dual personalities

Month: April, 2012

Absent-Minded Professor

This lonely figure of not much fun
Strayed out of folklore fifteen years ago
Forever. Now on an autumn afternoon,
While the leaves drift past the office window,
His bright replacement, present-minded, stays
At the desk correcting papers, nor ever grieves
For the silly scholar of the bad old days,
Who’d burn the papers and correct the leaves.

–Howard Nemerov

Howard Nemerov (29 February 1920 – 5 July 1991) was an American poet who was twice Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, from 1963 to 1964 and again from 1988 to 1990. He was for many years a professor at our flyover university and as such used to walk to work past our parent’s house. He wrote a poem called “Walking Down Westgate in the Fall.” It ends with the lines: “Hearing the acorns bang on the roofs of cars/ And bounce and roll along the rainy street.”

I remember that. (The sound of acorns banging on cars.)

Dining room redux

Not long ago I blogged about my dining room and its newly painted blue walls, which look like this:

I also mentioned that I wanted to buy a new rug and that it should be mostly red so that the room would not be so overwhelmingly blue. I’ve been looking for months for a rug and last week I finally found a reasonably good quality hand made rug that I thought would be just the thing. I bought it online from a rug dealer in Lexington Kentucky. The transaction was easy and the company efficient, but the rug turned out to be more rust than the red it looked online. Oh well. It’s growing on me; It does really brighten up the room.


What do you think? I welcome your feedback, but be nice because I’m feeling sensitive.

Note: the funny shading on the front edge of the rug is just the light on the nap and not staining.

The simple things

I am a morning person. My favorite time of day is early in the morning, after I have done my NordicTrack time and my husband has left for work. I have the house to myself to putter to my hearts content before (and while) I get ready to return to the salt mines.

I clean up the kitchen. I water my plants. I stack the magazines.

Today I swiffered the ceiling fan blades in my bedroom (and, boy, did they need it!).

I looked at my birthday cards from last week.

I went outside and cut some flowers.

There are buds on the peonies (and ants).

There is coffee.

“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson (Self-Reliance)

Far be it from me

The birthday on April 4 of our pater familias caught me off guard and I only had time to throw together a short post. I have been giving it (and him) some more thought.

My father was very old school. He carried a Dunhill lighter and wore a fedora and a Burberry Balmacan raincoat. He wore Brooks Brothers suits; two for summer (one khaki and one olive green–a color they no longer seem to carry) and two for winter (gray). He wore Brooks Brothers button-down shirts (14 1/2/32) and shoes. Even in our hot, muggy flyover summers, he never wore sportshirts. (Sometimes he rolled his sleeves.) Jazzy for him meant madras. He wore boxers. He never changed the style of eyewear he wore. Ever. (See above in 1952 with my brother Chris in our grandparents backyard.)

He loved small leather goods. And the Georg Jensen store in NYC.

He was a proud veteran of WWII and Korea. He was the first man in his family not to serve as an officer.

He loved bookstores and books. He read mysteries. As my dual personality noted earlier, no one read Winnie the Pooh aloud like my father. He liked war movies and John Wayne. He met Charlton Heston once in London. (They both collected lead soldiers.)

He never lifted so much as a finger to help in the yard or the house. Ever. He did not barbeque.

When we had a dog, he never walked it. I think he liked small animals. He would have liked a cat. I remember he hit a rabbit once on Ladue Road and it was the only time I ever heard him use a four-letter word (sober). I think it really bothered him. (This is not to say that he didn’t blaspheme regularly–“God damn it!” being a favorite exclamation.)

He could get sunburned driving a car with the window open.

He liked cities, especially Boston and San Francisco. Nature was not his thing. Exercise? Please. He did once ride his bike as a teenager from Worcester, MA up to Montpelier, VT to visit his cousins, but I think that was probably because he was desperate to get out of his house (and away from his mother?) His cousin told me years later that when he arrived, he was terribly sunburned.

He always bought me a candy bar when we stopped for gas on the way home from school, even if dinner was in half an hour and he knew my mother would accuse him of “ruining my appetite”. I blame him for my candy addiction.

He cut the fat off his meat and hated butter. He liked Jordan Almonds.

He was a collector and hobbyist. Lead soldiers (Britains), model trains, medals, military prints and Dresden soldiers, Napoleana.

He was kind and quiet and gentlemanly. He was not a snob. He treated everyone the same. People of lower social orders always respected and admired him. He was ill-at-ease around business executives. He had a few friends, but like the rest of our family, he was an introvert who enjoyed his own company.

The party ain’t over yet

Lately I’ve been listening to the lovely Miss Patty Loveless on my rides to and from work. I have been a fan of her eastern Kentucky twang and ladylike demeanor for many years. She was born in Pikeville, the hometown of another favorite of mine, Dwight Yoakam. (Patty and Dwight are contemporaries of mine and I’m sure we would be fast friends if we ever met.) She is also a distant cousin of Loretta Lyn and Crystal Gale.

We have seen Patty at the Grand Ole Opry and once at the Ryman Theater where the boy famously yelled, “We love you Patty!” in that quiet moment after the thunderous applause suddenly dies down. I remember she turned and looked up at the balcony where we sat.

“How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye” always makes me cry, but my favorite Patty song is this. Listen and enjoy! (They played this song once on Justified, but it was the Brad Paisley version, which though good, cannot hold a candle to Patty’s.)

“I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.”—Oscar Wilde

But I do keep trying! I always wonder about all those people out there with their plain white china–such low expectations!

Huckleberry friends

Another step closer to the big day in July.

Happy Birthday, dear dual personality!!

The dual personalities circa 1964

Here’s wishing a very happy birthday to the elder (thinner, more glamorous, and beautiful…) dual personality. I hope your presents make you as happy as that troll did!

Singeing the beard of the King of Spain

In a pre-emptive strike on this day in 1585, Francis Drake “singed the beard of the King of Spain” by sailing a fleet into Cadiz and also Corunna, two of Spain’s main ports, and occupying the harbors. He destroyed 37 naval and merchant ships. The attack delayed the Spanish invasion by a year. Over the next month, Drake patrolled the Iberian coasts between Lisbon and Cape St. Vincent, intercepting and destroying ships on the Spanish supply lines.

They sure don’t make ’em like Sir Francis Drake anymore. Or TV shows like “Sir Francis Drake”. Remember that one back in 1962? I do, although I probably saw it in syndication a few years later.

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, 

when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, 

when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore. 


Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the waters of life, 
having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, 
and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim. 


Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, 
where storms will show your mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. 
We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes, 
and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. 
This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. ”
― Francis Drake

Happy birthday, Conan O’Brien

“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism; for the record it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

A wise man and he wrote the “Marge vs. the Monorail” episode.