dual personalities

Category: family

“Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits.”*

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FaceTiming with Mamu and Aunt Mary

This is as close as I got to baby Katiebelle this weekend, but we communicated as best we could. She is truly a cupcake of love.

Daughter #1 came into town for Happy Hour and we pretended we were at Grant’s Farm, eating big soft pretzels and drinking an Anheuser-Busch product in the courtyard of the Bauernhof.

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You gotta make your own fun.

We went to our first estate sale in many moons (wearing masks, of course) and investigated a new neighborhood, but didn’t find any treasures we couldn’t live without. We drove to JoAnn’s Fabrics, but there was a line outside of people waiting to get in (!) so we kept going. The OM ordered a new Cozy Coupe at Target and we picked it up curbside and brought it home for him to put together, which he did with a modicum of cursing.

The updated model is pretty darn cute. Can’t wait for the wee bud to try it out next weekend. Lottiebelle will get her turn, of course, but in reality she prefers to boss her brother around tell her brother where to drive (“Go there!”)

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Driving the old ’88 model

It was a nice weekend, but it’s back to the salt mine and trying to figure out how we’re going to handle taking our courses online in a few weeks. Stressful, to say the least. As always, there was help in the week’s lectionary:

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5: 1-8)

Bonus flashback: Remember when Lottiebelle was the same size as the Bitty Baby?

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*Psalm 68:19

For whom the bell tolls merrily

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Daughter #2 has had her baby!

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I toasted little Katiebelle Wednesday night…

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…and again yesterday afternoon with my pals…

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…and I will go on toasting her and her brilliant mother on through the weekend. You betcha.

The OM and I were in a quandary about what to watch Wednesday night, so we landed on The Court Jester (1955), which in case you don’t recall, has a baby at the center of the plot. Set in medieval England, it concerns the struggle to restore to the throne the rightful heir, a baby with a distinguishing birthmark—the purple pimpernel on his posterior. Danny Kaye plays Hubert Hawkins, an ex-carnival entertainer who becomes minstrel to the Black Fox, a Robin Hood-type character who leads a band of rebels in the forest in support of the true infant-king.

Screen Shot 2020-06-04 at 8.56.40 PMThe film is full of comedic exchanges such as “Get it?” “Got it.” “Good!” and “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!” I found it to be very diverting and a lot of fun. I always liked Danny Kaye, and if you like him in White Christmas, you will love him in this.

Screen Shot 2020-06-04 at 12.59.03 PMThe excellent supporting cast includes Basil Rathbone, Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, and Mildred Natwick. Together they manage to spoof movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood without going overboard. The production values are very high. The script is genuinely clever.

As it unfolds you’ll see
What starts like a scary tale ends like a fairy tale
And life couldn’t possibly better be.

So try it, maybe you’ll like it!

And praise the Lord for precious babies and their brilliant mothers.

“So here hath been dawning Another blue Day…”

So here hath been dawning
Another blue Day:
Think wilt thou let it
Slip useless away.
Out of Eternity
This new Day is born;
Into Eternity,
At night, will return.

–Thomas Carlyle

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My confused Christmas Cactus blooming again!

It was a beautiful weekend in flyover country and I was fortunate enough to be able to spend plenty of time outside soaking up the vitamin D. The boy came over for a chat on the patio on Saturday and shortly after he left to go to work, daughter #1 arrived from mid-MO in time for happy hour. There is nothing better, am I right?

If only, we could have beamed up daughter #2 and DN (a la Star Trek) for an hour or two!

Sunday was Pentecost, which I celebrated with my adopted Christ Church in Charlottesville, VA. My own Grace Church is supposed to start holding in person services next Sunday, but the Diocese has imposed a lot of rules (masks, no singing, social distancing, only 10% of capacity, and so on) so I may just stay home and continue to sing along with Sam Bush.

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I read quite a lot of The Accidental Tourist by Ann Tyler, curious to reread it after daughter #2’s negative review last week. I have to say, I am enjoying it and do not find all the characters to be “weirdos”! As I told daughter #2 when I talked to her on Sunday, clearly she was on edge and not in the right frame of mind to read this particular book. Indeed, I am actually enjoying it more than when I first read it nearly 35 years ago. There is actually a lot of humor in it. The main character, who is a member of a very introverted wasp-y family who really only feels comfortable with his own siblings, seems very familiar to me. On the other hand, a couple of months ago I tried to reread Breathing Lessons, for which Ann Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize, and I found it unreadable, so irritating were the characters. So go figure.

And true to form, the OM sent away and got me one of these very special face masks from the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City! ##HashtagTheCowboy #CowboyTim

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Please keep daughter #2 in your prayers. She is still waiting for the newest wee babe to arrive, now past her due date. It should be an exciting week.

Thought for the day:

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Madder ‘n mischief

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We had several good midwestern thunderstorms this past long weekend. Coincidentally I found this copy of “The Thunder Baby Boy” handwritten by our mother many years ago. At some point in my childhood, she placated me during a thunderstorm, explaining about the Thunder Baby Boy who was making all the noise.

After that we would ask her to recite the poem from time to time. We weren’t scared anymore, but we liked the poem.

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On the reverse side is another poem and a drawing by our brother of Civil War era soldiers (blue and gray) firing at each other.  I suppose you could date the note by his skill level–pretty darn good–to the late 1950s?

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Isn’t it amazing the things that turn up?

Here’s a link to the poem on Project Gutenberg from the original book of poetry.

And now it’s back to the salt mine. I hardly looked at my computer or phone all weekend! Lovely.

“I see my light come shining From the west unto the east/Any day now, any day now I shall be released.”*

Happy belated  birthday to Bob Dylan who turned 79 yesterday. We love you and God loves you, Bob.

The weekend rushed by and daughter #1 and I had fun doing things we had not been able to do in a long time, like walking around downtown Kirkwood and actually going in a store and buying something! (Don’t worry, we wore masks.) We also sat outside on the patio and drank a cold one. It was 87 degrees!

Their parents dropped off the wee babes for awhile on Sunday morning and they ran us ragged.

We finally had to resort to getting out the giant box of Beanie Babies.

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Hog Heaven

We were done in after that, but daughter #1 did give me a gel manicure. The rain actually held off for most of the weekend until Sunday when the OM decided to barbecue. Then it rained for hours.

We watched The LongRiders (1980) which you may recall is a movie about the outlaw James brothers, the Younger brothers, and assorted other brothers, all played by actual brothers: The Caradines, the Keaches, the Quaids, and even Christopher Guest and his brother. I had not seen it in a long time and really enjoyed it.

Screen Shot 2020-05-24 at 9.58.46 PMRather than being gimmicky, the real brothers lent an air of authenticity to the film which I appreciated. The musical score by Ry Cooder was also excellent. And I enjoyed the Missouri setting and the story of our homegrown famous outlaws.

Today I am celebrating Memorial Day and watching war movies as previously mentioned. I will also toast John Wayne on the 111th anniversary of his birth.

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FYI daughter #2 is scaling back her blog post activity to once a week on Thursdays as she anticipates the imminent arrival of baby U.  L’Chaim!

*Bob Dylan

 

Let angels prostrate fall

Well, it has been rainy and rather bleak here in flyover country for several days. But as William Law said, “He who complains of the weather–complains of the God who ordains the weather!”

The highlight of my quiet weekend was driving a bunch of boxes to the recycling center. (Okay, we also got some frozen custard.) Woohoo. The boy came over on Sunday afternoon for a brief parley which is always a treat. The good news is that he reopened his store yesterday, but we probably won’t see him for awhile.

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.56.52 PMI watched The Green Mile (1999) about the mysterious goings on in a prison in 1935. It was as good as I remembered it. One of Tom Hanks’s best.

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 4.07.50 PMIt is over three hours long, but I can’t think of anything I would cut. So if you have three hours, I recommend it. I read the book by Stephen King back in the day and it is good too.

A fellow fan emailed me the sad news that Ken Osmond had died. You remember Ken–he played Eddie Haskell, Wally Cleaver’s super polite-with-parents but a jerk-to-his-little brother-Beaver friend. Quel icon.

Rest in peace, Ken. You nailed it. And those 18 years as a real-life motorcycle cop were impressive too.

On the horticultural front, the iris this year have been insane.

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And don’t the new pillows (with thistles!) that daughter #2 gave me for my birthday spruce up the Florida room nicely?

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“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.”
–  Rainer Maria Rilke

Have a good week! Shop local and small!

“You’ll do.”*

Well, since we’ve been in quarantine, Monday nights are John Wayne movie nights. Last night we watched The Cowboys (1972)–the one about the cattle drive led by the Duke and a bunch of kids recruited to replace the cowboys who have gone off to search for gold.

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 8.50.15 PM.pngIt was real good and I recommend it, along with John Wayne Monday nights. Mondays are hard, what with Zoom meetings and starting back to the work week.

I had a super fun weekend. Daughter #1 came home and we saw the wee babes twice. Both times they were in fine fettle and glad to be frolicking outside and playing with their old toys inside.

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Lottie with “her people”

We also drove to a county park we had never been to–Bee Tree Park which overlooks the Mississippi River–and explored it. We discovered it while perusing one of our books on St. Louis. South County is terra incognita, but we’re not scared.

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Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 9.10.09 PMWe also listened to a lot of old CD mixes from 15 years ago. Very angsty. Remember this one?

Admit it, you were singing along.

We ordered take out brunch for Mother’s Day and take out margaritas for Saturday night. We are adapting to the quarantine as best we can.

*Will Andersen in “The Cowboys”

“Way down in Missouri where I learned this lullaby”*

Today is Truman Day, a holiday in our state and for some people a day off from work.

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Harry in WWI. Are his pants inflated?

I do not have the day off, but I will raise a toast to Harry nonetheless at the appropriate hour. A Missouri Mule, which was created by bartender Joe Gilmore especially for President Truman, would be nice. I thought a Missouri Mule was bourbon, lime  and ginger ale, but when I looked it up, the ingredients are:

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•2 parts Bourbon
•2 parts Applejack
•2 parts Lemon juice
•1 part Campari
•1 part Cointreau

Well, you learn something new every day, right?

Mother’s Day is on Sunday and I am hoping the wee babes will drop by for awhile to frolic in our yard. They came over on Wednesday and frolicked in the yard and we practiced social distancing while they picked flowers and threw rocks. It was a nice diversion.

IMG_0152.jpegIMG_0187.jpegIMG_0156.jpegAfter reading daughter #2’s blogpost yesterday about some “mildly captivating” recent films, I got thinking, of course, about classic films. I had just watched Juarez (1939) and really marveled at how good it is.

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The film focuses on the conflict between Maximilian I, an Austrian archduke who was installed as the puppet ruler of Mexico in 1863 by Napoleon III, and Benito Juarez, the country’s president. It is not a story that particularly interests me, but as presented by Warner Brothers with all their bells and whistles, it was riveting.

Maximilian is the Hapsburg dupe who is used by Napoleon III to expand the French empire in Mexico.  Jaurez, who idolizes Abraham Lincoln so we know he is a good guy, is the hero of the piece, but as played by Paul Muni, he isn’t half as interesting as Brian Aherne as the emperor and Bette Davis as his crazy wife, Carlota.

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Donald Crisp, Brian Aherne, Bette Davis, and be-still-my-heart Gilbert Roland

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The real Emperor with the unfortunate Hapsburg mouth

The screenplay by John Huston and Aeneas MacKenzie is, as you would expect, excellent and the Warner Brothers cast is terrific. How can you go wrong with John Garfield, Gilbert Roland, Claude Rains, Donald Crisp, Gale Sondergaard, Henry Davenport, etc. in supporting parts? You can’t. Handsome Brian Aherne is actually very sympathetic and believable as the overly trusting archduke and Bette Davis is thankfully limited to a couple of Big Scenes, so she doesn’t manage to take over and ruin the film. Paul Muni is stalwart as the Zapotec Man of the People. Sure the plot probably doesn’t have much resemblance to reality, but we don’t care. It is a good story.

They knew how to tell good stories and, indeed, make a movie in 1939. And they don’t seem to anymore. Is that because screenwriters and directors nowadays are too focused on their own genius to actually make anything worth watching, much less art?

I suppose I am a broken record, but with all this time on your hands and nowhere to go, you are much better served to find and watch some movies from the classic era of Hollywood. For instance, I also watched The Scarlet Empress (1934)–a movie which is nearly ninety years old!–starring Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great and it was really something–beautifully staged and photographed. The art direction was A++.

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Marlene and the remarkably sexy John Lodge (of the Boston Lodges) who went on to be a congressman and governor of Massachusetts after he’d had enough of the movie biz.

And there is no one to compare with Marlene Dietrich these days. Seriously. Who can you think of?

Well, once again, I sound like an old lady.

 

But at least I’m consistent.

If you are looking for something a little more highbrow than old movies, I have something wonderful for you. I have been listening to the Norton Lectures given by Jorge Luis Borges at Harvard in 1967-68. I listen to each lecture (about 45 minutes) while needlepointing. It is very restful and I hope I am learning something from this brilliant man.

He was almost blind by the time he gave these lectures and so he used no notes. Can you imagine! He is just the best.

But what ho, it is the weekend. Have a good one!

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The super moon was awesome!

*The Missouri Waltz (state song)

“Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there”*

Well, we watched Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side over the weekend and it was an emotional roller coaster for the OM, All-ABC League center of yesteryear. We all have our triggers.

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Can you find the OM just to the left of the coach on the left?

It was a beautiful weekend, sunny and warm, and we took a couple of “drives” just to get out of the house. (The OM has practically forgotten how to drive!) Everyone else had the same idea about getting out of the house, but I can’t begrudge our neighbors a spin in the family SUV.

The wee babes continue to enjoy their quarantine lifestyle at home, but they also went on an outing to Rockwoods Reservation, a conservation area in western St. Louis County dedicated to hiking, wildlife viewing, and other outdoor recreation (rock throwing).

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They threw a lot of rocks (not at each other).

I remember going there as a young’un and I’m glad the boy checked it out. Missouri is a beautiful state and there is a lot to see. There is something cool to see in each of our 50 states! In fact, there is something new to see in our neighbor Kansas–a new state park, the Little Jerusalem Badlands in Logan County, which looks awesome.

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Add it to the list!

While we are looking around, we should also look up, because there is some potentially good sky-gazing coming up this week. While the Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower is happening April 19 through May 28, according to In-The-Sky.org, the meteors are expected to hit peak quantity on Tuesday, May 5 (at 4 p.m. EDT, to be precise). During this time, the rate is supposed to be 40 meteors per hour, so the chances of seeing one (today!) are highest.

Extra bonus: the Full Flower super moon, the third super moon of the year, will be in its full form on the evening of Thursday, May 7, as well as at its closest location to Earth, which makes it look slightly larger and brighter. I am going to write a note to myself to remember to check this out. I always forget!

So look around, look up and be perfect!

*Coach Gaines in “Friday Night Lights”

The kindness of strangers

Well, the coronavirus finally hit close to home last week when one of our flyover institute students died. I had actually known this woman for over 30 years.

I was going to my class’s 10th reunion at Smith College. I had just found out that my mother was dying and I didn’t really want to go, but the plane ticket had been bought and arrangements made and everyone said go, so I went. I flew to Hartford, CT and planned to get on the Peter Pan bus to Springfield and then change to a bus to Northampton, as I had always done in college.

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But when I arrived at Bradley International Airport,  a well-dressed little lady came up to me and said, do you happen to be going to Smith College? I said, why, yes I am. She said, well, I’m going to my 30th reunion and I’m going to rent a car, but I don’t like to drive alone, so would you like to go with me?

I could have cried with relief. So Sally drove me to Northampton and we chatted amiably the whole way. I heard all about Charlie, her husband, and her three kids, her father who had been a professor at Yale, and so on. She was just the ticket for getting my mind off my troubles. I didn’t see Sally again until my first week at work in 2002 when she walked into my flyover institute and we re-introduced ourselves.

I never believed that chance meeting in the Hartford airport was a chance meeting at all. It was the unseen hand on my shoulder, the whisper from the wings assuring me that all would be well. Courage, dear heart.

Sally was 83 when she died and she had a happy life. Many people will miss her, me included.

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Looking at the clouds

Daughter #1 came home for 24 hours on Saturday and we had a lovely time working on our puzzle, listening to music, taking a walk, drinking a margarita, sitting on the patio, and watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a top-five favorite movie. The boy came over to borrow a tool and he sat outside with us in the sunshine for twenty minutes.

I read a lot of The Long Goodbye. 

“There was a sad fellow over on a bar stool talking to the bartender, who was polishing a glass and listening with that plastic smile people wear when they are trying not to scream.”

It is pretty great but I will be ready for something else when I’m finished. It is too easy to fall into the slough of cynicism he describes so well. It is not a good time to be doing that.

I watched Robert Altman’s film version of the book and I hated it.

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I despise it when someone makes a movie based on a book, but all they really use are the names of the characters and maybe one aspect of the plot. What is the point of that?Elliott Gould is not Philip Marlowe by any stretch of the imagination. Gould’s Marlowe is a complete schlub with a cat. Philip Marlowe doesn’t have a cat.

Just terrible.

Well, chin up as we start week seven of our confinement. Onward and upward.