up above?

Well, there seems to be a couple of stuffed animals…which might
give the impression that the location of this particular carousel is somewhere
in the wilds of nature.

Secondly you might notice it’s empty…as in no luggage is currently riding
the merry go round….

And that’s exactly what we saw late one afternoon last week when we flew into this
upper Michigan tiny little regional airport—

This is a long story that I want to keep brief so I’m cutting to the chase as
quickly as possible…
I’m going to be leaving out a good bit of detail so do
your best with your imagination as I offer you the basic facts…
But I will post it in two parts as it is, like I say, a long story.

I don’t fly often…maybe once, maybe twice a year if at all.
So the question is…why has Delta lost my luggage on 4 separate occasions
during the past few years?

Good question.

Second question, why was I surprised that it happened again on this
latest adventure.

Let’s back up.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that my past
three years of life have been trying at best.

From caring for elderly parents who didn’t live nearby and didn’t want caring—
both suffering from dementia and yet requiring help, lots of help….
One being a stepmother who ended up resenting everything and everyone…
so much so that she began claiming she was not married,
nor had she ever been married…to my dad…this after 20 years….
If she had those thoughts in the beginning, things might be easier now,
but I digress.

There was the commuting to and from the city for months upon months
Think Atlanta traffic….

We then had a year of successive loss.
We lost my father-n-law, my niece and then my dad…
and if you count my stepmother being moved out of state following dad’s death,
well that’s a quasi sort of loss.

We’ve suffered and are currently suffering again through the anguish of cancer.
My husband is still embroiled in a legal nightmare over his dad.
As we have grown weary of mind, body and soul.

Our son took a job at the onset of Dad’s illness and he and his wife had to
hurry to the city where they leased an apartment while their house here sat
sort of empty sort of not….for a year now.

Then there was the putting together of the pieces of Dad’s world
following his death…
a process that is proving monumental and still seemingly nightmarishly
unending….
Mourning got put on the way back burner as wrestling more with anger
and resentment pushed sorrow to the side.

Our son and his wife next moved into Dad’s old house, cause that’s what
Dad wanted….
Yet it is an old house needing much work.
As we are still wading through that.

Our son is changing jobs.
All of this as we now race, with everyone driving back and forth
to empty and clean the house here in order to put
it to market….
too many houses and apartments currently in our lives.

Throw in my husband’s retail business and those worries and hassles,
throw in our own home, our own lives and worries….
and you’ve got a toxic mix for a potential meltdown.

Enter the notion of getting the heck out of dodge…
aka taking a much needed vacation.

My husband has never shut down his business for any reason—
not even for death…not his mind you….
So when he announced that he was past tired and thought
he’d close the week of the 4th,
and please find somewhere cool we can go for a few days
(sadly he isn’t a fan as I am of the beach),
I wanted nothing more than to make him happy.

A time to get away,
to change the pace,
to forget the looming nightmares
and to clear both our minds and ours sights.

He was really excited.

We haven’t taken a trip like this in a long long time and getting far away,
seemed to be something most needed.

All seemed to fall neatly into place.
Someone to watch the cats.
Someone to watch the closed store.
A new roof going up at Dad’s.
Tickets all aligned.
Everything was good to go.

That was until we got to the final point of airport destinations
when Delta decided to keep my husband’s luggage in Detroit
while my luggage met us in Pellston.

I wearily approach the gal at the one small counter of this
regional airport’s only desk.
She assures me that its “no problem…”
Delta will bring the luggage to our hotel tomorrow morning.
“But we have to be on a wilderness train ride at 7 AM and my husband needs
his jacket and tennis shoes.”
“Well there’s a Wal-Mart about an hour from here…
and where is your hotel?”
“Salut Ste Marie”
“US side or Canada side?”
“Canada.”
“Oh.
“What do you mean oh?”
“We can’t take luggage across the border.”
“WHAT?”
“There’s a Wal-Mart about an hour from here.”
“What time is the next flight in from Detroit?”
“5 and 1/2 hours.”
“WHAT?”
“We have to drive the almost two hours to Canada this evening”
“There’s a Wal-Mart about an hour from here”

We had no choice but to wait on the flight.
While the hot tears formed in my eyes, I stewed over the lost
time of daylight and of the afternoon we’d planned to use
to explore the region before checking into the hotel in Canada…
as I forlornly lamented over our precious limited time being
needlessly eaten away…

This entire little airport shuts down in-between flights as flights are
so few and far between.
The car rental windows shut, the agents leave, the baggage handler leaves, the
TSA agents leave…
they all leave…
but us.

There was however a little restaurant / bar upstairs where we could sit
for a spell, having a bite of supper.

We put the things we did have in the rental car,
a car that reeked like a giant ash tray,
and came back into the airport in order to camp out for the near 6 hour wait.

We opted to make our way upstairs, and ordered a typical
Michigan whitefish dinner…which was actually quite tasty.
There was a nice family sitting next to us who couldn’t help
but hear our accents.
Southern accents oddly stick out like a sore thumb everywhere
but in the South.

When this family had finished with their meal,
as this is about the only restaurant / bar available in this small town,
they made their way to our table to ask where we were from and what had
brought us to their neck of the woods.

We explained about our trip and then about our luggage.
They offered suggestions for our various destinations and were most
kind and welcoming.

Once we said our goodbyes, we went back to our whitefish.

Just a few minutes later the wife came back into the restaurant
making a beeline for our table….
excusing herself for appearing to be stalking us but that she had a sense
from God that she was to pray for us and asked for our names.

“Wow!!” I thought as now happy tears entered my eyes.

Long story…we finally got to the hotel in Canada at almost 1 AM.
No sleep as we were up and going at 5AM readying to get to the train station
for the 7AM departure.

12 hours of riding a train through the rocks and woods with nary a view
or vista.

Once to the canyon, everyone clambered out to enjoy the hour and a half of
exploring and picnicking.

The one glitch being that the passengers were not informed that the
mosquitoes and gants would be swarming horrendously,
so much so that folks practically trampled over one another getting back on
the train in order to wait until beginning the 6 hour descent back to town
through the same rocks and trees.
Did I mention the tons of goose poop?

There was much itching, scratching and silence…
most folks slept all the way back to town.

We eventually reached what was to be the best part of the trip,
Mackinac Island.

A marvelous place of a life without motors…
a place of only bicycles, 600 resident work horses and lots of feet.

The only issue is that this small island is inundated with tourists from the
mainland throughout the entire summer season.
My husband quipped that from all the arriving ferries and tourists,
it was a wonder the island didn’t sink.

The staff at the hotel we were to spend our time were all young,
foreign and kept reminding me of the youthful staff at Disney–
a strange sea of constantly smiling international faces whose english was
halting and who were a little hard to understand.

I proceeded to check us in.

“Mam we have you arriving today and checking out in two days.”
“Well no, we’re actually checking out in three days.”
“Okay mam, whatever you say,
but it is on the 7th that we have you checking out.”
“No, we’re checking out on the 8th, see….”

And that’s when I saw my mistake.

Panic gripped my entire being.
“Do you have another night’s room available? I asked as I tried to
contain the rising hysteria.
“I will put you on the waiting list Mam but we are very full” this all said
with a great big smile to a woman who was about to reach critical mass.

In all my years of plotting and planning trips, adventures, outings…
From all my years of teaching and making certain that every last detail
was on schedule and secure…
how, of all times, had I failed to cross check these dates???!

I felt the hot tears building in my eyes.
This while my very hard of hearing husband kept asking me what the girl,
he couldn’t understand, was saying…back and forth I went from the smiling
hard to understand girl to my hard of hearing not smiling husband.

The tears in my eyes and my very red cheeks tipped him off that the
conversation was not good.

I turned to my husband, as I thought I would now throw up, and practically
shrieked that the island was so crowded, we’d never find a room…
panicking and practically wailing I announced we should just go home…
as in now…..

My poor husband calmed me down as best he could…
this from a man who is not known for calm or patience…
He suggested we wander back down to town to find a bite of lunch,
as we wait for the room to be readied allowing us time to regroup.

I had tried so hard to make things perfect for him, for us,
as this was one of those a big deals that I tend to take way too seriously.
We had worked so very hard and had gotten through so very much
just to be able to actually now try and get away and forget life’s worries
for just a few days—
only to have it turn into one misadventure right after another…
as I was now just about overwhelmed by every misadventure.

All of this was now making it very difficult for me to breathe
let alone concentrate.

So here is where we’ll break off until tomorrow…
Hang on cause there’s more to come and the best part will be worth the wait….

Woven, yet freaking me out just a bit

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
Chief Seattle

The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience.

James Russell Lowell

DSC01210
(image taken last April while out in the yard / Julie Cook / 2013)

Okay, I’ve written about this before.
Simple fact number 1—
I can’t stand spiders.

Yeah, I get it, you’re tying to tell me how beneficial they can be. . .they’re great out in the yard. . .they eat other bugs. . .yada, yada, yada. . .
You think good and I think black widows, brown recluse. . .you get the picture.

Lest I remind you that a couple of years ago, while at school, I was sitting at my desk in my office during my planning block— I turned around in my chair, reaching for something in the filing cabinet, suddenly sensing a bit of movement just out of the corner of my eye. .
Do you have any idea how large things can grow in a 51 year old school building which has dust bunnies as big as, well, real rabbits?!

Slowly and quite controlled, a couple of legs, yep, I said a couple,—long spindly legs, more like large antenna, come creeping out from the corner of the filing cabinet.
“OH DEAR GOD!!!” is the immediate scream in my head.

Very cautiously I ease myself up from my chair, leaning over as far as I dare, making certain I’m not seeing things.
“OH DEAR GOD AAAAGGGGGHHHHHH”

This time– the in my head scream is now quite audible.
I run out of the office, out into the empty hall.
I scan left, then right. . .
“S – P – I – D – E – R ”
The word haltingly spills from out of my mouth as I search in vain for a passerby. However, this is 2nd block, no one from the neighboring classrooms are on planning and no one is in the hall—just what an administrator dreams for. . . an empty hall— a panicked individual wants / needs people.

No matter.

I boldly open the door to the math teacher’s room across the hall, interrupting Algebra I (I never did understand the big deal about Algebra anyway, but my disdain for math is for another day), I calmly ask if I could please speak with the teacher out in the hall.
All 35 sets of eyes sense something serious was taking place as my eyes were as big a saucers, my teeth were clenched and I’m certain those on the front row could see the sweat beading on my forehead. . .

My friend and colleague steps out into the hall with me, closing the classroom door behind him. I’m sure he must have thought the worst considering my hands were shaking.
“s – p – i – d – e – r” barley lifts from my voice. By now I think I must be very pale as I think I may faint.

“What?!” my friend asks most concerned.
SPIDER” I now mange to pull the word out of my mouth.

Long story short, my friend, who I suddenly deemed mad and daft, proceeds to march into my office, grabbing the nearest ruler he can find.
“What are you doing?” I stammer, “Measuring it?!”
To my dismay, he gently coaxes the spider, web and all, out of the tight corner and proceeds to make his way outside to “save” it.
The spider is a wolf spider and is as big as a freaking golf ball!

“ARE YOU CRAZY?!” I scream.
“KILL IT!!!!”
By now, my former friend and colleague, has done his good deed by releasing, back into the wilds, a giant spider who I imagine was chomping at the bit to get back inside and back into his cubby spot in my office. . .

I tell you all of this as I am in a state of potentially freaking out as I type.

Breathe in, exhale, repeat. . .
Ok, here goes the real story. . .

A couple of months back, Michael, over on michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com, wrote a tale concerning his son as a little boy. Michael recalled how his son had found an abandoned bird’s nest out in a bush bringing it in to the house. He kept his prize find in his room. Long story short, as the nest warmed in the house, the eggs of hundreds of baby praying mantis sprung into action—all over his son’s room.
Michael’s moral to the story was to always spray anything such as a nest, etc, for insects, otherwise an unwelcome infestation could be, literally, hatching.

I’ve picked up nests for years, as well as feathers, the occasional animal bone, shaded deer antler, etc, during my escapades out in the woods. I use to keep these things in my classroom as they made for wonderful artistic subject matter. I never worried about bugs as they all looked perfectly fine to me and I had never had an incident. . .until. . .

I like to think I keep a rather clean house. Being pretty particular as to tidiness, order as well as cleanliness. Now let’s remember that I was out of town for a few days recently. I naturally cleaned the house quite thoroughly before departing on the trip, as I have this fear that if, let’s say, something, God forbid, were to happen while I’m away and I don’t, er, come back, and my house had been left a mess—- People would come into my house thinking, “Oh my gosh Julie was such a slob.”
No, I won’t have that.
If people have to come into my house, should something unfortunate transpire during a time away, then they may remark “my goodness, what an immaculate house Julie has, imagine that, she has two cats and it looks and smells amazing. . .” I digress.
You get the picture.

So the other evening, once we finally arrived home from our very long day of flying and driving, I immediately plopped down on the couch– having been too tired to unpack–I simply plunked down the bags as soon as we walked in the door.
Sitting down, basking in the fact that I was no longer in some sort of perpetual motion, I notice, at the far end of the couch just by the lamp on the table, what appeared to be about three tiny little gnats of sorts or perhaps it was merely a piece of fuzz suspended from the lamp shade.

Mental note, “check out that lamp and dust that table tomorrow.”
I get up, dragging myself down the hall to take a shower before hitting the hay, when I feel like I just walked into the strand of a cobweb. Ugh. “Is the dust that bad on the door jam” I wonder.
Another mental note to self–dust door jams tomorrow.

The following morning, as the sun rose and I was now prepared to unpack and re-clean an already clean house, I spy what I thought to have been the fuzz the night before.
Horrors!
It’s some sort of little web with some tiny baby spiders.
OH DEAR GOD!
Upon further investigation, that cobweb dust business in the hall was actually a web, the entire banister was sheeted with a fine mesh web with hundreds of baby spiders

AAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I am living the Twilight Zone—OH DEAR GOD!!!

This story could go on for days, but let’s wrap this up shall we because this is all creeping me out just reliving the nightmare. I saw that horrible B movie from the 60’s— you know the one—- the story of the giant spider that lived in a cave wrapping people up in a cocoon type web sucking out their blood. There are reasons why children should never see certain things and may it be known that a 1960’s B movie can , does leave lasting scars.

My we just say that I have since attacked the house– with the target area being where I first saw this initial massive spider nursery.
I’ve vacuumed, dusted, wiped everything down with poison, yes poision—the more the better—I might die from cancer due do the absorption of poison into my system as I’ve wiped down banisters, door jams, lamp shades, but by God, there will be no spiders within 100 miles.

In my sheer state of panic, my mind wandered to the question. . .
“Where in the heck did these things come from?
Is there some sort of giant spider mother living in my attic waiting to wrap me in a cocoon as I sleep, poised to suck out my blood?!”
—when it dawned on me. . .
The basket.
The basket under the antique secretary in the hallway.
What is in that freaking basket?!”

I get down on my hands and knees pulling out the basket. I note some more of that sheer webbing and a few more of the hundreds of the freaking spider babies.
Poison, quick, where’s the poison?!

The basket holds a few of my treasures from my adventures in the woods. The turkey, hawk and owl feathers, the shed antlers I’ve found, even a few intact skulls of a raccoon, an armadillo, and even a small deer complete with horns—my treasures from my time spent wandering in the woods. I always bring them home, leaving them outside for a few days checking for any sort of stow away creature. Perhaps the temperatures having been so cold, caused any and all life to lie dormant—just waiting for me to bring it in to the incubator, aka, my house.

Update: The basket, complete with woodland treasures, is currently sitting outside, sprayed down heavily with poison. The house is re-dusted, poisoned, vacuumed, re-dusted some more, re-poisoned and vacuumed again. I now sit nervously on the couch, eyes constantly scanning the horizon, as if I am on the ready for the hidden enemy, finger poised on the trigger, of poison that is—-I have declared WAR on spider babies and spider mothers, and spider fathers. . . arachnids, be warned!