dual personalities

Month: March, 2019

Seize the day — or NOT.

It’s a dark, rainy morning — exactly what I’ve been waiting for. After the snowy silence of winter, the sound of rain brings real pleasure.  This is perfect writing weather, and that’s what I need to get doing. That looming deadline is inspiring all sorts of stress ailments and avoidance behavior, and I am getting nowhere fast. I kid you not, I have written and re-written the first paragraph of this paper for the last two weeks.

Having established that I am suffering from writer’s block, let’s move on to avoidance behavior, which, though it does little to alleviate stress, is much more fun. If I have any well-developed talent, it is an ability to convince myself that what I want to do needs to be done RIGHT NOW, and what I should be doing can wait. Here are my favorite ways to fool myself.

1. I do easy tasks that could wait (email, grade quizzes, type up notes…), but tell myself that it’s still work, so it counts.

2. I clean a room or do laundry. That counts, too, because of course we need to have clean houses and clothes to wear. Cooking also counts.

3. I do ‘research’ on the internet (e.g., genealogy or antique hunting), read, listen to music, or look at art — the search for inspiration takes time! Contemplating interesting paintings should help:

Painting by Philippe Charles Jacquet, found on Google Image.

4. I take a walk or do some Tai Chi. Here I am striking a pose on Dartmoor on a blustery day in 2018.

5. I attend a meeting, where I can daydream to my heart’s content. Obviously, meetings count as work, and if I do not pay attention, I do not get annoyed, so it’s a win-win situation.

Yet, as I diligently avoid working on some project, it is ticking along in the back of my brain. Sometimes in order to make progress on one thing, you have to do something else. At least that is what I tell myself.

Undoubtedly, Bill Watterson’s view is more accurate:

I’m experiencing a sense of déjà vu here, which probably means that I’ve posted about all this before. Oh, well, at least illustrations are new.

Time to get back to that introductory paragraph. Maybe today is the day I’ll be able to move to the next one.

“In the long run, you hit only what you aim for.”*

Well, my hard week is almost over, but next week doesn’t look much better.😩

C’est la vie.

I  plan to have a restorative weekend. We all have our personal self-comforting techniques and I will utilize all of mine.Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 5.37.41 PM.png

T.G.I.F. Enjoy your weekend.

*Henry David Thoreau

 

Time marches on

April is just around the corner. The year is almost a quarter over!

The 50th anniversaries of some big events are coming up this year.

There’s the moon landing of Apollo 11 on July 20…

Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 6.46.15 PM.png

…and Woodstock, of course, in August…

Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 6.47.33 PM.png

…and our brother’s 50th high school reunion is this May.

Chris 1969.jpeg

Sigh. Time marches on.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90: 12)

Another brown-eyed handsome man*

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 11.01.07 AM.png

Yesterday was DN’s birthday and, although I remembered and, indeed, thought about him all day long, I failed to mention him in  my blogpost. This week is rather fraught, ye unto brimming, with things to occupy my mind, so I’m sure he understood.

I am very grateful that DN is a part of our lives.

IMG_8503.jpg

You what-what?

Besides being a loving partner to daughter #2, he talks with me about books and makes wonderful cocktails and drives me to the airport in ice storms. He appreciates symbolism in religious rites. He is not averse to visiting battlefields and other historic sites and can poke around in an antique store without getting impatient. He ordered three dozen tiki glasses (un-prompted) for the 200th birthday party for Herman Melville we are planning for this summer!

“He’s a keepah!”

IMG_2022.JPG

The wee laddie has always agreed.

*Chuck Berry

The kindness of strangers

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 7.00.50 PM.png

Today is the birthday of Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) proud son of our flyover town and my flyover university. He didn’t actually graduate and I don’t think he was overly fond of it, but we like to claim him. He is buried here–against his wishes. He left most of his money to the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee (an Episcopal school) in honor of his maternal grandfather, Walter Dakin, an alumnus of the university. When his sister Rose died in 1996 after many years in a mental institution, she bequeathed $7 million from her part of the Williams estate to The University of the South.

Tennessee wrote some famous plays–quite a few, in fact. Hollywood made some good movies out of those plays, although they all contain a lot of acting. One that is somewhat less fraught is  The Night of the Iguana (1964) with Richard Burton and Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner. I have always  liked it.

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 7.40.17 PM.png

And I always liked the poem that Nonno, Hannah’s grandfather, spends the play writing:

How calmly does the orange branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer,
With no betrayal of despair.

Sometime while night obscures the tree
The zenith of its life will be
Gone past forever, and from thence
A second history will commence.

A chronicle no longer gold,
A bargaining with mist and mould,
And finally the broken stem
The plummeting to earth; and then

An intercourse not well designed
For beings of a golden kind
Whose native green must arch above
The earth’s obscene, corrupting love.

And still the ripe fruit and the branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer,
With no betrayal of despair.

O Courage, could you not as well
Select a second place to dwell,
Not only in that golden tree
But in the frightened heart of me?”

A toast to Tennessee Williams then, on his birthday!

“Mary ate my donut.”*

Another whirlwind weekend comes to an end, this one filled to the brim with the whirling dervishes known as  the wee babes.

The boy dropped them off at 9:00 am on Saturday and I entertained them until daughter #1 returned from having her oil changed (and getting donuts). We read this book which I had bought at the Art Mart, having remembered it fondly from my own childhood many moons ago.

IMG_3912.JPG

They loved it! That color wheel is the best. The wee babes knew all their colors and all the animals–oinka oinka–pictured inside. This book may be 60 years old, but it really holds up! (Back in print for the first time since it was published in 1959, “proudly reissued in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Little Golden Books!”)

Daughter #1 and I then bundled them into their double stroller and walked up to the little neighborhood park. They ran around like free range monkeys and climbed on the climbing structure and went down the slide many times. They also enjoyed picking up sticks and leaves and poking around. It doesn’t take much. We met some friendly dogs being walked and that was exciting too.

IMG_0525.JPGIMG_0526.JPGIMG_0523.JPGAfter we got home and ate lunch, the wee laddie could barely keep his eyes open–all that fresh air and running around you know–so we moved into the TV room, hoping some Veggie Tales would put them to sleep. This plan backfired as the new room, which is usually off-limits to them, renewed their strength and curiosity, and they were off to the races again. We had no luck getting them to nap, although the wee laddie finally crashed in the crib upstairs and slept like a log for a good long while. Miss Lottiebelle would not settle down, however, so we tried a variety of activities to no avail. She was pretty stressed out by a) the fact that her brother wasn’t around and b) she was upstairs in a mysterious new part of the house and c) her mommy was out of town. As a last resort, we got out a huge box of old Beanie Babies and went through them. By the time we roused her brother and things got back to normal, it was almost time for their daddy to pick them up, which he did around 3:30 pm.

After they left, daughter #1 and I indulged in a large glass of wine. (It was 5 o’clock somewhere.) The OM took us to dinner at Dewey’s (more wine) and when we came home and got in our jammies, we watched Tommy Boy (1995),

Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 11.00.12 AM.png

Fat guy in a little coat…

which says a lot about the state of our minds, and went to bed at 9:00.

Sunday we got up and finished the last of the donuts and daughter #1 hit the road for mid-MO. I straightened up and did laundry etc. and moved all my plants to the Florida room. I cleaned it up and put out all the pillows. It is almost ready to have the girls over for an end-of-the-week drink! Believe me, I will need one.

I also tried to mentally prepare for the hell week that commences today. So many events this week.

But I can handle it. I am woman; hear me roar.

And this Instagram post (not actually posted) by the boy made me laugh:Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 11.23.54 AM.png

Have a good week!

*Lottiebelle after her aunt ate the last bit of donut which had been sitting on a plate in the living room for 4 hours. Her tone was matter-of-fact but tinged with judgement.

I can’t see you but I know you’re there*

Recently, when reading about that most famous ancient temple, the Parthenon, I came across an interesting tidbit. As you know, the Parthenon was the brainchild of Pericles, the great statesman who made Athens into an empire in the mid-fifth century BC. At the time, the city was the intellectual and cultural center of the world.

The acropolis today

Inside the temple’s inner sanctum stood a colossal statue of Athena covered in gold and ivory. Only small ancient knock-offs have survived but you can get an idea of the size and splendor from these photos of the reproduction in the Nashville Parthenon:

The statue was huge and very, very impressive, though of course only the most important priests and statesmen would have been allowed to enter the temple and see it. Eventually, Athens lost its power and wealth to become  just another city in the vast Roman Empire. Even then the temple drew tourists, and one of them — I’m afraid I can’t remember who it was — managed to see the statue, only to observe with disgust that it was infested with mice. Yes, mice had burrowed under the gold and ivory and colonized the wooden core. If that didn’t ruin the numinous effect, I don’t know what would. How could anyone worship a goddess full of squeaking rodents?

Then again, mice invasions of holy places are not exactly unheard of in modern times, though we tend to find the idea appealing and even natural. For example, read John Betjeman’s Diary of a Church Mouse, from about 1975. Similarly, English author Graham Oakley has produced a beloved series of children’s books devoted to the topic.

Those of us who don’t have to deal with the tiny rodents in the flesh tend to romanticize them, but it has not always been thus. The Romans, apparently lacking the warm-fuzzy gene, knew exactly what to do with mice. Eat ’em up! In fact, they had special jars for fattening dormice, which they regarded as a delicacy.

An ancient Roman dormouse fattening jar, a glirarium, now in the Royal Ontario Museum.

To be clear, the Romans didn’t eat just any old mice. Dormice, which were rather larger in those days than they are now, made the best food. When cooked in a little honey and wine, and with the right spices added in, they were finger lickin’ good — at least that’s what the ancient Romans thought.

Personally, I’d be happy if I never saw another live mouse, and I’d certainly never eat one! They don’t make great gifts either. Next time you come across a mouse, remember that the species has been bothering people for millennia and we’ve managed to survive. It could be worse.

Have a great weekend!

*Genesis, The Mouse’s Night

 

“A man oughta do what he thinks is best.”*

Daughter #1 is driving home today so that she can assist me in babysitting the wee babes tomorrow–an all day assignment. Daughter #3 is in Nashville celebrating her sister’s bachelorette weekend and the boy will be at his store. We’ll survive, but it won’t be easy!

As far as movie picks for the weekend, I have to go with birthday boys William Shatner and Louis L’Amour.

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 12.50.34 PM.png

Think of the possibilities!

We could watch The Brothers Karamazov (1958)…

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 7.32.34 PM.png

…or Hondo (1953)…

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 7.38.57 PM.png

…or a Star Trek marathon…

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 7.41.03 PM.png

…or any number of Sackett movies…

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 9.52.00 PM.png

As for me, I’ll toast Billy Collins, who also celebrates a birthday today.

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 10.33.37 PM.png

“The Chairs That No One Sits In”

You see them on porches and on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple
who might sit there and look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone
sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed
a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.
Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.
It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs
on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved
to be viewed from two chairs
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high and massive that day.
The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,
the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning—
it passes the time to wonder which.

 

Interesting side-note: Jonathan Edwards, the great 18th century minister and philosopher, who died on this date in 1758, is remembered today on the Lutheran Calendar of Saints. He is not included on the calendar of the Episcopal Church. Quite an oversight on our part, I must say.

Have a great weekend. Do what you think is best.

*Hondo Lane

Raise the hallelujah

Did you see the super moon last night?

IMG_3906.JPG

It was pretty cool.

IMG_3907.JPG

March’s full moon is sometimes called the “worm moon,” because according to folklore tradition, it occurs at a time when the frosty ground is melting and earthworms start to emerge. Noted.

Spring is here officially I guess.  And that crazy amaryllis keeps on blooming…

IMG_3905.JPG

I bought these at the grocery store. Nice, right?IMG_3911.JPG

I think so too.

A little mid-week vent

I mean really.

I saw this recently released survey on a blog I read, that said 3 out of 5 Millennials believe that this is the most stressful time EVER in history. To 60% of everyone over 18 and under 35, no place/time in human history has had more human stress than now.

The survey included a Top 20 List of the stresses that are devastating Millennials:

1. Losing wallet/credit card
2. Arguing with partner
3. Commute/traffic delays
4. Losing phone
5. Arriving late to work
6. Slow WiFi
7. Phone battery dying
8. Forgetting passwords
9. Credit card fraud
10. Forgetting phone charger
11. Losing/misplacing keys
12. Paying bills
13. Job interviews
14. Phone screen breaking
15. Credit card bills
16. Check engine light coming on
17. School loan payments
18. Job security
19. Choosing what to wear
20. Washing dishes

Clearly the Millennials who took the survey don’t know much (or anything) about history. I mean it would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic.

With nothing to compare their lives to, they have no idea how privileged they are. I don’t know about you, but I never take indoor plumbing for granted. And, boy, I am grateful for the fact that strep throat can no longer kill me. Or real Nazis. I may feel ostracized on occasion because I am a church-going Christian, but no one is threatening to burn me at the stake for my beliefs.

Sigh. To most of us adults, the stresses listed above are merely the minor annoyances of modern living. No. Big. Deal. In fact, Millennials have too much choice, too much food, too much leisure time, too much entertainment. They have way too much. Period. And they are not grateful for any of it. I can’t help thinking that the ancestors of these Millennials, who suffered and sacrificed to get to this country, would be very disappointed in their descendants.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 1.06.27 PM.png

Suffering builds character, remember?

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 12.58.05 PM.png

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5).

But, hey, today is the first day of spring! Huzzah!