dual personalities

“It’s the kind of place that makes a bum feel like a king. And it makes a king feel like some nutty, cuckoo, super-king.”

Well, guess who had Monday off and forgot that today was Wednesday, not Tuesday? That’s right, Daughter #1. So apologies for the late-in-the-day post. I hope that logging on to the internet and finding no fresh post didn’t set your day off on a downward trend.

As you may know, I was in Washington, DC last week for a work-related conference. The first two days I was in town, it was lovely and sunny and the city looked nice and bustling. The second two days featured rain and cold winds and had the opposite effect.

The fancy event of the conference was held at the Museum of Women in the Arts, which was filled with lots of important art including Frida Kahlo’s self portrait dedicated to Trotsky and the below:

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The joke is too obvious. Maybe that’s the point?

The best part of the trip (and one of the main reasons I wanted to go at all) was getting to see my sister, DN, and their lovely apartment. Sleeping in a guest room (!) and not on an air mattress in the living room was a major upgrade and much appreciated. They are wonderful hosts and it was a delight to spend time with them on their turf.

Of course after almost four full days in the nation’s capital, I was ready to return to Missouri’s small-town capital, the land of no traffic and open skies. We may not have copious farm-to-table restaurant options, but we do have two Burger Kings.

*Simpsons Reference

“January cold and desolate; February dripping wet”*

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The OM and I had a fun trip to Jefferson City last weekend. We took the “River Runner” train after work on Friday. The next morning  daughter #1 drove us to Columbia where we checked out the new State Historical Society of Missouri building…

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(The sky was grey and overcast when we visited and there was a much more brutalist feel to the building than in this photo.)

The museum inside was small but very nice with some good paintings and drawings by George Caleb Bingham and Thomas Hart Benton.

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It was pretty cool. We had lunch in a hip, Brooklyn-esque restaurant and then headed home to Jeff City where we dropped off the OM at daughter # 1’s charming apartment…

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…so that we could do a little mid-MO shopping. After a late afternoon glass of wine, we hopped on the train and returned to Kirkwood. It was a lovely, hassle-free overnight visit with daughter #1.

On Sunday I went to church and came home and caught up on laundry and vacuuming and got ready for the wee babes’ arrival later in the afternoon. I had bought them little Valentine presents, which turned out to be big hits. The Jumping Bear stacking toy was for Lottie who, as you know, loves to stack, and the Fisher Price Nifty Station Wagon was for the wee laddie who loves all things on wheels.

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Note that he has taken out the Dad, Mom and dog and put more cars in the “nifty station wagon”…

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There’s a whole lot of concentrating going on here…

I was pleased. My choices are seldom not always so successful…

In other news, I forgot to watch the Westminster Dog Show last week. I always got a kick out of it, but I’m afraid it has become a bit of a clown show…

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 1.15.24 PM.pngThat poodle, good grief.

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Here’s to the rest of the week! Maybe the sun will come out!

*Christina Rossetti, “The Months”

“Peace be with all the world! My blessing on my friends! My forgiveness to my enemies! For I am in the realm of quiet!”*

As expected, we kept our Valentine’s Day simple. I purchased pink tapers at the hardware store (very romantic — DN asked if they were Advent candles, haha) and he picked up fancy cheeses and tulips at the grocery store. I made an easy but showy dessert, the recipe for which is perfectly portioned for two. And I ironed my tablecloth that has the most red and pink in it.

IMG_5819IMG_5825All in all, we had a lovely evening that centered on enjoying one another’s company. How nice!

The rest of the weekend mostly featured reading and lounging about. I recently picked up The Scarlet Letter and have just started re-reading it, starting with its prefatory “The Custom-House” sketch. While I do love the genius of Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne is, by contrast, appealingly easy to read. Hawthorne feels like a kindred spirit.

From a trip to Salem, MA in 2013

I just loved how he describes getting an office job after several years of co-mingling with the New England literature gang:

It contributes greatly toward a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate. . . . I took it in good part, at the hands of Providence, that I was thrown into a position so little akin to my past habits; and set myself seriously to gather from it whatever profit was to be had. After my fellowship of toil and impracticable schemes with the dreary brethren of Brook Farm; after living for three years within the subtile influence of an intellect like Emerson’s; after those wild, free days on the Assabeth, indulging fantastic speculations, beside our fire of fallen boughs, with Ellery Channing; after talking with Thoreau about pine-trees and Indian relics, in his hermitage at Walden; after growing fastidious by sympathy with the classic refinement of Hillard’s culture; after becoming imbued with poetic sentiment at Longfellow’s hearth-stone; — it was time, at length, that I should exercise other faculties of my nature, and nourish myself with food for which I had hitherto little appetite. Even the old Inspector was desirable, as a change of diet, to a man who had known Alcott.

Poor Bronson Alcott–ouch! (But also LOL.)

Hawthorne also writes about later losing his job at the Custom-House after Zachary Taylor was elected President (and subsequently fired a number of political appointees).

But who can see an inch into futurity, beyond his nose? My own head was the first that fell!

The moment when a man’s head drops off is seldom, or never, I am inclined to think, precisely the most agreeable of his life. Nevertheless, like the greater part of our misfortunes, even so serious a contingency brings its remedy and consolation with it, if the sufferer will but make the best, rather than the worst, of the accident that has befallen him.

Always a good reminder, eh? Hawthorne’s “making the best” is that he returned to the literary scene and wrote The Scarlet Letter, and we should be very glad for it. I’m only a bit into the novel proper, but I have a feeling it will “hit a little different,” as they say, than it did in college. Hester Prynne is quite the woman.

*All quotes from “The Custom-House”

“Air, I should explain, becomes wind when it is agitated.”*

I had a hellish week full of interminable, stressful meetings. By Thursday night I was exhausted and on the verge of quitting all my community and work-related obligations (I may yet do so). Then my sweet DH gave me this little gem of a book for Valentine’s Day and my equanimity has been restored.

After working as a harassed GP in Glasgow for several years, Dr. Alexander moves his family (at that point a wife and four young boys) to Eday, a small island in the Orkneys off the northeast tip of Scotland. It is a beautiful, barren and windswept island of peat bogs, fields and scattered farms.

On sunny days it is the most benign place on earth, but when a gale blows, winds can reach 125 mph and the waves pummel the shore with ferocious force!

Everyone knows everyone else and pitches in to do whatever is necessary. With no support staff, hospital or even a pharmacy on the island, and the nearest help a plane-ride away in Kirkwall, Dr. Alexander quickly learns to improvise. In typical Scottish fashion, he soon finds himself not only treating the Island’s inhabitants and sometimes their animals, but leading church services, because the minister, who serves several parishes on different islands, cannot make the trip in the winter. Who more qualified than the doctor to replace him?

I’m about halfway through and I must say that this book is as good as a vacation. It is such a relief to read something low-key about nice people being decent to each other. It also brings back fond memories of my own trip to the Orkneys back in the early 1980s. I visited the main island and saw such sites as the ruined Earl’s palace at Kirkwall,

the Ring of Brodgar standing stones,

and Skara Brae, the Neolithic village.

It was a cool trip. Come Monday I will still have to face micromanaging administrators and unhappy colleagues but I will do it with a renewed sense of perspective. Not everyone in the world is crazy or looking to control what other people do. Be comforted!

*Lucretius, On the Nature of Things

None of the photos are my own. I retrieved them all via Google image.

A bushel and a peck

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Well, I have had a busy week! I even gave a talk to 150 people and lived through it. “I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,” wrote Paul to the Corinthians. “And my speech and my proclamation were not in words of wisdom.” This is always how I feel, but according to people in attendance, I did not embarrass myself.

I also went to an event after work for a friend who is running for City Council. Another thing I haven’t done in a long time–go out after work!

Later today, after work, the OM and I are taking the River Runner Amtrak train to Jefferson City.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 11.36.05 AM.pngWe’ll stay with daughter #1 and come home on the train on Saturday evening. Wild and crazy I know!

On Sunday I hope the wee babes will come over with their parents for an old-fashioned Valentine’s Day party like the ones daughter #2 alluded to in her post yesterday.

The wee babes have been wearing Valentine outfits all week.

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Lottie is one of only a couple of girls in a class full of boys, so odds are she will make out like a bandit in the Valentine lottery. Unknown-2.jpegUnknown-3.jpeg

The wee laddie has a coterie of older girls (5 year olds!) who follow him around and tell him he’s cute. They can’t keep their hands off him. The acorn didn’t fall too far from the tree…

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Love is in the air.

Anyway, have a good weekend! Watch a good romantic movie!

dive for dreams

or a slogan may topple you

(trees are their roots

and wind is wind)

 

trust your heart

if the seas catch fire

(and live by love

though the stars walk backward)

honor the past

but welcome the future

(and dance your death

away at this wedding)

never mind a world

with its villains or heroes

(for god likes girls

and tomorrow and the earth)

–e.e. cummings

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-10)

Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!

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I have always been a Sally Brown type — prone to a bit of mushiness. This year, DN and I do not have any big plans for Valentine’s Day, but I might make a special dessert or something. Maybe we will light the tapers on the dining room table. I will probably tell him I think he’s cute.

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Of course, Valentine’s Day need not be for lovey-dovey couples only! I remember growing up we’d have Valentine’s Day parties at home. Well before I had a beau, my mother would decorate the dinner table and give us little gifts to celebrate. It was something fun and festive in the middle of a dreary month.

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In retrospect, I think that motherly attention went a long way. I always felt loved. Well, whatever the source, I hope everyone catches a little bit of mushiness this weekend! ❤

Ad referendum*

Daughter #1 asked me to post today because she got home from her trip to D.C. late last night.

Screen Shot 2020-02-11 at 8.22.28 PM.pngHaving shot my wad yesterday, I was at a loss. [I’ll let Sen. Orrin Hatch remind you what “to shoot one’s wad” means.]

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I haven’t seen the wee babes for a couple of weeks, but luckily the boy keeps me up-to-date with what they are doing at school…

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Lottie staying inside the lines, the wee laddie not so much…

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Learning to toast in preschool (“L’chaim!”)

Today on the Episcopal Church calendar we honor Charles Freer Andrews, an Anglican priest and missionary, who was an educator and social reformer in India. He was a friend and associate  of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. Perhaps you remember him as portrayed in the film Gandhi (1982) by Ian Charleson.

Screen Shot 2020-02-11 at 8.42.56 PM.pngGandhi’s affectionate nickname for Andrews was Christ’s Faithful Apostle, based on the initials of his name, “C.F.A”.  He is widely commemorated and respected in India.

Gracious God, you called Charles Freer Andrews to show forth your salvation to the poor: By your Holy Spirit inspire in us a tender concern, a passionate justice, and an active love for all people, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with you and the same Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

And lest we forget:

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*For further consideration

Hoopla and more

Well, the Oscars hoopla is over. Thank goodness. Sunday night I watched The Sand Pebbles (1966)–a movie which should have won Best Picture but did not.

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It is such a good movie–and not just because Steve McQ is in it. Even though it veers from the original novel in strange ways, it still has a very strong and effective screenplay. It has great performances, great cinematography, great music. And Steve was never better. He gives a measured and sensitive performance. I really enjoyed it.

It is interesting to look back at the year 1966 and the movies that were popular:

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I have also seen some lists that include The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Blow Up in the top ten. I have never seen the Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. starring Dick Van Dyke, have you?

Interestingly, there is no John Wayne movie in the top 10 (or top 20). The only movie he made that year was Cast a Giant Shadow, which coincidentally I also watched this past weekend in memory of Kirk Douglas. It is about Col. Mickey Marcus (Douglas), a former U.S. Army officer, recruited by the Jews in Israel to reorganize the Haganah in 1947, following the U.N. decision to split British Palestine into separate Jewish and Palestinian states. Not a big hit, I guess. I enjoyed it and I learned a few things.

Here are the first 15 minutes of the 1967 Oscar show, which honored the movies of 1966, including the monologue by Bob Hope. Governor Reagan, who was in the audience,

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gets some good humored ribbing, but the political jokes are pretty mild. Take a look:

It was a different world, for sure. What would they have made of Joaquin Phoenix back then?

Not surprisingly the 2020 Oscar show brought in its lowest ratings ever–a decrease of 20% from last year’s show. Hollywood’s biggest night–not so much.

Well, since we are feeling a bit nostalgic, we will also note the passing of Robert Conrad, who starred on such television shows as ‘Hawaiian Eye’ and ‘ Wild Wild West’ and ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and on the miniseries ‘Centennial.’ Back in the day we were big fans of James T. West in his short jackets and tight pants…

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…and our father loved ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep.’ Conrad was also featured in those classic 1970s commercials for Eveready Batteries, with a battery on his shoulder, a menacing stare and the catchphrase, “I dare you to knock this off.”

Sunrise, sunset…

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“He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy.”*

This weekend, daughters #1 and #2 were together! Saturday was a sister day, complete with hip lunch menus and draft kombucha, manicures, guacamole, and lots of gabbing.

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The ladies dined on gourmet bread and butter and simple salads. DN ate fancy toast.

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Not our best angles or lighting, but what can you do.

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One of these is a faux-marg. I took this picture to highlight the fresh mani!

We mostly took it easy, but it was very fun to have a guest visit now that we live in our new neighborhood (and have a guest room). Now daughter #1 is at a conference in town, and I spent the rest of the weekend relaxing and scoping out the hype of Netflix’s Cheer documentary. 

Of note: on Saturday night, we watched Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and I have to say, it holds up! We laughed a lot.

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There are so many lines that we quoted throughout my adolescence, like “I have a whole bag of ‘sh!’ with your name on it,” “You shot me! You shot me right in the arm!,” “Evacuation complete,” and “I’m having difficulty controlling the VOLUME of my voice.” Can you remember the scenes from each of those quotes? I bet you can.

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*Dr. Evil

Winter of our discontent

I’m feeling mighty discontented at the moment.  I had most of my post completed when Edge crashed and I lost everything (why does that keep happening to me?). That, coupled with my laptop’s snail-like speed and apparent unwillingness to complete tasks, has damaged my calm. But I will fare forward!

Yesterday’s snowstorm dumped a good foot of snow on us — ugh. In the event that readers are also getting tired of winter I have a few suggestions to restore morale.

a. Watch 1970s reruns of The Match Game in honor of long-time panelist Orson Bean, who died yesterday when hit by a car. He was still going strong at 91. 

My DP and I spent many a long, boring summer day watching that show and yucking it up over Mr. Bean’s witticisms. Rest easy, sir.

b. Bake something wonderful and take it to work to share. Food is a great morale booster. One of my colleagues brought this cake in last week. A friend had made it for her birthday! Can you imagine?

It was as delicious as it was beautiful!

c.  Pamper yourself. I bought these face masks hoping, if not to improve my hag-like appearance, then at least to hydrate my skin. I’ll let you know how it works.

I also  bought these little ‘Fit Kicks’ to wear to Tai Chi, where the floor is super cold and (let’s be honest) not the cleanest. They come in jazzy colors and prints, but I’m an old fogey so gray trim is as wild as I get.

d. Do some light reading. Reread a favorite book, find a new series or peruse a picture book. My BFF recently sent me the first book in a series by Imogen Robertson.

A murder mystery set in 1780s England, the book seems to be historically accurate, is well-written, has good characters, and held my interest throughout. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of volume two which I ordered as soon as I finished the first one. The series seems perfect for my current mood. Right now, I need books that I can depend upon to (1) keep me engaged, (2) have consistent, likeable characters, and perhaps most important (3) NOT use the historical setting as a political platform. Okay, the main female character falls on the anachronistic side of authentic, but the author is not too heavy-handed and did not annoy me. We’ll see how volume 2 goes.

e. Try something entirely new. Many universities have online classes available for anyone to take. Yale offers some interesting looking ones. If you want something more hands-on, why not take up knitting, embroidery or sewing? YouTube has loads of how-to videos. I know that finding the time is hard, but I am a great example of how all work and no play makes us dull!

Writing this post has restored my calm and I am now ready to start my day. I have three sets of committee minutes to type up and the 2nd Punic War to master. You know, the usual….