dual personalities

Month: April, 2019

This is how my mind works

As you know, I enjoy perusing the obits in the alumni magazines I receive, most notably the old guys who went to Williams College. Case in point:

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Serving in the 104th division must have been important to Jerry since it was included in his fairly short obituary. So I looked up the Timberwolf Division.

“Nothing in Hell can stop the Timberwolves” was their motto in WWII. They fought through the Battle of Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge and attacked the bridgehead at Remagen. As the 104th advanced into Thuringia, the unit overran Nordhausen and the Dora-Mittlebau concentration camp on April 11, 1945.

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During WWII, soldiers of the division were awarded two Medals of Honor, 14 Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, 642 Silver Star Medals, six Legion of Merit Medals, 20 Soldier’s Medals, 2,797 Bronze Star Medals, and 40 Air Medals.

NYC Mayor Ed Koch and NY Governor Hugh Carey served in the 104th during WWII, as did screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and NFL player Bob Shaw.

To me, this is very interesting. I have such respect for these veterans, especially the ones who came home and attempted to lead normal lives and stayed married for 67 years! So a toast to these brave men, the living and the dead.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace”*

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Froggie went a courtin’…and I found him at an estate sale a few weeks ago. I planted some annuals this weekend. Hopefully they will fill in around him. I planted some geraniums in pots as well. The OM even got into the act…

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We have had a lot of rain, which is great for the grass…but the violets love it as well… IMG_3965.JPG

…zut alors! They are considered a weed around here.IMG_3964-1.JPG

Anyway, everything is greening up nicely. I saw a big bumble bee doing his thing and the birds are building nests and the chipmunks are building tunnels.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:7-10)

We babysat for the wee babes and they went to bed like little lambs (?!) once we had wrestled them into their jammies (easier said than done). Then they came over for their usual visit on Sunday night and frolicked in our yard.

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Be thou thyself, O Lord, we beseech thee, the shepherd of thy people; that we who are strengthened by thy risen presence may in our daily life walk with thee, and in humble trust seek to follow thee, as thou callest us by name and dost lead us out; for thy glory’s sake.

—The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: Services of Praise and Prayer for Occasional Use in Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933)

*Isaiah 55:11

The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young*

I know it’s Saturday because it’s raining and blustery. I wonder whether the poor lady cardinal nesting in the spruce outside our living room window feels seasick as the wind buffets her about. I tried to take a photo but she’s so shy that she flies away, even when I approach stealthily. I do love “those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature has furnished them to the shame of art” (Izaak Walton).

Cardinal Grosbeak from Birds of America (1827) by John James Audubon (1785 – 1851), etched by Robert Havell (1793 – 1878).

I daresay that the hungry baby-bird cries will soon disturb the peace and quiet of my living room. Still, I’m excited about the prospect and fervently hope no predator discovers the nest! I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

If you can’t go bird watching, here are a few tidbits to get you through the rainy weekend. For novel group entertainment, why not try this? For cerebral activity you can do alone, read anything by Algis Valiunas. In particular, I recommend his articles on Edward Gibbon, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and Francis Parkman. Food for thought, even if you don’t agree with him.

*Psalm 84:3

 

 

“Oh where are you going with your love-locks flowing/ On the west wind blowing along this valley track?”*

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It has been a busy week, the highlight of which was my visit to the wee babes’ preschool one morning for Grandparents’ Day. I went to chapel with them and to an activity (coloring) and a snack. I had to leave early to get to work, but they were in the good hands of their other grandparents. At two, life is just one activity after another and then you take a nap. Sounds pretty good, right?

After quite a few busy weekends in a row, I am going to take it real easy this weekend. I have no plans besides babysitting the wee babes on Saturday night. I am hoping the OM and I are capable of handling/wrangling them for two hours. We’ll see.

Since tomorrow marks the 137th anniversary of the death of the brilliant, but ultimately misguided, Sage of Concord, Ralph Waldo Emerson, I will be toasting him.

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When Emerson died of pneumonia in 1882, he was buried on “Author’s Ridge” in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery —a cemetery that was designed with Emerson’s Transcendentalist, nature-loving aesthetics in mind. In 1855, as a member of the Concord Cemetery Committee, Emerson gave the dedication at the opening of the cemetery, calling it a “garden of the living” that would be a peaceful place for both visitors and permanent residents. “Author’s Ridge” became a burial ground for many of those famous American authors who called Concord home—Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emerson. Good company for sure.

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I should also note that tomorrow Christina Rossetti is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Anglican Church.

Somewhere or Other

Somewhere or other there must surely be
The face not seen, the voice not heard,
The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!
Made answer to my word.
Somewhere or other, may be near or far;
Past land and sea, clean out of sight;
Beyond the wandering moon, beyond the star
That tracks her night by night.
Somewhere or other, may be far or near;
With just a wall, a hedge, between;
With just the last leaves of the dying year
Fallen on a turf grown green.

Join me in toasting her as well! And have a good weekend!

*from “Amor Mundi” by Christina Rossetti

To the faithful trees, I confess my sins

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 “At start of spring I open a trench
In the ground. I put into it
The winter’s accumulation of paper,
Pages I do not want to read
Again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the suns, growth of the ground,
Finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy
enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise,
have been inattentive to wonders,
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse,
of mind and body, I close the trench
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.”
― Wendell Berry, New Collected Poems

(The photo is from a KMOV viewer in Maryville, IL.)

“And it’s all in a day’s work”*

My friend Carla posted this on Facebook yesterday and I have to share it because it made me laugh 😂.

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I mean really. They evacuated the street?

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I get it. Better safe than sorry, but you gotta love it. If it’s not giant raccoons, it’s the bomb squad, right, Carla?

Another friend sent me some beautiful pictures of his redbud trees (eastern redbud tree, Cercis canadensis), noting how their blooms originate from the branches.

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It has been a particularly great year for our mid-MO redbuds.

And here’s some news you can use.

*Dr. Dre (and others)

“And you, good yeoman, Whose limbs were made in England”*

Today is the feast day of Saint George, a Roman officer of Greek descent from Cappadocia, who was martyred in one of the pre-Constantinian persecutions. George is a very popular saint, honored all over the world, but especially in England where he is the patron saint. (“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, or close the wall up with our English dead. … cry God for Harry, England, and St George!”)

Here is Donatello’s famous statue in Florence…

Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.37.07 PM.png…but something’s missing! Where’s the dragon?Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.24.04 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 12.00.35 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.16.19 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.27.30 PM.pngThe slaying of the dragon is definitely an integral and important part of this saint’s universal appeal.

Here is Dragon Hill, a small hillock immediately below the Uffington White Horse in the county of Oxfordshire in England. It is a natural chalk hill with an artificially flattened top. According to legend, Saint George slew the dragon here.

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A bare patch of chalk upon which no grass will grow is purported to be where the dragon’s blood spilled.

A traditional custom on St George’s day is to fly or adorn one’s home or business with the St George’s Cross flag. Pubs in particular can be seen festooned with garlands of St George’s crosses on April 23. It is also customary for the hymn “Jerusalem” to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George’s Day. All of the above sound like good ideas to me.

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Lord Jesus Christ, whose cross didst seal thy servant George: Grant that we, strengthened by his example and prayers, may triumph to the end over all evils, to the glory of thy Name; for with the Father and Holy Spirit thou livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

*Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 3, scene one

(The artwork is, from top to bottom: Donatello, Albrecht Durer, an English WWI recruitment poster, a Russian icon, N.C. Wyeth)

Hymns of praise then let us sing

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Did you have a good weekend? How was your Easter?

I had a lovely birthday…

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and a perfect Easter…57754955189__5C1EE6CE-CEDD-4A06-9912-5EBE0B6A88CC.JPG

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“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31

And the Blues advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs…Go Blues!

Welcome to another year!

Today is my darling DP’s birthday!! I hope she has a wonderful day and wish I could be there to celebrate with her. She was born in California to modest fanfare,

This is the birth announcement in the San Mateo Times

and then moved to the Midwest, where we grew up. People didn’t take scads of pictures in those days, so I only have a few to share. Here we are with our cousins in c. 1959 or 1960.

And here we are enjoying a St. Louis summer together in 1973.

My sister was always the cute one. She led the way in fashion and people always thought I was older than she was due to my superior gravitas (i.e. extra ten pounds and un-sculpted eyebrows). Some things never change 🙂

Though very lady-like, she was an intrepid plinker. Here we are with our brother’s 22s, ready to take aim at dangerous rotten vegetables in about 1983(?).

I believe that that photo was taken shortly before the infamous ‘vest incident’. It was a warmer day than we anticipated and my sister had taken off her down vest and placed it on the hillside. Out of nowhere a dog ran onto the scene and straight to the vest, upon which it relieved itself! The memory still makes me laugh.

My sister has been there through every part of my life. We even attended the same college. She is the best, and I love her beyond words. Happy birthday, sweet girl. Here’s hoping the next year brings joy, peace and good health!

Mary Cassatt, Two Sisters

Have a great day today and a happy Easter tomorrow!

 

A mighty heart was broken

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“GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD,” John writes, “that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That is to say that God so loved the world that he gave his only son even to this obscene horror; so loved the world that in some ultimately indescribable way and at some ultimately immeasurable cost he gave the world himself. Out of this terrible death, John says, came eternal life not just in the sense of resurrection to life after death but in the sense of life so precious even this side of death that to live it is to stand with one foot already in eternity. To participate in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ is to live already in his kingdom. This is the essence of the Christian message, the heart of the Good News, and it is why the cross has become the chief Christian symbol. A cross of all things—a guillotine, a gallows—but the cross at the same time as the crossroads of eternity and time, as the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of God himself could flow through it into a sick and broken world. It was for this reason that of all the possible words they could have used to describe the day of his death, the word they settled on was “good.” Good Friday.

– Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus

Have a blessed Easter weekend. Go to church!

We will celebrate with our little family at church, brunch and with peeps.

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–Thomas Aquinas, translated from Latin to English by Edward Caswall and the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861

(The Crucifixion stained glass window by J. Gordon Guthrie, Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, New York City)