dual personalities

The days are surely coming

four Advent candles

Advent is here, can you believe it?

This lovely long weekend I celebrated Thanksgiving with the boy’s in-laws, went to a “Rock N Roll” craft fair in terra incognita,  “shopped local” and online, bought my evergreen wreath from the local Boy Scout troop, and got out all my Christmas decorations. I also got some decorations up, but I have a long way to go. The boy came over for his birthday dinner (honey mustard chicken) and put up our outside Christmas lights–yay!

I went to church–Advent I–and we were warned:

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

We didn’t sing this hymn, but I wish we had. You go, Charles Wesley!

And now–back to the salt mines.

Two out of three ain’t bad

We had a lovely Thanksgiving and two of the boys made it here to celebrate. Alas, picture taking hasn’t figured in the festivities, but we have been busy.

DSC00848 (2)The boys made an apple pie for Thanksgiving and put up the Christmas lights yesterday. Today we are going to buy the tree, make cookies, green the church, and take boy #1 to the airport in Syracuse. And tonight we will be sure to toast our dear cousin/nephew Wheeler as he celebrates another birthday.

Thought for the day: although it seems sometimes as if the world is going to hell in a handcart (as they say), history reminds us that it has always been thus. Here’s a wonderful scene from Dragnet (1967-70) that demonstrates powerfully how nothing ever changes (except the quality of TV scripts). “The story you are about to see is true.” Watch it all!

They don’t make ’em like that anymore, do they?

Enjoy your weekend!

Omnes grandinem puer!*

Tomorrow is the boy’s birthday.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 9.50.53 PM

The boy with the OM in their denim phase

three on steps

The boy in overalls and camo boots with his uncle and sister

scouts 2

The boy wearing badges

pumpkin siblings

The boy’s the one on the right.

It may be true that “Most young men are such bores. They haven’t lived long enough to learn that they are not the wonders to the world they are to their mothers.” (L.M. Montgomery)

Well,Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 4.42.43 PMI still think you’re pretty cool.

Have a great birthday and here’s mud in your eye!

*All hail the boy!

Giving thanks


“I have just four words to leave with you. Four words that have spoken volumes of truth into my life.’

He wanted the words to stay in the room, to remain long after he had gone. Though no one wished to hear Paul’s radical injunction, it had to be told.

‘In everything, give thanks.’

This was the lifeboat in any crisis. Over and over again, he had learned this, and over and over again, he had to be reminded.”

–Jan Karon, In This Mountain

Here’s something to read if you’ve forgotten the difference between Pilgrims and Puritans.


And here’s a prayer for the day in case, like me, your plans don’t include church today.

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

–Thanksgiving Day collect, BCP

[The first painting is by Anna S. Fisher, c. 1922; the second by David Reidel, b. 1956]

Swiftly fly the years

As you know, we are a family that loves our traditions. For the last twenty-five or so years, we have watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) every Thanksgiving.


We will happily watch it this year.

We will watch (some of) the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and probably Miracle on 34th Street (1947) at some point over the weekend.


We might watch The Wizard of Oz (1939) which, when I was growing up, was always shown on television the night of Thanksgiving.


We are not a family that brings out the musical instruments when everyone is gathered. (Sadly, we can’t do that.) And we don’t play games. We tend to open up the DVD cabinet. À chacun son goût.

wrc and mwc

We will also celebrate the boy’s birthday this weekend and marvel at how that little tyke grew up into a fine young man.

Ah, sunrise, sunset!


How to win friends and influence people

Dale Harbison Carnegie (originally Carnagey) (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. He was the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), a bestseller that remains popular today.


You knew that, but did you now that he was born and raised in Missouri? Well, he was born in Maryville, Missouri, the son of a farmer. His family moved to Belton, Missouri (also the hometown of Harry Truman) when he was a small child. He graduated from the State Teacher’s College in Warrensburg, worked as a salesman, and moved to New York City. After failing as an actor (!), he taught a public speaking class at the YMCA. In his first session, he ran out of material. Improvising, he suggested that students speak about “something that made them angry” and discovered that the technique made speakers unafraid to address a public audience. From this 1912 début, the Dale Carnegie Course evolved.


Most of what he said is just common sense.

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

“Success is getting what you want..Happiness is wanting what you get.”

“When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.”

“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.”

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.”

But that doesn’t make what he said any less true.


Eminem who was born in nearby St. Joseph, MO, reading words of wisdom from his homeboy.

One more fun fact about Dale Carnegie: He worked as assistant to Lowell Thomas in his famous travelogue “With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia”. He managed and delivered the travelogue in Canada.


Well, son of a gun. A toast to Dale Carnegie on his birthday and to T.E. Lawrence any old day!

“Let the ‘amen’ sound from His people again”*

Sometimes we get caught up in all the things that are wrong with the world. And there are plenty. Like this. Sigh.

But we must remind ourselves how blessed we really are every day.

This past weekend I spent a  lot of time puttering around my house, taking stock of what I have squirreled away for Christmas and what I still need to get. I found the Christmas cards I bought after Christmas last year–that sort of thing.

I talked to my daughters and dual personality on the phone. The OM and I had dinner with some old friends. Indeed, it was a quiet weekend.

We watched The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966) which never ceases to amuse me.


The OM and I in a few years

We also watched Edge of Darkness (1943) a war movie about a small Norwegian fishing village rising up and revolting against the occupying Nazis.

Partisans dig their own graves in "The Edge of Darkness"

Partisans dig their own graves in “The Edge of Darkness”

It was surprisingly edgy and well done I thought. I mean it is blatantly propagandistic and the sets are terrible, but dreamy Errol Flynn is ably supported by a good ensemble cast and you have to love a movie where the peaceful town minister comes through in a way that would make the Sons of Anarchy proud.

Anyway, I am counting my blessings this week and always.


Some leaves are still hanging on in the ‘hood.

I am thankful for TCM and our DVR, not to mention Netflix and streaming cable television shows. I am thankful for old friends and good books and Coffee Nips and red wine. I am thankful for my laptop and online shopping and Christmas cactus and being able to turn the heat on when the temperatures go down. I am thankful for being able to go down to the basement and do my laundry when I want to and that we could just go out and buy a new refrigerator when the old one conked out last week. These are things I do not take for granted.

Have a good week–only 2 1/2 days of work–and don’t forget to count your blessings!

*Joachim Neander,  hymn #390 “Praise to the Lord the Almighty”

“This gentleman has been standing alone against the world!”*

Last week son number 3 made his acting debut as juror number 9 in “12 Angry Men” (hey! 9 + 3 = 12 Is that significant?). His brother described juror number 9 to his mom, who has not read the play or seen the movie, as “the wise and observant, elderly one.” So here’s a pic of my very own wise, observant and elderly son:

Tim as juror number 9

I gather they colored his hair and beard to make him look older. It’s funny, but with light hair he looks a lot like brother #2. I can’t imagine how he managed to fit a play in with all the other things he does. He is so much better organized than I am!

By contrast, I have no turkey or Thanksgiving decorations yet.  Still, I’m very excited that two of my boys are coming home for a few days and I will make every effort to feed them plenty of holiday appropriate food. I like Thanksgiving. It’s not a big deal in our house, but it’s not the dreaded family get together of lore. What can I say? We like each other.  But if you need something to liven a boring Thanksgiving up, maybe this poem by Alfred Noyes will give you some ideas:

Everyone grumbled. The sky was grey.
We had nothing to do and nothing to say.
We were nearing the end of a dismal day,
And there seemed to be nothing beyond,
Daddy fell into the pond!

And everyone’s face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
‘Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He’s crawling out of the duckweed.’

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,
And the ducks all quacked as if they were daft
And is sounded as if the old drake laughed.

O, there wasn’t a thing that didn’t respond
Daddy fell into the pond!


Have a Happy Thanksgiving, with or without aquatic high-jinks!

*”12 Angry Men”

Hello, Friday!


This is one of those event-packed Fridays when I think, if I can just get through today, I’m going to take it easy this weekend! That is my plan.

In the meantime, here are some postcards from my week.

St. Louis keeps watch over Art Hill.IMG_1466

The Ginko trees at my flyover university are awesome.
Screen shot 2015-11-19 at 11.26.25 AM

The Christmas cactus is blooming right on schedule!

Screen shot 2015-11-19 at 11.20.10 AM

And someone brought me cookies at work! 420 calories per 3-bite serving! Oh mein Gott!

Screen shot 2015-11-19 at 11.46.28 AM

And one reminder! Turner Classic Movies: TCM has revised its schedule to showcase a 24-hour tribute to Maureen O’Hara starting today, Friday, November 20. The 12-movie marathon begins at 6 am ET.

Now feel free to

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor everyone; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.’ (from the service for Remembrance Sunday SPCK)

“In my case, self-absorption is completely justified.”*

Today is the birthday of the wonderful character actor Clifton Webb (November 19, 1889 – October 13, 1966). Born Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck (what a great name!) in Indianapolis, Indiana, he moved to New York City with his mother Maybelle when his parents divorced. By age 19 he was a professional ballroom dancer using the stage name Clifton Webb.

Between 1913 and 1947, Webb appeared in 23 Broadway shows, starting with major supporting roles and quickly progressing to leads. He introduced Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” and the Gershwin’s “I’ve Got a Crush on You” in Treasure Girl (1928). Most of Webb’s Broadway shows were musicals, but he also starred in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and in his longtime friend Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and Present Laughter.

Movies followed and he made some great ones: Laura (1944), of course,


and The Razor’s Edge (1946)–he received a supporting actor Oscar nomination for both. But remember him in Sitting Pretty (1948) where he played Mr. Belvedere for the first time? This movie is hysterical.


And he received a leading actor Oscar nomination for it. (Laurence Olivier won that year for Hamlet–go figure.) He made three Mr. Belvedere movies and also Cheaper By the Dozen (1950)–another classic Webb role.

I also really like him as Barbara Stanwyck’s husband in the under-appreciated Titanic (1953)


and in the English war movie The Man Who Never Was (1956).


He was equally adept at comedy and drama–never over-doing either. You could probably argue that Clifton Webb always played Clifton Webb, but he was always wonderful, so who cares?

He lived with his mother until her death at age 91 in 1960, leading Noel Coward to remark, apropos Webb’s grieving, “It must be terrible to be orphaned at 71.”

A toast to Clifton Webb and, if you can find one of his movies, watch it!

*Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) in Laura (1944)


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