dual personalities

Count your blessings or “Are you saying I could be stuck in Wichita?”

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N.C. Wyeth

Whether you are entertaining a large group or a very small one like me, enjoy the day.

We’ll miss daughters #1 and #2 who are staying put this holiday.

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We’ll miss you! Can’t wait ’til Christmas!

In the meantime we’ll raise a glass (or two) to absent friends and loved ones! And then we’ll watch our favorite Thanksgiving movie starring these two guys:

Steve Martin and John Candy for Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

I mean what would Thanksgiving be without Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)?  Meanwhile, I’m still a million bucks shy of bein’ a millionaire…

Come, ye thankful people, come

Raise the song of harvest home!

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I am working a half day today. Then I will get ready for tomorrow’s feast.

I have already started to set the table.

IMGP1131I like to mix up my china, using some of my own fine china pattern (Autumn) and some of my mother’s pattern (Nydia)–both Lenox. And I love this vintage Vera tablecloth! So autumnal.

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And what would a holiday table be without these guys?  Of course.

Have a good day and don’t work too hard.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

In times of conflict

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O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–BCP

The end of an era

On Saturday we bid adieu to an old friend–our 10-year old Subaru.

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I have been through a lot with this great car, including a harrowing trip through the mountains of West Virginia in the pouring rain. (I still have flash-backs!) I have never been so scared in my life, but my trusty Subaru (and God and daughter #1 as co-pilots) got me through physically and psychologically intact.

It was the car with the college stickers of my three children.

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I really loved this car. It toted a lot of estate sale finds and auction house purchases and college gear back and forth over the years.

As a family we tend to anthropomorphize our cars, even giving them names. I felt genuine sadness and even guilt waving goodbye at the dealership.

But say hello to Giles!

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Is this 2015 Mini Cooper in British racing green not perfect?

 

I remember, I remember Buffalo*

As you are no doubt aware, Buffalo got hit with a huge winter storm earlier this week.

this is what they mean by "lake effect"

this is what they mean by “lake effect”

It rolled in off the lake and muffled everything in a blanket of white.

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By the time it was over, some places were buried under more than six feet of snow.

from Wunderground.com

from Wunderground.com

There’s a reason we always referred to Buffalo as the “city God forgot.” As of yesterday, the main highways going to the city were still closed. Seriously, how does one dig out of something like that?

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Now that the snow has stopped and it has warmed up, they’re expecting rain, flooding, and roof collapses. Poor Buffalo. It makes me really grateful (that good Thanksgiving word) to live beyond the normal reach of lake effect snow. We only got about three inches.

But all this talk of snow has put me in mind of Robert Falcon Scott and his ill-fated expedition to reach the south pole.

The team celebrates before heading out into the snow

The team celebrates before heading out into the snow

Son #2 has recently been reading Scott’s diary and last letters, which he shared with me — stirring stuff and very sad. Once they realized they weren’t going to make it, they wrote letter after letter to their friends and relatives in the hope that someone would find their bodies and deliver the letters someday. In one of these Scott famously wrote:

but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of providence, determined still to do our best to the last … Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.

Without exception, every one of Scott’s letters focused on what would become of the wives and children whom the expedition left behind. His greatest fear was that they should not have the means to survive and that the children would not get an appropriate education or chance to do well in life. Maybe Scott was not the most successful explorer, but he was certainly a really good guy.

As we head into Thanksgiving week, be grateful —  that you are not doomed in some vast frozen landscape, that you and yours have food, warmth, and shelter, and perhaps most of all, that you don’t live in Buffalo!

Travel safely all you holiday travelers and that includes son #2 who is picking up son #3 from college in Vermont today (with sleet in the forecast). And for those who cannot be with family (son #1 and nieces?), may you at least get to relax a little with friends. You can always spend an afternoon re-reading Dual Personalities.

*”At the Hundredth Meridian”, The Tragically Hip

“I am not steak. You can’t just order me.”*

Because Mike Nichols (November 6, 1931 – November 19, 2014) died yesterday, I thought I would choose one of his films as my Friday movie pick.

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The winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony, he was definitely one of the cool kids. He made 22 movies, but I’m sorry to say I’m not really a fan of any of them.

Two of his films took place at or near Smith College. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) was filmed in a house across from Sage Hall. The swing in the yard was still there 10 years later when I was a student there. It was fun to imagine Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton hanging out on my campus.

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This is a great film, I suppose, but difficult to watch–all that drunken mean-ness and diatribe–somehow it always hit a little too close to home. So although I can recommend it, I won’t be watching myself.

Carnal Knowledge (1971) is about two Amherst College roommates, played by Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel, and their lives after they graduate. I saw it thirty years ago–because part of it had been filmed at Smith–and was appalled by it. I’m sure it wouldn’t shock me now, but it did then.

Candace Bergen as a Smith girl.

Candace Bergen as a Smith girl.

Of course, The Graduate (1967) is a great favorite of many people, but I am not one of them. Dustin Hoffman just seems so mis-cast to me.

Working Girl (1988) starring Melanie Griffith is a cute movie worth watching to see Alec Baldwin in a very early part as Tess’s tacky Irish boyfriend. Joan Cusack is pretty great too.

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It’s all about the hair.

I may see if I can find this movie to watch, but I seem to remember that the big lesson learned is to dress for success and tone down the hair while you’re at it. Sigourney Weaver plays a grade A bee-atch who tries to steal night school-educated Melanie’s good ideas, but she shows her, right? Harrison Ford is the stand-up guy who looks uncomfortable in a suit. Everyone thought this movie was so radical. It was really just a 1930s re-tread updated a little.

So what to recommend? How about “Lady Bouvier’s Lover” from season five of The Simpsons? Mrs. Bouvier!!

Have a great weekend! I’ll be getting ready for the big feast on Thursday which will be at my house this year. What about you?

*Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) in Working Girl

This and That

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Happy Anniversary to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip who were married at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.

You’re looking good, kids!

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It is also the birthday of our hipster vice president.

biden_0He’s turning 72. Biden has received honorary degrees from the University of Scranton, Saint Joseph’s University, Widener University School of Law, and Emerson College. High fives all around.

Yesterday’s best local headline:

Missouri man who took out the trash and never came back found in Branson

Here’s the whole story.

And this is pretty great:

 

Hey, life is good. Be thankful.

“By my troth, I was seeking for a fool when I found you.” *

 

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Yesterday marked our 1000th post. Gee whiz.

A big thank you to our loyal followers for sticking with us.

I guess I know who we’ll be toasting tonight!

1383845_770969569640056_5004344412959271949_n*Shakespeare, As You Like It

 

“They can’t keep me out of heaven on a technicality!”*

Today is the birthday of Clarence Day (November 18, 1874–December 28, 1935), the author of Life With Father and long-time contributor to The New Yorker.

Born in New York City, he attended St. Paul’s School and Yale, where he edited the humor magazine. He was an Episcopalian. But bedridden with arthritis for the last 23 years of his life, he was barely able to hold a pencil. Isn’t it amazing that he wrote such hilarious material?

Scenes from Life With Father, along with its 1932 predecessor, God and My Father, and its 1937 sequel, Life with Mother, published posthumously, were the basis for the 1939 play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, which became one of Broadway’s longest-running non-musical hits. In 1947—the year the play ended on Broadway—it was made into a wonderful film starring William Powell and Irene Dunne and directed by Michael Curtiz.

Sadly, Day died in 1935, never having realized the sensational success of his book or the play and movie based on it.

irene-dunne-william-powell-life-with-father

We always got a big kick out of it, especially all the poking fun at Episcopalians:

Mary: That’s funny. The words are the same, but it’s the wrong tune.

Clarence Day: Oh, it can’t be the wrong tune. We sing it exactly that way in church.

Mary: We don’t sing it that way in the Methodist Church. You see, we’re Methodist.

Clarence Day: Oh, that’s too bad. Oh, I don’t mean it’s too bad that you’re a Methodist. Anybody’s got a right to be anything they want, but what I mean is, we’re… *Episcopalians*.

Clarence Day is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

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That would be an interesting place to visit, don’t you think? A rural cemetery, it is one of the largest in New York City and is a designated historic landmark. There are lots of famous people buried there including Fiorello La Guardia, Irving Berlin, Damon Runyon…and Herman Melville! But I digress.

In the meantime, I’ll toast ol’ Clarence tonight (along with his mother and Father).

*Life With Father (1947)

Our shelter from the stormy blast*

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Yes, the Christmas cacti are blooming! Can it really be that time of year again?

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It must be…’cause it snowed too!

Note the leaf bags!

Note the leaf bags!

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The anthem at the Offertory at church on Sunday was the poem “Love” by George Herbert (1593-1632) which is a particularly lovely one:

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning

If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:

Love said, “You shall be he.”

“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,

I cannot look on thee.”

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.”

“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”

“My dear, then I will serve.”

“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”

So I did sit and eat.

It snowed all day, but never amounted to too much. Time to get serious, though, about the snowball descent to the end of the year.

Have a good week!

*Hymn #680, Isaac Watts

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