Michael Cogdill

My mother said of me, “The good Lord knew just what I needed when He sent me you.”

What a lovely motherly thought.

And what a naive, childhood-shattering, stupendously improper thing for a parent to believe, or to say.

It is immensely well meaning, but utterly wrong. My own mother knows this now. We have made beautiful peace. I adore her, so please don’t deem me a cad of a son. I am, instead, a real one, writing this as a legacy – for himself, and for his family, and for yours.

Seeing a child as a filler of human need amounts to believing Harry Potter’s a real boy. It’s like buying into the myth of children as angels on brooms, fluttering from the abyss, born to save us.

They are not.

The very idea is a viper — specious as a cotton mouth in a silk suit. That means…

View original post 1,185 more words


20150131_131250 (1)My husband and I are beginning new adventures.  We both love history–particularly American history and decided to visit as many local battlefields as we can.  I just wished that I had taken more photos. My habit is to take in all the views slowly while my husband walks ahead of me.  Normally, I have to run to catch up.  I try to see the site the way those men would have seen it on that cold winter day, January 17, 1781.  The leaders were Daniel Morgan and Lt. Col Banastre Tarleton.  The museum showed a short film describing the attack and eventual American victory here over Tarleton’s forces.  135 men died that day, only 25 of them Patriots.

My husband always ahead of me while I take in the "eye candy" all around me that I cannot resist.

My husband always ahead of me while I take in the “eye candy” all around me that I cannot resist.

An old road bed--probably the original Green River Road.

An old road bed–probably the original Green River Road.

My husband is walking on the new road, but to the right here is a photo of an older road.  This area was used before the battle as a place to rest and fatten cattle that was being driven from the Carolina to Charleston to market.  It has beautiful open spaces, normally not a perfect site for a battle, but back then it also had tall wild grasses and native bamboo with mature hardwoods (old forest) on the edge of a river.  It was a perfect place for the Patriot fighters who were good at backwoods hunting and survival.  The orders were that each man (being just citizen soldiers) was to shoot two times and then he could leave and go home. Even though they were slightly confused in line, the British were taken by surprise when they found themselves surrounded on three sides.  About 800 men were captured that day.  Lt. Col. Tarleton got away.

A marker was erected by the DAR.

A marker was erected by the DAR.

Next, we drove to Kings Mountain National Battlefield.  It has a museum with stations that one can enter to see and hear a description of the battle that occurred there in addition to great book selection in the gift shop.  The trail has a telephone number that hikers can dial to receive specific information about each station.

The hill side is a typical Appalachian forest on a mountain top–familiar territory to the squirrel and deer hunters of the day. This battle took place on October 7, 1780.

My husband standing by an inscription on the obelisk.

My husband standing by an inscription on the obelisk.

20150131_160723 20150131_160638 20150131_155519 Our Patriot forces surrounded the Loyalists and defeated them–surrounding them from the bottom of the mountain to the top.  Even though the Loyalist troops had skills in the art of bayonet warfare (frightening the men who fought for freedom), the commanding officers had them charge ahead and snipe at the soldiers between hiding behind rocks and trees.  Hundreds of men died–320 or so–and many of them were buried on that mountain where they lay.  Simple rocks were used to mark their graves.  This was a bitter battle for many families had split loyalties in their own families where one brother served as a loyalist and the other a patriot. After the battle, the Patriots left quickly to avoid Cornwallis’s advance.  Trials were held convicting many loyalists of treason, desertion, and inciting Indian rebellion.  I consider this entire site a graveyard painted in sadness.

Ferguson's grave--a brave British soldier who gave his life for his King--buried here under the rocks.

Ferguson’s grave–a brave British soldier who gave his life for his King–buried here under the rocks.

I love to touch things that have existed for a long time.  The twin part of this tree broke.  I wanted to see what was underneath since about 75 years had been protected under that tree trunk.

I love to touch things that have existed for a long time. The twin part of this tree broke. I wanted to see what was underneath since about 75 years had been protected under that tree trunk.

Looking back at the obelisk against the low sun of afternoon.

Looking back at the obelisk against the low sun of afternoon.

A sign at the beginning of the trail.  How true it is of the Scotch-Irish who settled the Carolinas.  They never walk away from a good fight.

A sign at the beginning of the trail. How true it is of the Scotch-Irish who settled the Carolinas. They never walk away from a good fight. 

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 760 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 13 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

(New tradition:  From this year onward, at least this year, I resolve to begin the new year with a letter to my last year’s self to review and evaluate my performance and to reflect on needed changes.  All this to create a plan that has some intelligence and integrity and isn’t the product of loosely wishful thinking.)

Dear Yvonne,

Last year, you brought in the new year the same way you did this year.  You and your daughter watched TV while your husband worked, then went to bed before the end of the new year.  That is a perfect way for you.  No frills. No fanfare. For all too soon, you know that another year has ended and your life is slowly ebbing away.

Goal #1 I will write more words more often and improve my craft.

If you recall, last year, you decided to write yourself a series of short notes to be stored in a tin box under your bed–without any real plan as to what you were going to write.  In it I found a few greeting cards, two pads of sticky notes, a red pen, and exactly two handwritten notes.  One was dated 1-1-14 and the other 1-2-14. I am thinking that this resolve to write meaningfully didn’t work out so well. To give you credit though, I did check your blogs.  Here is what I found: 8 posts on this blog, 4 posts on “Our Daily Work,” and 0 posts on your son’s blog (sad to say for he is a unique and deeply emotional subject for you.)

I planned to fill this box with meaningful notes at least one per day.

I planned to fill this box with meaningful notes at least one per day.

Goal #2  I will improve my financial state and save money.

You began your financial plan with a gimmick.  Simply put, you found it on Facebook and it looked do-able.  Basically, you were supposed to save $1 for each week in the year increasing the amount by $1 each week.  You managed to save about $100.00 before the “unexpected” happened and you drained the bills from the jar leaving a pitiful amount of change; however, to again give you credit, your savings account in the bank showed some recovery, but truthfully speaking, only because you sold your house in December.

This jar should have contained $1,378.00.

This jar should have contained $1,378.00.

Goal #3 I will be “present” with people and will persevere to really listen, keeping my hands off my devices and my mind geared toward true conversation for at least three minutes without distraction until I can’t stand it and change the subject.  

You did try.  I know, even though I have no evidence to support this (such as survey results completed by your close friends and family members) that your mind did “fuss” at you more than usual, and many times you put down your device when your husband needed an audience.  You didn’t, however, do this without “attitude.” Your adult children did call you more often, such as last night when both of them called to seek your wisdom. They listened. Did you? You did work harder at listening more to your students, but perhaps you need to ask them how well you listen.

I borrowed this from a blog "Mental Wellness is Being Present" http://www.mindfulexposurebook.com/mental-wellnes-is-being-present/

I borrowed this from a blog “Mental Wellness is Being Present” http://www.mindfulexposurebook.com/mental-wellnes-is-being-present/

Here’s the fun part. I know that I am going to sound like your mother, but here is your whipping–a traditional Appalachian-style, backwoods-pioneer punishment for being less than your most authentic, and well-brought up self.

First of all, your goals were lofty and well-chosen, honing in on your weakest character traits, BUT, the methods for implementation were not. For the writing goal, did you really believe that you were going to dig a dusty box out from under your bed and handwrite write a meaningful note to yourself on a daily basis? LOL! For the most part, writing for you is time-consuming and requires a great deal of presence–the subject of your next goal. Stick with your blogs and occasional Facebook rants.  I did like that you had at least one note reminding you of your struggle last year to get back money wrongfully taken by a medical insurance company–took them three months to refund $600.00.  Patience is truly a virtue. Write your new goals on a note.  That is enough.

Secondly, your finances took a hit because of the unexpected issues from your rental home.  It cost thousands that you never expected to have to pay and months (all summer long) to fix the house.  Not only did it railroad your financial goals, it took you on a very dark emotional journey that you struggled to cast off just in time to begin a new school year.  The important thing is that you did recover.  Events like these are why you must save your money.  Put all that change left in your jar into our savings account this week.  Put your money to work.  Stop buying non-essentials. One unexpected positive note in all this is that you and your husband worked together to do a spectacular job in getting your house sold–which it did on December 18.

Finally, the last goal is your most lofty but difficult to achieve.  Being present in the moment is difficult for most people our minds are endlessly filled with schedules, duties, past experiences, future dreams, and a sense of boredom. Time is our only true resource. The Bible says in Philippians 4:8-9 to focus on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” It is an insult to “pretend” to listen. You are not that kind of person.

That is all.  When you make your new goals, remember the old ones.  Finish what you started.  Love what is left of your life and look around–see the beauty.  Read this blog below.


Yours Forever,


How I Treat a Cold

During this winter break, beginning on December 19, I have been ill. I caught a really bad cold that left me feeling breathless and uncomfortable. I never had a fever, but I was so ill, that I visited the doctor’s office for a flu test. A principle part of this cold was the horrific amount of phlegm.

I realize that this is a gross topic, but I want to share with you my methods for fighting these symptoms. I don’t take OTC medications for colds. For various reasons, I can’t tolerate ingredients that decongest noses, quiet coughs, or dry up secretions. One ingredient makes my heart race, the other makes breathing harder for me, and another makes me feel sick to my stomach and nervous.

For these reasons, treating cold symptoms is difficult for me. Typical medications prevent me from resting. But I have found, however, other more natural ways to fight these symptoms.

The first plan of attack includes Vicks (or other brands) of eucalyptus ointment. I use this on the bottom of my feet. I don’t know why it works, but I simply rest better at night with a dab on each foot covered in warm socks.

Next, I hydrate by drinking liquids, such as chicken broth (I cook a chicken with five cloves of garlic, one onion, and celery tops) strained and hot. I also go to bed with hot Turmeric ginger tea which includes honey, turmeric, cayenne powder, grated ginger, cinnamon, and lemon. Use a cool mist humidifier and I keep water by my bedside.

If coughing (itching throat) is a problem, hot water with two tablespoons of honey helps immensely. I like cough drops, but I was coughing so often and so hard that I was afraid I would choke on the cough drop. The honey tea was just as effective.

Another thing that helped was refraining from eating solid foods for the first three days. One of the problems eating caused me was acid reflux. I used the chicken broth, teas, and honey water to give me some energy. I also made sure that I had extra vitamin C. Whatever source is most palatable is the best.

Warm showers and hot foot soaks should be done twice daily. It just helps relax the body and loosen the phlegm.

Lastly, in order to help clear my head, I walked in the cold woods. I remembered that when my husband and I hiked during the winter, I would have to bring tissues to wipe my nose constantly. Just moving around helps reduce inflammation, but the damp, winter-time woods helps me drain. Even though I didn’t feel like walking, I made myself after the initial three days of bed rest.
What works for you? Do you find OTC medications helpful?

Photos from my walk today….




Although I have been very guilty of jumping on bandwagons (organics and sustainable farming practices) and attacking anything that isn’t organically grown and naturally sustainable, I try to stop and read/watch/understand the reasons those practices were developed and understand how they fit in with life on this planet. Not that I believe I know and understand the sciences involved in these practices either. I know that am not an expert.

My beliefs are driven by my faith that a Creator created this creation and His rules and design are more sound than anything we can develop. We are just posers and bad imitations of something that we are only trying to begin to truly understand. So, I try to respect life and biological processes that are present and work with nature, not against it. For example, if a caterpillar wants to eat part of my cucumber, I appreciate that something living likes my vegetable, and that means it is pretty healthy for me. My acceptance of this insect intruder is because I don’t understand life and all the many layers of living organisms that keep me alive, and I don’t mind sharing.

With that being said, GMO agricultural products may be a short term answer to a devastating problem or impending problem. BUT, it doesn’t fit in a system where lack of gratitude and waste are the norms. Basically, the people I live around and see demand more than they need and waste most of it. We are capable of living on much less food of higher quality than we live on now. I teach in a public school where daily I watch this play out.

Here, our kids don’t know hunger, but they read about it, and I want them to read about something and think about it deeply enough to affect their habits. I am sickened, for example, each winter and spring when I see kids throw perfectly good oranges in the trash after stabbing them with plastic forks to entertain their friends. Is food so widely available in their homes that wasting food is fun? How rich are these kids? How might their habits change if food were to be less available?

With that being said, I don’t want kids in areas of the world where food is scarce to continue starving. By all means, GMO crops have a role their countries; however, in ours, we need to clean up our act and teach our children gratitude and stop buying food we throw away so kids don’t think that tossing perfectly good food in the trash is funny.

I believe in sound, tried and true farming practices which include rotation of crops, diversity of crop strains, care for the soil, and reduction in use of unsafe poisons and non-organic based fertilizers. When the grocery store consumer will only buy fruits and vegetables that are giant and perfect out of their seasons, then we create what we have now as big agriculture interests responding to consumer demand to grow and ship food all over the US. Costs for food soar and waste is rampant. Grow your own food and buy locally. That is what will encourage sustainable practices for our future and spread food sources around locally. That way, we aren’t vulnerable to catastrophic crop failures and local market instability. Support small farmers everywhere. Big Agra companies should be solving big problems–“What’s for dinner?” for most Americans is not a big problem. Starving children in Asia and Africa is.

Watch this video. It presents a bit of both sides.

How to grow a lemon tree from seed.