dual personalities

Category: home

“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

The powerful play goes on

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Opera

Throw all your stagey chandeliers in wheelbarrows and

move them north

To celebrate my mother’s sewing-machine

And her beneath an eighty-watt bulb, pedalling

Iambs on an antique metal footplate

Powering the needle through its regular lines,

Doing her work.  To me as a young boy

That was her typewriter.  I’d watch

Her hands and feet in unison, or read

Between her calves the wrought-iron letters:

SINGER.  Mass-produced polished wood and metal,

It was a powerful instrument.  I stared

Hard at its brilliant needle’s eye that purred

And shone at night; and then each morning after

I went to work at school, wearing her songs.

– Robert Crawford, b. 1959   

We haven’t had a poem for awhile, so I thought I’d include this one which I read in an online poetry class facilitated by a friend of mine. It reminded me of my own mother, although her Singer sewing machine was always on the dining room table. I don’t know a lot about contemporary poetry beyond a few poems by Mary Oliver and Billy Collins and Seamus Heaney, but I am learning that there is some good stuff out there.

One birthday has passed this week that we have not noted, Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803), and another, Walt Whitman’s (May 31, 1819), is coming up on Sunday. It is always a good time to turn to these two titans for some inspiration.

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
                                       Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Sunday is also the birthday of film titan Clint Eastwood, who turns 90! Can you believe it? He is still going strong–the man has got some good genes.

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I might watch Million Dollar Baby (2004) or Gran Torino (2008) which are both excellent. I watched A Perfect World (1993) a few weeks ago and liked it. Kevin Costner is the lead with Eastwood supporting. He directed all three of these movies. Another good one, directed by Eastwood but not starring him, is American Sniper (2014) which, you  may recall, set box-office records.  I will probably opt for the younger, dreamier Clint though.

Lately he has been speaking to me.

So anyway there will be lots to toast this weekend! 🍷🍷🍷 To Ralph, to Walt, to Clint, to life!

The painting is Sewing (The Artist’s Wife) by Australian painter Hans Heysen (1877–-1968)

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!

Sad ogres

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A cute picture of the wee laddie with little or no significance other than being cute.

I do not have much to report/write about. The days drift by, don’t they? I work (remotely) in my office and some days I take a walk depending on the weather. One night last week I watched The Full Monty (1997) which I had not seen since it came out back in the day. It is the British movie about the bloke, who, seeing the long line of women clamoring to get in to a touring Chippendales-style dance troupe, thinks he can solve his financial and custody problems by forming his own male exotic dance troupe with some of his fellow un- or underemployed ex-mill workers. Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy and Tom Wilkinson star and some low-key hilarity ensues.

Considering the plot, there is very little vulgarity. I recommend it if you are looking for low-key hilarity. And who is not?

Other than that, I am still listening to Jorge Luis Borges lecture about metaphor while needlepointing. Again, he is so great, but hard to follow sometimes–for instance, when he quotes Shakespeare, “Beware the green-eyed monster which doth mock…” he says, “The sad ogres who mock…” He is translating Shakespeare back into English from the Spanish translation I guess. Translations of translations…

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Delightful, but sometimes it takes me a day to catch up.

I am also re-reading Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier, having finished Frenchman’s Creek last week, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Daphne at the top of her game is hard to beat.

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Yesterday was my friend Carla’s birthday so Becky and I dropped by in the afternoon and chatted on her front porch (observing social distancing protocol) and toasted her with a plastic cup of Proscecco. It was very pleasant sitting on the breezy porch surrounded by peonies. A deer ran by.

Sigh. I want to see normal on the horizon and I don’t.

But chin up, it is the bell and it tolleth for thee. And it is Friday. I do not have to Zoom anything for a couple of days.

“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)

“Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”*

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The iris are budding!

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Well, we made it through another week (and another month!) and I scheduled and led my first Zoom meetings, another milestone. I mean I’ve participated in plenty of Zoom meetings, but this was a first. This just goes to show that teaching an old dog new tricks may not be pleasant, but it is not impossible either. Yay for old dogs.

Besides that, it hasn’t been a terribly notable week. I brought the shredder up from the basement and I have been going through old files and shredding like crazy. This is somewhat therapeutic. However, my closets are still filled with stuff–files are just thinner. Progress is slow.

Today is the birthday of film director Henry Koster (1905 – 1988) who, though not as famous as some, directed quite a few good movies, including several of my favorites: The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Harvey (1950), and The Robe (1953). Here’s a list.  It is also the birthday of the actor Glenn Ford (1916 – 2006) who was in a lot of movies, none of them favorites of mine, except maybe Pocketful of Miracles (1961), which I saw recently and enjoyed.

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It is also the birthday of Tim McGraw, (b. 1967), American singer, actor, and record producer. Movie viewing possibilities open up considerably. We have Friday Night Lights (2004) and The Blind Side (2009)! The choice is:

Bad father of a football player–

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vs. Good foster father of a football player–

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What do you think? Friday Night Lights has the added inducements of Lucas Black and Billy Bob Thornton.

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I may watch both. We’ll see…

I put this classic video from 1980 in my bi-weekly email newsletter to my students…

…and one of them commented, “Didn’t understand a word of the song, except for ‘Don’t stand too close to me.’  Apparently, I don’t speak rock.” Apparently you are not as cool as I thought! There is even a reference to Nabakov!

I continue to amuse myself as usual.

Have a good weekend. Maybe I’ll finish the puzzle.

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*Luke 24:29

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.

Friday mish-mosh: Lord, I hope this day is good edition

Well, yesterday I donned my face mask and gloves and sallied forth to my old stomping grounds–the Cancer Center at MoBap for a blood draw. (I couldn’t use the drive-through because they had to flush my port.) I know, too much information. It wasn’t a bad experience and it got me out of the house. My follow-up visit with my oncologist will be a “virtual audio meeting” (phone call) later today. Yikes.

This devotional from the Charlottesville rector is apropos of everything. “Adaptation fatigue”–indeed.

IMG_9141.jpegIn the interim I feel like the wee babes are growing up as the weeks go by. The wee bud helped his father in the yard and I am proud to say he learned his pick-up-stick skills at my house.

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Lottiebelle practicing her stacking skills

IMG_9152.jpegWhile at home I have been listening to a lot of Don Williams as he has the most soothing voice ever. No kidding; it’s a proven fact.

Yes, if comfort is what you’re looking for, Don Williams is what you want.

Earlier this week I was anticipating a stressful Zoom meeting with my boss and as I nervously went through a file I found a card with this written on it:

Do not be anxious, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

–Philippians 4:6-7

I get these little messages a lot. Do you? And yet…I continue to worry and stress. What is my problem? Well, I admit being stuck inside is starting to get to me.

I didn’t watch anything very interesting this week, except Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) directed by Howard Hawks and starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.

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I had never seen the whole thing, only the famous “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number with Marilyn. It is not a great movie, but Marilyn does steal the show. In the right part, i.e. a dumb blonde, no one was better. (Earlier this year, daughter #1 and watched River of No Return (1954) with Marilyn in a straight role and she was howlingly bad–we literally howled–poor Robert Mitchum looked embarrassed through the whole thing.) Anyway, the funniest scene in this movie is with Marilyn and George Winslow (the little boy from The Scoutmaster!)…

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Yes, Marilyn is stuck in a porthole.

…I wish George had had a bigger part. In fact, the other males in the movie were not a good match for the two stars. I mean who has even heard of Tommy Noonan and Elliott Reid? The movie cried out for Rock Hudson/James Garner and Tony Randall or even Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

Somewhere I read that Groundhog Day (1993) is a good choice for this weird time in our lives and that might be right. I do sometimes feel like I’m living the same day over and over.

All we can do is keep SMILING, right?

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Maybe. (TGIF) 

 

“Is this the face that wrecked 1000 ships and burned the towerless tops of Illium?”*

“Time passed again. I don’t know how long. I had no watch. They don’t make that kind of time in watches anyway.”
― Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely 

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Life goes on–rather monotonously. Some days are more exciting than others.

I had a nice birthday, if an unusual one. The OM informed me on Friday that he had completely forgotten about my birthday and that it was too late to do anything about it. I took the news like the adult that I am. I told him not to go to Walgreens and buy office supplies for me. He did don a mask and gloves to go to the grocery store where he bought some flowers and a cake. We barbecued.

Earlier in the day I talked to my DP and flowers were delivered from daughter #2 (who had also had the wherewithal to mail a present).

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I got an eGiftcard from daughter #1 for our local spa for whenever it re-opens (!) The boy, daughter #3 and the wee babes did a drive-by Andy’s frozen custard delivery.

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And Carla drove by to drop off wine and chocolate (the basics)!

After my work day ended and we dined, I watched John Wayne in Stagecoach (1939). What more could a girl ask for? Not much really.

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*Doc Boone in Stagecoach (1939)