I’m Having A Moment …

Happy Friday, All!

So, here we have more incidents of pure “human folly” from rockets, bombs, and planes in the Middle East and the Gaza Strip to whichever gun-related mass shooting you’d like to choose from Stateside!  I mean, damn … So, see if you can join me in a Friday salute to “still being here …” TGIF!

I enjoyed this year’s celebration of my Mom’s birthday.  Of course, the month of May also has “Mother’s Day” in it!  So, I get a double dose of “how much I love my Momma!”  She struggled with Alzheimer’s for her last few years.  After Hurricane Wilma had caused so much destruction in South Florida where she lived with her daughter, my sister, and her adult kids, she fell in the darkness and suffered a brain hemorrhage on TOP of the Alzheimer’s condition.  Peace be still …

For many years after her passing, I experienced some tough “moments” around the time of “Mother’s Day” and her birthday.  That’s pretty much because I wasn’t able to do as much for her as I wished and I watched her struggle with that hideous disease.  Yet, I was somewhat happy, strangely so as she passed quietly in her comatose state.  There was no visible suffering nor pain as I was the last family member to see her breathing until slipping into darkness, so to speak.  I recall on some days of the past in May when at work in a call center, I would suddenly remember her “unconditional love” for me and what seemed to be “the whole world” as she knew it … and my face would fill with tears … emotional sobbing type stuff!  I would occasionally ask for an early “break” so I could pull myself together.  Most of my “bosses” understood ’cause everybody is supposed to love their “Momma”, right?!  This year, as I have been focusing on healing and the rejuvenation of my mind, body, and spirit, I handled those “May Days” with more skill.  Last week on Friday, which was the day after her birthday, I had my last tooth pulled!!   My jaw was swollen and I had to cancel a dinner pizza with friends.  Instead, I went out to eat some calamari, my favorite, with rice, veggies, and a nice salsa … alone.  I was in “heaven” with her, if you catch my drift!!  All in all, I felt I did well mildly mourning her while counting my blessings … from HER!

Even right now as I compose this message, I am feeling a tremendous calm as May closes!  I feel stronger, emotionally more “complete” and excited to continue “the journey”.  I also want to thank “Maureen”, another long-time supporter, and “CO” from boarding school for getting copies of “Cooking With Life!”  I know there are others and I thank youse, too.  If you haven’t browsed it yet or gotten your own copy, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Life-Cookbook-John-Cook-ebook/dp/B08Z7FRKCX/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=cooking+with+life+cook+book+iii&qid=1621607433&sr=8-6.  Share it, give someone like “me” a “helping hand” in your own orbits, and share the love, respect, and peace from me and Educational Excellence!  The non-profit, sole proprietorship business known as Educational Excellence turns 20 in June 2021.  We’ve been around!


John I. Cook, Director

Something Special … Someone Special …

Happy Friday, All!

Once again, I think we can do a T.G.I.F. together to start things off, so TGIF!  “Thank you very kindly!”  It seems that the world’s leaders have lost the social etiquette necessary for us to “live together peacefully” on this planet.  Money, wealth and obsession with power have taken the driver’s seat in this “suffering” world!  The “followers” of this world have absorbed this character defect and spread it too far and too wide!  That’s why I focus on things like love, peace, happiness … even RESPECT in my pieces!

Yesterday was my Mother’s birthday!  Thanks for your wonderful and uplifting thoughts and comments!  She still is the world for me, my main motivation even!  Last night, I began to see snippits of news videos of a murder two years ago by the Louisiana State Troopers.  If you haven’t seen it yet, pay attention.  Yes, again and a year BEFORE Mr. Floyd’s public assassination by  Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department, an unarmed African American male was murdered.  But this time, there was no “video taken by the public” and the one taken by the Louisiana State Troopers was concealed for TWO YEARS!  Mr. Greene had taken the troopers on a high speed chase one night as he traveled from Louisiana to Florida to see his mother …  According to the video which finally surfaced because of someone’s conscience in the trooper’s ranks, he could only say that he “was afraid and sorry” and they were “his brothers”.  The troopers heard none of that!  They were so angry and had lost self control and responsibility for their jobs and became as barbaric as they could be!  Mr. Greene was taken from his car while being tased, pulled onto the ground, punched and kicked incessantly until they could get the handcuffs on, and even dragged by his ankles while handcuffed and face DOWN!!  Who does that?!?  Imagine if I had gotten so upset with a student in my class and done something like that!?!  His Mother who appeared on the news channels said that she couldn’t even watch it completely!  It was truly sadistic!  One of the troopers was recorded as saying, “I beat the ever loving f–k out of him!”

I am so glad that I made it to retirement and intelligent and perhaps was even lucky enough to have avoided such a fate!  Now, trust me, I have been stopped by law enforcement in Florida many times but never allowed myself to panic and run and be dragged from my vehicle.  There have been some close calls but, as one of my motivational talks that focuses on “Driving While Black” suggests, I have always maintained my own self esteem and self respect.  I had one incident in my apartment in Oakland Park, FL when the Broward County Sheriff’s department had come to contain me and I was on the phone.  They didn’t want to wait until I finished my conversation with a family member and had no warrant for my arrest yet.  It got physical and I know that a “guardian angel” was watching over me.  I came out alive.  I am glad that I can celebrate my Mother’s birthday in freedom and alive … pretty much well, too!  “Something special” indeed that I learned to appreciate because of someone special in my life – my Mother.  My heart literally cries for Mr. Greene’s mother who appeared on several news programs …  His mother said that she will miss his endless positivity that he often shared with her.  He was on the way to her house and the troopers told her that he had “died in a car crash that he had with a tree” …  She was heartbroken when two years later, she actually could see what REALLY happened to her son … Peace be still …

There’s nothing more special than love for one another!  What’s so hard to learn about that?!?  We humans have tried everything else and us hippies did a “Woodstock” thing for y’all!  People, especially “public servants”, should employ much more respect, love and understanding in their work!  I know I did it as a teacher …

As I continue my weekend with a “kudos” to my Mother, enjoy your weekends as well!  Feel free to visit: https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Life-Cookbook-John-Cook-ebook/dp/B08Z7FRKCX/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=cooking+with+life+cook+book+iii&qid=1621607433&sr=8-6 to get your copy either in e-book or paper back.  The book is dedicated to the memory of my Mother … Marietta Dolores Cook … “someone” very special!  Thanks for reading!


John I. Cook, Director

“Meet ‘Karen’ . . .”

Happy Friday again, ALL!  How are y’all feeling about the world “we” live in today?!  Do you think “life is fair”?  Do you BELIEVE that you even “deserve” a fair life?!  I certainly hope you believe you do!  Keep in mind, you might have to “fight” for what you deserve in a most tactful way.  So, TGIF, then, will you?!!

Have you folks heard of the term “a Karen” by now?  It’s a word for a “white skinned woman” who feels that she is entitled to preferential treatment because of the color of her skin.  These “Karen” types usually seek an opportunity to utilize this psychological phenomenon that exists ONLY if the purported “privileged” and the subject of the “privileged action” BOTH agree on this fabricated phenomenon.  Let’s be clear, I don’t play that, and the ONLY thing that I will do when challenged is “represent my talents” to the fullest!  Be aware of who you decide to “disrespect” because that’s ALL that is … “disrespect”!  Let’s continue with “Meet ‘Karen’” from my perspective with the help of “The Wizard and his Wife”.

So, where I was living before here (people like to do 3-month agreements), I had asked the property owner for a copy of the agreement.  Cut to the chase, after weeks of unpaid dog-sitting WHILE I was working on my book and occasional UNPAID house-sitting for the electric/light company for the property owner and NEVER receiving a ‘thank you’ from this ‘property owner’, the “Bruja” produced a copy of the agreement … 2 months later.  It was like 8 or 9 in the morning and I was working on my laptop on the deck with my earplugs in when the “Bruja” came with a copy of the agreement and started to “talk”.  Mind you, no message was sent to me to ask me … that’s what I said … ASK ME if I have time to talk.  The rent of $850 was due for my last month and the “Bruja” also still had possession of MY $400.00 in the form of a security deposit.  So, I wasn’t about to trust a “property owner” who took 2 months to produce a “copy of an agreement” to return $400 of MY MONEY 16 days after I was to depart the last day – June 4th.  I had seen multiple examples of “tardiness”, lack of concern for me and more concern for her pets, and complete unprofessional rudeness as she displayed this same morning!

After I took my earplugs out and simply looked at her, she began telling me that here was the contract and I was to sign it and give it back to her …  It was ON!!  Not only does NO ONE simply order me to sign something, but NO ONE will get my WELL DESERVED PENSION monies without providing a “successful service” for ME!!  Basically, we went back and forth, her speaking in Spanish and trying to get the upper hand on MY MONEY until I took the contract, placed it on the deck and told her that I was not going to sign it 2 months later.  She, “la diabla”, got upset and started to make a case for me to “have to sign” this faulty, dishonest, property owner biased so-called “contract”.  The agreement had 2 clauses that I refused to acknowledge as they were LIES … and I don’t sign LIES.  One clause said that “ALL of the furniture was in excellent condition and that the leasee/or I would have to pay for ANY damages to the floor (which had several cigarette burns with one in the front doorway) or the furniture!  The lamp right next to my bed was a “second hand store” fixture that was clearly broken before I arrived.  The property owner aka “la Diabla” told me when I complained, “Oh, I won’t charge you for that!!” which brought me quite a “furrowed brow” and a look of disdain that could clearly be understood by ANYONE!  I laughed, put my earplugs back in and continued working.  I took a moment to tell her to “get away from me” while I was working.   “La Diabla” was shocked that I spoke to her that way just as much as I was shocked that she even “tried me” like that!! WT@!!

She left for the time.  Like a week before, I had met a gentleman that I will call “The Wizard” and “His Wife”!  This was no coincidence because “The Wizard” and his wife not only KNEW “la diabla” but had helped her by renting their second home to “la diabla” at a tremendous discount while she rented the same house I was renting but for $950.00 per month!!  “La diabla”, and I call her that because while “it” had a unique eye color, her expressions with me were sinister as she tried to “suck” my self esteem with her insistence on her being right and that I was in “her house”!!   Cut to the chase again … The next night, “la diabla” came back demanding that I pay her $850.00 and that I follow her instructions to get my $400 back!!  I refused, she entered the house and … “Meet ‘Karen’”!  She began to walk around in the house … yes “her” house with more than $2,000.00 of MY dollars having been paid to a negligent, rude and unprofessional property owner!  The conversation went back and forth until I told her again that I would ONLY pay $450 since she had $400 of MY dollars already so we were “good”!  I walked in to the bedroom and to my surprise, she entered behind me saying, “Es mi casa!”  She started looking for my possessions to touch and found my laptop case IN THE BEDROOM!!  “Karen” was trying to get me into as much trouble as she could.  Fortunately, the police in Costa Rica can’t get involved in domestic issues unless a “woman is physically touched and injured”!  This was a “landlord/tenant” issue which must be taken to court as I found out with the previous “property manager” that I had to put in check, too!  At this point, I exited the bedroom for my safety, walked into the kitchen and dropped a bowl on the floor, which got her attention finally.  “La diabla” exited the bedroom and headed for the deck to call the police.  “Bingo!” I thought.  When she walked out of the front door to the deck, I grabbed the door and securely closed it behind her … locked it in other words!!  She was in shock and immediately thrust her foot up and kicked the door!!!

In that short amount of time, I realized that this was out of control … “la diabla” in particular.  She called the police who came  half hour later.  One officer spoke with her while the other spoke with me on the deck of the house.  I explained what happened and the other officer spoke to “la diabla” for what seemed to be an eternity!!  Finally, since “la diabla” just likes to talk people to death, I told the officer assigned to me that if she would simply give me my $400 back, I would leave at the crack of dawn!  I had had enough of this and wasn’t looking to experience any “Derek Chauvin” tactics used on me in Costa Rica … Puerto Viejo, to be exact  Finally, it seemed that she agreed but again, did NOT give me back my security and the police are NOT authorized to get involved in ANY financial disputes in Costa Rica!  I called my new friends, “Mr. Wizard” and his “Wife” and explained to them what happened.  As I watched the police ride away both on motorcycles, I wondered who was supposed to get my money back from this creature!!  I agreed with Mr. Wizard that I didn’t need to spend another month in “hell” so we agreed that I would pack everything up and be prepared to leave when he arrived the next morning to do a “walk through” with “la diabla” and get as much of the deposit back as possible!  Mrs. Wizard had spoken with “la diabla” and tried to convince her to be more amicable in solving this “situation”.  I could care less about any freakin’ house … I wanted OUT!!

Mr. and Mrs. Wizard (now do you see why I call them that!?) used their “relationship” with this creature to not only help me get the deposit back … all except $90 which she claimed I owed her for 2 nights and the electricity bill which she never produced for the 2 months that I was there.  They had also spoken to the manager of this lovely bungalow at “Bamboutel” to reserve a unit for me!  The next morning went as planned and I was out with the help of Mr. Wizard who did exactly as he said, by midday!  His wife, “Mrs. Wizard”, had promised me that Mr. Wizard would “get my money back”!  They BOTH are pretty incredible!!  Thanks guys … “Good-bye, Karen!”

Enjoy your weekends, please, and beware of the “Karens” and “Chauvins” out there amongst us!


John I. Cook, Director

A True Love Story . . .

Happy Friday again, Y’all!

We know what we’ve got to do today … like most days … a TGIF might suffice!!  Yeah, Baby!

Well, it’s that time again …  my Mother’s birthday in a few weeks!  May 20th, 1917!!  While I can say that she left this physical realm on November 6th, 2005, she has remained a spiritual pinnacle in my life today.  We always seemed to connect though she did most if not ALL of the unconditional love part with me.  Now, I wasn’t the only recipient of her unfathomable care for fellow human beings as there were many other organizations of which she was a part and still others that she actually led.  She served as president of the PTA (Parent Teachers Association) for several years while I was in elementary school before it – Rochambeau Elementary School – closed down due to anti-segregation interests in the fair City of White Plains!  She was a girl scout troop leader as well as a member of the Flower Club at our home church – Bethel Baptist Church – located there in the Projects.  Should I add here that with no formal post high school education, she cleaned houses for a living for many years in Westchester County, NY for well off clients in Scarsdale and White Plains.  She and her “lady friends” would often cater dinner parties for some of the same clients whose homes she cleaned.  Oh yeah, she was my mother as well as a mother to three others of her off-spring … and a wonderful wife for my Father – Isaac Henry Cook.

I have been able to overcome several situations with her help before the dreaded Alzheimer’s Disease set in to make her life more confusing for her.  It sent me for a loop, too, when I finally realized how much she and others struggled through the memory portions of their lives … Peace be still!  As most of the readers of my work know, the third book in the series of “Cook Books” entitled “Cooking With Life!: Cook Book III”, is dedicated to the memory of my Mother – Marietta Dolores.  She and my Dad were both there when I needed them … when I graduated from St. Paul’s School in 1972; and then again at Princeton University in 1976.  She, too, taught me how “to go high when they go low”, a la Michelle Obama!

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekends!  There’s more brewing up right now in my life but I fill you in later!


John I. Cook, Director

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