dual personalities

The man in the arena

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On this day in 1910, former President Theodore Roosevelt made a speech on the subject of “Citizenship in a Republic”  at the Sorbonne in Paris. One notable passage on page seven of the 35-page speech is referred to as “The Man in the Arena.”

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

These are good words to remember from our most active and hard-working president!

theodore-roosevelt-horse

So did you take my advice and watch Stagecoach last night? I was feeling a little  very down in the dumps because daughter #1 had returned to NYC that morning, so I knew it would be just the ticket to put me back on track. And it was.

It’s amazing how a little bit of sagebrush drama,

Annex - Wayne, John (Stagecoach)_04

exquisitely told by the master of the genre,

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with a generous dose of this guy

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in the part that blew open his career can do that. It is such a great movie with such finely drawn characters.

And have I mentioned that the OM gave me this for my birthday?

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Yes, #22…

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Life is good, right?

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Okay so I like the strong silent type. I get it. The man in the arena.

Same old story

Jim Trainor on Easter…

“I believe the story. With my head, looking at the evidence and thinking logically as a person who was a research physicist for twenty-five years, I believe it. And after listening to the testimony of people – from beggars to kings — through all the ages who had concluded that the story is true, I believe it. And at the innermost levels of my heart, where the deepest truths reside but are not easily put into words, I believe it is true.

“And that is why I know that I will see my mother again someday. It’s not just wishful thinking, some little tale I’ve fooled myself with because I can’t face the cold hard facts of life. Yes, I will see Della Mae, and I am convinced that it will be a day of great victory and joy. St. Paul says that it will be like putting on a crown, and St. John says that it will be a time when every tear will be wiped away from my eyes. That’s what will happen someday to me. But what Jesus did affects me right here today also — I know that this Jesus who overcame death and the grave has promised not to leave me here twisting in the wind. He is with me every day, through his Spirit, to guide me, comfort me, embolden me, and use me for his glory and to serve his people, right here, right now.”

Read it all.

Re-blogged from TitusOne Nine, the weblog of the Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon

“Well, I guess you can’t break out of prison and into society in the same week.”*

I hope everyone had a blessed and happy Easter. I had a birthday thrown in as well, so it was a super special weekend.

I even found this on my desk Friday morning at work:

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My cup runneth over!

Daughter #1 came home and we went straight to Steak ‘N Shake from the airport.

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We took a long walk in our flyover town and watched Ben-Hur as planned–all four hours in one sitting.

The Easter Bunny arrived on schedule in the morning.

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After church we met the boy and daughter #3 at the flyover faculty club for brunch.

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Afterwards we had a little birthday celebration with presents. And we watched one of my favorite movies:

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If you haven’t seen this film recently, I suggest you do!

Such a lovely weekend!

Also, I have been remiss in not mentioning that TCM’s Star of the Month for April is (appropriately) John Wayne!

stagecoach 12

One of my Top Ten favorite movies, Stagecoach (1939) is showing tomorrow (April 22) at 8:00 p.m. (EST) so set your DVRs.

Have a good week!

*The Ringo Kid, Stagecoach

Birthday/Easter Convergence

It’s funny but my siblings and I all have birthdays associated with very important holidays. Mine is just shy of Christmas, my brother’s is on July 4th, and every so often — as this year — my dual personality’s birthday falls on Easter. This serendipitous occurrence is both an occasion for joy and a challenge to this blogger. Do I concentrate on the birthday or the holiday? Do I somehow manage to combine the two? Doubtless my dual personality, who is talented in ways I can only dream about (and I mean that), would manage to do both. But given my natural inadequacies and recent devastating computer mishaps, I think I’ll have to bid you all a Happy Easter and share/celebrate a few of the things about the birthday girl that make me love her so much.

1. When we were young we fought a lot. She once pinned me to the ground and spat gum into my hair (by accident). I think that’s what started the ‘no gum’ rule in our house. She also squeezed my face with hot tongs (another ‘accident’) and I’ve always blamed my crooked nose on her. But I gave as good as I got and once bit her on the leg really hard. I didn’t break the skin but the bruise was truly impressive. So you see, when the time came, I was prepared to raise boys.

2. My dual personality is super well organized: she always gets things done on time; her house is beautiful; her yard tidy, and she’s always prompt with cards, letters, and presents. But she’s no soulless automaton — everything she does is done with love.

3. She has an incredible memory for people. She not only remembers who they are, but she can usually tell you what their middle names are, who they are related to, where they went to college, and what activities they did. It’s amazing and completely effortless. She can do the same thing with books and movies. I’m in awe.

4. As you already know from reading this blog, she’s a deep thinker and very spiritual. And for those of us who tend to get caught up in the rat-race, it’s a life-saver to come here and be reminded of what is really important.

5. She’s also my fashion adviser. She has impeccable taste and always looks perfect. Alas, try though I might, I never quite manage to get beyond “professor chic”, which is a euphemism for ‘eclectic dowdy’. Sigh.

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful birthday, dear sister. If I were only there with you to celebrate, we could sing this together:

Here’s hoping you all also have a Happy Easter! Don’t eat too many jellybeans…

“It’s a strange, stubborn faith you keep. To believe that existence has a purpose! “*

This morning I spent my hour “in the garden” waiting with Jesus–actually our little chapel in the near dark. There are supposed to be two people, but I was alone as was the women who kept the 4-5:00 a.m. watch before me. It is a little spooky being there alone, but I like it. I read the collects of Thomas Cranmer with meditations by my old friend Fred Barbee. Well, I think it is important to be aware of Good Friday and to try, at least in some small way, to keep it holy.

“So shall we join the disciples of our Lord, keeping faith in Him in spite of the crucifixion, and making ready, by our loyalty to Him in the days of His darkness, for the time when we shall enter into His triumph in the days of His light.”

- Phillips Brooks

Tomorrow daughter #1 is flying home (yay!) and we will spend Easter together, going to church and to brunch at my flyover faculty club and, of course, watching:

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I am such a nerd. But then you know that about me.

Not only will I be watching Ben-Hur this weekend, but I will be watching this version:

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Hope you all have a wonderful Easter, celebrating as you may.

P.S. Ganador del Premio Nobel Gabriel García Márquez muere a los 87 años. R.I.P.

“Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.”

– From his autobiography Living To Tell The Tale

* Quintus Arrius in Ben-Hur (1959)

Everything was blazing

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…Everything was blazing, everything was sweet. They were playing old Bob Dylan, more than perfect for narrow Village streets close to Christmas and the snow whirling down in big feathery flakes, the kind of winter where you want to be walking down a city street with your arm around a girl like on the old record cover–because Pippa was exactly that girl, not the prettiest, but the no-makeup and kind of ordinary-looking girl he’d chosen to be happy with, and in fact that picture was an ideal of happiness in its way, the hike of his shoulders and the slightly embarrassed quality of her smile, that open-ended look like they might just wander off anywhere they wanted together, and–there she was! her! and she was talking to herself, affectionate and old-shoe, asking me about Hobie and the shop and my spirits and what I was reading and what I was listening to, lots and lots of questions…

–Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

Okay, I have finally finished this magnum opus and I have to say I liked it. I think it is overly long and could have used some tightening up. At times I wanted to tell ol’ Boris to shut the hell up, but, you know, he was a talker.  I have heard some blog-grumbling about the end of the novel. Personally–spoiler alert–I was relieved to have it work out the way it did. And I think the last twenty pages were worth waiting for.

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I guess they are making a movie. I’m sure it will be awful. Sigh.

 

Being oneself

Prairie Thunderhead by J. Douglas Thompson

Prairie Thunderhead by J. Douglas Thompson

“To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others.” 

― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

O sacred head, sore wounded*

And so we enter Holy Week.

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At our church we “re-enact” the Passion Drama during the service on Palm Sunday. Usually I am assigned to be a minor character like a serving girl (“You also were with Jesus the Galilean”) or the Centurion (“Truly this man was the Son of God!”), but this year I was not included at all. (My friend Carla and I joke about this because between the two of us we have been lay readers for nearly half a century, but we are no closer to being the Narrator or some named part than Joyce Meyer. Carla was a serving girl this year.)

I was a lector, however, and got to read a rousing lesson from Isaiah: “The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near…” and so on. I do love Isaiah.

Sunday night I was planning to watch The Robe on Netflix Watch Instantly,  but we couldn’t get it to work, so I watched a large part of Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth instead. I highly recommend it. It reflects, of course, the Roman side of the story and does a nice job of letting them off the hook. But Robert Powell is really great and so are the supporting players. Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus is one of my favorites.

During the week I will continue to read and watch appropriate fare, i.e. I abstained from watching Dancing With the Stars and their Disney-themed episode last night. Believe me it was not much of a sacrifice.

I have signed up to participate in the Good Friday Vigil following the Maundy Thursday service. I will be “waiting in the garden” from 5:00–6:00 a.m.

Window in Christ Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie, NY

Window in Christ Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie, NY

I have done this before and it is really quite a meaningful exercise. You are alone (with one other person) in the semi-dark of the spooky downstairs chapel with nothing to do but “stay awake for one hour” (see above window) and pray and meditate on Jesus and his sacrifice. This is right up my alley and better than the very public display of look-at-me-washing-someone’s-feet that is Maundy Thursday. To each his own.

Do you have any special plans for Holy Week?

* Traditional Hymn, attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, trans. by Paul Gerhardt and James W. Alexander–We sang it on Palm Sunday which made me happy, especially my favorite verse:

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Happy birthday, Susiebelle!

Today is daughter #2′s birthday!

Awkward Church Directory photo

Awkward Church Directory photo

I hope she is having a lovely day in Maryland, wined and dined by her friends and colleagues. Hopefully the sun is shining, the birds are singing and she is wearing something new and pretty.

But I sure miss her and wish we could celebrate her 24th birthday together. C’est la vie.

Watercolor-photo collage by Carlos Nunez

Watercolor-photo collage by Carlos Nunez

Well, even though her tresses are not raven, I always think of this poem by Lord Byron when I think of the “belle”:

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

 

Happy birthday–we’ll be toasting you (and missing you) tonight!

I’ve been everywhere, man…

“Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City,
Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity.”

Okay, I confess I haven’t been to all those places, but I missed posting last Saturday because I was  in Kansas City for a conference. I stayed at the Westin Crown Center, whose main ‘feature’ was this lush and very noisy indoor waterfall garden located  right outside the conference rooms where it could help drown out the speakers. And it did.

 

it needed a parrot or two

it needs a parrot or two

My room was huge and had a nice view of downtown KC.

view from the 15th floor

view from the 15th floor

We had our opening reception at the WWI museum right next door to the hotel.

taken through the glass of a sky-bridge.

taken through the glass of a sky-bridge.

I think the architect patterned it after the ossuary at Verdun, which is similarly towering and, well, phallic.  I also went to Kansas City’s ‘best’ (says who?) antique mall. It was a huge disappointment.

four floors of 'vintage' junk

four floors of ‘vintage’ junk

It was all 60s plastic,  Woolworth dining sets, and awful kitch…and then I walked 2.5 miles back to the hotel in my conference attire. My feet may never recover.  Still, I had lots of fun with my tribe (as one colleague put it) and enjoyed a brief visit to Union Station, which is huge!

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It has recently been re-purposed as an exhibition area with a fancy restaurant and a couple of uninteresting shops. It’s good to see a neat old building brought back to life. Unfortunately, I never made it to any of the places I really wanted to go: Old Westport, the historical society, and a good antique mall, but one is severely limited without a car. Dual Personality, this is one trip we should do together!

Since I came home, we’ve had a busy week. Son #3 arrived  for his second spring break and son #2, who has recovered the use of his arm, played with the SLU/community orchestra last night at the Russell Opera House. Russell is a little town about 20 minutes from here on the Grasse River. How they ended up with an opera house we cannot tell, but we imagine a Fitzcarraldo-like story, in which some desperate, opera-loving miner struggled to bring culture to the wild north country.

note the dirty snow in the corner -- it's officially mud season here

note the dirty snow in the corner — it’s officially mud season here

I can picture it, can’t you? The interior is really cool and, yes, in need of restoration. Fundraising is ongoing.

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But the opera house is a popular venue for plays and concerts. This our first visit, we thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Since it was the Orchestra’s 10th anniversary concert, the program included a piece from each year they performed. We were  impressed with the quality of the playing and  had a great view of our favorite musician.

Note the hand pointing on the right: "I dig your tie!"

Note the pointing hand on the right: “I dig your tie!”

Quelle artiste! A fab time was had by all and we got home without hitting any nocturnal creatures or wrecking the car on one of the myriad frost heave bumps that make spring driving so exciting. Today is a grading day and then it’s back in the car with Tim to Vermont.

One  ‘heads-up’ to readers: during this coming week we celebrate the birthday of my dual personality’s #2 daughter, and NEXT SUNDAY is not only Easter, but my dual personality’s birthday! Oh, the excitement!

Have a great week!

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