dual personalities

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A cloud of witnesses

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter and managed to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord in some sort of positive style.

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The wee babes dressed up and had an egg hunt at their house, but couldn’t come over and see us (sigh). However, we were blessed to have daughter #1 drive home to “check on us.” We got dressed up and watched the Christ Church, Charlottesville, Easter service (Rite I with a trumpet!) on Sunday morning. I enjoyed it very much.

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We ate Episcopal soufflé, salad and croissants. We have had big family groups in the past, but we were grateful for the three of us to be together this year. We also worked on a jigsaw puzzle…

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…while listening to records. And then we watched Ben-Hur (1959).

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 12.42.49 PM.png All in all, a lovely weekend.

Now I am trying to get back into the working-at-home routine.

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I should eat more Cheerios.

And don’t think I have forgotten that today is the birthday of daughter #2! She is 30!

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She will be having her own baby soon and we can’t wait! It seems like yesterday that she was born on Easter Saturday.

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Sunrise, sunset…

We will toast her tonight…

God bless us, every one.

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

All glory, laud, and honor to thee, Redeemer, King!

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Well, I have been spending a lot of time in this room lately. Thankfully, I like this room. I like all the rooms in my house.

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And, as you can see, I like to see my favorite people around me.

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I haven’t seen my loved ones (except the OM) up close for over three weeks. We get daily texts…

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…describing their daily endeavors. Both daughter #1 and daughter #3 have been occupied making face masks. The boy brought two over for our use yesterday and he stood at the front door and we gabbed for a few minutes which was nice.

I have to say I am starting to really like my virtual church services from Charlottesville, Virginia–beamed in from afar. It is the bare bones of the service: the litany, the hymns, a sermon. I sing along and pray aloud. Maybe I am losing it, but I don’t think so. Our hometown rector says, when this is over and we can go back to church, we will have a big party (with booze, we’re Episcopalians) and I am all for it. But in the meantime, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the peace and quiet and the company of angels.

Sunday afternoon I spent a few hours watching the first half of Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth.

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I thoroughly enjoyed it and will watch the rest during the week. It is a great lead up to Good Friday.

A childhood friend of mine who has lived in Texas since college re-posted this on Facebook and I have to share it because I think it is spot on:

After the President’s news conference was over tonight, one of the reporters made the observation that for the first time in our nation’s history we won’t be celebrating Easter. Well let me tell you one thing, [the reporter is] dead wrong. We might not celebrate what Easter has become in that there may be no new clothes bought for that Sunday. We might not hide and hunt eggs in mass quantities. We may not travel home to attend church with our family. We might not see some folks at our worship services that we haven’t seen since Christmas, but we’re going to Celebrate Easter. As a matter of fact, every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Every time we assemble for worship we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pilate couldn’t kill Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. You think the Coronavirus is going to stop Easter? More people this year will hear the gospel than any other Easter before.

Easter is not just about special programs. Its not about the egg hunt or good lunch. It’s not about the trumpet call or the mass crowds. It’s the fact that we serve a living Savior who is still transforming lives today. Easter is not only about His resurrection, but our ability to rise with Him. Easter is about the hope of tomorrow and the gift of everlasting life. Yes indeed, we will celebrate. We’ll celebrate what God did for all of us at Calvary. How? By remembering Him. By loving Him. By worshipping Him. By praising Him. Easter for us is everyday. Let the celebration begin. Sing with me:

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He’s always near
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart

Happy Easter my friends!🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

In the meantime I will continue to “work remotely,” listen to Sinclair Ferguson sermons on YouTube while needlepointing, take walks and appreciate the beauty of spring.

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How about you?

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go…”*

…the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;

for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

They sang this hymn in the Morning Prayer service at Christ Church, Charlottesville, which I tuned into remotely as is my new Sunday morning routine. I do not mean to be disloyal to my own Grace Church, but it’s a nice change. Anyway, the words to this well-known hymn are perfect for our time. Read them all here.

So have you resorted to cleaning out drawers to amuse yourself yet? I have. I’m sure you can imagine the things I have found! Lots of snapshots from back in the days (the ’90’s) when we still used camera with film…

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… but survival cards for Southeast Asia?!

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…the Shakespeare Game?

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…and lots of half used candles (for emergencies) and coasters…so many coasters!

I also cleaned up the Florida room and moved all my plants out there.

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Ah, progress.

Besides all this sorting and cleaning, the OM and I went on an outing on Saturday to Lone Elk Park where we practiced social distancing with buffalo and elk.

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This drive-through park is perfect for this time of enforced isolation when the zoo and botanical garden are closed. Of course, lots of people had the same idea–the traffic was bumper to bumper!

Meanwhile the wee babes are hanging out at home, eating outside and studying remotely…

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…and you can picture me at the virtual salt mine…

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Take time to smell the flowers!

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*”How Firm a Foundation” attributed to Robert Keen, ca. 1787.

“Confusion to our enemies. Good luck to our friends.”*

Well, I have to say this telecommuting is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially considering we thought we could get into our offices on Friday, but now the situation is changed yet again and so on and so on. I am stressed to the max.

But what can we do but keep smilin’ through?

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So I will continue to self-medicate by watching my favorite movies and reading good books. Last night I watched My Darling Clementine (1946) which was on TCM. It is really a Top Ten best movie. (It was named the Best Foreign Film of 1948 by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. They got it right.) Good medicine indeed. Right now I am reading Hilary Mantel’s new book The Mirror and the Light and it is terrific. It is also a timely reminder that times have always been crazy and politics has always been a cut-throat business (literally in the 16th century).

‘I neglect no precautions,’ he had said. ‘The times being what they are, a man may enter the gate as your friend and change sides while he crosses the courtyard.’

Also, I thought this quote from C.S. Lewis was awfully good:

The war [WWII] creates no absolutely new situation, it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life.’ Life has never been normal.”

Found here–read the whole thing.

So keep smiling. You have a nice place to telecommute from and Rice-a-roni in the pan.

*Thomas Cromwell in The Mirror and the Light

“A little bit of this, a little bit of that”*

Quelle busy weekend–mostly spent cleaning and organizing. But I don’t hate that. I get a certain sense of accomplishment out of seeing my closet organized and putting a big bag of cast-offs in the trash cart. (Don’t worry, I also have an ongoing bag for the Vietnam Vets.) A place for everything and everything in its place–at least for a little while.

I also went to a workshop for “lectors”–we’re not supposed to say “lay readers” anymore–at church and it was okay. Not that I needed it! (haha) Our leader did make one pointed plea that lectors ought to look nice and wear appropriate attire in the Lord’s house. I know he was aiming this at one particular (very rich) guy who always looks like he has been driving his tractor around the south forty (as he also did on Saturday morning) before coming to church, but we all know it went right over his head.

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Que sera sera.

Speaking of church, on Sunday we were given instructions on how to pass the peace during the coronavirus scare (no touching!)…

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and how to take communion (no intincting!) Good grief.

This was reassuring.

We didn’t see the wee babes this weekend. Lottiebelle had been sick with the flu-b, but she was back at school on Monday in fine fettle…

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A new haircut I guess

Over the weekend we watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) continuing our Woody Strode tribute.

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It is such a great movie, although, as I’ve mentioned a zillion times, Jimmy Stewart is distractingly too old for his part. John Wayne is terrific though and well worth the price of admission. It is really a very sad movie, all about time passing and choices made and lost love. And we see that the media and politicians haven’t changed much (or improved) over the years.

Speaking of movies, Max Von Sydow died last week. Who can forget his portrayal of Jesus with a Swedish accent in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)? He was not that great in a not-so-good movie. But he was great in other movies, most notably in The Seventh Seal (1957), playing a 14th century knight who challenges Death to a game of chess in exchange for his life, which leads to an examination of whether or not God exists.

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In other news, today is Three Flags Day, which commemorates March 9 and 10, 1804, when Spain officially completed turning over the Louisiana (New Spain) colonial territory to France, who then officially turned over the same lands to the United States,  in order to finalize the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.

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On March 9, 1804, Amos Stoddard, the new U.S. lieutenant governor for District of Louisiana, and Meriwether Lewis arrived in St. Louis by boat and were met by the Spanish lieutenant for Upper Louisiana. The Spanish flag was lowered on March 9, and the French flag was hoisted to fly over the city of St. Louis for 24 hours. The French flag, initially supposed to have been lowered at sunset, remained under guard all night. The next morning, March 10, 1804, the American flag was raised. Huzzah!

A few weeks later on April 30, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed by Robert Livingston, James Monroe and Francois Barbe-Marbois at the Hotel Tubeuf in Paris. I’d say that deserves a toast!

Have a good week!

O Eternal God, who hast taught us by thy holy Word that our bodies are temples of thy Spirit: Keep us, we most humbly beseech thee, temperate and holy in thought, word and deed, that at the last we, with all the pure in heart, may see thee and be made like unto thee in thy heavenly kingdom; through Christ our Lord.

–A prayer from B.F. Wescott, whose feast day was yesterday.

*”Anatevka” from Fiddler on the Roof

“The morning stars sang together”

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To make suggests making something out of something the way a carpenter makes wooden boxes out of wood. To create suggests making something out of nothing the way an artist makes paintings or poems. It is true that artists, like carpenters, have to use something else—paint, words—but the beauty or meaning they make is different from the material they make it out of. To create is to make something essentially new.

When God created the creation, God made something where before there had been nothing, and as the author of the book of Job puts it, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (38:7) at the sheer and shimmering novelty of the thing. “New every morning is the love / Our wakening and uprising prove” says the hymn. Using the same old materials of earth, air, fire, and water, every twenty-four hours God creates something new out of them. If you think you’re seeing the same show all over again seven times a week, you’re crazy. Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before and never will be again. And the you that wakes up was never the same before and will never be the same again either.

-Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

The days seem to blend together, but we must be careful that we don’t look at them that way. Each day is a wonderful gift, isn’t it? My days at work are long but pleasant. I am grateful to have the stamina to stay all day. Evenings at home, after changing into my evening loungeware, are warm and comfortable. At the end of the day I am happy to climb into my cozy bed, read for a little while and then sleep through the night.

Sometimes, like this past Tuesday, the day goes against routine. The wee laddie came over after work and stayed with us while Lottiebelle went to her dance class. For awhile he and I picked up sticks in the front yard and gathered gumballs.

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 7.18.43 PM.pngThis was great fun and the little bud was very proud of his skills. We looked at the daffodils that are coming up and at the forsythia bushes which are budding. Everything is exciting and new when you are with a three year-old. After coming inside, we watched truck videos until daughter #3 came to pick him up.

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 7.27.29 PM.pngThis weekend I am going to a workshop for lay readers and to a couple of estate sales. I’m going to organize my closet and look at my spring clothes. I’m going to get things ready at home for daughter #2’s arrival next week. (She’s coming into town for a baby shower!)

Have a good weekend!

“What God may hereafter require of you, you must not give yourself the least trouble about. Everything He gives you to do, you must do as well as ever you can, and that is the best possible preparation for what He may want you to do next. If people would but do what they have to do, they would always find themselves ready for what came next.”
― George MacDonald

The painting is by Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, 1950

“So lift your head and keep singing/ Praise the Lord”

As of this morning, I only have two more radiation treatments! I should be finished next week on Tuesday. Praise the Lord. 🙏🙏🙏

Earlier in the week a friend from my former church gave me a prayer shawl which she had made. They have a Knitting Ministry at this church–their mission being “to offer fellow parishioners and friends tangible and spiritual love, comfort and prayers through the knitted objects that they make–Mantles of Comfort, Baby Blankets of Love and Chemo Caps.” I was touched to receive this mantle of comfort. I do feel “uplifted and affirmed.”

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Sunday is our mother’s birthday (along with Dolly Parton and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) so I thought I would feature this photo of her and my older brother from the Worcester Sunday Telegram in 1954.

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These days I am am looking a lot like my 3-year old brother here. At least my eyebrows and eyelashes have started to come back. Praise the Lord. 🙏🙏🙏

Thankfully the weekend is upon us. We are probably in for more bad weather, but in the words of the Puritan Anne Bradstreet, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

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I’m in.

*Mat Maher

One thing and another

As I have mentioned, I am reading the book of Luke, one chapter a day, in the month of December. I am enjoying it very much. It is all very familiar, but it is amazing how you forget specific things, such as this great passage in chapter 18:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

What a great reminder to all of us that we Pharisees need to be mindful of being sinners ourselves. “God be merciful to me a sinner!” indeed.

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 9.32.03 PM.pngIn other news, it took two days, but we finally got the big tree up! The boy came over twice!

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We had to go to Walgreen’s twice to buy more  lights! Are we getting old or what? Don’t answer that!

It is that time of year when TCM Remembers all the Hollywood types who have died during the year:

There are a lot of familiar faces in there, including Valentina Cortese, Albert Finney, Rip Torn, Stanley Donen, and, of course, Doris Day. I was surprised to see Herman Wouk included–I somehow missed that he died in his sleep at the age of 103 in May. He was an interesting guy who wrote some good books that were made into good movies. Also, it might be time to dust off The War Wagon (1967) in memory of Robert Walker, Jr., who played Billy, the demolition expert, so affectingly.

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Anyway, I also just heard about a dear friend and fellow Episcopalian who died shoveling snow earlier in the week. Ruby had to be in her mid-eighties at least, but no one was going to tell her not to shovel her own driveway. I always said that Ruby would have made a good pioneer and, indeed, she died with her boots on, literally. I will miss her so much.

Into paradise may the angels lead you, Ruby. At your coming may the martyrs receive you, and bring you into the holy city Jerusalem.

On the brighter side, daughter #1 comes home for Christmas today. Daughter #2 and DN are driving here from Maryland and should arrive on Monday.

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Even I am getting excited.

Tidings of comfort and joy

Here are the dual personalities back in 1959–sixty years ago! According to our mother’s penciled notation, the first picture was taken on Christmas Eve. I was dressed like an elf; I probably annoyed my brother.

img010.jpgThe snapshot below was taken on Christmas morning. I remember those dresses–they were red with white pinafores.

img011.jpgThe tree looks kind of sad, but I’m sure we thought it was beautiful. We had quite a haul from Santa.

I was 3 1/2, our brother was 8 1/2 and my sister had just turned one. Tomorrow is her birthday! We wish her a happy day.

In other news, we had a snow day yesterday. It snowed on Sunday and the weather folk presented dire predictions of ice and snow to come. The OM drove me to MoBap for my radiation treatment at 7:30 on Monday morning and we got there and home just fine. I had decided not to go in to work and it was a good call. It snowed most of the day.

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You can hardly tell, but it was really coming down here!

I got out the Christmas tree ornaments in anticipation of the boy coming over tonight to take the tree out of the garage, put it in the stand and hang the lights on it.

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I know, these pictures look the same every year. What can I say?

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We didn’t get a chance to see the wee babes over the weekend, but they did go to the NICU reunion Christmas party where they got to see Santa. The wee laddie had his doubts…

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…but Lottie was cool with it.

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 10.48.46 AM.pngThe boy also sent pictures of the babes frolicking in the snow on their snow day.

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“I can’t move my arms!”

Well, that was fun, but here’s hoping MODOT has done its job and we can all get to work today!

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I only have three work days ’til I am off for the holidays, and I can’t wait!

Humble and hearty thanks

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

– 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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He has been through a lot in his 33 years…

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…but he knows that adversity builds character.

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

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

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

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

–BCP, A General Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!