dual personalities

Month: February, 2022

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”*

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5: 13-16

We had a great sermon on Sunday by our guest preacher, the retired President of Covenant Seminary. It was about prayer and about the necessity of it in our everyday lives. He also talked about what is going on in the Ukraine and how the people need our prayers. He worked in the mission field there and has a lot of friends. So pray, pray, PRAY! Never forget that the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

In other news, daughter #1 came home this weekend and we indulged in a few favorite pastimes. Instead of estate sales, we hit a couple of antique malls. I got this little Victorian child’s chair…

My grandkids will love it and will enjoy moving it around with our other small chairs. This is a favorite activity.

We also made an interesting discovery–there is a Puzzle Warehouse right here in our little flyover town! Daughter #1 googled “puzzles” and found it, a mere five minutes away! Bingpot!

It was a very busy, happening place. I had no idea jigsaw puzzles are such a thing. We were a bit overwhelmed by the variety of puzzles–although puppies, kittens and Thomas Kinkade did predominate. Still, there was a lot to choose from in the palatable three percent left.

I resisted this one only because it is 1000 pieces and I am not advanced enough for that…

…but I found a good one to keep me busy for awhile.

We also drank our share of red wine.

And we listened to the two CDs the boy dropped by last week.

It is no wonder that the wee twins are big fans!

Step forward in faith this week and don’t forget to:

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17

*Corrie Ten Boom

But Nature cast me for the part she found me best fitted for, and I have had to play it and must play it till the curtain falls.*

Back when I was in college I took one theater class, about which I remember nothing except that I wrote a research paper on Edwin Booth. I chose the topic because we had a playbill at home that one of my ancestors had saved from an 1873 performance of Julius Caesar starring Booth, and I wanted to find out more about him.

A few days ago, I came back to the topic and looked up the McVicker’s Theater, which I was surprised to discover was located in Chicago and not Boston as I had always assumed. Someone in the Carnahan family must have attended the play or perhaps one of the Rands kept the program as a souvenir after visiting from New Hampshire. The original theater was constructed in 1855 but burned down in the great Chicago fire of 1871, so our relatives (whoever they were) would have seen Julius Caesar in this new, luxurious building.

Over the years that followed, the theater burned down a second time and went through several remodelings until finally being demolished in 1985. Booth performed there off and on, from the start of his career until his retirement. In 1869, he took as his second wife Mary, the daughter of James McVickers, the theater’s eponymous owner.

As an actor, Edwin Booth achieved renown, although now he is probably best known as the brother of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. (I picked up this print of EB in St. Louis a few years ago.)

Edwin Booth’s personal life proved just as dramatic and full of tragedy as the parts he played. Being an actor, he abandoned himself to the real-life role of tragic hero quite naturally and perhaps unconsciously. He got drunk and ignored repeated calls to attend his (first) wife’s deathbed, a lapse that produced real anguish and lasting guilt. When his brother assassinated President Lincoln, Edwin left the stage until the need for funds and the urging of friends drove him back. His comeback as Hamlet became the stuff of legend, while the fact that he rescued Lincoln’s son from being run over by a train offered atonement for his brother’s horrific act. Yet he also received a fair number of death threats. In April 1879, someone even shot at him during a performance at McVicker’s Theater. Fortunately, no one was hurt. For Edwin Booth life imitated art. He played the tragic hero on and off stage. John Singer Sargent’s portrait, finished toward the end of the actor’s life, captures his subject’s careworn vitality perfectly.

As I looked around for information, I came across a 1955 movie called Prince of Players, in which Richard Burton plays Edwin Booth! Now there’s a thought. I haven’t found a way to watch the whole thing yet, but in case you’re curious here’s a longish scene. It appears that the screenwriter thought Edwin had father problems…  

The world is a funny place and its history full of interesting people and events.

Enjoy your weekend!

*Edwin Booth quoted in Edwina Booth Grossman (1894). “Edwin Booth: Recollections by His Daughter, Edwina Booth Grossmann, and Letters to Her and to His Friends”, New York: Century Company.

“I’m only a sinner saved by Grace”*

In the past week I have had my annual follow-up appointments with my oncologist, surgeon and radiologist, along with an extra bonus dentist appointment. Add to that various tests and lab visits and you have a fun month. Ah, February. Needless to say, I will be happy to move on to March!

I watched the movie Something of Value (1957) on TCM the other night, which I had not seen in many years. I had read the book by Robert C. Ruark many years ago as well. The subject still resonates.

The poster misses the point as usual

The movie takes place in British colonial Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising (1952-1960) and centers on two friends, Peter (Rock Hudson) and Kimani (Sidney Poitier), who end up on opposite sides of the conflict. Written and directed by Richard Brooks, it tells a balanced story and does not take sides. For 1957, it is pretty stark and violent. My favorite character was Rock Hudson’s father, Henry MacKenzie, who says, when asked if he is afraid, “I fear nothing but the wrath of God.” To feel that in your heart and know it to be true is a great thing, whether you are facing marauding Mau Mau rebels or oncologists.

In other news, it is time for the annual Mardi Gras parade this weekend and once again, I could care less. But it is a Big Deal in our flyover city.

Literally my idea of Hell

I wish all those small businesses down in Soulard well, but oh mylanta.

This is an interesting article: “The information superhighway is a dead end, almost always leading us to rely more on itself than making us independent thinkers. It does not lead to wisdom.”

Sam Bush has some good ideas in this article: “There’s one catch to this furious attempt to be unique: trying not to be like everyone else has paradoxically become the definition of conformity. We may each be individual snowflakes, but, once we start to accumulate, we begin to look the same.”

I always thought that in order to survive childhood we need to think we’re special. That’s what good parents make us feel. But it is a sign of growing up when we figure out that we are not special. (Some people never figure that out.) Indeed, life is one long lesson in humility, right? And to be a Christian, one must be humble. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

Well, we are experiencing yet another “wintery mix” event. Time perhaps to listen to some Del McCoury, age 83, who has a new album! Here’s a link to listen to a couple of his new songs.

I guess Tuesday was Twins Day–I missed that–but our twins were twins-ing per usual…Aren’t they grown up?

*James M. Gray (1851-1935)

“In high school I played center field. In Damn Yankees.”

Yes, today’s blog title is from Brooklyn-99 which I am rewatching–but this time, I’m pausing to write down memorable lines. I know, I know, I don’t know how I am as cool as I am. I could not believe it when this video was published this week. I feel seen.

As I mentioned at the start of the year, I’m reading the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. I’m nearing the finish of book two–they are slow going, but very good. You can really get enveloped in the story and the myriad of characters. Anyway, I thought this was a great passage.

“To succeed as you want, you have to be precise; you have to have polish; you have to carry polish and precision into everything you do. You have no time to sigh over seigneuries and begrudge other people their gifts. Lack of genius never held anyone back,” said Lymond. “Only time wasted on resentment and daydreaming can do that. You never did work with your whole brain and your whole body at being an Archer; and you ended neither soldier nor seigneur, but a dried-out huddle of grudges strung cheek to cheek on a withy.”

Francis Lymond to Robin Stewart in The Queen’s Play by Dorothy Dunnett

And because I’m going to continue this thread of writing about things I’ve written about before, I received the new Magnolia Journal last week. As you know, I just love Chip and Jo. I think they are so great and I am so grateful for the work they do. Chip always used to annoy me a little bit on the show–he’s so goofy. But lately, I’ve realized, he’s really just a joy-filled person. He wrote the below in his “Chip Gets the Last Word” column at the end of the magazine and I thought it was pretty great.

“Our culture has come to quantify influence based on algorithms, not beating hearts. Impact is estimated by the number of views, likes, or shares a social media post or viral video gets in a day. But rarely do we get to see how far that impact goes, whether it changes a thing for anyone on the receiving end. Besides, these days the state is already so crowded, and the shooting match already so convoluted, that our world is becoming overwhelmed with all the noise that comes at us day after day. Noise we’ll never fully control, hard as we might try. And it makes me wonder if maybe we’re missing the forest for the trees.

I believe our homes are wear our intentions take root. And that on most days my most powerful platform looks an awful lot like our kitchen table and the conversations that happen there. Nurturing the vales we want to stand for when there’s no audience but the seven of us. So that one day when the world is watching, our actions will speak louder than words ever could.”

Chip Gaines in Magnolia Journal, Spring ’22

Happy Wednesday! Hopefully the impending snow will turn out to be nothing…

Fun facts to know and tell

Yes, the Christmas cactus is throwing out buds again! I mean really. Wow.

In other news, today marks the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Buena Vista in 1847, fought between the US invading forces, largely volunteers, under General Zachary Taylor, and the much larger Mexican Army under General Santa Anna.

Santa Anna had chosen the day of battle, not apparently aware that it was George Washington’s birthday, which galvanized patriotic sentiment among the U.S. forces.  The outcome of the battle was ambiguous, with both sides claiming victory. Santa Anna’s forces withdrew leaving the field to the surprised American forces, who had expected there to be another day of hard fighting. Since the American forces were largely volunteers rather than regular army, it increased Buena Vista’s popularity in the public imagination. The volunteers were characterized as raw citizen-soldiers who had defeated the far larger Mexican army, seen as a professional military force.

Ulysses Grant, writing about Buena Vista in his Personal Memoirs, said:

General Taylor’s victory at Buena Vista…with an army composed almost entirely of volunteers who had not been in battle before, and over a vastly superior force numerically, made his nomination for the Presidency by the Whigs a foregone conclusion. He was nominated and elected in 1848. I believe that he sincerely regretted this turn in his fortunes, preferring the peace afforded by a life free from abuse to the honor of filling the highest office in the gift of any people, the Presidency of the United States.

I wonder if perhaps USG didn’t feel the same way.

I bet you didn’t know that Buena Vista County, Iowa was named in honor of the battle, as was Buena Vista Township in Michigan’s Saginaw County. Cities named after the battle include Buena Vista in Virginia, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

Today is also the birthday of the English actor John Mills (1908-2005). He was in a lot of good movies. Recently I watched Tiger Bay (1959) which I had never seen. It also stars John’s daughter, Hayley Mills, in her first movie. She was twelve. It is a British crime drama and also stars Horst Buchholz as a Polish sailor who commits a murder which Hayley witnesses. It takes place in Cardiff and is an interesting piece of post-war social commentary. I enjoyed it and you might too. It is available on Youtube.

Have a good week! We are expecting another round of rain, sleet and snow. Ho hum.

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take”*

After a period of rain, sleet and snow, we enjoyed a pleasant and sunny weekend. It was in the 60s on Sunday! There is more rain and snow on the horizon this week, but, have no fear, the end of February is in sight. “Can spring be far behind?”

We had a quiet weekend. We managed to install our new tv, which involved more than just plugging it in. I had to leave the house for a bit while the OM hooked it up to the internet.

Later we watched a little speedskating and cross country skiing–our only nod to these Olympics–before switching over to the PGA.

For years I have been reading the blog New York Social Diary–I think I started when daughter #1 lived in Manhattan. I continued, not because I am particularly interested in New York high society, but because the writer David Patrick Columbia is a very interesting guy. He is curious about history and people and he writes about them in a detached manner. He is, moreover, a kind man, a nice guy. Tall, handsome, waspy, gay–he is the kind of man rich women have always loved to have around.

Now someone has produced a documentary about him and it is available to watch in seven chapters (about 10 minutes each) on his blog. I have enjoyed it and you might too. He knows that being rich and powerful does not make you happy. I grew up with rich people and that was my takeaway as well.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13

This is an interesting interview with author Min Jin Lee. It is really beyond the comprehension of our liberal elites that an award-winning author would read the bible daily and attend church regularly.

Happy Presidents’ Day! Did you know that Presidents’ Day never falls on the actual birthday of any American president? Four chief executives—George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan—were born in February, but their birthdays all come either too early or late to coincide with Presidents’ Day, which is always celebrated on the third Monday of the month.

Oh, don’t forget that the 200th birthday of one of our favorite presidents, cousin Ulysses Simpson Grant, is coming up on April 27!

How do you plan to celebrate?

*William Cowper, 1774 “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread/are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.”

Another February day

Yesterday the temperature reached 48, the rain fell in torrents and the snow turned to ugly brown slush. There were flood warnings.

Never fear. Mother nature was only toying with us. By this morning she had restored the familiar snowy scene and lowered the temperature back to 12. I don’t mind. Bad weather is a good excuse to stay home and finish reading Joseph Conrad’s Victory. I’ve been putting it off because I know it doesn’t end well (do any of his books?). It is, however, full of deep thoughts and beautiful turns of phrase. I loved this scene toward the beginning of the book when the main character, the self-possessed Swede, Heyst, runs into a dejected acquaintance who declares:

“I prayed like a child, of course. I believe in children praying–well, women, too, but I rather think God expects men to be more self-reliant. I don’t hold with a man everlastingly bothering the Almighty with his silly troubles. It seems such cheek. Anyhow, this morning I– I have never done any harm to any God’s creature knowingly– I prayed. A sudden impulse– I went flop on my knees; so you may judge–“

They were gazing earnestly into each other’s eyes. Poor Morrison added, as a discouraging afterthought: “Only this is such a God-forsaken spot.”

Conrad writes so well that it’s easy to pay more attention to his prose than to the plot – and what a wonder that anyone could write so well in his fourth language! He was a genius.

Well, last night I was too tired to read, so I looked around on Amazon for something to watch and found a 1997 version of Victory starring Willem Dafoe as the aforementioned Heyst and Sam Neill and Rufus Sewell as criminal ne’er-do-wells. Intrigued, I started watching. I’m afraid I only got about half an hour into it before giving up. It’s not a terrible movie. No, the problem lies in the inability of any film to do justice to Conrad. Take, for example, his description of the all-female orchestra with which the heroine performs: “The Zangiacomo band was not making music; it was simply murdering silence with a vulgar, ferocious energy.” How can any director hope to capture that on film?

This director could not. Nor could Willem Dafoe become a man who had once “in solitude and in silence… been used to think clearly and sometimes even profoundly, seeing life outside the flattering optical delusion of everlasting hope, of conventional self-deceptions, of an ever-expected happiness.” The film manages to follow the storyline closely, but in failing to reproduce the languor of the tropics, the main characters’ inner turmoil, and the existential contest between good and evil, it ends up being a rather dull love story. Conrad deserves better. Read his books, though be warned that by today’s Draconian standards they contain racism and sexism. The way I see it, if that’s all you find in his books, then you are reading with blinkers on and missing his point entirely. You can read Victory online for fee here or at project Gutenberg.

Have a grand weekend, and if the shoveling gets you down, consider a trip to the tropics via Joseph Conrad – at least the weather will be different!

Saturday afternoon update…. it’s a white-out and super windy. I hope you don’t mind the weather updates but nothing else is happening and they remind me of the letters my father used to write me when I was in college and grad school 🙂

Is it snowing where you are?

“You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there–the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.”

–Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

“Independence is happiness.”

As I write this, it is Susan B. Anthony Day, recognized on her birthday. Susan Brownell Anthony was one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. She traveled around the country with Elizabeth Cady Standon delivering speeches in favor of women’s suffrage and other social issues like temperance and the abolition of slavery. It amazes me to think of her traveling all over the country–from Masschusetts, her home, all the way to the west coast–in the 19th century!

I’ve gathered some speech excerpts below, but I’d recommend reading the whole thing (which I’ve conveniently hyperlinked for you). You’ll be struck by the way some women today act like nothing has changed–and maybe things can still be difficult, but at least we can vote, work, and own property. Thanks to the hearty women of yesteryear!

“Woman must now assume her God-given responsibilities, and make herself what she is clearly designed to be, the educator of the race. Let her no longer be the mere reflector, the echo of the worldly pride and ambition of man. (Applause). Had the women of the North studied to know and to teach their sons the law of justice to the black man, regardless of the frown or the smile of pro-slavery priest and politician, they would not now be called upon to offer the loved of their households to the bloody Moloch of war. And now, women of the North, I ask you to rise up with earnest, honest purpose, and go forward in the way of right, fearlessly, as independent human beings, responsible to God alone for the discharge of every duty, for the faithful use of every gift, the good Father has given you. Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world will say, whether you are in your place or out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, do your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.”

Susan B Anthony, Return to the Old Union Speech, 1863

“Thus, wherever you go, you find the best women, in and out of the churches, all absorbed in establishing or maintaining benevolent or reform institutions; charitable societies, soup-houses, ragged schools, industrial schools, mite societies, mission schools—at home and abroad—homes and hospitals for the sick, the aged, the friendless, the foundling, the fallen; asylums for the orphans, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the insane, the inebriate, the idiot. The women of this century are neither idle nor indifferent. They are working with might and main to mitigate the evils which stare them in the face on every side, but much their work is without knowledge. It is aimed at the effects, not the cause; it is plucking the spoiled fruit; it is lopping off the poisonous branches of the deadly upas tree, which but makes the root more vigorous in sending out new shoots ion every direction. A right understanding of physiological law teaches us that the cause must be removed; the tree must be girdled; the tap-root must be severed. The tap-root of our social upas ties deep down at the very foundations of society. It is woman’s dependence. It is woman’s subjection. Hence, the first and only efficient work must be to emancipate woman from her enslavement. The wife must no longer echo the poet Milton’s ideal Eve, when she adoringly said to Adam, “God, thy law; thou, mine!” She must feel herself accountable to God alone for every act, fearing and obeying no man, save where his will is in line with her own highest idea of divine law.”

Susan B Anthony, Social Purity Speech, 1895

“My purpose tonight is to demonstrate the great historical fact that disfranchisement is not only political degradation, but also moral, social, educational and industrial degradation; and that it does not matter whether the disfranchised class live under a monarchial or a republican form of government, or whether it be white working men of England, negroes on our southern plantations, serfs of Russia, Chinamen on our Pacific coast, or native born, tax-paying women of this republic. Wherever, on the face of the globe or on the page of history, you show me a disfranchised class, I will show you a degraded class of labor. Disfranchisement means inability to make, shape or control one’s own circumstances. The disfranchised must always do the work, accept the wages, occupy the position the enfranchised assign to them. The disfranchised are in the position of the pauper. You remember the old adage, “Beggars must not be choosers;” they must take what they can get or nothing! That is exactly the position of women in the world of work today; they cannot choose. If they could, do you for a moment believe they would take the subordinate places and the inferior pay? Nor is it a “new thing under the sun” for the disfranchised, the inferior classes weighed down with wrongs, to declare they “do not want to vote.” The rank and file are not philosophers, they are not educated to think for themselves, but simply to accept, unquestioned, whatever comes.”

Susan B Anthony, Woman Wants Bread, Not the Ballot Speech 1880-1890

“Here’s to the sunny slopes of long ago”*

Daughter #2 drove home for the weekend, so we had fun doing what we normally do: happy hour on Friday followed by the CD shuffle at home, estate sales and lunch out on Saturday, church on Sunday followed by brunch with the boy and his family. We also celebrated Valentine’s Day on Sunday as did daughter #2 (see yesterday’s post) by having a little party after church, complete with favors. However, no one took any pictures, so I have nothing to show for my efforts. Tant pis. You’ll just have to take my word for it that the table looked pretty and the wee twins did not throw their presents aside in disgust.

I was pleased to receive a new puzzle and also a special mat on which to put it together.

(This Peanuts puzzle is harder than it looks!)

The OM and I watched Bullitt (1968) which has become our traditional Valentine movie of choice, because it is a movie we both can love for obvious reasons. I remember when my parents went to see it at the movies back in the day. They enjoyed it as well, especially as it was shot in San Francisco, a favorite town of our father.

Last week we watched Lonesome Dove (1989)–old-fashioned style, one part each night over a four night period, the way it was originally intended to be viewed. I enjoyed it as always–Augustus McCrae and Captain Call are two of my favorite characters in fiction. The book, of course, is even better. It is full of interesting characters, all fully realized. There are no stereotypes, no cardboard cutouts. And there is no political agenda.

Well, a good dose of Gus and Woodrow is good for the soul. You might want to dust off the DVD or the book. I recommend both.

Fun fact: Robert Duvall is in both Bullitt and Lonesome Dove. Also, he went to college across the river in Elsah, Illinois. I had a friend (who has passed away) at my flyover institute who went to The Principia with him and was best friends with “Bobby’s” younger brother. He had quite a few good stories.

If you haven’t already read this article, maybe you should.

And, you know, this was really special. “His motives are still unknown but the administration believes it was some kind of a lapse in sanity,” she said.

And let us not forget this:

Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

–I Cor. 1:26-31

*Augustus McCrae