dual personalities

My circus animals were all on show

The twins’ Mom is out of town for a few days so they came over on Saturday for lunch and a movie. We watched the Disney classic Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks in a Circus (1960). I figured they are old enough to handle a 90-minute movie about a little boy who runs away to the circus and they mostly were.

I had seen the movie fairly recently and was struck by how appealing the chimp is (and I am not a monkey person). He and Kevin Corcoran are great together. The twins liked the monkey but they had a lot of questions. “Why is he wearing pants?” And they were kind of shocked by his naughty/depraved behavior (irony alert)!

They were, however, enthralled with the circus act scenes and were very impressed with the kids who did the stunt riding.

Lottie also couldn’t believe the elephants were “dancing in a conga line.”

I asked her where she learned about conga lines and she said from her friends at school. 🤔

Anyway, I recommend it as a wholesome movie with a (spoiler alert) happy ending. You better get a copy though before it is canceled. I mean, all those poor animals being made to wear pants and dance in conga lines…

Meanwhile Mr. Smith continues to grow and perfect his own dance routine.

He could jump through a ring of fire no problem.

For the first time in a long time I went to church on Sunday at 8:30 am by myself, because I wanted to go look at some houses with daughter #1 later in the morning. It was weird but also kind of nice to have no distractions. But don’t worry–I will be glad to have my distractions back!

Anyway, I was reminded of this poem by William Butler Yeats:

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,

I sought it daily for six weeks or so.

Maybe at last being but a broken man

I must be satisfied with my heart, although

Winter and summer till old age began

My circus animals were all on show,

Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,

Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

Read the whole thing here.

I can conjure you at will

Greetings! Dual Personality #2 here. You haven’t heard from me since October 2022 (!), but so little has happened in my life since then that it might as well have been last week. Let’s see. My DP gave me a difficult and, fittingly for this post, international-themed jigsaw puzzle for Christmas, and I had a fun time putting it together.

When not confronting the fact that my spatial reasoning abilities are waning (“that piece has to fit in that spot!”), I’ve spent quite a bit of time expanding my TV viewing repertoire. Truth be told, most nights I’m too tired to read and end up scrolling through Netflix or Amazon prime for something to watch. My recent choices have skewed their algorithms horribly, so now they only recommend foreign mysteries and 1950s sci fi movies (I’ll leave the latter for another time). Anyway, if you’re in the mood for something different and don’t mind reading subtitles, you might try the following:

  • Wild District (a Colombian show about an ex-guerrilla reuniting with his family and uncovering government corruption) Netflix
  • Green Frontier (another Columbian show, this one about a murder in the rainforest) Netflix
  • Under Fire (a Belgian series about a fire department in Ostend) Netflix
  • Arctic Circle (a Finnish show about an epidemic in Lapland) Amazon
  • Shahmaran (a Turkish fantasy series involving the mythical queen of snakes) Netflix
  • High Water (a Polish series about a record-breaking flood in lower Siliesia) Netflix

From the snowy wastes of Lapland

to the Colombian rainforest,

international shows offer a glimpse into unfamiliar environments and cultures. I mean, who knew that the Colombian government was corrupt (ha, ha)? One even picks up a few foreign words; I now know how to say thanks in Polish – dzięki (which sounds like Jengi when they say it). The older I get, the less I want to travel, and I am quite content to experience the streets of Ostend, the South American rainforest or the frozen tundra of Lapland from the comfort of my sofa, though I confess to being a little alarmed by how many of these shows I have binge-watched in the past six months. I should get out more.

I’ve also branched out in the kitchen. My son and daughter-in-law gave me a healthy baking cookbook for Christmas, and so far I have made this delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cake. It makes a perfect breakfast with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

I’ve got breakfast down but my dinners definitely need overhauling. All my dishes taste the same (meat, onions, cheese, oh my!). When I read my nephew’s Facebook post recommending the purchase of a well-known cookbook, Őzlem’s Turkish Table, to aid the Turkish earthquake victims, I bought it. The first dish I tried, Fırında Sebzeli Köfte (baked Turkish meatballs with vegetables), was easy to make and very tasty! This cookbook has inspired me to buy new ingredients such as red pepper paste and pomegranate molasses. I’m dying to try the latter but haven’t decided on the recipe yet. Anyway, we’re reviving our tastebuds one dish at a time. I even made a good Brazilian beef stroganoff, though I did not serve it with fries and rice.

Whether you are still stuck in winter doldrums or have moved on to spring friskiness, change it up a little. Don’t get me wrong. I love old movies as much as ever, but to be honest, I cannot rewatch my favorites too often and have to give them rests. I haven’t found anything as good, but I have enjoyed what I’ve watched. Anyway, you might try a foreign series or movie and cook something appropriate to go with it. Work on a puzzle or read some poetry. I leave you with Rainer Maria Rilke’s intense verse that I discovered last night (see, I don’t only watch TV!):

That’s from his Poems from the Book of Hours, and it’s pretty great, don’t you think? I know this post has been a tad eclectic but it has been a while, and I am out of practice. Until next time (whenever that may be), stay well!

Provocations

I have never cared for all the Easter Bunny nonsense surrounding Easter. Even as a child I thought it was stupid and detracted in an inappropriate way from the seriousness of Christ’s sacrifice and the celebration of His resurrection. But I enjoyed the candy and let’s be honest–I really want to make these Peeps concoctions. The wee bud would ❤️ them.

And now I have to get back to Kierkegaard…

“Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd (even though he addressed himself to all). He did not want to form a party, an interest group, or a mass movement, but wanted to be what he was, the truth, which is related to the single individual. Therefore everyone who will genuinely serve the truth is by that very fact a martyr. To win a crowd is no art; for that only untruth is needed, nonsense, and a little knowledge of human passions. But no witness to the truth dares to get involved with the crowd.”

–Soren Kierkegaard

And if you were wondering what’s the use of reading if you forget everything anyway… Here’s the answer.

P.S. Look for a post from my long-lost DP tomorrow!

Hold fast to that which is good*

St. Patrick’s Day approaches–what does this mean to me? I am reminded that it will be time to watch The Quiet Man (1952) again.

As you may have gathered, we are a family that loves our traditions. These traditions include watching movies on designated holidays. The list of designated movies/holidays has grown over the years. Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to make a list of those dates/movies and so, with the help of daughter #1, I did.

New Year’s Day (January 1): Last Holiday (2006) starring Queen Latifah and LL Cool J

Valentine’s Day (February 14): Bullitt (1968) starring Steve McQueen

St. Patrick’s Day (March 17): The Quiet Man (1952) starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara

Easter (April 9): Ben Hur (1959) starring Charlton Heston

Memorial Day (May 29): They Were Expendable (1945) starring John Wayne and Robert Montgomery

Juneteenth (June 16): The Professionals (1967) starring Woody Strode, Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster

Independence Day (July 4): Yankee Doodle Dandy** (1942) starring James Cagney

National Day of the Cowboy (July 22): Red River (1948) starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift

Labor Day (September 4): The Pajama Game (1957) starring Doris Day and John Raitt

Our Anniversary (October 18): Shane (1953) starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur and Van Heflin

Halloween (October 31): Signs (2002) starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix

Reformation Day (October 31): Luther (2003) starring Joseph Fiennes

Veterans Day (November 11): Any war movie

Thanksgiving (November 23) : Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) starring Steve Martin and John Candy

Christmas movies during the month of December, including Die Hard (1988)

It appears we have no holiday in August! Any ideas? August 1 is, of course, the birthday of Herman Melville and that is certainly something worth celebrating! We could watch Moby Dick (1956) starring Gregory Peck.

Just remember, life can be a romance if you celebrate the small stuff (and the Big Stuff)!

*1 Thessalonians 5:21

**We are usually too busy to watch a movie on the Fourth of July, but this movie would be a good one to watch if you were so inclined.

Fear not, little flock*

So I guess the Oscars were presented on Sunday night. Who knew? Who cared? I had not seen any of the movies and I hardly recognize any of the actors anymore.

As is our custom we picked a great movie to watch that did not win the prizes it deserved in the past. We chose The Russians Are Coming the Russians are Coming (1966) which was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Alan Arkin), Best Writing, Best Editing and won nothing. It was the year any of Best Actor nominees deserved to win except the actor who won.

Anyway, we watched it and howled with laughter. If you need a good laugh (and who doesn’t), I recommend it highly. Remember, it features my spirit animal, Muriel Everett (Doro Merande)…

and Parker Fennelly, playing the OM. What a great cast!

On a more serious note, here’s a good answer from Kevin DeYoung to the question “How should I deal with prayerlessness in my life?” He even manages to get a dig in at the BCP (while recommending getting an old version before “it got goofy.” How right he is.)

And here’s a story about a bear:

“When we believe that we ought to be satisfied, rather than God glorified, we set God below ourselves, imagine that He should submit His own honor to our advantage; we make ourselves more glorious than God, as though we were not made for Him, but He was made for us; this is to have a very low esteem of the majesty of God.”

–Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)

*Luke 12:32

Abide with me

Another gloomy, cold, rainy weekend in flyover country–par for the course now that all the flowering trees have popped. Daughter #1 and I drove to Jeff City again to start packing up her apartment. She has a lot of stuff to pack…

But we made a start and we brought some plants home.

We were exhausted when we got back. We tried to watch The Robe (1953) but only made it as far as Marcellus being converted. We’ll watch the rest this week.

On Sunday morning the OM and I picked up the twins per usual since lacrosse season started and took them to church. Because the OM was an usher, we had to get there a little early, so the twins were able to indulge in coffee hour donuts.

I think I know why the OM volunteers to usher so often–it is because he can pretend he doesn’t know us and sit elsewhere. This week I gave the twins a C+ on the depravity scale for their behavior. I blame Satan and not the donuts. After church one of the Sunday School teachers told me Wheeler was “sad” and I said, “I’m sure he was–I took his toy away and made him sit right next to me with my arm around him.” She said, ‘Well, I told him I’m sorry you are sad,’ and he said ‘Thank you.'”

After church we drove them to their Dad’s store where they were going to hang out for awhile.

Good times. I am really looking forward to lacrosse season settling down.

Meanwhile daughter #2 tried the Easter dress my mother made for daughter #1 back in 1988 on Katie. It fit and so did the matching doll dress on her baby doll.

It was the last dress my mother made before she died and so we were all happy to see Katie in it. Someday Ida can wear it too.

Sunrise, sunset.

In other news, Mr. Smith got a quick bath in the kitchen sink.

Enjoy your Monday! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you today.

TGIF. Am I right?

Last week, I travelled to Wyoming for some meetings at the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources. It was like flying over a different planet. I was very thankful the day we went the weather was ideal–sunny and not too windy. A balmy 31 degrees. We were told not to worry about wearing winter weather gear.

In other news, the housing market in St. Louis is contributing to the continued dwindling of the house wine reserves. And some days call for switching to the hard stuff.

And in puppy news, Mr. Smith has been a real special little guy lately. And by that I mean, he’s only happy up in your space.

And as my mother mentioned earlier this week, we discovered The Steeldrivers (thanks, Apple Music playlists). I’ve been listening to the two albums with Chris Stapleton as the lead singer and they are really good. Sometimes, I just need a little bluegrass to put some pep in my step. Have a great weekend, y’all!

What are you reading?

Blessed is the King

who comes in the name of the Lord.

Assist us mercifully with your help,

O Lord God of our salvation,

That we may enter with joy

upon the contemplation of your mighty acts…

–BCP

Here are two books that I am reading in these weeks leading up to Easter. I find it helpful to have some structure in my reading and these two books fit the bill. The Powlinson devotional was put together by his wife after his death in 2019, using his journals and other writings. What a blessing to have this book from this dear fellow who was also the most renowned and respected biblical counselor of our time.

As you know, I am also reading the book of Daniel in my Bible Study group. I am enjoying it a lot. There are so many comparisons one can make with our present cultural situation. The writing is on the wall: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin.” (5:25) You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Here are some links that might interest you, including this good one from Tim Challies: “But I wonder: Do we really mean it? Are we really “ever, only, all for thee?” Do we really surrender all? Or do we surrender merely some or most? Do we offer him the best of what we have or those bits we know we can do okay without?”

And I liked “24 Lessons from 24 Years of Marriage.”

Ligonier has a new 5-Minutes in Church History daily podcast. You can listen to it here.

And Lauren Daigle has a new album coming out in May. You can listen to the first song here.

Enjoy your Thursday! Read a good book, listen to Jesus, do a puzzle, and take heart and remember–God, as always, is sovereign.

Wednesday mish mosh

Today we remember actress Claire Trevor, who was born on this day in 1910.

Claire wasn’t your standard Hollywood beauty, and maybe because of that, she always brought something special to each of her roles. She appeared in 65 feature films from 1933 to 1982, winning an Oscar for her supporting role in Key Largo (1948) as a washed-up lounge singer. She received nominations for her roles in The High and the Mighty (1954) and Dead End (1938) and top billing ahead of John Wayne in Stagecoach (1939). Other stand-out performances include: Alleghany Uprising (1938), Murder My Sweet (1944), and hold the phone, she appeared on an episode of Murder She Wrote in 1987!

All of these movies are well worth watching tonight. We might try to find Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) which also stars Cyd Charisse who shared March 8th as her birthday.

Or maybe not. I think I’ll stick with one of my faves.

In other news, this sounds like a great new album. You can scroll down in the link and listen to Rosanne Cash’s rendition of Doc Watson’s classic “I am a Pilgrim”.

I am a pilgrim and a stranger 
Traveling through this wearisome land 
And I've got a home in that yonder city, good Lord 
And it's not, not made by hand
--Roger Miller

So have a good day! Watch a Claire Trevor movie. Listen to some good music. Check out the daffodils which are insane this year–at least in my neck of the woods. And, hey, are the Forsythia bushes starting to pop?

A place for the genuine

I have been reading about Marianne Moore, the eminent 20th century American poet, who was born in Kirkwood, Missouri in 1887. In the introduction to her Pulitzer Prize winner, Collected Poems, T.S. Eliot, another St. Louisan, said: “My conviction has remained unchanged for the last 14 years that Miss Moore’s poems form part of the small body of durable poetry written in our time…”

I love this thing she said in an interview with Donald Hall for the Paris Review in 1960 when he asked her, since she and Eliot were both born in St. Louis around the same time, if their families knew each other:

No, we did not know the Eliots. We lived in Kirkwood, Missouri, where my grandfather was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. T.S. Eliot’s grandfather–Dr. William Eliot–was a Unitarian…My grandfather, like Dr. Eliot, had attended ministerial meetings in St. Louis. Also, at stated intervals, various ministers met for luncheon. After one of these luncheons my grandfather said, “When Dr. William Eliot asks the blessing and says, ‘and this we ask in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ he is Trinitarian enough for me.’

Isn’t that great?

A lifelong Presbyterian, she was also, FYI, a Republican! She’d be canceled for that today. Well, she didn’t take herself too seriously even back then.

Amen, sister.