dual personalities

Month: November, 2017

Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O power of my power*

It is the last day in November and I have been meaning to mention this tidbit of flyover Episcopal church history all month…Four years before St. Louis was chartered as a city in 1823, Christ Church was organized by 26 people who assembled for a service in a building that previously had been a dance hall and a courtroom. That worship service on Oct. 24, 1819 was the first for an Episcopal-Anglican congregation west of the Mississippi River.

On November 1, 1819  a charter was circulated by Col. Thomas F. Riddick for the first Episcopal church west of the Mississippi. Almost 50 signatures were obtained for the document, including those of some of the city’s most prominent citizens–Gen. William Clark, Thomas Hart Benton, Alexander McNair, Frederick Dent, John O’Fallon, James Clemens, Jr., and William Carr Lane, who in 1823 would be elected first mayor of St. Louis.


Nearly 50 years and two church buildings later, the growing congregation constructed a permanent church at their present location.  It was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1994. Christ Church Cathedral is now headquarters of the Missouri diocese of the Episcopal Church and ranks among the finest English Gothic structures in the nation.

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I was sorry to miss this special service and the “Chat N’ Chew” (!) in the Nave with Esley Hamilton, historian and preservationist, as guest speaker that followed. That was a busy weekend and I couldn’t pull it off.


Of course, there was nary a mention of this milestone in our local paper. 150 years! Oh well, I suppose they think no one cares about the history of a small (and shrinking) denomination like ours. And they are too busy feeding us headlines about Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, et al.

Well, I certainly hope I am around in two years to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Episcopalians in this city!


*Be Thou My Vision, hymn #488

What are you reading?


I am reading a bunch of different things.


You will recall that My Friend Flicka, written by Wyomingite Mary O’Hara, was mentioned a couple of times in a Longmire mystery…so I felt I should read it since I never have. Written in 1941, it tells the story of Ken McLaughlin, the son of a a Wyoming rancher, and his horse Flicka. It was the first in a trilogy, followed by Thunderhead (1943) and Green Grass of Wyoming (1946). The popular 1943 film version featured young Roddy McDowell.


They re-made Flicka in 2006 with a girl protagonist (of course) and Tim McGraw as the father. Oy.

Anyway, the book is very well-written and quite sophisticated for a young adult novel of that era–there is a graphic scene of yearlings being gelded which I could have lived without.  Furthermore, Ken’s mother is a Bryn Mawr graduate and they are Episcopalians! But I’m just not that interested in horses, I guess, because I’m not sure I will trudge on to the end.

I am also re-reading Mere Christianity, which–no surprise–is really good!

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, I read Jan Karon. So now I am reading These High, Green Hills.

Lunch at the Grill, thought Father Tim, was what kept life real. He had to confess, however, that he could hardly wait to get back to the office and finish the C.S. Lewis essay entitled “Thought, Imagination, Language.”

I also recently re-read The Free Man by Conrad Richter. It tells the story of Henry Free, a hard-working Palatine German who comes to farm in Pennsylvania but is tricked, along with many of his countrymen, by the British, and is sold as an indentured servant when he arrives in America.  He escapes and thrives and eventually fights for liberty on the battlefields of the Revolution. The book did not receive good reviews when it was published in 1943 during the height of WWII. I am not surprised, since the British–our allies!–are the bad guys. It must have been shocking and somewhat distasteful at the time. The lesson here is an important one though–the British are not always the good guys and the Germans not always the villains.

I admire Richter and his spare, but beautiful writing a lot. He is an all-but-forgotten writer these days, but I read that they are re-making the Awakening Land trilogy for television. Frances McDormand is going to play Sayward Luckett, the main character, which could be good or bad. Perhaps it will encourage someone to go back and read the books.

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What are you reading?

The painting at the top is “Evening at Home” by Edward John Poynter (1836-1919)

Happy b-day to our brown-eyed handsome man*

Today is the boy’s birthday–he is 31! Happy birthday to our brown-eyed handsome man!

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Here he is back in 1987 with the OM.

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Perhaps he reminds you of someone?


Yes, it is rather amazing.

Here are a few more pictures which show the similarities…

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As you can see, the boy was on the go and getting into mischief just the way the little bud does. Two peas in a genetic pod.


Lottie says, “What about me?” Well, we know she is the apple of her daddy’s eye, probably because she looks like her lovely mommy.

Anyway, we celebrated the boy’s birthday on Sunday night. But we will raise a toast to our wonderful son as he turns 31 tonight. I thank God every day for him and for being his lucky mother.

*”Brown-eyed Handsome Man” by Chuck Berry

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise”*

I love four-day weekends! There is enough time to do what you need to do, and a little time left over at the end to get one’s head in order for the new week.

Our weekend was super-fun and full of family. We pulled off the Thanksgiving feast without a major flaw.


We fit ten adults and two wee babes at the table.


We mixed and matched our china and crystal to  make it work. The food was all ready at the same time and was yummy. The beer and wine flowed freely.



The wee babes were as entertaining as usual.


So many skills.

IMG_9711.jpegBut, of course, what would a holiday be without an emergency call for some broken appliance or downed system?

IMG_1811.JPGThe thermostat broke and we had no heat, so that had to be fixed on Thanksgiving morning! Later in the weekend our washing machine broke and that one is pending. C’est la vie.

On Friday, daughter #1 and I brought up a lot of Christmas stuff from the basement. We decorated the mantel.



IMG_2981.JPGWe also  had lunch with our best buds at our favorite restaurant Cafe Osage.


IMG_9456.JPGAnd we did a little local shopping on Small Business Saturday.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 12.52.23 PM.pngWe even sat outside and drank a beer on the patio–it was that warm–and listened to the symphony of leaf blowers in the neighborhood! Anyway, it was a glorious weekend combining friends, family, shopping, cooking, walking outside, decorating, movie-watching–all our favorite things.

Now it is Monday and time to face the music of another work week. Onward and upward.

*Psalm 100:4

Are you ready?

Well, that week certainly flew by! We had our first snow of the year — a hint of things to come, but not enough to cause travel problems for anyone.

Son #2 joined us for most of the week, and the four of us had a wonderful time catching up. Alas, I failed to take pictures. We missed our youngest, but knew he was having a blast at my dual personality’s house, so did not worry. In fact, he had a great visit. He told me he couldn’t remember the last time he laughed so much. The wee twins captured Tim’s heart and he knew he’d been accepted when the little bud spat up on him. A fun time was had by all!

Meanwhile, back in the North Country, this dual personality took advantage of all the masculine muscle available to do some much needed tidying up. I rented a UHAUL storage unit!

It’s very reasonably priced, brand new, and very well organized. Into this lovely space son #2 and I moved the first of many loads of detritus that threaten to overwhelm my house.  We have an attic, but some things need climate control, and it gets really cold up there.

Children’s books, son #2’s collection of laser discs (don’t ask), stuffed animals, son #1’s kitchen stuff, various amplifiers and speakers belonging to son #3, our record collection, and additional odds and ends. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes. You can see the floor in Tim’s closet! And the family room no longer looks like garage band heaven. I feel renewed!

I’m almost ready to start thinking about Christmas. I even did a little online shopping yesterday. However, before I really get going, I need to spend a little time contemplating what the season is really about. Henry Van Dyke understood:

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!

Wonderful things are in store! It’s time to get ready.


Love your life


Tuesday when I was driving home it happened to be just the right time to experience those few moments known as “the Golden Hour” –when the sun is just at the point on the horizon that the light is redder and softer than usual. At this time of year, it hits the golden and orange leaves of the trees and turns them into molten gold.

Anyway, I was trying to stay on the road while looking east at the trees and not burst into tears. Does this happen to you? Happily I made it safely to the grocery store where I then got a look at an amazing sunset right there in the parking lot. The horizon was a blazing orange under a ceiling of clouds. Amazing!

Then I went in and bought my food. The most incredible stuff goes on around us all the time!

I have quoted this before, but it bears repeating:

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
―Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

Happy Thanksgiving!

(The painting is by Albert Bierstadt, 1886)

Come, ye thankful people, come

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Today I am taking a half day at work, followed by a 4-day weekend. Huzzah.

My nephew Tim is driving in today from Crawfordsville, Indiana, and so is daughter #1 from Columbia. I will be in the kitchen cooking–terra incognita, for sure. But maybe we will have a dance party.

8f6180883df0ad438082a92665a38151--vintage-thanksgiving-thanksgiving-dinners.jpgAs you are celebrating Thanksgiving with your family and friends tomorrow, keep in mind what Joyce Meyer says: “Go home, and let all your relatives off the potter’s wheel. You are not the potter!”

Relax. Have a great day. Watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)


or Miracle on 34th Street (1947).


Count your blessings. Life is good.

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Don’t look so surprised!

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose Word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for His own abode;
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou mayst smile at all thy foes.

–John Newton, Anglican Hymn

If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven


If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,

Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light,

Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content:—

The stars pre-eminent in magnitude,

And they that from the zenith dart their beams,

(Visible though they be to half the earth,

Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness)

Are yet of no diviner origin,

No purer essence, than the one that burns,

Like an untended watch-fire on the ridge

Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem

Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps,

Among the branches of the leafless trees.

All are the undying offspring of one Sire:

Then, to the measure of the light vouchsafed,

Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content.

–William Wordsworth, 1832

The wee babes would probably prefer to shine in place contentedly at home, but their adoring parents are always dragging them hither and yon to experience LIFE. Sunday night they went to see the Christmas lights at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.


Little Lottie was, per usual, not impressed. The little bud was more game,


but, yikes, it was cold out there! I’m sure we did the same thing ourselves back in the day. ‘Tis the season after all…

Personally, I am looking forward to watching the Macy’s Parade from the comfort of my couch.


Daughter #1 will join us this year. For 5 years she watched the famous parade from various windows on the UWS or on the actual street. Indeed, when she would walk home late Wednesday night after her show aired, she saw the giant balloons gathered on Central Park West.  Life is decidedly less glamorous back in flyover country, but mimosas will be served.

Tonight I shop for the feast. Huzzah.

“Fling wide the portals of your heart; make it a temple, set apart”*


Thanksgiving is upon us. If you were out shopping at all this weekend, you know that Christmas is upon us. I made the mistake of going to Target, which was very crowded, and then going to Home Goods, which was crazy! Well, I managed to find gold tapers, so all was not lost.

The OM and I went out to dinner on Saturday night with some old friends. When we got home we watched a terrible movie–Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). Charlie Hunnam couldn’t save this CG insanity which reportedly cost $175 million to make. Why, Lord, why?


The double feature of two funny movies–The Great Outdoors and Uncle Buck, which we watched on Friday night, was much better. At least there was a discernible story in each.

The rest of the weekend I cleaned a lot at home in anticipation of multiple guests later this week. I ran over to the boy’s house after church to see the wee babes, whom I had not seen for two weeks! They are as brilliant as ever, but I didn’t take any pictures.

The OM made soup on Sunday night. (It’s that time of year again.) I washed the dishes.


It’s a short work week! Enjoy it.

*Hymn #436, George Weissel (1590-1633)

Saturday sleuthing

As you know, I’ve been going through boxes of old papers and letters whenever I can find the time. In my latest foray into the past, I found this business card:

It brings back some good memories. Back in the early 1960s we had a large black and white TV in a nice Maple case that looked more or less like this.

Its insides were full of complex tubes and wires.

Periodically, when one of those little glass tubes needed replacing, some fuse blew, or one of the more delicate knobs required fine tuning, we called Danny, the owner of the business card shown above. He would come right away and fix the machine.

Danny’s visits always thrilled this little dual personality. From his first appearance when I was three or four (?), we became fast friends. Danny always seemed like a kind of magician to me. While my father couldn’t make heads or tails of all that circuitry, Danny understood it all! More important than his technical expertise, he was an incredibly cheerful, friendly and tolerant guy, who never seemed to mind that I hung around watching what he did and chattering incessantly. I probably drove him crazy, but he never let on. His acceptance meant a lot to me. Alas, time flies. We got another TV and rarely needed to call a repairman, and I grew self-conscious anyway. Gone was the outgoing chatterbox of yore.

Finding the business card brought all of that back to me. I was chagrined to discover no last name on the card, but I did look up the address. It’s a nice little house in nice suburb and it happens to be for sale.

My sleuthing discovered that a Daniel W. Witt and his family once lived there. He’s now 92 — could he be our Danny? I don’t know, but if I did identify him correctly and someone close to him ever finds this post, I’d like to say thank you for being kind to a silly little girl way back when.

Isn’t the internet wonderful?