dual personalities

What’s new with Katiebelle

Safe travels to my mother, sister and dad, who begin their trek west today — we can’t wait to hear all about it. In the meantime, I have updates to share!

Katie is nearly 16 months old and is truly toddling around with confidence these days. After getting through yet another cold, she has had a happy week of walking in and out of rooms, fetching this or that, declaring when she wants something (most adorably a “bop,” or frozen mango popsicle), and also following directions. She seems to have a pretty impressive handle on her little world. She’s also very sophisticated:

In recent weeks, Katie has grown much more attached to her stuffed animals and dolls. “Snuffles” and “Clown Bear” have places of honor in the nursery, while “baba” gets carried around all over.

Clown Bear really lorded it over Snuffles that he got to leave the house.
Katie is better captured by video than photo…

I was very touched the first time Katie said “mama, baba” while I was holding her and she was holding her baby doll. They say that dolls and animals teach toddlers about empathy, and I can see that – she cares for them! (Snuffles gets his hair brushed each night when I comb Katie’s hair; Katie routinely gives Clown Bear a kiss if she has just given one to mommy and daddy, etc.)

On the flip side, Katie enjoys her fair share of destruction. Currently, her favorite game is annihilating a perfect row of rainbow sheep and then immediately signing “more” for us to line them up again.

Well, I’ve shown my true “mom” colors here with this evidence that I find her endlessly fascinating. Let me just add this picture of her proudly displaying the remote and coaster basket while wearing a raincoat in case you need one more dose of darling:

The clamorous strains of history

Did you know that in 1961 Jorge Luis Borges, aging and mostly blind, began teaching at the University of Texas, Austin, and the state of Texas captured a special place in his heart, as reflected in his poem “Texas”?


Here too. Here, as on the other unfurling

Frontier of the continent, the great

Prairie where a solitary cry fades out;

Here too the lariat, the Indian, the yearling.

Here too the secretive and unseen bird

That over the clamorous strains of history

Sings for one evening and its memory;

Here too the mystic alphabet, the word

Of stars which dictate to my cursive flow

Names that the days on their labyrinthine way

Will leave behind them: San Jacinto, say,

Or that other Thermopylae, the Alamo.

Here too that unknown, brief,

Needy and fretful commotion, life.

–translated by Robert Mezey

Well, he did. The world is more than we know.

Daughter #2, along with my dear DP, will pick up the slack on the blog while we are out of town, so be sure to tune in for an update on Miss Katiebelle, fashion-setting trendsetter of the daycare set.

And pray for traveling mercies as we launch ourselves out into the unfurling Frontier of the continent.

The river of lost souls

As you may recall, we are traveling on Thursday to attend the 2021 Santa Fe Trail Symposium in La Junta, Colorado, where we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail. So many 200th birthdays this year, right?

Anyway, I have been reviewing our family’s part in this region’s history and planning what little excursions we will make in the area. We will return to Boggsville and Old Bent’s Fort and check out Las Animas and Lamar for the first time.

We will also be on the lookout for large hairy spiders because, yes, it is tarantula migration time and the Comanche National Grassland in La Junta is the number one destination to spot tarantulas in Colorado.

(Picketwire)The Purgatoire River

I am excited to head west! I love my pioneer ancestors and will enjoy soaking up the ambiance. And we’ll toast old John Simpson Hough who will be inducted into the Santa Fe Trail Hall of Fame on Thursday night. Let the good times roll.

By the way, we were all saddened to hear of the passing of 1950s movie star Jane Powell. She was 92. Let’s all watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) in her memory.

Postcards from the weekend

Yesterday was our 10th anniversary blogging at WordPress! Yay us! Thank you for tuning in with us and we hope you will stick around.

The OM and I had quite a weekend. We headed down to Jefferson City on Friday afternoon and were lucky enough to find a place to park. A good omen. Daughter #1 hurried back from a rehearsal for the Bicentennial activities scheduled for the next day and then we walked over to Bar Vino for a celebratory glass of rosé.

On Saturday we walked over to High Street where daughter #1 had staked out a place with folding chairs for us earlier in the morning. It was a perfect vantage point to see the whole Bicentennial Parade.

(Always with the free advertising for Ultimate Lacrosse in STL.)

Here are some of the highlights. The governor and first lady…

…and our state treasurer…

The Marching Mizzou and the Golden Girls…

(The biggest marching band I’ve ever seen.)

Also the Missouri State Pride…

and the Lincoln University Marching Musical Storm…

The float from St. Charles County was awesome–they brought the replica of Lewis and Clark’s flatboat…

The float from the Department of Corrections was also impressive–a replica of the original Missouri State Penitentiary (now a museum)…

I also liked these guys…

And what would a parade be without our beloved Anheuser Busch Clydesdales? They always bring a lump to my throat…

After the parade we went home and ate lunch (and rested) before heading over to the Canterbury Hills Winery for a relaxing bottle of wine on the patio. It was lovely…

Later on we all got gussied up and walked over to the Capitol for the Bicentennial Ball and a mini reception at the Treasurer’s Office.

It was fun and a super people-watching venue.

Of course, there were fireworks afterwards, but we watched them from daughter #1’s apartment.

And I saw a rainbow on Sunday night!

(Some of the photos of the parade are from the Governor’s office and some are by me. I’m sure you can tell which ones.)

The fatal passion of a stubborn heart*

I just finished reading Sophocles’ Ajax and I loved it. You may remember that Ajax plays an important, if supporting, role in The Iliad. A fierce fighter and the cousin of Achilles, Ajax proves both thoroughly dependable and unwisely independent. He refuses the help of the gods because he wants to be his own man. In the play we discover the consequences of such freedom. Meanwhile, at Troy he guards the ships against the Trojan onslaught, tries to convince Achilles to return to the fight, duels Hector twice, and when Patroclus gets killed, fights to protect the corpse from vengeful Trojans.

Without doubt, his greatest feat involves recovering Achilles’ body and carrying it back to the Greek ships before the Trojans can plunder and mutilate it.

What does he get for all that faithful service? Nothing. Spurred on by Athena, who doesn’t like independent men, the Greeks award Achilles’ armor to Odysseus. Sophocles picks up the story at this point.

Certain that he has been cheated and dishonored, Ajax decides to kill as many of his former comrades as possible, starting with Agamemnon, Menelaus and Odysseus. Fortunately for them, Athena intervenes by driving him mad so that he mistakes herds of cattle and sheep for the Greek warriors. He slaughters, tortures and mutilates the animals, and when he comes to his senses, he is not only horribly ashamed but realizes that there is no escaping the gods and his dishonor. In an act of defiance (or shame), he kills himself by falling on his sword.

It’s a sad play that ponders the human condition with some lovely language:  

Long rolling waves of time

bring all things to light

and plunge them down again

into utter darkness.

Like other Greek tragedies it boasts manipulative gods (Athena), angry men, weeping women and a stubborn, tragic hero who defies them all. It also has a lot to say to its audience. In particular I liked Teucer’s (Ajax’s half-brother) rousing speech against the autocratic Menelaus who forbids the burial of Ajax’s body:  

Come, tell me once more from the beginning –

Do you really think it was you personally

who led Ajax here an Argive ally?

Did he not sail to Troy all on his own,

under his own command? In what respect

are you this man’s superior? On what ground

do you have any right to rule those men

whom he led here from home? You came to Troy

as king of Sparta. You do not govern us.

Under no circumstance did some right to rule

or to give him orders lie within your power,

just as he possessed no right to order you.

You sailed here a subordinate to others,

not as commander of the entire force

who could at any time tell Ajax what to do.

Go, be king of those you rule by right –

use those proud words of yours to punish them.

But I will set this body in a grave,

as justice says I should, even though you

or any other general forbids it.

It’s a speech that would have resonated with the Athenians in 440 BC (thought to be the date of the play’s performance). A fledgling democracy not yet a hundred years old, Athens was at the height of its power but in danger of succumbing to greed and hubris. Perhaps Sophocles thought his fellow citizens needed a reminder about what really matters: family, loyalty, and doing the right thing by upholding universal laws, particularly burial of the dead. Not that long after, he would bring up the same issue in Antigone. One wonders why Sophocles focused so on proper burial. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

I’ve got a busy weekend coming up and will have no time to ponder such matters. Tim and Abbie are coming for a visit – yay! Next week, I’ll tell you all about it. Have a grand weekend and always do the right thing!

*a line from the play. Translations by Ian Johnston. You can read the whole play online here. Ajax was a popular figure on Greek pottery. The photographs show several examples — all found via Google Image.

“Speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world”*

We have had some great weather this week. Sunny, warm and breezy, with low humidity–just great and much appreciated.

Our house has been in total disarray because we had some built-ins installed in our den this week. We had to take apart the audio/visual system so the guys could do it (2 days) and now we have to put it all back. The boy is coming over this morning before work to assist the OM. So. Many. Wires. Remember back in the day when you just plugged in the old television set? Now there is so much more to deal with. Surround sound. Oy.

This is a really good article contrasting two people who died this week (John Shelby Spong and comedian Norm MacDonald) and their different takes on Christianity.

I watched a movie recently (on Amazon Prime) which I can recommend: Mr. Church (2016) starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Bruce Beresford. It’s kind of a tear-jerker, but I enjoyed it.

The really amazing thing about this movie is the fact that, even though it’s about a black man bringing up a white girl, there is no racial conflict in the story. Never once does a white person sneer, look down on or insult Mr. Church. This probably explains why the film didn’t get good reviews. But Eddie Murphy plays it straight and the cast is excellent. (BTW, the trailer includes spoilers.)

And here’s another really good song from Mac Powell’s upcoming album:

Can’t wait til it drops on October 15.

One more thing: I could watch this amazing 3-year old 100 times:

Just a reminder:

The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel.

–Thomas Watson (1620-1686)

*Billy Collins, “Litany”

Happy Birthday to me.

Well, as you know, my birthday was last weekend. And you also know that I have been working on becoming a real sewist. I use my mother’s Singer from the 90s (and consider myself quite lucky to use that machine). It’s a real thing to use “vintage” machines, especially Singers. Anyway, Daughter #3 (and my SIL) teaches fashion and knows a thing or two (or three) about real sewing. She suggested to my mother that maybe I’d like an overlocker/serger to celebrate my old age.

So, lucky me, I got a shiny new overlocker/serger for my birthday! She’s a real beaut. The machine comes threaded with four different colored threads so you can really trace them through the machine before attempting to thread it with four matching spools yourself. It is a bit intimidating. I am happy to report, I was able to watch enough YouTube videos and read the whole manual and get the machine threaded. The picture below shows before I got it re-threaded with the matching spools.

A serger finishes seams with a professional look so they don’t unravel. They are also useful for sewing stretchy fabrics. I am so excited to see what I can make with my new machine!!

My birthday was really lovely (a winery, a donut cake, all reported on the blog on Monday) and I felt very loved.

In other news, several months ago, I got this really pretty plant. But it always positions itself to face the window as if in perpetual time out.

Last night, before bed, I turned it around, so the pretty painted leaves would face out.

And, sure enough, look at what this plant did while I was at work!

It is clearly moving back to face the window. I think I just completed a science project. I feel like I’m back in fifth grade. Can I get a blue ribbon for my effort? Congrats on making it to Wednesday. Here’s to getting to Friday!

“Questions I have many, answers but a few”*

What are you reading? I just finished Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, a memoir by the actor Michael Caine.

I have to admit I enjoyed it a lot. He writes well and he is a very positive fellow who has enjoyed his life, from a happy, but what we might term, disadvantaged upbringing in London to international stardom. He is grateful and he is happy to share what he has learned. The book is full of practical advice for actors, but it is all applicable to the rest of us.

I remember Roger Moore, years ago, saying to me “Cheer up. You’d better have a good time because this is not a rehearsal, this is life. This is the show.”

Yes, indeed. He is all about hard work: know your lines, be on time, don’t fool around.

When you are prepared, you are able to subdue your fear, control your nerves, channel your energy, and enter that state of highly alert relaxation that is spontaneity’s best friend.

Don’t think you deserve anything.

Find something you want to do and learn how to do it really well. Take what you got and make the most of it. Learn how to do something, whatever it is, you would choose to do for nothing. Whatever it is, when you are doing it, it makes you feel amazing and most yourself. Throw yourself into it. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be. We can’t all be famous actors. But, if you can find something you love and if that something will also pay the bills, you will be on your way to your own personal paradise.

Anyway, now I am going to watch a lot of Michael Caine movies. He is the first to admit that he has made a lot of bad ones. (I watched Swarm recently and, despite its stellar cast, it is pretty terrible.) But I watched The Man Who Would be King (1975) the other night and enjoyed it.

Caine and his good friend Sean Connery are perfectly cast as the two British soldiers who set out to be kings of Kafiristan in the Rudyard Kipling story. “We meet upon the level, and part upon the square.”

Next up: Zulu (1964), The Italian Job (1969) and Alfie (1966).

We will also note the passing of “controversial” Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong–as Anne Kennedy describes him, “that famous Episcopal bishop who denied so many tenets of the Christian faith that eventually he ran out of stuff to deny. And yet, he remained a bishop.” Listen to her podcast to find out “why that’s not a good thing and how to avoid it.” She and her husband are right on target about actual heresy and how it takes over the church because everyone is too embarrassed to say anything. “The Episcopal bishop in Hell believes he has led a courageous life.”

Can you believe it has been 18 years since Johnny Cash died? Well, it has–September 12, 2003.

(Photo by Marty Stuart)

So a belated toast to Johnny and here’s Bob on Johnny’s show back in the good ol’ days.

“If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” 

–Leo Tolstoy

*Dolly Parton, “Travelin’ Through”

“Crown him as your Captain”*

We celebrated daughter #1’s birthday by going to our favorite winery in Hillsboro. Now that we are experts, we know what to bring and how to set up for a picnic.

Accommodations were made for the small fry.

Pappy and the wee laddie went for a walk to check out the excavator down the hill and the pond around the bend.

When we had enough lovely sunshine and live music (and wine)…

…we packed up…

…and headed back to our flyover hometown where we ate “donut cake” and Aunt Mary opened presents.

It was a fun day.

I went to church in the morning after daughter #1 headed back to mid-MO. I was reminded once again that worship is a restorative act. It really is. Our clergy team is starting a new sermon series on the Letter to the Romans and I am looking forward to it. No one does exegesis like the Presbyterians.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17

In closing I encourage you to watch this video about a fine young man who lost his life on 9/11 helping to save people in the south tower. He reminds me of the boy, a lacrosse player who had an eerily similar name and the same initials. (Kleenex essential)

Have a good week. Pray that you might bring glory to God in thought, word and deed.

In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue

All that is not holy, all that is not true;

Crown him as your Captain in temptation’s hour:

Let his will enfold you in its light and pow’r.

–Hymn #163, Caroline M. Noel, 1870

How, how I wish you were here

It’s a big weekend for our families. As my DP mentioned, tomorrow is her daughter’s birthday. Then on Sunday it is my middle son’s birthday. Here he is with his cousin a few years ago (I probably post this photo every year, but I really love it).

The 12th is also the birthday of Tim’s fiancée, Abbie. Yes, that’s right, they’re engaged, and we are incredibly happy!

Just in case you birthday partiers are feeling old, at least you are not old enough to remember the TV show The Monkees which premiered on September 12th, 1966.

Dig the groovy clothes, haircuts and go-go dancers (who thought that sparkly white tights would be flattering?). It was a zany show that tried to capture the spirit of the Beatles’ movies Help and It’s a Hard Day’s Night. In case you are curious or want to relive the show, you can watch it on YouTube here or just listen to their great songs.

If bubblegum pop isn’t your thing, you might prefer Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here which came out on September 12th, 1975.  

I haven’t listened to it in ages; it’s pretty great.

Have a great weekend and don’t trade your heroes for ghosts!