dual personalities

“What is this babbler trying to say?”*

Daughter #1 sent this link to me and Chris Pratt is my new hero.

Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 10.25.13 AM.png

“Nobody is perfect,” Pratt stated for rule No. 9. “People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are. You are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift, and like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood. Do not forget that. Don’t take that for granted.”

What he said at the MTV Movie and TV Awards took real courage. It is one thing to stand up at the CMA Awards and thank your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a roomful of Christians, but to do it at the MTV Awards…WOW. Sure, his “Nine Rules from Chris Pratt, Generation Award Winner” were riddled with vulgarities–he very cleverly kept their attention that way–but he got his main point across.

You rock, Chris Pratt. God bless you.

*Acts 17: 18–You remember, when Paul takes it to the  marketplace in Athens. This is a reminder that we should too.

“Cheer up now, you faint-hearted warrior…”*

Today is the birthday of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 –-January 31, 1892) who was an extraordinary English preacher. Theologically he was a Calvinist, denominationally he was a Baptist, and he said, “if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.'” When he died in 1892, London went into mourning. Nearly 60,000 people came to pay homage during the three days his body lay in state at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Some 100,000 lined the streets as a funeral parade two miles long followed his hearse from the Tabernacle to the cemetery. Flags flew at half-staff and shops and pubs were closed.

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 5.29.34 PM.png

Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle today

Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations among whom he is still known as the “Prince of Preachers.”

I can attest to the fact that he is alive and well on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 9.12.24 AM.png

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 3.25.58 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-06-18 at 3.26.27 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-06-18 at 3.27.15 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 3.42.14 PM.png

I am no lover of memes and quotes taken out of context, but I have to admit, I like a little Spurgeon in my Instagram feed!

Interesting flyover tie-in: William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri purchased Spurgeon’s 5,103-volume library collection for £500 ($2500) in 1906. The collection was purchased by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri in 2006 for $400,000 and can be seen on display at the Spurgeon Center on the campus of Midwestern Seminary.


*”…Not only has Christ traveled the road, but He has defeated your enemies.” (CS)

“See! the streams of living waters, springing from eternal love”*


It’s tiger lily time in flyover country. They are everywhere! I do love these heat-loving beauties. And, boy, this weekend was a hot one!


I went to three estate sales (no luck) and did a little shopping of the home-store variety.  I went to church. Other than that, it was strictly inside for me this weekend: I yakked on the phone and worked on some inside projects. It warmed my heart that daughter #1 in Mid-MO went estate-saleing and was more successful than I.

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 12.54.18 PM.png

I finished reading The Bondwoman’s Narrative, a 19th century novel by Hannah Craft and possibly the first novel written by an African-American woman. (Daughter #2 had left it at home for me.) In 2013 Crafts’ identity was documented as Hannah Bond, an enslaved African-American woman on the plantation of John Wheeler and his wife Ellen in Murfreeboro, North Carolina. Bond served there as a lady’s maid to Ellen Wheeler, and escaped about 1857, settling finally in New Jersey.  Here’s a review of this very interesting and well-written book by the great Hilary Mantel in the London Review of Books.

I should mention that yesterday, besides being Father’s Day, was also Bunker Hill Day, which commemorates the battle of Bunker Hill on June 17. It is also the birthday of our maternal grandfather, who was always known as Bunker because he was born on Bunker Hill Day in 1900.


Here’s an appropriate word from old Henry David Thoreau in honor of Bunker:

The fishermen sit by their damp fire of rotten pine wood, so wet and chilly that even smoke in their eyes is a kind of comfort. There they sit, ever and anon scanning their reels to see if any have fallen, and, if not catching many fish, still getting what they went for, though they may not be aware of it, i.e. a wilder experience than the town affords.

(December 26, 1856)

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 3.52.14 PM.png

Today is a busy day for me and I have to pick up the wee babes and their parents at the airport tonight at 9:00 pm–way past my bedtime!

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 5.45.16 PM.png

All in a day’s work.

Have a good one.

*Hymn 522, John Newton; the painting is by N.C. Wyeth, “Thoreau Fishing”

“A man must stand in the door of his home and let the wolf get him before the wolf gets his family.”

So sayeth master musician B.B. King in his autobiography. It’s an old-fashioned notion of manhood, but it cuts to the chase, and I like it. This is not to suggest that any woman with gumption wouldn’t do the same, but it’s Father’s Day tomorrow, so I thought we’d concentrate on men. Naturally, as a cinephile, I started thinking about the “best movie fathers”. Knowing that other people have made such lists, I googled the phrase out of curiosity. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Sure, some of the choices were obvious and reasonable. Who wouldn’t pick the fathers from To Kill a Mockingbird, Bicycle Thieves, and Life is Beautiful? I could even get behind Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. Those are all good choices, but after those, the lists get crazy. For example, some bright spark at Rolling Stone preferred Don Corleone (The Godfather), Mustafa from The Lion King, Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Marlin in Finding Nemo, and Liam Neeson’s character in Taken. Really? Whoever put the list together either hadn’t seen many movies or tried to appeal to a readership that has only seen summer blockbusters. I stopped perusing lists.

After much deliberation, I decided that my ideal cinematic father would be Donald Crisp,

the epitome of kind, hard-working, steady, loving, wise goodness. Consider him in How Green was my Valley, the film for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube:

Donald Crisp would guard his family from wolves, but in a quietly authoritative, non-violent manner, at least to start with. He’d shoot from the hip if necessary. After all, he served in army intelligence in Britain during WWI and as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves during WWII (by which time he was in his mid-50s). He also played Ulysses S. Grant in D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.

Not a bad likeness!

My runner-up for best father-figure would be Edmund Gwenn, otherwise known as Kris Kringle — the real-life Santa Claus — from Miracle on 34th Street.

I suppose both of my choices might be considered more grandfatherly than fatherly, but in the end I don’t think the distinction is very important. Perhaps younger men have too much else going and have to grow into the role gradually. Or maybe my ideal fathers are getting older as I do.

Whatever your view of fathers, I hope you spend some quality time with the main man in your life this weekend! We’ll attend our Father’s Day brunch at church and then watch Germany play Mexico in the World Cup. England doesn’t play until Monday, and the U.S. didn’t make it into the competition. They shouldn’t feel too bad — Italy and the Netherlands didn’t make it either.

Happy Father’s Day!

“On a lonely road quite long ago, A trav’ler trod with fiddle and a bow”*

On this day in 1836, the Arkansas Territory was admitted to the Union as the 25th state. In 1861 Arkansas withdrew from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. It returned to the U.S. in 1868.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.25.28 AM.pngArkansas borders Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, Missouri to the north, and Tennessee and Mississippi to the east. Considering it is our neighbor to the south, I am not at all well acquainted with this state. I have been there only twice. The OM and I visited Eureka Springs, an historic Victorian town in the Ozarks, years ago, and daughter #1 and I drove to Bentonville a few years ago to see the Crystal Bridges Museum.

Historically, the Arkansas River, a major tributary of the mighty Mississippi, is a very important river, especially in regards to the Santa Fe Trail, which, you know, interests me a great deal.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.36.31 AM.pngHowever, I can’t say I have a great desire to go to Little Rock.

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 6.31.18 AM.png

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library kind of looks like a giant double-wide…seriously, did they do that on purpose?

The Fort Smith National Historic Site might be interesting to visit with Judge Parker’s courtroom…

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.46.49 AM.png

…but I’m not putting it on my bucket list. Instead I will suggest we watch a movie starring one of these illustrious sons of Arkansas:

Alan Ladd in Shane (1953)

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.49.21 AM.png

Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade (1996)

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.50.38 AM.png

Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet (1944)

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.51.42 AM.png

Arthur Hunnicutt in El Dorado (1967)

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 10.53.07 AM.png

…or True Grit (1969) which stars Glen Campbell, who haled from Arkansas. Fort Smith actually plays an important part in the action of the film as does Judge Parker, the “hanging” judge.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 11.05.52 AM.png

Of course, one of the most famous sons of Arkansas is Johnny Cash.

How can you top that?

Have a good weekend! Mine will be a quiet one. The wee babes don’t return from Florida until Monday night!

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 2.32.03 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-06-14 at 2.32.23 PM.png

We miss them!

*The music for the Arkansas state song, “The Arkansas Traveler,” was written by Colonel Sanford (Sandy) Faulkner (about 1850). Lyrics were added by the Arkansas State Song Selection Committee in 1947.

“The mind was dreaming. The world was its dream.”

“A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.”

Today is the anniversary of the death of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator.


He is buried in the Cimetière de Plainpalais, in Geneva, Switzerland, along with John Calvin.

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 7.50.07 PM.png

Many people thought that he should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. This makes me think of Philip Roth, who died a few weeks ago, who also felt robbed of the same award.

Well, as Calvin said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”

If you are looking for something to read, you might look up old Jorge Luis Borges. I am not well read in his canon, but what I have read, I liked.

I’m talking to an American: there’s a book I must speak about — nothing unexpected about it — that book is Huckleberry Finn. I thoroughly dislike Tom Sawyer. I think that Tom Sawyer spoils the last chapters of Huckleberry Finn. All those silly jokes. They are all pointless as jokes; but I suppose Mark Twain thought it was his duty to be funny even when he wasn’t in the mood. The jokes had to be worked in somehow. According to what George Moore said, the English always thought, “better a bad joke than no joke.”

I think that Mark Twain was one of the really great writers, but I think he was rather unaware of that fact. But perhaps in order to write a really great book, you must be rather unaware of the fact. You can slave away at it and change every adjective to some other adjective, but perhaps you can write better if you leave the mistakes.

I remember Bernard Shaw said, that as to style, a writer has as much style as his conviction will give him and not more. Shaw thought that the idea of a game of style was quite nonsensical, quite meaningless. He thought of Bunyan, for example, as a great writer because he was convinced of what he was saying. If a writer disbelieves what he is writing, then he can hardly expect his readers to believe it. In this country, though, there is a tendency to regard any kind of writing — especially the writing of poetry — as a game of style. I have known many poets here who have written well — very fine stuff — with delicate moods and so on — but if you talk with them, the only thing they tell you is smutty stories or they speak of politics in the way that everybody does, so that really their writing turns out to be a kind of sideshow. They had learned writing in the way that a man might learn to play chess or to play bridge. They were not really poets and writers at all. It was a trick they had learned, and they had learned it thoroughly. They had the whole thing at their finger ends. But most of them — except four or five, I should say — seemed to think of life as having nothing poetic or mysterious about it.

(Interview with Borges in The Paris Review)

“Puir—Bobby! Gang—awa’—hame—laddie.”

Last weekend I watched the old Disney movie Greyfriars Bobby (1961).

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 9.57.59 AM.png

I had not seen it in years and years and I was quite struck by what a really terrific movie it is. It packs quite a punch. Filmed in Scotland, it really tugged at my genetic heartstrings.

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 9.58.28 AM.png

The actor who played “Auld Jock” reminded me a lot of Robin Williams, who was, after all, of Scottish derivation.

You remember the story: A wee Skye Terrier named Bobby is the pet of a Scottish farmer and his wife, but the dog loves an old shepherd hired on the farm called Auld Jock. When money grows scarce on the farm, Auld Jock is let go. He travels to Edinburgh, and Bobby follows him. Auld Jock dies in poverty in an inn and is buried in Greyfriar’s kirkyard. Bobby returns to Auld Jock’s grave every night to sleep. Two men (played by Laurence Naismith and Donald Crisp) vie for his affection, as do the street urchins of the town, but he will belong to no one but Auld Jock. In the meantime, no one has purchased a license for Bobby, and without a license and someone to take responsibility for Bobby, he may be destroyed. Bobby’s fate rests with the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. In a moving act of charity, the children of Edinburgh contribute their pennies for Bobby’s license. Bobby is declared a Freeman of the City and adopted by the populace of Edinburgh.

This is a true story and there is a statue commemorating the loyalty of the wee dog in Edinburgh. I have seen it.

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 10.00.12 AM.png

Anyway, after viewing the movie (and weeping throughout) I thought I would like to read the book on which the Disney version is based. I found my grandfather Cameron’s copy, which he had received as a gift in 1912.


Bunker had written his name underneath and on the dedication page he had added his own notation:


(I can’t tell you how much I love that.)

I read the book and enjoyed it. The Disney screenplay follows it very closely–a good call on their part. Interestingly, Eleanor Atkinson was from Indiana and had never been to Scotland! She must have known some natives, because the dialect is excellent. The book is still in print (a Puffin Classic).

So I heartily recommend you watch this vintage Disney movie! And here is a fun fact to know and tell. I was struck by how excellent the children in this movie are. Some you may remember from other old Disney movies, but one girl stood out to me.

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 9.59.18 AM.png

I looked on IMDB.com to see who played Ailie. It was Joan Juliet Buck, which sounded very familiar. Indeed, she grew up to be the editor of Paris Vogue (1994-2001). Greyfriars Bobby is the only movie she made as a child actress.

The world is more than we know.

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”

So far it was plain and comforting. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

Nae, the pastures were brown, or purple and yellow with heather and gorse. Rocks cropped out everywhere, and the peaty tarps were mostly bleak and frozen. The broad Firth was ever ebbing and flowing with the restless sea, and the burns bickering down the glens. The minister of the little hill kirk had said once that in England the pastures were green and the lakes still and bright; but that was a fey, foreign country to which Auld Jock had no desire to go. He wondered, wistfully, if he would feel at home in God’s heaven, and if there would be room in that lush silence for a noisy little dog, as there was on the rough Pentland braes.

–From Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson

Have a good Wednesday!



“You make my dreams come true, oh yeah”*

Forty-eight years ago today the wedding of Tricia Nixon and Edward Finch Cox took place in the rose garden at the White House. You can read about it here.

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 12.10.36 PM.pngI remember their wedding. I was just finishing up the ninth grade and I thought they were a very attractive pair.

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 12.40.41 PM.pngC’mon, he was pretty cute. And she weighed 95 pounds–it said so in the NYT article about the wedding!

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 3.29.27 PM.png

Fun fact: the “most famous Presidential bride of all,” 87‐year‐old Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, was a guest at the Nixon-Cox nuptials. I must say, it all seems very low key and tasteful (except for that cake) compared to the huge, lavish, overdone weddings these days with all the attendant media hype. Call me old-fashioned.

Here is a list of the 18 weddings that have taken place at the White House. They were not all children of sitting presidents. For instance, did you know that one of Hillary Clinton’s brothers was married at the White House in 1994? He was divorced a few years later.

The most shocking White House wedding, in my opinion, was the wedding in 1886 of President Grover Cleveland to Frances Folsom in the Blue Room. The bride was 21 years old! This marriage was also unusual, since Cleveland was the executor of the bride’s estate and had supervised her upbringing after her father’s death; nevertheless, we are told, “the public took no exception to the match.”

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 2.40.49 PM.png

Sounds real sketch to me.

*Hall & Oates

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”*

I was feted this weekend (belatedly for my birthday back in April) with a trip to and a tour of Bellefontaine Cemetery on the northern edge of our fair city. As you know, I do like a historically-significant cemetery. Bellefontaine (pronounced “Belle-fountain” by the locals), established in 1849, when the Rural Cemetery Association purchased the former Hempstead family farm located five miles northwest of the city, is such a cemetery.

A mini Gothic cathedral fit for a beer baron

A storm was brewing in the southwest and came crashing in as we finished the tour. We got a little wet running to our car, but that was preferable to spending one more minute with the tedious docent who had triggered me almost immediately with her irreverent, “amusing” stories of the famous/infamous residents of the cemetery. I hate the attitude that reduces everything in history to an anecdote for simple minds. Sorry for the rant. I love Bellefontaine cemetery, but clearly a self-guided tour is the way I should go in the future!

After our tour the plan was to go to the Crown Candy Kitchen for lunch.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 9.19.58 AM.pngI have never been to this local landmark, which like the cemetery is in a most disreputable and run-down part of town, and I was really looking forward to it. When we got there, however, there was a line of people waiting outside (under the awning) in the rain! We decided to pass and moved on to our favorite Cafe Osage in the CWE. The drive there was like something out of Escape from New York (1981)…

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 9.34.42 AM.png…but we got there and had a lovely lunch.


All in all, it was a terrific outing with my creative (and flexible) BFFs…there were even presents!

On Sunday the OM and I went out to breakfast with the wee babes and their parents, because they are headed to Florida today and didn’t want to come over for their usual Sunday night visit.



Joe Cool says 8:00 am is way early in the morning for socializing, dude

The rest of the weekend was spent puttering in the house and gabbing on the phone with my daughters. I also planted some more geraniums in pots and puttered around in my yard.


Unfortunately, it was too hot to linger on the patio and the Florida room is only habitable in the early morning or evening hours.

Don’t forget that today is the feast day of Barnabas on the Episcopal calendar of saints. I always liked old Barnabas.

Those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

(Acts 11:19-30;13:1-3)

Barnabas is a great role model for us all, although he did get fed up with Paul and bail on him. That happens; we are only human.

*Ben Quick in The Long, Hot Summer (1958)

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

We have returned safely from jolly old England and all is well. Our flights were on time, and the DH managed all the driving with remarkable aplomb. He didn’t sideswipe a single parked car or lose a wing mirror to a hedge, and on those Devon roads that’s no mean feat.

We began our trip with a short stay at the Kew Gardens Hotel.

photo from Google

The proprietors are friendly and the rooms comfortable and very quiet. I would highly recommend this hotel, especially if you want to visit the National Archives or Kew Gardens, both of which are a very short walk away. I did a little genealogy at the National Archives, but made no noteworthy discoveries. While the DH toiled away at his mathematical treatises, I visited the gardens, which I blogged about a couple of years ago. Despite the earlier post, this was my first trip to Kew and it fulfilled all my expectations. My mother would have loved the huge old trees,

the beautiful flowers (are these agapanthus or something else?),

She would have explored every corner, so I did, too. From the fancy Victorian green house

to Kew palace, I wandered everywhere, got lost several times, and once or twice found myself going in circles.

I had a great time! I could hardly move the next day, but I spent most of that sitting in a car on the way down to Devon, so it didn’t matter.

In Devon we visited a National Trust property called Knightshayes that also boasted fabulous grounds. The house is a 19th century Gothic pile — all dark wood and brooding wallpaper — and not exactly my cup of tea, but the gardens were amazing.

and yours truly survived another epic stroll all around a vast estate.

Stay tuned for more about our adventures across the pond, and have a great weekend!