dual personalities

Month: November, 2019

Gladness and joy shall abide there, Thanksgiving and the sound of music.*

We had a grand Thanksgiving. On Wednesday I got everything ready for the arrival of sons 1 and 3, who zoomed in on Thursday afternoon.

I baked an apple pie, pureed a roasted butternut squash, and even tried cooking Jerusalem artichokes that we got in our CSA (not a success).

You can tell it’s homemade because it’s a mess.

Meanwhile, the DH, a true kitchen god and culinary king, took charge of the turkey, the roast potatoes, stuffing, peas and gravy.

Although my sons could only stay a few hours, they put up the Christmas lights, went through some of their ‘stuff’, and moved heavy items for us. Now that the DH and I are “old and infirm”, we appreciate all the help we can get!.

Dinner was delicious and informal; rather than crowd the small table with serving dishes, we left most of the food in the kitchen.

Afterward we played a few raucous rounds of a game called One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Tim, who is the gamer among us, brought it, but despite his valiant efforts to explain the rules to me, I never quite got to the strategy level of play, though I did laugh ’til I cried. In between rounds we also talked at length to the two Christophers (brother and son or uncle and brother) and Grandmother Pam. It was a full day and over much too soon.

Before you could say ‘Yukon Cornelius’ the boys were packing their cars and heading out, leaving their parents happy, tired and with too many leftovers (rest assured, we gave them as much as they would take).

James and Tim loading a bookcase into James’s car. One never has enough bookcases.

I spent yesterday at home reading, puttering, and Black Friday shopping unsuccessfully, probably because I wasn’t looking for electronics, phone paraphernalia or toys. Then at 3:45 on Friday afternoon I noticed that the furnace kept starting and stopping (it’s old), and the house was getting chilly, so I called the heating guys, who — wonder of wonders — came over almost immediately and fixed the problem (at least for now). When was the last time you had a semi-holiday, late Friday emergency that got fixed without delay? I was amazed and grateful.

Today, I’m going to leave my snug house to attend an auction. Then I have to get cooking because tomorrow we’re hosting coffee hour at church again. At some point, I will start decorating the house for Christmas. I am truly blessed.

*Isaiah 51:3

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep/ I count my blessings instead of sheep”*


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Well, Thanksgiving was great fun.


We celebrated the boy’s birthday…


Just try to take a picture of these nutballs without blurring!

and had a dance party,


ate a delicious meal,


and watched our favorite Thanksgiving movie.

And now it is time to switch gears. Advent starts on Sunday! Here’s a new idea:


This sounds like a good idea to me! Let’s do it!

*Irving Berlin

In everything give thanks*

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is feeling warm and cozy and homey, wherever they are celebrating. Our plans are simple: sleeping in, cuddling up to watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles in the morning (we remembered we don’t have live TV to watch the parade!) while eating egg sandwiches, and then heading to the suburbs for a Thanksgiving feast with DN’s parents. DN’s mother always cooks a delicious spread, and I have already given myself a lecture about pacing myself.


In many ways, it has been a difficult year. From the mundane but frustrating (repeated ceiling leaks) to the serious and scary (sick mothers), there were plenty of challenges to overcome. But as we wrap up 2019, I really do feel grateful, and that I can give thanks in everything. Good health insurance and chemotherapy, direct flights to the midwest for quality family time (and awesome bicentennial parties), cell phones for daily texts and long phone calls on the weekends. A new job that pays a real salary (even if I have to go to a lot of meetings now). Big windows with views of trees in our backyard. A dog-in-law who treats me like a celebrity and provides important cuddle therapy. Mint chip ice cream. And a dear husband who takes great care of me. Especially when he buys me mint chip ice cream.

Did I get too sappy? Well, ’tis the season!

*Thessalonians 5:18, again
Image from Rifle Paper Co.

And I’ll do the crescent rolls.

Well, it’s Wednesday and you know what that means. Daughter #1 is here and it’s time to talk about Dancing with the Stars. So, spoiler alert, Hannah Brown of The Bachelorette fame (oxymoron that that is) won.


Going into the finale, it was anybody’s game to win. All four dancers were of the same skill and like-ability level. The judges really, really wanted Ally to win (she’s in the girl group Fifth Harmony, although I’m not sure it still exists because half the members have solo careers) and I’m not sure why.

I’d have liked to see Lauren Alaina or Kel Mitchell win over Hannah or Ally. But I’m not that upset. Hannah is a very southern girl from Alabama who was consistently underscored and judged by Carrie Ann in a way that seemed not based on her dancing ability but on Carrie Ann’s distaste for girls like Hannah. Her freestyle was basically a high production-value pom squad dance complete with This Girl is on Fire and Hollaback girl edited together a la a high school basketball game half time show. You go, girl.

I was looking at this list of all of the past winners to see if I could discern a reason they wanted Ally to win so badly–but it’s a very diverse list. Except for all of the Derek Hough wins. Woof. I don’t miss his presence on the show. It also made me question why I continue to watch this show.

Well, aside from that over excitement, I’m very ready for Thanksgiving. I’m ready to drink prosecco and watch the parade. I’m ready to eat some cheesy potatoes. I’m ready to play with the wee babes. And I’m very ready to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Humble and hearty thanks

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

– 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NIV)

We have a lot to be thankful for! For instance, I was glad to see that they are still making Thanksgiving art projects (in pre-school) using a handprint as the basis for a turkey.

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I am grateful that the OM and I can make an evening out of a take-out dinner and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)–which we did last weekend.  Who needs a night on the town? Not us.

I am grateful that I have been able to do the lion’s share of my Christmas shopping online this year, because I have barely been in a store in the last six months! However, I plan to “shop local” this Saturday to support our local economy. I know retailers need that. The boy will be putting in a lot of hours this weekend at his small business!

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Speaking of the boy, I am thankful that we will be celebrating his birthday on Thanksgiving! He was born on the day after Thanksgiving 33 years ago–before the day was universally referred to as Black Friday.

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He has been through a lot in his 33 years…



…but he knows that adversity builds character.

I am thankful that two out of three of my children will be home for Thanksgiving and that we will enjoy a delicious meal followed by yummy pie and our annual viewing of Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987). (Daughter #2 will be far away but well taken care of.)

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I am thankful that I don’t have to travel anywhere this week.

Although I am thankful for my job and all those I work with, I am also thankful to have a few days off from that job! I will be well rested (I hope) when I start my radiation treatments (28!) after this weekend. I am thankful for those too, right? Yes, I am.

ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, We thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks For all thy goodness and loving-kindness To us, and to all men; We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; But above all, for thine inestimable love In the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; For the means of grace, And for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, That our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, And that we show forth thy praise, Not only with our lips, but in our lives; By giving up ourselves to thy service, And by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

–BCP, A General Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Getting back in the swing of things

Just in time for the holidays, I have finally gotten my energy back from that monster cold. However, it seems DN has caught it — a full-fledged, stay-home-from-work doozy of a cold. Even so, we made time for the first mini-date we’ve had in a long while.


One of these is a faux margarita. Can you tell which?

I enjoyed my newfound pep this weekend. My main event was the first birthday party of a friend’s son, which was a fun change of pace. The number of children there was a bit overwhelming, but I mostly hung out with the other “single ladies” (as DN had stayed home to avoid spreading germs). I was not surprised to see that the birthday boy probably had the least fun of anyone — what with everyone staring at him and invading his space and shoving cake in his face! It’s a hard life.


It also made me laugh that grandma got in the way of every single photo everyone took. Can you spy the birthday boy? No, you can’t!

Sunday was an extremely satisfying day for accomplishing chores. Vacuuming, switching seasonal tubs in the basement storage unit, taking stock of Christmas presents, and more. We nailed down our plans for a holiday party and sent out invitations. I crossed off a lot of things on my to-do list!


But not everything…

I also have some dispatches from the couch: On Friday, when I came home from work, DN had started Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so I begrudgingly finished it with him. It wasn’t not worth watching, but as is my common refrain, WHY WAS IT SO LONG? There were one or even two too many battles. You know the rebels will win and the last jedi won’t be the last jedi, you know? I am all for good prevailing over evil, but the development of “good” and what it means was pretty weak. And a tad cheesy. And if you’d like an idea of the writing, just check out that list of “Quotes You’re Going to be Repeating For Years.” Um. Ok.

We also started the new season of The Crown this weekend. I can’t exactly pin down what I like about the show, except that it feels thoughtfully done and it’s very watchable. Well-paced? It has some substance, too, I suppose because it’s based on history and they manage to not mess that up (as far as I can tell). Most people must like The Crown for the same reason they loved Mad Men — there’s a lot of scene to look at, and it probably makes people feel smart. We’re in the 60’s now, so the soundtrack is even pretty similar at this point. Well, sometimes I am most people, I guess! Plus, there are corgis.


Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth

That’s enough from me. Here’s to a short work-week!

Don’t let the turkeys get you down!

Yesterday was catch-up day. That is, having caught up with my grading — according to my DH, “for the first time in recorded history” — I spent the day catching up on other things. In between making beds and tidying rooms in preparation for the arrival of sons #1 and #3 for Thanksgiving, I brought myself up-to-date on some of the shenanigans going on in the world. Ugh! I do not intend to get political here, but I would like to share this interview with historian James McPherson, in which he discusses the New York Times’s fantasy 1619 project. Read the whole thing and also note that it appears on The World Socialist Web Site. My goodness, NYT, if you’ve lost the socialists, who do you think will believe your new version of American History? Presumably, defenseless children.

After spending too much time reading what passes for news these days, I cooled off by watching comedy on YouTube. I’d recommend watching highlights from Parks and Recreation, especially those involving Ron Swanson. But if you’re already familiar with Ron, why not try something new (well, it’s new to me anyway)? Here are a couple of wonderful stories from humorist Jeanne Robertson. Watch the whole thing!

Amazing how one can be funny without being vulgar! Equally amazing is that the DH introduced me to her. This story made him laugh ’til he cried — I think he could relate.


Now, don’t you feel better? Forget the scolds — enjoy this Thanksgiving and remember how lucky we are to live in a free society!


“Lose your life and you will save it.”

Today is the feast day of Clive Staples Lewis in the Episcopal Church. That’s C.S. Lewis, Christian apologist and spiritual writer, who died on November 22, 1963.

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“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Here’s an article about CSL to refresh your memory. It may be time to revisit Narnia.

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Well, here we are and it is almost Thanksgiving! This weekend I will be getting my act together and the house ready for the big day next week, which won’t be such a big event this year. Still, there will be a turkey and all the fixins…How do you do Thanksgiving? Garden & Gun readers answered that question here.

Our mother served a distinctly New England version of the Thanksgiving feast (which was her mother’s version), and for years after she died, I replicated it, squash and all. Over the years, however, we changed the menu and simplified it to suit our tastes. I don’t think she’d mind. I hope she would approve of our cheesy potato casserole and green beans. She would be pleased that we use her china and set a nice table.


This past week I watched several Errol Flynn movies, prompted by the boy’s recommendation to watch Against All Flags (1952) which is on Amazon Prime.

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He was right–it is good entertainment and Errol, although along in years (he was 43!) has not yet gone around the bend.

Encouraged by this, I attempted to watch The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) which I had DVR’d. Despite the fact that Errol was in his prime, the movie for me was unwatchable, due to Bette Davis and her over-acting. Good lord, she was too much. I gave up after half an hour. Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 12.38.24 PM

Battered but unbowed, I started The Adventures of Don Juan (1948) a few nights later. Flynn was 39 at this point and, although the movie is derivative of every other swashbuckler he made, down to the shot of him riding across a stream with Alan Hale at night followed by a posse of angry Englishmen, with the moonlight coming through the trees, he is still in surprisingly good form and very engaging. I enjoyed the movie a lot.

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So if you are looking for something to watch this weekend, try an Errol Flynn movie.  They don’t make profiles like his anymore.

Have a good weekend. Take it easy. Eat some pancakes.


“Does the Post-Master General know about this?”*

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers’ declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled on the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, the adoring,
The cold and official and the heart’s outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

Thousands are still asleep,
Dreaming of terrifying monsters
Or of friendly tea beside the band in Cranston’s or Crawford’s:

Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
But shall wake soon and hope for letters,
And none will hear the postman’s knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

— W. H. Auden, from “Night Mail”

I am in a fight with the campus mail: I have most definitely been forgotten.

I may have mentioned that my program’s offices recently moved buildings, and I am responsible for getting everything set up. Now, some of this responsibility has been fun. I have done a lot of furniture shopping and can wield our Amazon account with reckless abandon a reasonable amount of independence. On the other hand, I’ve had to coordinate with some of the most frustrating branches of campus, such as Facilities Management. You wouldn’t believe the ineptitude, except you would.

But my funniest encounter has been with campus mail services. When I called them to explain that our program office “address” has changed, and we need to set up mail delivery, I was met with utter disgust. I received a series of monologues along the lines of: “We can’t just ADD a mail stop like that. Do you know how hard our mail carriers work? One person can’t do that much work!” I never assumed one person was carrying all of the mail all of the places on campus, sir. “None of the other programs have their own addresses. Everything goes to a central office and you sort it yourselves.” That is patently untrue. “Amazon has wreaked HAVOC on this campus. Do you know how many different carriers they employ? That mess with our process? We are responsible for the FEDERAL POSTAL SERVICE and nothing else. I can’t speak to you about Amazon.” OK, I’m on board with rants about Amazon. “If you really believe that you cannot function without campus mail services, then you’re going to have to take this up with my boss.” Um, GLADLY? In what universe is a customer threatened with the equivalent of “May I speak to your manager”?

This disgruntled university employee was not, it’s clear to me, a “Jolly Postman.”


Perhaps he feels closer to Henry David Thoreau, who said, “I have received no more than one or two letters in my life that were worth the postage.”

*Title from Calvin and Hobbes

I’m a cup of tea in a world of lattes.

Daughter #1 here. Happy Wednesday.

Good news for you, readers, next week is the Dancing with the Stars finale. Having finally gotten rid of Sean Spicer, the semi-finals were left with five dancers of basically the same ability. At this point, I feel like the finale will come down to the pro and their choreography skills. Sorry, Lauren Alaina, Gleb doesn’t have what it takes.


It was a lovely day in Mid-Mo–and tomorrow it is going to be in the upper 60s. I’ll take it. Of course, I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week–and Advent starts a week from Sunday. I wait until December to start taking out any Christmas decorations–even so, this means it is almost time to dig into the closet and find the stuff purchased on sale after Christmas last year. My favorite.

Lately, my posts seem to conclude with the reminder that we have to create our own joy in our small worlds because the big world is increasingly overwhelming. For me, this means picking out Christmas presents, thinking about which stickers go on which cards, making playdates with the not-so Wee Babes etc. So with your weekly reminder complete, enjoy this song from my current fave, Zach Williams.

*The headline is how Len described himself on Dancing with the Stars this week.