dual personalities

“Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance.”*

So did you hear that over the Memorial Day weekend a new John Wayne Museum was opened in the Duke’s birthplace, Winterset, Iowa?


Wayne’s daughter, Aissa Wayne, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, actor Christopher Mitchum, and Wayne’s biographer Scott Eyman were all present at the event.

Cutting the ribbon during the grand opening ceremony for the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset. Left to right: Barry Corbin (actor & Birthplace board member), Aissa Wayne (John Wayne’s daughter), Joe Zuckschwerdt (Birthplace & Museum President), and Christopher Mitchum (actor). 5/23/2015 Photo by John Pemble

Cutting the ribbon during the grand opening ceremony for the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset. Left to right: Barry Corbin (actor & Birthplace board member), Aissa Wayne (John Wayne’s daughter), Joe Zuckschwerdt (Birthplace & Museum President), and Christopher Mitchum (actor). 5/23/2015 Photo by John Pemble

The centerpiece of the gallery is a collection of memorabilia from Wayne’s life, including scripts, costumes, set pieces, posters, personal correspondence, an original Andy Warhol painting and a custom-made 1972 Pontiac station wagon.


Executive Director Brian Downes with the custom Duke-mobile

Winterset is the county seat of Madison County, where, you may have heard, they have a lot of bridges.


Three films have been shot there: Cold Turkey (1971), The Bridges of Madison County (1995 ) and The Crazies (2010).

But it is best known as the birthplace of John Wayne.


(George Washington Carver was also born there. He has a museum at the Tuskegee Institute.)

Well, I may have to add Winterset to my list of flyover places to visit.


*The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Long weekend: and then we were all in one place*


Long weekends are the best, right? Especially if you have out-of-town guests.


My nephew Chris and his friend Nicole stopped overnight on their cross-country trip from upstate New York to the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.

The boy and daughter #3 came over for dinner and a movie,


but I forgot to take a picture. It was fun, as you can imagine.

The weather, despite dire predictions to the contrary, was lovely and I spent a lot of time puttering around the yard and lounging in the Florida room with a good book.

In other news, let’s not forget that today is John Wayne’s birthday–so “slap some bacon on a biscuit and let’s go! We’re burning daylight!”


Happy Tuesday and a 4-day week!

*”And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1 KJV)

In other news…

Giles has a girlfriend.


They met at church. They hang out in the parking lot.

Stand ye steady


ANC III who served in WWII and Korea and lived to not talk about it.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen

–the BCP, 1928

“It don’t matter where a man dies, as long as he dies for freedom.” –Sgt. Dane in Bataan (1943)

“Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”*

As you know, August 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI and in England they are taking this centenary very seriously. To mark the occasion, they installed (in my humble opinion) the most moving war commemoration ever at the Tower of London. Ceramic artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper made 888,246 ceramic poppies, which they planted at the tower over a couple of months. Each one represented a single British soldier killed in action during the war. You can visit the official site and read all about it here.  According to the artists, “The scale of the installation was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration.” I’ll say. The following pics come from all over the internet. The installation started out fairly modestly


but it grew as hundreds of volunteers planted the poppies.

poppies 6

Her majesty (and, indeed, other royals and VIPs) came to view them.

tower of london5

By the time they finished, poppies filled the entire moat and hundreds of thousands of people had come to pay their respects.


poppies 4tower of london 3

They sold the  individual poppies that made up the installation and so raised millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six  charities. I bought two, one of which I gave to my colleague who specializes in WWI and who helped me edit a big project. After months of waiting, they finally arrived carefully packed in a neat box complete with accompanying certificate and informative booklet. I ‘planted’ mine with one of my potted plants.


And every time I look at it, I think about all those poor men, including my great uncle Guy, who died in the mud in France and Belgium. So this Memorial Day, don’t just barbeque — watch an appropriate movie, read a book or some poetry (there’s lots of excellent poetry), visit your local war memorial, but do something to remember. The dead deserve it.

*the title of the Tower of London installation


“Saddle Up”*

Well it’s almost Memorial Day! Can you believe it? As you know, this is a day for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials. We like to watch war movies.


I grew up watching war movies. I like them. My dual personality suggested I watch the HBO series The Pacific (2010), which is a companion piece to their Band of Brothers series.


I always take her advice, so the OM and I watched the first two episodes and it was, indeed, impressive–the whizzing, zinging bullets flying by and all. I felt like I had actually been at Guadalcanal for several hours. And, thank you, that was enough for me. I was not really engaged with the characters–the traditional wop, spic, wasp, mic, and jew of all WWII movies. I mean I get it. War is hell. But it is too traumatic watching this series. I know my limits. Don’t judge me for having limits.

Therefore, I will go back to a few of my old favorites this weekend. I am really in the mood for classic black-and-white British movies like The Dam Busters (1955)–The story of how the British attacked German dams in WWII by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective–


or The Desert Rats (1953) with Richard Burton in charge of a disparate band of ANZAC troops on the perimeter of Tobruk with the German Army doing their best to dislodge them.


These movies are tense and realistic and very powerful in their own, non-CG way. How will you celebrate Memorial Day?

There are certainly plenty of good war movies to choose from, and, of course, there is a Memorial Day Marathon on TCM.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for all who have died that we may live, for all who endured pain that we might know joy, for all who made sacrifices that we might have plenty, for all who suffered imprisonment that we might know freedom. Turn our deep feeling now into determination, and our determination into deed, that as men and women died for peace, we may live for peace for the sake of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.**

Have a good weekend.

*Sgt. Stryker in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

** Prayer found here.

This and that: “Toiling on, toiling on; Let us hope, let us watch…”*

boyntonHere’s more pictures of that wonderful home overlooking the Missouri River that I covet. And another lottery ticket to purchase I guess.

Not that I buy lottery tickets. You know I don’t approve.

Here’s something fun to do this summer. TCM is collaborating with Ball State University and Canvas Network, an open online educational platform from Instructure, to present Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir, a free online multimedia course open to the general public.

Burt and Ava in The Killers (1946)

Burt and Ava in The Killers (1946)

Film Noir isn’t really my thing, but they are showing some good movies in July.

This is a really good album. And Fred Vargas has a new book coming out Tuesday. Life is good.


Have a good Thursday! Take time to smell the flowers!


*”To the Work” by Frances J. Crosby

“A man of God–such a shame”

Are you watching Grantchester on PBS?


Now that Wolf Hall is finished, I am watching Grantchester, a miniseries based on James Runcie’s novel Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, about a young vicar and WWII veteran who teams up with a local detective to solve murders. The author based “Sidney after his late father, Lord Runcie, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1980s. Like Sidney, the elder Runcie was a war hero before he entered the ministry, and he was a compassionate and amiable parish priest. Unfortunately, he never took up crime-solving. Grantchester corrects that oversight.” (PBS.com)

Sounds perfect to me.

Robson Green (Geordie Keating, the detective) and James Norton (Sidney Chambers, the vicar) are quite engaging and say things like:

“Do you think we have a problem with alcohol?”

“Absolutely. We don’t have any.”

I have set my DVR.

Side note: I met Lord Runcie when he was the Holy Week preacher at the Episcopal church I attended in the 1990s. He was a tank commander in WWII and, if I recall correctly, the only one to capture a submarine! It goes without saying (but I will) that they don’t make archbishops like him anymore.

“The little toy dog is covered with dust, But sturdy and staunch he stands”*

Did you hear about this?

According to the New York Times, F. A. O. Schwarz, the legendary toy store on Fifth Avenue, will close its doors July 15, “a victim of rising rents and ultraluxury retailing in New York City’s hottest shopping district.”


The store has been a fixture in New York for 145 years! “In 1870, Frederick August Otto Schwarz opened a toy store, Schwarz Brothers — Importers, at 765 Broadway. In 1876 he opened a second shop farther uptown. The two stores combined in a move to Union Square, and the store was renamed F. A. O. Schwarz. The store moved a number of times, and to its current location in 1986.” (NYT)

Our father was a big fan of F.A.O. Schwarz and I grew up knowing it was the toy mecca of the U.S.A. When I finally visited the store in my college years I wasn’t that impressed, but whatever. Newell was a toy person and loved Steiff animals.  For years I slept with a Steiff tiger which my father bought for me when I was born. (I have no doubt that my mother rolled her eyes, knowing he had spent way more than she knew was practical.)  “Tiggy” was retired when I was about 12 because he was becoming quite worn, but he always adorned my pillow.


I’m sure it is from our father that we three children inherited our attachment to toys–and stuffed animals in particular–that has plagued us our whole lives. At any rate, I find it very difficult to part with them. I will leave it to my children to figure out what to do with them.



Ah, the proverbial tip of the iceberg (which is housed in our basement). Oh good lord.

This is how my mind works.

*Little Boy Blue by Eugene Field

“Here are the buckets and brushes and me/Plinketty, plinketty, plinketty, plee.”*

I had a busy weekend filled mostly with getting a new MacBook Pro, since my old one died on Thursday night. They kept calling it “vintage” at the Apple store. It was 5 1/2 years old for pete’s sake, but in this day in age, that is “vintage”–at least as far as Apple products are concerned.

So anyway, I have a new laptop and it is pretty great.

I worked in the yard and went to church, but when it came time to sit down and write a blogpost, I really drew a big zero.

So I give you Lillian Hoban’s birthday. Lillian Hoban (May 18, 1925 – July 17, 1998) you will recall illustrated the wonderful children’s books written by her husband Russell Hoban.


My children were big fans of Frances, the little badger with whom they could readily relate. I seem to recall that daughter #1 especially loved this character who said things like:

“Who is Alice?” asked mother.
“Alice is somebody that nobody can see,” said Frances. “And that is why she does not have a birthday. So I am singing Happy Thursday to her.” (A Birthday for Frances)

I liked Frances too. She was fun to read about.

The next day when the bell rang for lunch, Albert said, “What do you have today?”

“Well,” said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, “let me see.” She arranged her lunch on the doily.

“I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup,” she said.
“And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread.
I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives,
and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery.
And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries.
And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles
and a spoon to eat it with.”

“That’s a good lunch,” said Albert. “I think it’s nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice.”

“So do I,” said Frances, and she made the lobster-salad sandwich, the celery, the carrot sticks, and the olives come out even. (Bread and Jam for Frances)

I especially liked it when Frances sat under the table and made up songs.


Sometimes she sat under the sink.


Sometimes we all feel like doing that.

Of course, there are elements in these books which people now-a-days might find shocking–for instance, Papa Badger smokes a pipe and even threatens to spank Frances when she won’t stay in bed! Oh my gosh. Quelle shocking!

So happy birthday to Lillian Hoban and to Frances. Have a great Monday!

*A Baby Sister for Frances


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