dual personalities

Month: June, 2022

“Aunt Mary in a donut”

Greetings from N.C. We have our routine down. Go to beach, eat lunch back at the house, baby takes a nap while we float in the pool, Happy Hour, dinner, sunset, bed. Repeat.

Sometimes we eat out.

Katiebelle got her own “donut” to float in. The vibe is good.

“More water comin’!”

Greetings from Duck, North Carolina where the skies are blue, the temperature divine and the company superlative.

I’ll have more about our travels and our visit in Norfolk next week, but for now, Adieu! We are living in the moment.

P.S. The quote at the top is what Katie yells every time a wave comes in and covers our feet.

Friday eclectic

Last weekend our son James came home to celebrate Father’s Day and catch up with friends who were in town. The DH and I hosted coffee hour at church, for which I made a lemon blueberry Bundt cake and oatmeal cookies. Along with the sugary bits we served the DH’s special homemade hummus, veggies, fruit, cheese and crackers. I include all this to assure you that we do sometimes socialize – at least little bit. We all had a grand time, so naturally I only remembered to take a photo when James bid us adieu; here he and his dad squint happily into the sun.  

The next few days were normal, which is to say that not much happened.  I read and puttered as usual and came across a few interesting tidbits. For instance, I discovered that Davy Crockett was born on the Nolichucky River in eastern Tennessee. Apparently, Nolichucky is an anglicized version of a Cherokee phrase that either means “spruce tree place”, “dangerous waters”, “rushing waters” or “black, swirling water” (Wikipedia). Take your pick.

It’s easy to imagine a young Davy Crockett tracking game along the banks of the beautiful Nolichucky, isn’t it? I think the DH and I might have to explore the area, though perhaps not at the height of summer. 

When not stumbling on interesting factoids, I read a Sumerian epic called “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta,” and discovered this wonderful passage:

The messenger gave heed to the words of his king. He journeyed by the starry night, and by day he travelled with Utu of heaven. Where and to whom will he carry the important message of Inanna with its stinging tone? He brought it up into the Zubi Mountains, he descended with it from the Zubi Mountains. Susin and the land of Ancan humbly saluted Inanna like tiny mice.

(Sumerian Text Corpus)

It’s the phrase involving ‘tiny mice’ that gets me. Think about it. Way back in the 3rd millennium BC, the epic’s author realized that to a powerful deity like Inanna (aka Ishtar) human worshipers would seem like nothing more than a bunch of tiny, swarming rodents. Those ancients did not have an inflated sense of their own worth – quite the opposite. Life was hard and gods were unpredictable, so humans never really knew where they stood. 

Well, things have certainly changed since Inanna’s time. Recently, I was disturbed to read that teenage vandals damaged the Dailey Ridge Presbyterian Church in Norwood (about half an hour from here) to the tune of about $10,000. This simple church (my favorite kind), which was built in 1853 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places, has no electricity and heats with wood.

Although the perpetrators were apprehended and the church is insured, the small but devoted congregation cannot pay the $1000 deductible. They are working hard to keep the church going, and I suspect the community will rally in support, but such senseless vandalism does no one any good. Meanwhile, maybe the guilty parties will learn a little humility and to respect other people’s property. Maybe they’ll even start going to church– let’s hope so.

Have a great weekend but be humble!

“I fill my lungs, a summer-full of breaths. The great field holds the wind, and sways.”*

Not surprisingly, June has buzzed by. We are a week away from July! I have been taking it easy this week, while also trying to get ready for my trip to North Carolina which commences on Saturday when daughter #1 and I leave at an ungodly hour on a very early flight out of town.

I am praying for easy travel, nice weather and good health for all concerned.

Anyway, I don’t have much to blog about, just a few links and a reminder:

“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for every body, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”

–J.C. Ryle *1816-1900), evangelical Anglican bishop

This is very true. “Christianity has a long history of taking words seriously. Hold fast to that noble tradition. As Jesus said, ‘by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned’ (Matthew 12:37).”

Our father was like this too. It’s called being a gentleman, which, as we know, is a dying breed.

Hang in there!

*Jay Parini, from the poem “Ordinary Time”

“Surely some revelation is at hand.”

I have a very stressful week ahead of me, then a vacation, and then another even more stressful week. I am confident that my vacation will be filled with annoying emails from people asking for things and not saying please or thank you. Such is the world today. So, for my blog post, I again turned to my bookshelf and trusty Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I’ve used parts of the following before–but this larger quote was just like YES.

“You see I want to be quite obstinate about insisting that we have no way of knowing–beyond that fundamental loyalty to the social code–what is “right” and what is “wrong,” what is “good” and what “evil.” I dwell so upon this because the most disturbing aspect of “morality” seems to me to be the frequency with which the word now appears; in the press, on television, in the most perfunctory kinds of conversation. Questions of straightforward power (or survival) politics, questions of quite indifferent public policy, questions of almost anything: they are all assigned these factitious moral burdens. There is something facile going on, some self-indulgence at work. Of course we would all like to “believe” in something, like to assuage our private guilts in public causes, like to lose our tiresome selves; like, perhaps, to transform the white flag of defeat at home into the brave white banner of battle away from home. And of course it is all right to do that; that is how, immemorially, things have gotten done. But I think it is all right only long as we do not delude ourselves about what we are doing, and why. It is all right only so long as we remember that all the ad hoc committees, all the picket lines, all the brave signatures in The New York Times, all the tools of agitprop straight across the spectrum, do not confer upon anyone any ipso facto virtue. It is all right only so long as we recognize that the end may or may not be expedient, may or may not be a good idea, but in any case has nothing to do with “morality.” Because when we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble. And I suspect we are already there.”

–Joan Didion, “On Morality” (1965

 “Consider the lilies, how they grow”*

Yesterday was Juneteenth, which I wrote about back in 2013 before it was a whole thing. As is our custom, we watched The Professionals (1967), starring Woody Strode, in honor of the day. It is a great movie, one of my top 20 favorites.

Coincidentally, we also watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) recently–another great movie starring the inimitable Strode. Sergeant Rutledge (1960), of course, is his greatest role.

“That was a classic,” he said later of his part. “It had dignity. John Ford put classic words in my mouth… You never seen a Negro come off a mountain like John Wayne before. I had the greatest Glory Hallelujah ride across the Pecos River that any black man ever had on the screen. And I did it myself. I carried the whole black race across that river.” Amen, brother.

Ay, man is manly. Here you see
  The warrior-carriage of the head,
And brave dilation of the frame;
  And lighting all, the soul that led
In Spottsylvania’s charge to victory,
  Which justifies his fame.

A cheering picture. It is good
  To look upon a Chief like this,
In whom the spirit moulds the form.
  Here favoring Nature, oft remiss,
With eagle mien expressive has endued
  A man to kindle strains that warm.

–From “On the Photograph of a Corps Commander” by Herman Melville

We didn’t watch any special movies for Father’s Day, but here’s a list of Father’s Day movie picks which isn’t bad, but, of course, it only mentions two films made before the year 2000. Here’s my list from a few years ago, which includes some older, excellent movie choices.

This video is inspiring as well as a good reminder of how quickly we forget the devastating things that happen to other people.

And guess what? It’s Day Lily season! The hearty orange blooms are everywhere and will continue to cheer us up for several weeks as it heats up in flyover country.

The lilies in our yard are lagging behind, but they are coming along. Ain’t they grand?

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

*Luke 12:27

Pickin’ and grinnin’

As you know, I had quite a week, what with volunteering at Vacation Bible School…

…but the fun did not end there. After a slam bang VBS finish on Friday morning (which included a big slip ‘n slide on the front lawn), I rushed home to meet the OM so that we could drive to Jefferson City where we celebrated Father’s Day by attending a Ricky Skaggs concert with daughter #1 in the city’s outdoor amphitheater.

(As usual I did my best to advertise for Ultimate Lacrosse as well as use my Unclaimed Property fan to great advantage! It was super hot.)

We have seen Ricky in concert at least four times. The first time was in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry twenty-five years ago.

Taken with a camera–before cell phones!

We have all aged quite a bit since those glory days, but ol’ Ricky and his Kentucky Thunder Band still put on a great show.

No one goes to a Bluegrass concert who isn’t really into it, so the crowd is always rockin’–and this crowd of mid-Missouri oldsters was no exception.

I went to my first Bluegrass concert back in the 1970s. It was the legendary Doc Watson and his son Merle, playing in Graham Chapel at Washington University. I went with my brother and his friend Tom, who were bluegrass musicians themselves. I have been a fan ever since.

Anyway, we stayed up way past our usual bedtime on Friday night, but Ricky Skaggs was worth it.

On Saturday, daughter #1 and I went to a few favorite places in JC…

including the always interesting “Vin-tique” antique mall. Then we all had lunch at Steak ‘N Shake, followed by a treat at Central Dairy before heading home and collapsing.

On Sunday I had to wear my VBS t-shirt one last time to church for the final celebration and explosive display of Christian enthusiasm before we all settled back down into our more sedate Presbyterian worship. The OM and I thought we would bring the boy lunch at his store after church since he had to work, but every place we tried to stop was way too crowded and the drive-through lines were too long, so we just stopped by and said “Happy Father’s Day!” and went home. C’est la vie.

Here’s hoping life will be calmer this week while I ready myself to visit this little tyke and her parents in North Carolina next weekend.

Cheese!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not be troubled and do not be afraid*

By this evening I felt a little bit like a shell-shocked pioneer on his first wagon trip west — you know, the kind of journey where everything is against you, but there’s no turning back. As Taylor Sheridan put it in his (seriously flawed but occasionally brilliant and always pretty) TV show 1883, “The river doesn’t care if you can swim. The snake doesn’t care how much you love your children. And the wolf has no interest in your dreams. If you fail to beat the current, you will drown; if you get too close, you will be bitten. If you are too weak, you will be eaten.” When my life feels like that, albeit in a non-lethal, smothered-by-pointless-departmental-politics sort of way, I find solace in in beautiful things like the paintings of Canadian artist Clayton Anderson. (I hope Mr. Anderson will consider this free advertising rather than copywrite infringement. I got the pictures via Google Image).

His work seems muffled and blurred, almost as if he paints in the quiet of dawn without wearing his glasses — and I find that curiously appealing.

I also appreciate the jewel-like watercolors of Shanghai artist Z.L. Feng, about whom I could not find any useful information (ditto comment above about free advertising).

Anderson and Feng may not be old masters but they have plenty of calm to offer in this high-stress world. Of course nothing can beat greats like Winslow Homer —

or my all-time favorite, the 1st century AD garden fresco from the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta. This photo serves as my computer wallpaper and provides a much-appreciated bolt of beauty every time I open my laptop.

How lucky we are to be able to look at such art whenever we want. Before mass printing and computers, few copies existed for distribution, and only the most fortunate people got to see the originals.

There, I feel better now. I’m going to put everything else out of my mind and enjoy the beautiful things the world has to offer — and if I’m lucky, no snake will bite and no wolf take an interest in my dreams.

Have a peaceful weekend!

*John 14:27

I will praise your name

I am that old lady! But the week is nearing an end. (Thank goodness.)

These homeschooled/Christian- and public-school kids are smart, disciplined, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. They are allowed and encouraged to blow off steam during music (lots of jumping and hand movements) and during games, so they are ready to calm down and focus during crafts and Bible study. No one has complained about the heat (yet) and I haven’t heard a whine or mean word. (One girl did use a tone with me.) There are lots of teenage volunteers to pick up the slack for us oldsters. The games leader is a tall, handsome West Point cadet home for three weeks on break. The kids are all crazy about him, of course, and do not mind getting hot and sweaty and drenched with water balloons. (I am much less enthusiastic.)

But as Tim Challies advises, I have “embraced my finitude”—i.e. the fact that I am limited and weak and in so many ways insufficient and incapable. “This is a feature of your humanity rather than a bug.”

Anyway, I will make it through the week and then will have succeeded in making a few new friends and feeling more a part of my new church. Not a small thing for a super introvert who would prefer to not. Yay, me!

And the black bears are back! Ay caramba!

Thank you, sir, for saying this.

I liked this article a lot. “Whereas we denizens of late modernity are wandering in the fog of the simultaneous global renegotiation of all human custom, and consequently pining for nodal points of orientation, it seems fitting to remind ourselves that it is of the very essence of said “nodes” that they force no ultimate choice betwixt — ” Food for thought!

And in other news, Katiebelle’s mother gave her a haircut.

Perfect hair wasted on a toddler!

P.S. I almost have the hand movements down to this VBS song which doesn’t involve much jumping and so is my favorite. Also the lyrics are pretty familiar, right?

Remember the Alamo.

Last week, I missed my blogging day because I was attending a thrilling State Treasurers conference in San Antonio, Texas. According to Wikipedia, “founded as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost in 1718, the city became the first chartered civil settlement in present-day Texas in 1731. The area was still part of the Spanish Empire, and later of the Mexican Republic. It is the state’s oldest municipality, having celebrated its 300th anniversary on May 1, 2018.”

I have to say, I was impressed. My hotel was right on the historic River Walk. Again, per Wikipedia, “the River Walk is a city park and special-case pedestrian street in San Antonio, Texas, one level down from the automobile street. The River Walk winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks lined with restaurants and shops, connecting the major tourist draws to the city’s five Spanish colonial missions.” It is very pretty and felt safe and clean.

Ever-flowing margaritas on a controlled and shady river front is a real vibe I can get behind.

I also had the opportunity to brave the 105 degree heat and walk several blocks to check out the Alamo. As I’m sure you know, and our friends at Wikipedia say, “the Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siegeMexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna reclaimed the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San AntonioTexas, United States), killing most of the Texians and Tejanos inside, including Davy Crockett. Santa Anna’s cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians and Tejanos to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the rebellion in favor of the newly formed Republic of Texas.”

Sidenote, the website for the Alamo calls itself the Shrine to Texas Liberty. Which I guess makes sense.

It is quite the place and right in the middle of town!

I also got to go to the Briscoe Western Art Museum which is housed in San Antonio’s original public library. As the name implies, the museum focuses on Western heritage and was full of artwork illustrating cowboys, Native Americans, vaqueros, and great landscapes. I enjoyed it a lot. The free-flowing margaritas only enhanced the experience.

I promise, I did work, too! Anyway, it was a good trip, but it is always nice to be back home!