a plethora…

“Well, you just told me that I had a plethora,
and I would just like to know if you know what it means to have a plethora.
I would not like to think that someone would tell someone else he has a plethora,
and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.”

El Guapo (played by Alfonso Arau) from the movie ¡Three Amigos!


(a vast array of tomatoes and vegetables at Campo di Fiori, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

A plethora…an abundance…a profusion…

And that is exactly what I am grateful for…

I am grateful for the abundance of family and friends that I have both here in
my small corner of the blogosphere as well as those in my small corner of this world
in which we live.

Thank you…each of you for stopping in…
for visiting, reading, caring, writing, sharing, loving…
and for making me smile, laugh, cry…as well as think…

Thank you for being my friend…even for those of you who do not see eye to eye
with what I write.

May God’s Grace abundantly bless each of you…
Keeping you safe, happy, warm, dry, well fed, free from harm and at peace…
during not only this Thanksgiving Day but throughout this season of wonderment,
joy and awe.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Oh, and by the way…The Mayor has requested that her closet aides accompany her on a bit of
an excursion during the next couple of days.
Something about wanting to visit the place where she has her earliest family roots
while taking in a bit of serene history…she’s calling it a working holiday…
she can be such a slave driver…but when she says jump, we aides say how high 🙂

Plus… if you read yesterday’s post, I lived through the pumpkin pie making as well.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

imports and exports

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be,
and becoming that person.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(a lovely orange bell pepper / Julie Cook / 2018)

Here it is the height of the summer despite many school systems already heading back
for the start of the new school year.

Living down South, in a place where summer’s luscious produce is hitting its zenith, despite
the stores beginning to put out their fall and Thanksgiving goods, I happened to notice
an odd occurrence when stopping by the local grocery store.

I ran in the store in order to pick up a few things the other day and grabbed one
of the colorful bell peppers stacked ever so neatly on the grocery store’s produce shelf.

I usually prefer the red, yellow or orange varieties over the innocuous green ones as
they taste no different but add a splash of color to whatever one is preparing.

Once home, as I was putting away the groceries, I pulled out my bell pepper.
I looked at the tag stuck to the pepper, reading to see if my bell pepper came from
either Florida or California…all the while secretly hoping it would read Georgia.
It’s that time of the season you know here in Georgia—when gardens are now fully bearing
their long-anticipated fruits of a farmers labor.

Yet I am well aware that our Nation’s produce belts lie in our more temperate climate states…
States such as California and Florida…for various fruits and vegetables and places like
Nebraska or Iowa for corn.

However, imagine my surprise when I read that my beautiful bright colored pepper hailed from none
of the aforementioned states but was actually born and raised in Holland.

The last place I think of when I think of something like a bell pepper is Holland…as in this
low land, country is known for several other things besides bell peppers.
Beer yes, peppers no.

If I still had a garden, this is the time when my own peppers were coming into their own.
Would it not make more sense to have a pepper from right here in Georgia…
since this is our time of year for the likes of produce such as peppers???

Instead I picked a pepper, not a peck of peppers mind you, that had to actually come to me
via a cargo container…and yet despite an arduous journey from the land of canals and windmills
over the Atlantic Ocean, a beautiful orange pepper arrives at my grocery store…
looking pretty as the day it was most likely plucked.

Makes me wonder as to how this pepper has stood up so well during its travels from Holland
to my fridge here in Georgia.

And so yes, it may not be convenient for me to trek out to the local farmer’s market–
getting grocery items at the grocery store and produce items at the produce market and then
butcher goods from a local butcher (of which we no longer have in our smaller community)
I just might want to rethink my shopping habits as I would prefer a fresh locally grown
pepper as to this lovely trans Atlantic pepper.

And nothing against Holland nor this beautiful pepper…but I do prefer local when I can find it.

There are things that each country does well—think Chocolate form Belgium, Beer and sausages from Germany, olive oil from Italy, Spain and Greece…along with olives…
think wines from France, Italy, Portugal and yes, California…

We all have something that is indicative to each of our home nations…
products that we do well…and it should be noted that some nations have been
doing what it is they do now for centuries…

But when it comes to summer produce…well, I kind of prefer mine to grown a bit closer to home…
because Heavens knows that here in the South, we are in the height of the season…

Makes me think about my own seasonal worth and productivity…
that of my own exports and imports…

What has God labored over within me that is now ready for harvest…

And once harvested, it’s time to share…

“However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves.
Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love;
only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that.
If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle.
We do not have to become saints by our own power;
we have to learn how to let God make us into saints.
That does not mean, of course, that we don’t have to make any effort…
We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts,
but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him;
we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace, which sanctifies us.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

good fruit, bad fruit

“Beautiful, enticing, forbidden fruit will be offered to you when your “hunger” is greatest.
If you are foolish enough to reach for it,
your fingers will sink into the rotten mush on the back side.
That’s the way sin operates in our lives. It promises everything.
It delivers nothing but disgust and heartache.”

James C. Dobson

It never seems to fail that at this time, each year, I offer up some thoughts
on the gathering of the harvest.

The notion of fruit and or vegetables–be they good or be they bad…

This as I muse over the idea of the labor of one’s hands as well as the required patience
and persistence of both watching and waiting for that labor to come to fruition.

And that’s because I am usually in the beginning stages of harvesting something
this same time of each and every year…

A few years back I posted a great deal about our vegetable garden.

From the tiling of the soil, to the planting of the seeds, to the nurturing of those
tiny first shoots, to the building of a scarecrow in order to keep pesky critters
from eating me out of house and home.


(our scarecrow 2014/ Julie Cook)

We had actually named the scarecrow Tom… after one of my husband’s lifelong friends.
They did favor just a tad.

There was even the tale of the cutting off of slivers of Irish Spring soap and scattering
said slivers around the outer edges, along the periphery of the garden,
as an “old timer” had told us it was an excellent critter deterrent.

Of which seemed to work…for a while.


(the soap and deterents from 2014 / Julie Cook)

But then my dad got sick and needed me.

And I couldn’t tend to Dad and a garden at the same time.
The garden was big and demanded a great deal of attention and time…two things
I had suddenly found myself without as the time and attention needed for Dad far
outweighed the time and attention needed by the corn and squash.

So the garden was abandoned.
Filled in and covered up about 4 years ago.

Yet happily, I still manage to find a few things in the yard of which I must
gather and harvest.

Be it those first deep purple blueberries fresh off the 4 ever growing blueberry bushes…
or those first blushing shades of color coming from the tomatoes I’ve managed to plant
in a few containers perched in the flower beds,
Or simply the monitoring of the growing apples…
I still find a deep sense of satisfaction when gathering and harvesting.

Those of you who have been with me for a while most likely recall that every year,
around this same time, we have trouble with our apple trees and the peach trees.

You may recall the tales of when the sun goes down in our neck of the woods
and we go off to bed, that there’s a magic signal which goes out to all the deer in the area…
a dinner bell so to speak, clanging in the night, for one and all to come and get it…
come on over to Julie’s house and nibble on her fruit trees.

And let’s not bring up my husband’s pecan orchard that he planted about 3 years back…
those 50 “trees” I lovingly refer to as our green Q-tips planted in long rows out in the yard…

Their plight has been equally perilous.

With our resident deer, it’s more of a mindset of eat, kill and destroy any
and all of Julie’s trees.

Their idea is not to merely eat the fruit but rather to eat all the leaves as well as
the entire tree, limbs and all.

And so it’s a bit of a chess match…
waiting ever so patiently to see who makes the first move—
me or the deer.

So as it was today, with the sun was shining and it being most pleasant out,
I went to inspect the remaining 3 out of the 4 apple trees.
Sadly the deer simply ate up the 4th tree.

That victimized apple tree, plus the nearby equally destroyed peach tree,
are what I refer to as the sacrificial trees…as in the hope is that by eating up two of
my trees…that will be enough—
leaving me with 6 out of the original 8.

And whereas I see plenty of signs of snapped limbs and a few unripened fruit spent
on the ground…blessedly, I also see trees full of goodness.


(a fallen apple without the opportunity to rippen is now food for the ants / Julie Cook / 2018)

And so as I go about my yearly task of surveying, harvesting,
and finally gathering what there is to gather,
I am reminded, once again, about the importance of being known by our fruits.

Good healthy fruit or bad, diseased, soured, unripened and spent fruit?

What do I have to offer to those who come with a need or to those who are in search of
something thoughtful, fulfilling and full of ripened Grace?

Well if the deer don’t get involved, then may it be an offering which is good, plentiful,
abundant and more than filling.

By their fruit you will recognize them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:16-20

Lessons in a basket

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci

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(a lovely collection of flowers at a street stall in Copley Plaza Boston, Massachusetts, Julie Cook / 2014)

As I still manage to find a few treasures lurking here and there in the now mostly overgrown, rapidly declining and terribly neglected garden, yesterday’s collected basket yielded a few choice items and a few items of the unexpected variety. . .

And as I am constantly reminded, Mother Nature will prove time and time again, even in a hodge lodge basket of late season goodies, that there are always lessons waiting to be learned. . .

1.If you turn your back, even for just a moment, things can certainly get away from you. Remember to always be mindful, be not forgetful and always be watchful. Remember to seize the right opportunity and certainly don’t wait nor leave things to chance.. . because if you do, the okra will get too big and too hard and the eggplant will get too long and bitter. . .

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2. Things are not always going to be perfect—so remember, “life happens”–for good or bad. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect plan because invariably life happens, Always take the good with the bad–because there will always be good and there will always be bad. Rejoice because there is beauty and goodness even in the not so pretty or perfect–as in again, life happens–pretty or ugly, good or bad.
Remember that an ugly tomato will taste just a good as the pretty vine mate

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3.And just when you thought you had it all figured out, something comes along, putting you back in your place and reminds you that no matter how long you live, you’ll never truly figure it all out. Remember to always remain humble, full of wonder and don’t let the surprises throw you.
Who knew that a gourd of such could be produced along side a nice yellow summer squash—go figure.

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4. And just when you thought it was over, finished, dried up, washed up, dead and gone—life seems to thankfully keep coming. When all the other vegetables have run their course and are drying and dying on the vine, the eggplant is coming on strong! Remember, never ever give up HOPE!!!

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV

Cutting losses

“Everything’s not going to go perfect. You’re going to have some losses that you’re going to have to bounce back from and some things that are a little unforeseen that you’re going to have to deal with.”
Tony Dungy

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

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(a sad sight in the garden / Julie Cook / 2014)

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run

Now I’m no gambler mind you. . . but the lyrics to that song certainly sum up my attitude right about now.

Plus, you may not have noticed– but there is a bit of change in the air.
Do you hear it?
“Hear what?”
The drums, do you hear the drums?
“Drums?!”
Yes, drums, as in the high school is having band camp. . .I hear the band practicing way off in the distance.
“Ohhhh, those kinds of drums. . .”

That means only one thing. . . .
“Football season is getting ready to start?”

A shift in seasons.

“But it’s only July 15th for heavens sake. . .the middle of Summer!!”
Ahhh perhaps so, but try telling the school systems around this country that it’s just the middle of summer.

In just a few short weeks teachers will begin reporting back for duty.
Football camps will be soon be underway.
The back to school sales are already gearing up.

Change is in the air.

And with that change comes a bit of resignation on my part.
Did you notice that corn cob picture at the start of today’s post?
Here’s another one just incase you missed the first one.

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You must know that I have been dealt a one two punch.
The deer and raccoons are back, each night in the garden, with a maddening vengeance.
Seems they have grown accustomed to the scent of a Guerlain doused scarecrow and the heavy scent of Irish Spring soap lining the garden.
The deer have trampled down the corn.

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The trampling came as a result of the deer obviously racing willy nilly to eat off the tops of the beans, the peppers, the okra, the eggplants, the peas. . .even the cucumbers.
Pigs won’t eat cucumbers!
What’s wrong with these animals??!!

My husband has an ominous and foreboding sense that this is all a sign.
“A sign of what, hungry animals?”
Yes, as in gearing up for a harsh winter to be. . .
“NOT AGAIN?!”

On top of the animals, Mother Nature has been a bit selfish as of late with her water supply as we’ve had weeks without rain. Passing summer showers have been a hit or a miss. Even this latest “cold front,” which brought flooding rains to parts of the Nation, delivered not even a drop to our yard. To water this size garden properly, night after night, would mean our paying the county a small fortune.
We’ve done what we can and simply hoped for the best.

The coup de grâce has now been dealt- – – the current attack of the fire ants, slugs, worms, caterpillars, as well as the other creepy crawlies, who are laying claim to my succulent vegetables, is proving to be a fatal blow.

I waged a valiant fight.
I was determined.
I was persistant.
Yet I was outgunned and out maneuvered.

I did not give up nor give in.
I kept going.
But. . . .
It is time.

Wisdom in life comes from knowing when when is when.
When it is time. . .
and
when it is enough . . .

and that when, is now. . .

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Now when did you say college football kicks off. . .

Raise the signal flags, the enemy advances

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
― Sun Tzu

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There I was mindlessly staring out the basement window, sweat rolling down my brow into my eyes, giving new meaning to salt solution, Bono blasting out of my iPhone– “I’m not invisible”– when suddenly at 11:00 (as in off to my left oh so slightly) something of a raw sienna tone is indeed no longer invisible.

The enemy has emerged from the thicket, just over the barbed wire fence.
Oh the stealthy one. . .
Grabbing the music blaring iPhone, I try to get a picture while precariously balancing whilst still working the elliptical.

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“Back on the ol elliptical eh?” You ask in that condescending tone.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I am—during the two week wedding hiatus, there were miles and miles of brisk heat consumed walking but not the consistent fat burn of my basement nemesis. You saw me in that dress–You and I both know that there is still much work to be done–and oh, by the way, Publix has brought in a new butter.

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A new butter” you muse.
“How can there be “new” butter?
Prèsident–a french butter made in Normandy—with real flakes of tasty sea salt—ummmm.
Fleur de sel, the caviar of salt, is only found in the salt flats of Normandy—which has been harvested for centuries.
Chefs love to finish a dish with a light sprinkle of the flour de sel.

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“But I thought Normandy was only good for D Day celebrations and that apple brandy of theirs. . .” you ask quizzically.
Ahhh yes. . . Calvados.
Nothing like a sweet potato soufflé spiked with a good dose of Calvados.
But no, they do more than war memorials and apples—they do salt and they do butter.
Does it get any better than that???

Oh dear Lord, the thought of butter has sent me spiraling off track.

So there I was sweating like a pig, watching this 4 legged enemy at the far end of the yard, opposite my garden, aka, the deer salad bowl, advance. I careened my neck out about as far as I could, as my legs in tandem seemed to excelerate, just so I could see a portion of the garden to my extreme right. Was this doe sent in as a distraction while the others made haste to the tender beans?

I continued watching this doe nibbling on the blackberry bush.
And as suddenly as she appeared out of the brush—one blink, or one sweat blob in the ol eye, and she was gone. . .for now. . .

Fast forward to twilight.
We decided to go check the garden after supper.

Just as we stepped out the back door, I heard it.
SHUUU SHUUUU
The unmistakable snorting sound a deer makes as a warning.
As fast as I looked up to scan the area, there they were. . .two white tails hopping and darting
away, back into the dense venation at the edge of the woods.

Oh they are testing me to be sure.
I may need to go cut more Irish Spring.
Maybe another scare crow?
And those deer b gone granules…hummmm
Why do I fret so and work as I do. . .
All for this–the first basket load of goodies.

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Stayed tuned–the battle wages on. . .

Brown, dried up and barren

“It was cold and barren. It was no longer the view that I remembered. The sunshine of her presence was far from me. The charm of her voice no longer murmured in my ear.”
Wilkie Collins

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Yep, that pretty much sums up my world this time of year—brown, dried up and barren–no longer the view I remember, much less like or care for. I don’t think I’ve realized how bad things really looked until today. There were a few things hanging on, a few herbs, even the mint—that was until the ominous Polar Vortex. A deep freeze is a sure way to go from green to brown in the blink of an eye.

Today however the sun actually decided to offer a brilliant display of bright light and the temperature, dare I say it, almost Spring like. Sadly snow flurries are predicted for in the morning–however be that as it may, today the warm sun actually drew me outside and I was not to be denied.

I hung the bird feeders back up, the ones that are up each day only to be oddly knocked down each night by the bear I keep telling my husband is lurking out in the woods. Never mind that no one has ever spotted a bear in our area— I, on the other hand, believe in the mystical bear of the feeders. At least I’m not like that nutty lady who swears a big foot lives in this area, but I digress.

As I ventured out into the warming light of day, the thought of running errands seemed to be a good choice of time. I opted to head to our local Lowes in order to buy some light bulbs.
Real light bulbs–while there are still a few normal ones remaining on the shelves. All this before the Government says we can’t have any more normal light bulbs—like they know what’s good for me regarding my light bulbs. . . hummmm
Those stupid squiggly bulbs, the ones we are suppose to now purchase verses the formerly real bulbs, are currently making my life miserable. Does anyone look good in fluorescent light?

NO!

And let’s not talk about the lack of brightness these squiggly things offer or how in the heck one is to dispose of the blasted things once their time is up ruining my life.
What was wrong with the regular light bulbs?
They were bright and complete with a little glass, a few little filaments, a little conducive base—
They didn’t make me look as if I had a skin disease, jaundice or as a sick vampire. I could read with them. I was happy.
Now the Government is telling me I can’t have my light bulbs anymore. Digress, digress, digress.

Despite this latest conspiracy, I did not come here today to talk about light bulbs. We’re suppose to be talking about brown, dried up, barren stuff. . .as in the pots and containers that are now empty and void of any and all forms of lush green life. . .as in my sad looking blueberry bushes that are now simply a jumble of twiggy brown sticks. . .

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During my little jaunt to Lowes, in order buy my new stupid squiggly light bulbs, something wonderfully exciting caught my eye. Something that made me stop in the middle of the aisle as if it was screaming at me.
WARM WEATHER OUT IN THE GARDEN screaming.
There in the middle of the aisle leading to the outdoor plants, I spy a brightly colored, brimming over the top, seed packet display. Rows upon rows of little seed packets for every kind of vegetable known to man—even a few I’ve not eaten before, all ready for Spring planting.
Joy residing in a packet!
Seeds— the beginnings of my “vegetative” life outside. Tiny miracles in a bag.
Oh the wonderful joy!!

May I just say that I went for light bulbs but I left with seed packets and fun looking miniature little growing greenhouses, some nice bags of potting mixture, as well as a renewed spring in my cold, light deprived, brown, dried up, barren step. Tis the season to get planting, and I can’t wait. Now what was that about snow in the morning??!!

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