dual personalities

A bushel and a peck

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Here’s a snapshot I found of our older brother when he was a few months old in 1951. Our mother’s younger sister is holding him. He was born a little early and only weighed about 5 lbs. He looks a little stressed. (Note furrowed brow.)

But look at the bouncing baby boy a few months later!

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Babies.

Day by day

Happy MLK Day and, if you are lucky enough to be home like I am, I hope you are enjoying your day off.

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That’s ice on the trees…

In fact, this has turned out to be a very nice four-day weekend for me, because we had a “snow day” on Friday due to the ice storm here in flyover country. I stayed home for two days puttering around and re-organizing drawers and shelves and closets.

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By Sunday morning the storm was pretty much over. I went to church and was surprised by how many people were there. The OM said they were probably stir crazy and just wanted to get out of the house. Well, maybe.

After church we went to lunch and then to the hospital to see the wee babes and their parents who were kangarooing as they do every day (even during the ice storm).

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We watched Sully (2016) over the weekend and liked it a lot. Tom Hanks was just right as the remarkable pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River without a single loss of life back in 2009. I think the movie could have used a little more backstory, but I won’t quibble. It was good.

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I cannot say the same for the much heralded Manchester By the Sea (2016) which I did not like.

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Bad things happen in life, terrible things, but this movie seems to say that all of life is just a long, sad, hopeless journey and then you die. The characters in this movie are uniformly unable to express their feelings, much less talk without use of the F-word in every sentence. After the movie the OM and I both wondered what the writer/director was trying to say. I just didn’t get this movie.

Well, today I am going to enjoy my day off as the temperatures continue to climb and the ice melts. And I will continue to believe that life has meaning.

The question is not whether the things that happen to you are chance things or God’s things because, of course, they are both at once. There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak — even the walk from the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before, even the moments when you cannot believe there is a God who speaks at all anywhere. He speaks, I believe, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of our selves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys. We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music. Sometimes we avoid listening for fear of what we may hear, sometimes for fear that we may hear nothing at all but the empty rattle of our own feet on the pavement. But be not affeard, says Caliban, nor is he the only one to say it. “Be not afraid,” says another, “for lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He says he is with us on our journeys. He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began. Listen for him. Listen to the sweet and bitter airs of your present and your past for the sound of him.

–Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey 

The weather outside is frightful…

An ice storm is due to hit my dual personality’s flyover town this weekend.

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I just hope they don’t lose their power. Even if it doesn’t last, ice can do damage that can take weeks to  fix.  Back in the “Great Ice Storm of ’98” hundreds of electrical pylons simply buckled under the weight of the ice, and it took more than three weeks to restore power to some areas.

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Ice is not all bad, though. Take, for example, what our northern neighbors in Ottawa have been doing on the frozen Rideau canal:

You can read more about it here. Apparently, dragon boat ice racing is a thing in northern and eastern Europe because, hey, otherwise people could only skate, play hockey, ice-climb, ice-fish, ice-boat (yes, it’s real),  go curling, or — for the really crazy people out there — down hill racing on ice skates. Seriously.

What next?

Personally, I’m not in favor of risking life and limb for a thrill or money. I’d rather stay inside with a good book and a cup of tea, and I fervently hope that my DP will be able to do just that until the weather improves.

Wherever you are, have a safe, non-slip weekend!

 

Have a nice weekend

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Since I will no doubt be stuck at home this weekend due to inclement weather–and today is a snow day–I think I will round up all the Richard Scarry books I have and see if the boy wants to take his copies home to the nursery.

The little, tiny babies won’t be home for awhile…

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…but they’ll be needing books soon, right? Yeah, they will.

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Meanwhile, I am going to try to enjoy staying inside and catching up on all the things that need catching up.

You know, re-organizing my office.

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Putting away the Christmas stained glass which I forgot to do last weekend. Checking to see what other Christmas decorations I missed.

And tonight I’ll toast James Joyce who died on this day in 1941. It was he who said: “I confess that I do not see what good it does to fulminate against the English tyranny while the Roman tyranny occupies the palace of the soul.” [“Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages,” lecture, Università Popolare, Trieste (27 April 1907), printed in James Joyce: Occasional, Critical and Political Writing (2002)]

Good point.

Have a good weekend…It’s a long one too!

By the way

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Thank you, Billy Graham, for reminding us.

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Some of us seem to have forgotten this.

And also let’s try:

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Have a good Thursday. We are bracing for a winter storm/ice storm–oh, boy! We’ll do our best to keep calm and carry on.

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second”

“I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man’s pride.”

–William James

Today is the birthday of William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) who was an American philosopher and psychologist and a teacher (among his students at Harvard were Theodore Roosevelt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Gertrude Stein, and George Santayana). He was also the brother of Henry James. His godfather was Ralph Waldo Emerson! He went in the spring of 1865 on a scientific expedition up the Amazon River with Louis Agassiz! He is considered to be one of the major figures associated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism,  and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology.

Although I cannot say I have read widely in his work or am an expert on William James, I aways liked him.

“Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test. So with the man who has daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. He will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and when his softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.”

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What a good face.

He always seemed to have a lot of common sense. And he understood the importance of just being kind.

So I will toast William James tonight. Join me, right?

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The humble James plot in Cambridge Cemetery

Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm.*

 

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Winter is here. I am grateful for my warm house and my Austrian wool coat and my heated car.

I often think of those brave pioneers facing the cold without Gore-Tex coats and down mittens.

“All day the storm lasted. The windows were white and the wind never stopped howling and screaming. It was pleasant in the warm house. Laura and Mary did their lessons, then Pa played the fiddle while Ma rocked and knitted, and bean soup simmered on the stove. All night the storm lasted, and all the next day. Firelight danced out of the stove’s draught, and Pa told stories and played the fiddle.”

–Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek

I  mean really.

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Take heart though–it’s supposed to get up to 61 degrees today!

*1 Kings 1:1

“Memory is a strange thing”*

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Thirty years ago: the boy, suitably attired in black tie with his Auntie DP at Christmas.

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Yesterday: the boy with little Lottie in the NICU. Ah, sunrise, sunset…

I spent my weekend catching  up at home, putting everything back in pre-holiday order. But, without fail, there is always something I cannot find and sure enough, this year was no different. C’est la vie. I am coping.

We also celebrated daughter #3’s Epiphany birthday and had a gourmet meatloaf meal, because she is so easy to please. Then we watched 3 Godfathers. Is she not the best daughter-in-law ever?

The OM and I also watched a couple of other movies this weekend. Our favorite was Hell or High Water (2016) starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two modern-day bank-robbing brothers set on saving the family ranch. Jeff Bridges plays the Texas Ranger bent on catching them.

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Directed by the unknown-to-me Scotsman David Mackenzie and with a screenplay by actor/writer Taylor Sheridan (he was in Sons of Anarchy), it gets high fives from me. I appreciated its excellent, intelligent screenplay featuring interesting, relatable characters and a plot that kept me guessing. The acting was top-notch. My only complaint was the sound mixing, which like most modern movies, stunk–i.e. it is frequently difficult to understand what people are saying. And what they were saying was worth hearing, for once.

We also saw Arrival (2016), which was also very good and thought-provoking too. It stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. It is science fiction, however, and not really my thing. My DP really liked it though and recommended it highly to me, so I pass that along.

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I will also note that we saw La La Land (2016) last week, which has received rave reviews and a lot of hype. Directed by newcomer Damian Chazelle and starring the appealing Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, it is about two young people struggling to make it in L.A. I didn’t buy any of it.

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Not to be harsh, but I found it amateurish and forgettable in every way. Rent Singin’ In the Rain if you want to see a good musical.

P.S. You can bet that La  La Land will win all the Academy Awards this year (as it swept the Golden Globes), and that is why I no longer watch the show.

*Dr. Louise Banks in Arrival

For your viewing pleasure…

How was your first week of 2017? Have you stuck with your New Year’s resolutions? Like my DP, I don’t really go in for such things, but I am trying to start some new habits; namely, walking for 30  minutes a day, drinking more water, and organizing the house. I figure that if I don’t call those ‘resolutions’ I might actually do them. Time will tell.

Aside from those modest attempts at self improvement, I’m pretty much sticking to my old habits, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Acorn TV (okay, that’s new. I got a year’s subscription for Christmas), where I spend a lot of time looking for something new and different, but not full of gratuitous sex, violence, and absurd plot twists. Here are a couple of recent discoveries.

Brokenwood Mysteries (Acorn TV). This is a nice cop show from New Zealand. It takes place in the small rural town of Brokenwood, where an irascible, middle-aged detective and his young, blond, female side-kick solve murders.

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Sound familiar? He even drives a vintage car and listens to  music (in this case country  music) that no one else likes. There isn’t much violence, personal conflict, or action. It’s incredibly pleasant, although admittedly, if it didn’t have the New Zealand novelty factor, I might not watch. The big mystery — at least to me — is those weird Kiwi accents. What happened to the short e? It does not exist. Every e sounds like an i, thus “I entered the tent to establish his whereabouts” becomes “I intered the tint to istablish his whirabouts”. Go figure.

Conspiracy of Faith: a Department Q Mystery (Netflix). For those of you who like Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Carl Mørck mysteries, this is a TV version of one of the recent (2013) books.

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I confess that neither main character is as I pictured, but it’s still worth a watch if you want something slightly grittier than “Brokenwood” but not too far out there.

Disorder (Netflix). This French film stars Belgian actor, Matthias Schoenaerts, and German actress, Diane Kruger, in what seems at first like a very tired plot: former soldier Schoenaerts, suffering from PTSD, becomes the bodyguard to the wife (Kruger) and young son of an arms dealer. Bad guys come after them.

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It’s actually really well done, stylishly shot, and (spoiler) it  has no sex, surprisingly little violence, and loads of tension.  I really liked this movie and recommend it to all.  Schoenaerts’ performance is particularly good.

Last and least, we have Black Water (Amazon), an Australian movie allegedly “inspired by frightening true events”, in which three people (husband, wife, and wife’s sister) fight for their lives against a man-eating crocodile when their boat overturns and leaves them trapped in a mangrove swamp in remotest northern Australia. What sets this movie apart from the run-of-the-mill animal horror movie is the fact that it was filmed on location and they used a real (heavily sedated) 14 foot crocodile. Who can blame the actress for looking a little nervous, even with the croc wrangler right there next to her.

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Considering the premise, it was quite restrained, and I did not hate myself for watching the whole thing, so hey, that’s something. The film also teaches one very important lesson: never, never visit northern Australia!

Those are my media pics for now. Have a wonderful weekend and do let me know your reactions if you watch any of these (try Disorder).

“Winter is coming”*

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We had our first snow of the season Wednesday night. Of course, the local media had everyone whipped up into a frenzy of anticipation, some schools even closing preemptively the night before.

We received half an inch or so. Most of the heavier snow slid south of our flyover region. Par for the course.

Personally, I was fine with the half inch. I have a lot to do this weekend and it doesn’t all involve staying home and wrapping things in tissue paper as I undeck the halls.

I also intend to spend some more time with the books I received this Christmas and which I have already been enjoying.

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I also am reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, which I bought for myself. In this National Book Award-winning memoir, Patti offers a fascinating glimpse into her life and  relationship with the controversial artist/photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.

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I always kind of liked Patti Smith and now I know why. She may have been the queen of punk in her day, but she is a deep soul.

“I understood that what matters is the work: the string of words propelled by God becoming a poem, the weave of color and graphite scrawled upon the sheet that magnifies His motion. To achieve within the work a perfect balance of faith and execution. From this state of mind comes a light, life-changed.”

I highly recommend her book.

Here are some more great suggestions for reading material in 2017.

And don’t forget that today is the feast of Epiphany, which means it is time to watch 3 Godfathers (1948), John Ford’s classic film about three men on the lam with a baby in the old West.

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I think we will enjoy it even more than usual this year…

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Have a great weekend!

*George R.R. Martin