dual personalities

Month: June, 2019

All alone on a mountainside, and huddled in the wind.*

On Tuesday, we drove through the Sawtooth National Forest out of Idaho and into Montana. The scenery was spectacular and the terrain extremely varied.

I am constantly impressed by our planet and the evidence of its history.

Most of all, I love the sky and weather. In the higher elevations of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana it was cool, windy and variable.  One could get used to such sights.

Our goal for the day was to visit Bannach State Park, an old mining town and now a ghost town in the middle of nowhere, Montana. It was a good decision. The town was founded in 1862 when gold was discovered in them there hills (actually in the creek). The boom was short-lived, however, and by 1871 the gold had run out, so the people turned to agriculture and the town became the county seat. From then until its total abandonment in the 1950s, it had a checkered history, including outlaws, vigilantes, and threatened Indian attacks.

Built in 1875 this brick building was originally a courthouse. Then it became a hotel.

It is the largest and only brick building in the town. Here is its grand staircase:

I’ve always wanted to go to a ghost town. From the outside the buildings are very cool looking, but inside there isn’t too much to see other than very uneven, squishy wooden floors and peeling wallpaper, although that has its own appeal. Some of the interiors are so wobbly as to make one feel a little disoriented and seasick walking through them.

There was no running water anywhere, no insulation and no central heating — just stoves. It certainly must have been cold in the winter!

The DH found the old saloon that was supposedly run by the local nasty criminal kingpin, Henry Plummer, who also happened to be the sheriff. A vigilante organization finally caught and hanged him and two of his deputies without trial. He died at the tender age of about 26 and no one is sure whether he was really the bad guy or the vigilantes were. Why hasn’t anyone made a movie of this yet?

We climbed one of the hills behind the town to get a bird’s-eye-view, but as soon as we got to the top we were surprised by thunder and so made a hasty retreat. I have a healthy respect for lightening!

This dual-purpose building housed the school on the bottom floor and the masonic lodge upstairs (interesting combo).

It was one of the better preserved buildings in town.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Bannach! Stay tuned for close encounters with a buffalo and car trouble that restored our faith in humanity. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

*Lord Huron “Frozen Pines”

Catching up


This article came as no surprise to me– Okay, “brown furniture” may be dead in our culture, which apparently has lost interest in its history. C’mon, I have been saying for years that real antiques go for a song at auction and that it is a sure bet you can find a nice dining room table and chairs for a $100 at an estate sale. But there are still plenty of people out there who care about their pasts and their family histories, who save “stuff” and refuse to purge everything, who don’t give a hoot about trends. Take heart and hold on. And take advantage of a buyer’s market, I say.

David Powlinson, with whom I had very recently become acquainted through his writing, died peacefully at his home in Pennsylvania on Friday, June 7, 2019, after suffering from pancreatic cancer. He was 69. Of course, there was no mention in the NYTimes–evangelicals (even Harvard-educated ones) are beneath notice–but I recommend you follow up with him and find out more. 

You would think that being home with a lot of spare time on my hands, I might have watched some good new movies and/or television shows. Alas, I cannot report that that is the case. Even with Amazon Prime etc, it is kind of a wasteland out there. I am sticking to the tried and true “comfort” variety of entertainment and that is working for me.

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I am trying to read more, but am reverting to some old favorites.

“Go and be as the butterfly!”
Dooley grinned. “You’ve said that as long as I can remember. I’m not pulling up what it means.”
It was what God had said to him, a small-town clergyman, another lifetime a go, and what he had tried and was still trying to do.
“I think it means to go unfettered by cares, by the infernal bondage of the mortal. Go with a light heart, trusting God and giving thanks. Go and gather unto yourselves so you can pour out to others.”
He took a deep breath. “Go without looking back.”
― Jan Karon, To Be Where You Are 

The boy is heading out to a bachelor party on the west coast today. I hope he has fun. I have enjoyed spending more time with him than usual over the past few weeks, as he frequently stops by to see me on his way to work and “coach” me a little.

Hopefully the wee babes will come over for a visit this weekend. They have been making the most of their summer…

65217316_10104578568788584_6702098806718070784_o.jpgIMG_1983.jpeghanging with their buds…IMG_1977.jpeg

…and keeping cool. Hard to believe we are halfway through the year!

Enjoy your Friday and bon weekend!

Gallivanting around New York

As promised, daughter #2 is here with further updates on her week spent in New York City. We stayed in an Airbnb in SOHO so that I could be close to the conference at NYU, which means our trip was very hip — and very expensive! It’s dangerous when you become inured to $17 cocktails, $6 cold brew coffees, and $100 meals. We had been saving up for this trip for months, and it was subsidized by my conference funding, but woof. Just imagine me in the background of this blog post, whispering, “I know this is indulgent. I know this is indulgent.”

Annnnyway… the GOOD part of spending 7 full days in a hip neighborhood is that we found our favorite neighborhood spot (with a happy hour — praise hands) …


They specialized in negronis!

we could easily walk to other neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan…


A classic view from the High Line

and we could pop in to stores for lots of quick shopping, which was particularly useful when we’d get caught in a torrential downpour. We didn’t do any buying, but the window shopping in New York is informative. Remember when stores like H&M and Urban Outfitters hadn’t even expanded beyond New York? It isn’t quite that extreme anymore, but I do take note of which trends have not yet made it to DC, let alone our flyover hometown. (Nothing good, I promise. Mostly a ubiquity of Golden Goose sneakers, which, for some reason, are purposefully distressed and literally cost $500.)

The highlights of our trip, I’d say, were The Cloisters…IMG_4315IMG_4304IMG_4313and the American Ballet Theatre. I followed the rules and did NOT take photos of the production, so here’s a snapshot DN took of me pre-show.IMG_1412.JPGPhew! It was a whirlwind trip, filled with even more sights than I’ve included here. I’m so glad we went for it — and I’m so glad we’re home.

They neither toil nor spin

It is daylily season in our flyover town.



As you know, I love them and their heat-loving generosity of spirit. We have had a very long wet, fairly cool spring but the lilies seem to have adjusted. They just go with the flow and fill in and keep going.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. (Matthew 6:25-34

Here are some pics from a friend’s blog. He has a much more diverse display than we do.

IMG_4862.jpgIMG_4850.jpgIMG_1850.jpgIMG_1849.jpgBut any way you slice ’em, they’re great!

(And let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day!)

One small step to Idaho, One long drive from New York

Greetings from sunny Idaho! We’ve had a wonderful time visiting son #2 and his lovely lady here in Hailey and Ketchum.  We relaxed with a hefty brew at Grumpy’s, a local watering hole,

These guys don’t look very grumpy to me!

and visited the press room of the Idaho Mountain Express where our son works.

Things have changed a lot since His Girl Friday…

Yesterday, we ventured to the Craters of the Moon National Monument. What looks as if a giant did a bad plowing job, is actually acres and acres of amazing lava formations.

The three intrepid climbers (sans yours truly) scaled a cinder mountain,

Photo courtesy of Nicole Potter

Funky formations included lava fields littered with caves (here Nicole descends into the netherworld),

scatter cones or miniature volcanoes,

and a cinder field full of strange little monkeyflowers.

Another great photo from Nicole Potter

It was another super blustery day at 7000 ft and the altitude and wind made hiking a challenge, but we had a great time.

Alas, this morning the DH and I have to go on our way 😦 Next stop, a ghost town in Montana. Stay tuned for updates.


A quick Manhattan update

When this posts, DN and I will be on our Amtrak headed home! 7 days in Manhattan has been quite the adventure, with ample Melville programming as well as lots of food, drink, and entertainment. For now, a brief Melville review, with further updates to come this week.

IMG_4193The conference itself took place at NYU, in a building that provided nice views of Washington Square Park. Conferencing is always quite stressful for me, despite the fact that I fancy myself an extrovert. This week I had a realization: I only like networking with people I already know. The only person I knew at this conference was my dissertation director, which is a bit like going to a wedding and only knowing the bride. But all things considered, my paper went well and this keeps me active in my field.

As for exploring “Melville’s Manhattan” — it doesn’t exist, per se. We felt approximately close to Melville, either in location or vibe. Staying in SOHO and spending lots of time in Greenwich Village and along the Hudson River, we certainly traversed some of the same streets and docks that Melville would have. But it all feels very hip and new and highrise-y, of course. On the other hand, we did tour a house built in 1824 that had been completely preserved, down to the furniture placement. (The beds had never been moved an inch!) We got a pretty good sense of the nineteenth-century merchant class.


One of the more interesting details (I thought) from this house tour was that the house, which was built by a developer and was thus very “standard,” came with nails in the wall for hanging your art. They were huge, and very high up, and had never been removed! Can you imagine builders doing that now?


A pier along the Hudson River


This house was built around 1800, and is around the corner from where Melville was born — so, an approximation of his birthplace, though this is considered a “mansion” and I don’t think Melville’s birthplace was such.


This corner (in the Bowery area) is near to where Melville moved around age 5. This photo also shows you how wet it was for most of our trip!


Battery Park


Battery Park Promenade

I gather that Melville spent a lot of time in Battery Park throughout his lifetime. It was definitely nice to walk all over the island (and I mean walk – 15 to 20 thousand steps a day for us!) and picture the places Melville would have lived and worked, even if it took some imagination to do so.

“Now rose the city from out the bay, and one by one, her spires pierced the blue; while thick and more thick, ships, brigs, schooners, and sail boats, thronged around….Oh! he who has never been afar, let him once go from home, to know what home is.”
— from Redburn

It’s true — having been afar, we are very happy to be headed home to our quieter corner of the world.


Postcards from Big Sky Country

First, I want to say how delighted I was to see my dear DP blogging again! I’m thinking of you constantly as we wind our way west. We made it to Idaho (yay!), but it will take a few days for my nerves to recover from hairpin turns in mountain passes. The DH loves driving through mountains (I kid you not) but his devoted wife is not a fan. Since my Tuesday post, we’ve done many wonderful things. We braved the crowds at Mt. Rushmore,

and hiked around the Devil’s Tower,

which is also awesome up close.

After the crowds at Mt. Rushmore and the Devil’s Tower (we got there early so it wasn’t too bad), we were the only visitors at Rosebud Battlefield State Park, site of the battle in which Gen. George Crook and his men, including a young trumpeter in Company F, Arthur Newell Chamberlin, our great grandfather, battled Sioux and Cheyenne Indians to a draw on June 17, 1876. It’s a neat place,

and easy to imagine the action. According to the site information, the army lost 9 men and the Indians about 25.

The battle raged all day and eventually Crook withdrew, which is why the Indians claim victory. Given their losses, however, I’d say that Crook had the upper hand. From there, we drove the short distance to the Little Big Horn, where we were NOT the only visitors. It’s a beautiful area and well organized.

The battlefield spreads for miles along a ridge; Custer split his forces and tried to defend too much area, or so it seems to me. We didn’t stay to long because bad weather was closing in, but I’m glad we went.

We spent the night in Billings, MT, and got an early start the next morning in an attempt to enter Yellowstone through the northern gate. Alas, after surviving the tortuous tailbacks on this wild mountain road, we found the pass closed by snow (that rain we encountered at the LBH was snow in the mountains) and had to turn around and do it all in reverse! But the view was great.

We backtracked and drove around to the eastern side of the park, through Cody, Wyoming. To give you an idea of the distance, from our start in Billings to our entry of the park from Cody took about five hours. Once in Yellowstone, we braved the crowds and visited Old Faithful (another couple of hours to get to). Here’s my old faithful squinting happily:

Yellowstone is very beautiful, but I found the car-accessible parts too built up and crowded for my taste (of course, I was right there with the other tourists, so part of the problem). If I had had time and were younger, I’d have ventured into the interior, but we made do with famous places like these boiling water pools at the Thumb.

It was an incredibly blustery, chilly day — perfect except for the wind, but we did not get blown away. From Yellowstone, we drove through Jackson Hole, Wyoming (about 75 miles south). I’ve always wanted to go to Jackson Hole. When I was in graduate school we joked half-seriously that we would move to Jackson Hole and open a bar at which unemployed Ph.D.s would work. Well, I must say, that I absolutely loathed the place. The hills/mountains loom over it so that you feel as if an avalanche will crush you at any moment (I guess that’s why it’s called Jackson HOLE), but worst of all are the hordes of tourists, the traffic, and the realization that no one actually lives there. It is certainly not the place for an obscure, hole in the wall bar. But enough of that. After enduring the hour-long traffic jam, we finally made it out. Once clear of the place, we had our first moose encounter!

As we turned the corner, we came face to face with a young moose standing in the middle of the road. Although I grabbed the camera quickly, it was off the road by the time I got the shot.  But, still, a moose! That was the perfect end to a long, 12-hour day in which we started in Montana, drove into Wyoming, and ended up in Idaho, but it was well worth it.

Today we are going to take it easy, maybe go to an estate sale in Hailey, and do laundry. Stay tuned for more adventures… Be well and stay safe!


Troubles and trials

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John Charles Ryle (May 10, 1816 – June 10, 1900) was an English evangelical Anglican bishop. Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism.  Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century(1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 volumes, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition.

(And a little inspiration from Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs and Dolly Parton, “Green Pastures”)

“I will not afflict you with complaining.”*

IMG_6583.jpegGreetings from the land of the living. I am checking in while daughter #2 is busy in NYC. For several weeks after my surgery I was not reading much; it was difficult to focus.

I started slowly with poetry…FullSizeRender-1.jpg

and  moved on to old, familiar Kierkegaard and a wonderful new history by David McCullough…


Finally I made my way back to Moby-Dick and a recent biography of Melville. (Don’t you just love his face?)


I am not a STEMM person by any means, but genetics has always fascinated me, and this book is quite engaging and easy to read.


This is not to say that I spend all my time reading. Hardly. I wiled away many an hour in the first weeks of my recovery watching two seasons of sleep-inducing episodes of Murder She Wrote (better than any sleeping pill). When feeling more engaged, I have chuckled my way through several seasons of Corner Gas (2004-2009), a Canadian show about a small town in Saskatchewan where nothing much ever happens, which in my weakened state, I have found to be hilarious.

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 2.51.12 PMSometimes, when I am feeling really productive, I work on a new needlepoint project while I watch the telly.


This old Victorian chair is remarkably well suited for sitting in and sewing by a sunny window. And how about that  decoupaged side table I picked up at an antique mall a few months ago? How could I resist those tassels?

Chemotherapy commences tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

“An intense copper calm, like a universal yellow lotus, was more and more unfolding its noiseless measureless leaves upon the sea.” (M-D)

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

P.S. Here are a couple of pictures of the wee babes, because I know you have missed them, right?


*Lucy Backus Woodbridge, pioneer, quoted in The Pioneers by David McCullough

Wednesday random thoughts.

Daughter #1 here. I gather last week’s Wednesday Treat was a big hit. I should just pepper today’s post with photos of a dashing Cary Grant or something. Instead, I’m going to share some random thoughts.

Flood waters in Jefferson City are finally starting to recede. When everything was flooded, I thought ‘Where did all this water come from?’ and now I think ‘Where has it all gone?’ Anyway, hopefully, things will soon return to normal on my drive to work.


Also, on an unrelated note, they are working on the parking garage where I am #blessed to have an assigned spot. During this construction, parking is a free-for-all though and some biotch in a white Acura parks in my spot EVERY DAY. The spots around me are free, but mine is ALWAYS TAKEN. It seriously triggers me first thing every morning. Sigh.

One of the joys of Mid-MO life is the plethora of country radio stations. While on my drive recently, I was struck by the notion that a man who looks like the one below ever had a career. And not a bad one!


I mean really. One of my favorite radio stations plays classics mixed in with current hits and sometimes I am struck by the old, tacky songs. How did this song ever get recorded? Let alone make it to number one?!

To make up for exposing you to that song and the pic of Joe Diffie, enjoy the pretty wallpaper options for your phone from Schumacher’s instagram.