dual personalities

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer. *

It is Friday and the weather has completely turned around since last week. The days are sunny and relatively warm. The birds are chirping away merrily. I saw two flickers in the oak tree in the front yard. Everyone is out and about. It is a veritable traffic jam of walkers in my neighborhood. We can see our shadows!

As usual, I have no plans for the weekend. Why break precedent?

In the Quelle Coincidence Dept. I read this article about Robinson Crusoe shortly after blogging about it.

I will also note that I watched Kit Carson (1940) with John Hall (on YouTube) and really enjoyed it. The plot reflects very little historical accuracy, but who cares? Kit Carson is depicted accurately (if hyper-romantically) and Hall is quite engaging. It is a mystery why he didn’t have more of a career. He is ably supported by Ward Bond and Dana Andrews. Next up: John Hall in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944).

Sunday is the birthday of the actor Charles Durning (1923-2012). You may recall him in The Sting (1973) or Tootsie (1982) or Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for both The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) and To Be or Not To Be (1983).  

But did you know that during WWII Durning was in the first wave of American troops that landed on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy? As it turned out, he was the only survivor of his unit that arrived in France on D-Day. After being wounded by a German anti-personnel mine, he spent six months recovering. Durning was then reassigned to the 398th Infantry Regiment with the 100th Infantry Division and participated in the battle of the Bulge. He was discharged in 1946. For his valor and the wounds he received during the war, Durning was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery. I discovered this when I did a little research on the Silver Star, the third highest military decoration for valor in combat, after reading MacKinlay Kantor’s Glory For Me. Amazing. Wow. We salute you, Charles Durning.

This Sunday the gospel lesson is Mark 8:31-38:

Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Hard words from our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Peace, brother. Have a good weekend.

*Romans 12:12

One of those weeks…

I forgot to write this post until my mother reminded me — quelle horror if you all woke up to no dose of darling! But it is just one of those weeks when I cannot keep the days straight. I don’t think this is surprising as we approach one year of life in semi-isolation and every other headline I read is, “There’s a reason why your brain is mush.” (Actual story)

But without further ado, I will share with you the happenings in Katie’s world.

Trying to “count it all joy” even when we feel fussy…

Keeping cozy with blankets around our shoulders…

Is it a sign of maturity that I think I look scary and old in this picture but don’t care because Katie is so cute?

But also feeling thrilled about temperatures hitting the 60s…

and FINALLY, kicking our feet for the weekend!

Next week, Katie will be nine months old. (I promise not to post one of those “9 months in, 9 months out” series where I compare my baby bump to my baby.) I’ll have the full rundown from her doctor’s visit, where we will get to report on all of her advancement since the six month visit — that feels like ages and ages ago. My brain might be mush, but Katie’s is thriving!

“Like the sun in the morning, I know you’re gonna be there everyday.”

Greetings from the world of ice jams that are slowly melting and floating downstream. Today was just lovely. I didn’t even need to wear a coat while perusing the exterior of the Capitol looking for a good spot to shoot a new headshot. I had my sunglasses on. The sky was blue. There was no humidity so my hair didn’t get an awkward crimp right in the front.

I’ll take those zero degree days if they make days like this feel so good.

In other exciting news from my neck of the woods, I spent Sunday pulling my life back together and using appliances I had put on hold while trying to conserve energy like the good citizen that I am–cleaning, laundry, Amazon-ing items to my apartment.

The weekend before, my mother and I had driven out to Chesterfield to pick up some cross-stitching supplies from an LLI-er. It turned out to be a giant bag of basically every color of DMC floss and a bolt of Aida cloth. So I spent Sunday organizing the floss into numerical order (numerical order has nothing to do with color-order apparently.

The pile doesn’t look that big…but it was over 300 skeins!

I ordered a set of 64 drawers from Amazon and it arrived on Monday.

My labels for the drawers arrived today. The excitement never ends for me!

And here’s a little Crowder, because, well who needs a reason for Crowder?

Our daily bread

Here’s hoping you are not dreading anything this week.

I gather that yesterday was National Margarita Day. Why didn’t someone inform me? If I didn’t read Instagram, I would never know. (Note to self: stop reading Instagram.)

Today we toast the handsome actor John Hall (1915-1979) on his birthday. Best known for nearly blowing away in The Hurricane (1937) with Dorothy Lamour…

…he also starred as the title character in Kit Carson (1940) with Dana Andrews as Captain Fremont, which I am going to try and find to watch. I’m sure it’s dreadful, but who knows. Ward Bond plays his sidekick–how bad could it be? And that coat looks almost authentic.

The gospel lesson for today is:

“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
    On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;[a]
12 And forgive us our debts,
    As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil.[b]

14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 6:7-15

Seems pretty straightforward. But forgiveness is a hard thing.

When we strive against all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them. (Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity)

Hang in there. Dread not.

Tout va bien

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Well, my big errand of the weekend was loading up the Cooper and driving to the recycling center to unload boxes. Quite satisfying, but not very exciting to say the least. My hands got very cold. The OM and I also moved the 1000 piece partially finished jigsaw puzzle, which daughter #1 and I had started last weekend, off the coffee table in the living room onto a salvaged wooden dresser top to get it out of the way in anticipation of the wee babes coming over on Sunday night. Oh, the exhausting issues of our bourgeoisie life.

The babes did come over and we had tacos and they played (mostly) happily while the grownups talked.

Today starts our last full week of winter term classes at my flyover institute. March–and spring–are just around the corner, right? In fact, when tromping through our snowy yard yesterday, I came upon these in the southside forsythia bed…

…daffodils coming up! Zut alors! I can’t believe it. Spring will come, no matter what we do. Best to enjoy each day (and its weather) as it comes. We will endeavor to do the best we can and no more. It may not be enough, but so be it.

Labor with what zeal we will,
Something still remains undone,
Something uncompleted still
Waits the rising of the sun.
By the bedside, on the stair,
At the threshold, near the gates,
With its menace or its prayer,
Like a mendicant it waits;
Waits, and will not go away;
Waits, and will not be gainsaid;
By the cares of yesterday
Each to-day is heavier made;
Till at length the burden seems
Greater than our strength can bear,
Heavy as the weight of dreams,
Pressing on us everywhere.
And we stand from day to day,
Like the dwarfs of times gone by,
Who, as Northern legends say,
On their shoulders held the sky.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Something Left Undone”

The photo at the top is from Pinterest. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

A porcelain life

It was a ‘normal’ week. Nothing much happened, although I managed to get behind at work because I spent a lot of time researching the china I bought at an auction last weekend. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. The last thing I need is more china. What can I say? Consider it a rescue operation. My purchases came from a beautiful historic home in Sackett’s Harbor that had been in the same family for almost two hundred years. It’s a shame they decided to sell it all. Since I had no need or space for any of the furniture, I did not bid, but there were a few fun things — a Chinese gong and a couple of top hats that I thought would make great presents for my sons. Alas, other bidders with the same idea were willing to pay more than I. After a fun evening glued to my laptop, I ended up with this large, mixed lot of china, including several pieces that are beyond use or heavily repaired (the entire stack at the back left of the photo below), a few orphan cups,

a couple of modern pieces (duck teapot anyone?), some Canton Ware Chinese export porcelain, and several pieces of 19th century English transfer ware.

It’s quite a mish mosh, but as I said, I have had a lot of fun researching. For example, the cake stand is Copeland Delphi Grey (i.e. Spode) from about 1850-1860 — assuming it’s real. (You’ll notice there are two stands, but the one at the back on the right has been broken and repaired.) I’m doubtful because the collection includes other copies. The ‘Meissen’ blue onion plates in the top photo were actually made by another German porcelain maker calling itself the Meissen Oven and Porcelain Company. The company produced from 1882-1929. The mark gives it away; the one on the left in the picture below is the fake, while the crossed sabers mark on the right is authentic. Buyer beware! Sellers on Ebay and Etsy will simply claim ‘Meissen’ — after all, that’s what the mark says, right?

There are also some Royal Copenhagen style plates made by a German company called Koenigszelt that date to the early 20th century. At least Koenigzelt only borrowed the pattern and did not attempt to pass themselves off as Royal Copenhagen.

Of the four, lovely Coalport bone china plates from about 1880, only one is useable and even that has a slight chip on the lower rim.

I also identified a pretty Coalport cup and saucer set that I believe dates to the late 19th or early 20th century. As you can see from the photo, the pair saw hard use. There are tea stains I can’t remove and the gold edging has worn off — a rescue operation indeed!

I’m even less certain of the un-marked Canton Ware export porcelain and need to do more research. Based on my current state of knowledge, I’d say it was purchased here in America during the mid to late 19th century, although it’s also possible that someone bought it in China and that it’s modern. I’ll probably never know.

None of this mongrel collection is particularly valuable — indeed, I did not expect it to be — but I’m having a great time figuring out what each piece is and what I shall do with all of it. I have already boxed up the worst preserved of the lot, and I am rearranging some pieces so that I can display and/or use a few of them.

Judging from the ubiquitous cracks, chips and repairs, the family had epic arguments during which they threw dinnerware at each other. Either that or they had super clumsy servants. I prefer the passionate disagreement scenario. As Emily Dickinson wrote in a letter to a friend, “In such a porcelain life one likes to be sure that all is well lest one stumble upon one’s hopes in a pile of broken crockery.”* Although all is well and my own hopes cannot be found among my cracked and chipped purchases, I’m quite certain that I’ve met the vestigial hopes of the crockery-throwing owners. Now there’s a thought.

*Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Bowles, c. 1958

“Call it sad, call it funny/ But it’s better than even money”*

Another Friday and another snowy week. I ventured out once for a doctor’s appointment and the driving was okay. I have driven so infrequently over the past 11 months, that I always worry that I will have forgotten how…and in the snow!

Recently I was reminded that the movie The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) was based on Glory For Me, a novel by MacKinlay Kantor, which he wrote in blank verse. I bought a used copy online and read it this week.

It is about about three service men, honorably dis­charged for medical causes toward the end of WWII, who re­turn home to the same town where in peacetime they had not known one an­other. The Oscar-winning screenplay, written by Robert Emmett Sherwood, uses much of the book, but softens it up for the postwar audience. The book is quite graphic in parts, as books can be where films dared not be. I liked it and it reminds one how hard veterans returning to “normal” life have always had it, even after a “popular” war. I’ll have to watch the movie–which is a great one–again soon.

Earlier in the week the OM and I watched the movie Robinson Crusoe (1954) based on the novel written by Daniel Defoe and published in 1719. Everyone knows the story about a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical desert island, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers, before ultimately being rescued, but I had never read the book or seen any of the movies based on it. I was interested in the 1954 version because it was directed by the famous Luis Bunuel, the Spanish director who is considered the “father of cinematic Surrealism.” It is, however, a straightforward telling of the story with Dan O’Herlihy as Crusoe and Jaime Fernandez, the Mexican movie star, as Friday. Both are engaging. They develop as characters and that is, after all, what we look for.

It is a much better movie than Castaway (2000), that’s for sure. So check it out. It’s available on Amazon Prime and Youtube.

“I learned to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side, and to consider what I enjoyed rather than what I wanted; and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice of here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them, because they see and covet something that He has not given them.  All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”

Robinson Crusoe

I will note that yesterday was the anniversary of Martin Luther’s death in 1546. This article about his death is interesting. Even Episcopalians mark the day on their calendar of saints and well they should.

Behold, Lord
   An empty vessel that needs
      to be filled.
   My Lord, fill it
   I am weak in the faith;
   Strengthen me.
   I am cold in love;
   Warm me and make me fervent,
   That my love may go out
      to my neighbor…
   O Lord, help me.
   Strengthen my faith and
      trust in you…
   With me, there is an
      abundance of sin;
   In You is the fullness of
      righteousness.
   Therefore I will remain
      with You,
   Whom I can receive,
   But to Whom I may not give.

Martin Luther

Enjoy your weekend! Daughter #1 is taking the train home later today so she can fetch her car. Some fun is in the offing.

*Frank Loesser

Besties with my baby

Daughter #3 sent us these matching “BESTIES” outfits for Valentine’s Day. Um, I am here for it. What have we “besties” been up to? Well…

“How many pairs of animal ears is too many pairs of animal ears?”

Trying to stay warm, though we haven’t reached the arctic lows that the Midwest is faring…

“Gee, mom sure does fold a lot of laundry.”

Learning about school buses and fire trucks — just trying to be like our cousin, WRC Jr…

“Oh I fell over! I fell over again!”

Throwing ourselves back onto soft pillows with glee…

And doing our wiggle dance a whole lot.

Katie has had a real burst of energy lately, seemingly raring to go. She is moving and grooving and gets quite frustrated when she can’t quite move or groove quite the way she wants to. (Will she crawl soon?) It seems kind of hard to be 8 months old and not quite there yet!!

But also, darn sweet.

“Walk a mile, mile and a half to the highway and a bus will take you on in to Jefferson City.”

I had a super fun few days in St. Louis celebrating Valentine’s Day plus hitting up an estate sale and Club Taco for margs. But, after having my return driving plans repeatedly foiled by weather predictions gone awry, I gave up and took the Amtrak back to Jefferson City.

I don’t think this does justice to just how surprisingly deep that snow was!

I was a little worried that I’d end up stuck in a snowdrift on the train for hours but thankfully that didn’t happen–only an hour delay in the station. The train was only 25% full and very pleasant. It occurred to me that I had not taken the train from Kirkwood Station since 10th grade when we rode the train to a journalism conference in Kansas City! Twenty + years ago!

I enjoy train travel and find it much more dignified than air travel. Although, I was worried the bar car would be closed because of COVID–so my mother packed some wine in an appropriate water bottle. Don’t worry, it wasn’t full!

The scenery, through Amtrak’s signature dirty windows, was pretty. I am excited for my return trip (to pick up my car this weekend) during the day so I can see the view for the whole ride.

It helped that I was reading “Hell is Empty” the Longmire where Walt is chasing escaped convicts through a blizzard in the mountains of Wyoming and the entire plot is an allegory for Dante’s Inferno. I was thankful to be cozy on the train with my wine and snacks.

“Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t that many descriptions of hell in the Bible, and the majority of images most people carry around in their heads are from the fourteenth-century poem, which means that our contemporary view of hell is actually from the Middle Ages.

A depressing thought to say the least.”

Walt Longmire of Dante’s Inferno in Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson

I made it to the Jefferson City train station and had packed lightly to ease my walk home. However, the snow drifts were high and the sidewalks unshovelled. Luckily, a nice older couple offered me a ride in their giant pick up (it was only two blocks). They had just dropped their daughter off on her way to Kansas City because she had gotten stuck at home too. As state employees, we had all gotten the news that our respective offices were closed the next day because OF COURSE.

Also, this made me laugh:

“The snows that are older than history”*

This was the view out my “office” window yesterday.

And here’s the view out my front door. My work day was basically unchanged, because Zoom classes just carry on despite the weather. Zut alors! Quel monde!

I usually like to walk around in the snow, but when the high is 3 degrees, that’s too cold to mess around. I was happy to stay inside in my snug house and watch this:

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
   I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
   I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it— 
   Came out with a fortune last fall,— 
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
   And somehow the gold isn’t all.

(Read the whole poem here.)

Daughter #1 sensibly took the train back to mid-MO, rather than drive. (I’m sure you’ll hear more about that adventure tomorrow.)

In the meantime I’ll bundle up and count my blessings and contemplate the coming Lenten season, which commences tomorrow. No pancakes though, as in yesteryears, in Albright Hall tonight. And that’s okay. I certainly won’t be giving anything up this year. If anything, I will take something on.

Give me a heart to believe, that I may obey you, for you have commanded it. Give me a heart to believe, that I may please you, for you have said that is what you desire. Give me a heart to believe, that I may honor you, for you have declared that this gives glory to you.

It is enough to be yours. Just give me a heart to believe, since without faith I can have no part in you.

David Clarkson (1622-1686)

*Robert W. Service