dual personalities

“Some days are diamonds/ Some days are rocks”*

Mood

Hope you are having a diamond of a day, able to enjoy the weather and read a little poetry.

The Real Prayers are not the Words, but the Attention that Comes First

The little hawk leaned sideways and, tilted, rode
the wind. Its eye at this distance looked like green
glass; its feet were the color of butter. Speed, obviously,
was joy. But then, so was the sudden, slow circle
it carved into the slightly silvery air, and the squaring
of its shoulders, and the pulling into itself the long,
sharp-edged wings, and the fall into the grass where it
tussled a moment, like a bundle of brown leaves, and
then, again, lifted itself into the air, that butter-color
clenched in order to hold a small, still body, and it flew
off as my mind sang out oh all that loose, blue rink
of sky, where does it go to, and why?        

–Mary Oliver

Today is the birthday of writer Eudora Welty (1909–2001) whom I have admired for many years. It is always a good day to take down one of her books from a shelf and open and read.

“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily – perhaps not possibly – chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.”

Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

I will also note that tomorrow is daughter #2’s birthday.

We will celebrate her birthday in 10 days when she and baby Katie visit for a long weekend. Of course, we can’t wait to hold that baby, but I can’t wait to hold my baby…

…who was a precious bundle of joy not so long ago and is now a beautiful and talented young woman.

Sunrise, sunset. Time is the continuous thread of revelation.

The watercolor is by Louis Michel Eilshemius, painted between 1888 and 1910. (Detroit Institute of Arts)

*Tom Petty, Walls

“Let angels prostrate fall”*

Did you have a lovely weekend? My pals Becky and Carla came over for Happy Hour in the Florida Room on Friday and so the weekend started off on the right foot. Now that we are all vaccinated, why the heck not?

Saturday was dark and stormy, but I did go out to the antique mall to wander around. I also went to TJ Maxx and bought a new shower curtain liner. Life in the fast. lane. The rest of the day I puttered around the old homestead, watched some of the Masters Golf Tournament, and caught up with my DP via phone and this nutball on FaceTime.

All the rain has had a positive effect on the flora.

Oh boy, spring has really sprung!

On Sunday I got up and went to church with the Presbyterians at 8:30 am for the second week in a row. It felt great. The service, compared with the liturgical Episcopalians, is plain, but it includes the Apostles’ Creed, the Gloria Patri, the Corporate Confession (almost the same as the General Confession), and the Doxology. The hymns (4) were all good standards, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. The sermon was on Luke 24:13-35, the walk to Emmaus. I am so happy to have a church to attend.

After church I went and had an hour long facial, using the gift certificate that daughter #1 had given me for my birthday a year ago. It was awesome and I feel like a new woman. The wee babes came over later in the afternoon after attending a birthday party in a park. They were tired and Lottie was especially cranky. The OM made tacos, but Lottie’s mood never improved and they went home early. Sigh. Well, I wouldn’t want you to think my grandchildren were perfect angels or that we never get annoyed with their antics. But we “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I watched A Change of Habit (1969) the DVD of which daughter #1 had left at our house. You will recall that it is Elvis’s last movie and no wonder. I fell asleep and missed part of it. Oh darn.

Now it is Monday and back to the Zoom salt mine. Have a good week!

*All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name by Edward Perronet (1780)‎

“In a world gone mad”*

Today is the commemoration in many Christian denominations of the death of German Lutheran pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed/martyred by the Nazis two weeks before the Flossenbürg concentration camp was liberated by the American Army in 1945.

The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil. The “reasonable” people’s failure is obvious. With the best intentions and a naive lack of realism, they think that with a little reason they can bend back into position the framework that has got out of joint. In their lack of vision they want to do justice to all sides, and so the conflicting forces wear them down with nothing achieved. Disappointed by the world’s unreasonableness, they see themselves condemned to ineffectiveness; they step aside in resignation or collapse before the stronger party. Still more pathetic is the total collapse of moral fanaticism. Fanatics think that their single-minded principles qualify them to do battle with the powers of evil; but like a bull they rush at the red cloak instead of the person who is holding it; they exhaust themselves and are beaten. They get entangled in non-essentials and fall into the trap set by cleverer people.

–Letters and Papers from Prison

Interesting. I became acquainted with Bonhoeffer in graduate school when my best friend was a Lutheran. I was kind of embarrassed by my ignorance, but, really that was (and is) par for the course. There is just so much not to know-we do the best we can.

When I am not reading about courageous women who lived in dangerous times–try being a Protestant in 16th century France–I continue to plan curriculum and moderate Zoom classes. But the end is in sight, as my retirement has been officially announced and the search is on for my replacement. Daughter #1 has started planning the rager that will follow (a barbecue in the back yard with 7 or 8 people?)

Yesterday was the home opener of the Cardinals. (Not that I care anymore.) But I did watch Major League (1989) in honor of the occasion. Why does Bob Uecker amuse me so much? “It’s Harry Doyle with Tepee Time.”

Meanwhile, in my nostalgic look back at 1970s television in order to speed the Sandman, I have been watching old episodes of Starsky and Hutch. Surprisingly, this show is not that bad. Starsky and Hutch are both appealing, although I personally have always been on team Hutch (reader, I married him)…

…and who doesn’t love Huggy Bear?

Well, I’m just saying, if you get desperate enough for something to watch…try it. There is also all that driving fast of the red Ford Torino and making u-turns etc.

Anyway, it is finally Friday and the bell tolleth for me. Have a good one.

And for kicks, here’s more Josh Turner, this time covering one of my favorite Tom Petty songs.

*Tom Petty

Busy bee

Katie has been on the move, nonstop. It is an entirely different endeavor chasing her around the apartment between meals and naps. Remember when she used to sit in front of her book basket, emptying it slowly? That is no longer our m.o. Check out this wild leg kick and ring toss:

It is a good idea to keep an eye out for flying objects around here. Even as this new stage is exhausting, Katie has also been extra sweet lately and I cannot complain.

“Precious angel? Who, me?”
“My bonnet brings me joy”
We like selfies

Of note: when we are in the nursery, Katie’s favorite toy is the Aveeno Baby bottle (not to be confused with the Aquaphor tub in the living room). Someone knows that moisturizing is key!

The only other news to report is that Katie seems to enjoy the small little outings we’ve managed lately. She is a pro at patio sitting in her stroller (pouch in hand). She keeps her cool around all the other neighborhood babies and toddlers!

“All these other kids wish they had a leopard print jumpsuit like me.”

Thrillsville.

This made me laugh.

My mother and I were recently talking (this is my new intro sentence for blog topics because she is the only person with whom I discuss anything of substance) about how we might start re-reading books we read as children. When I went to the book sale at the Jefferson City Library, they were only selling children’s books (and then records and DVDs where I made out like a bandit), but flipping through the old library chapter books really took me back. And it reminded me of some series I had totally forgotten about.

I have a very specific feeling I associate with those old chapter books–the make believe, the imagination, the old library at Flynn Park Elementary School. The other reason to re-read chapter books is that they are easier to read. Seriously, my brain is such mush these days, that I swear I need something lighter.

Here are some books I’d re-read:

The Chronicles of Narnia–for obvious reasons. But also because I read them haphazardly over many years (and I’m even sure I read the last one).

Rumer Godden’s books about dolls–The Doll’s House, Miss Happiness & Miss Flower etc. I just loved these stories and I enjoyed the perspective of the dolls. Very Toy Story before Pixar.

Swallows and Amazons–This series about English children being allowed to sail around on a small boat and camp on an island all alone is amusing in this day and age, but it is nice to read about capable people who are nice and smart, too. Capability is highly underrated these days.

Anyway, of course I can’t find my copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe right now but I found this quote online when trying to find another one and it is rather apt:

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”

What would you re-read?

Nothing else but miracles

The day after

I had a busy day at work on Monday–four Zoom meetings! So I don’t have a whole lot to share today. Meanwhile the grass is getting greener and the leaf blowers and lawn mowers are back with a vengeance.

Yesterday was Nebraska Day and this article was very interesting about classic movie stars who were born in Nebraska. It is a very impressive list–especially compared to Missouri. But, hey, we have Scott Bakula.

This article makes some good points. “Remote, virtual, disembodied fellowship simply isn’t enough.” We are all getting too comfortable with not seeing people.

We’ll “tip our hats an’ raise our glass of cold, cold beer” to the late, great Merle Haggard (1937–2016) on his the birthday today. (April 6 is also the day he died.) And I like this rendition of one of my favorites, Mama Tried, by Reina del Cid and Toni Lindgren:

When the California State University, Bakersfield, awarded Haggard the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts in 2013, Haggard stepped to the podium and said, “Thank you. It’s nice to be noticed.” Classic Hag.

So enjoy your Tuesday and channel some positive Walt Whitman attitude.

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
        ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

–Walt Whitman

Postcards from the weekend

Kilroy was (t)here. (We missed you!)

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend. Mine was exhausting! SO much social activity after weeks, months, a year of not much going on.

I was busy on Friday getting ready for Saturday.

Mimosas are a good start to any party.

Liz got emotional opening daughter #1’s handmade baby blankets. After a yummy lunch (chicken salad, of course) we sat outside in the sun and watched the wee babes frolic on the driveway. After her husband picked Liz up and daughter #3 went home with the babes, we went to pick up margaritas at Club Taco. We finished Ben Hur, which we had started the night before.

On Easter morning we got up early and went to the 8:00 am service at an actual church. It felt great to sit in a pew again and sing hymns. God-honoring worship with the Word of God faithfully preached and the Lord’s Supper celebrated was much appreciated. It will take awhile to get used to not kneeling and to drinking grape juice at communion, but I think I can manage.

When we got home, I made Episcopal Souffle (ironic, yes) and then the boy and his family came over. The babes opened their Easter baskets.

Daughter #1 gave the wee laddie a book on Porsches (estate sale find), which he opened to squeals of joy. He carried it around for the rest of the day.

Note the book in back of the Cooper (ingenious)

We had a super fun egg hunt.

Once again we sat on the driveway in the glorious sun and watched the world bicycle/drive/stroll by. Two days of beautiful spring weather and a little social interaction can do wonders for one’s spirits.

And now it’s Monday. What the…

“Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.”

— from John Updike’s Seven Stanzas at Easter

Surrexit dominus de sepulchro*

Well, Good Friday is here. Let’s all take a moment.

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Christina Rosetti

Tonight we will watch Ben Hur (1959) up to the intermission, finishing tomorrow. It’s a good tradition.

On Saturday we are having a wee luncheon for one of daughter #1’s friends from college who has moved to our flyover city. She is expecting twins, so we thought we would introduce her to our twins– a glimpse of Things To Come.

Remember?

Daughter #1 and I are going to church on Sunday–for the first time in a year I am somewhat ashamed to say. I have been worshipping–if you can rightly call it that–by visiting churches online for the past year and by listening to online sermons. It is far from the same thing, however, and we all need to get back on track. We will be visiting a new church, a Presbyterian Church. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday is also our pater’s birthday. He would be 99! To have been born in 1922 doesn’t seem that long ago, but it is!

ANC III was a lifelong Episcopalian with a Monica-like mother who I’m sure prayed mightily for his salvation. Whether her prayers were answered, I have no idea. But I will lift a toast to him on Sunday and sigh deeply. I hardly knew ye.

In other news, our neighbors across the street were TP’d overnight. (I never heard a thing.) Kind of a lame attempt, really, and such a shocking waste of toilet paper!

And on a week night! Zut alors. I am reminded again that some things never change.

Have a blessed weekend.

Almighty God, who through your only‑begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life‑giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

BCP

*He is risen from the grave

(The window is in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Key West, FL.)

Ever-returning spring*

It’s Thursday again — and a new month!

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

I am an annoying person who says “April is the cruellest month” about basically anything regarding the academic calendar (fellowship rejections in graduate school, budget season in administrative life) but outside of work we are certainly enjoying spring — even the rain, which is causing all of the trees to burst into bloom and that unreal shade of green to pop up everywhere.

Katie is close to 10 months old, and I am excited to be in the midst of birthday season in our family. We have some big ones coming up!

The news around here is that Katie has been to a playground and sat in the swing a couple of times. There may have been squealing!

“It’s cool, I’m cool.”

In addition to keeping very good balance in a bucket seat while swinging through the air, Katie also shows her strength while practicing standing. She is getting quite close to pulling herself up, though for now she mostly just pulls into a little kickstand position.

I am confident that before we know it, she’ll be climbing up the walls of her “pen” —

Cue the Great Escape whistle theme…

and really getting into trouble.

Speaking of trouble, I had to go to the doctor on Monday about some eye pain — turns out Katie scratched my cornea! You could probably say it’s my own fault for not tending to her nails well enough. She has quite a mean swipe! It isn’t too bad — just a week of eyeball ointment and Zoom meetings with no makeup. Lovely for my vanity, but I forgive her!

“I love my mommy. And the Aquaphor lid.”

*my preferred poem about lilacs, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooyard Bloom’d”

“Unless the Lord does build the house, in vain its builders strive.”

Well, you know I think it has been a little over a year since “two weeks to stop the spread” began and I started quarantining (except for my daily constitutional and weekly trips to Hy-Vee). I’ve been back in the office since this summer, but I thought I’d take a little time for some self-reflection on the ways the past year has changed me.

Number 1) I’m now a person with daytime sweatshirts and nighttime sweatshirts. Not only that, I have sweatshirts that I purchased to wear in public and didn’t receive as a gift or as a souvenir from a trip to a college.

Number 2) I keep my office door closed because “germs” and not because I want to be catty on the phone about a co-worker and definitely not so Brad the mailman doesn’t bother me.

Number 3) I buy my wine by the case. For the discount.

Number 4) This line doesn’t amuse me as much as it used to.

Number 5) You all know that my foray into “making” has kept me going. I owe most of it to YouTube. When I gave up social media (can’t recommend it enough for your mental well-being), I promptly switched to watching videos on YouTube. The algorithm sure is interesting. Sometimes I get clips from Wayne’s World. Other times, I find things like this:

I hope you can gather together this weekend–have a Happy Easter!