dual personalities

Category: literaure

“Go not to the Elves for counsel”*

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A good name is better than precious ointment;
and the day of death, than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting;
    for this is the end of all men,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.
Surely oppression makes the wise man foolish,
and a bribe corrupts the mind.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not quick to anger,
for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money;
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
13 Consider the work of God;
who can make straight what he has made crooked?

(Ecclesiastes 7: 1-13)

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“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
― William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

“Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.” –Bob Dylan

“Mark it, nuncle.
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,
Set less than thou throwest,
Leave thy drink and thy whore
And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.”
― William Shakespeare, The Fool in King Lear (Act 1, scene 4)

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Be prepared.

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*J.R.R. Tolkien

Par for the course

As predicted, I had a very quiet long weekend. Daughter #1 got a lot done while she was here, but I spent the weekend reading and napping. No matter how much I nap, though, I never feel less fatigued. This is problematic and annoying, but par for the chemo course.

I re-read Rest and Be Thankful by Helen MacInnes, published in 1949, a novel which I found not to be dated, still relevant and very enjoyable. I started Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart (1956). We watched Hatari (1962) on two nights so we could maintain our 8:30 bedtime.

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You gotta love those baby elephants!

On Sunday night the boy brought the wee laddie over for a Labor Day barbecue. (Little Lottie was under the weather and stayed home with her mother.)



Best Book Ever

It is always fun/interesting to see one twin without the other. The wee laddie was well behaved and mellow, but we did have to have a lesson in not playing “catch” with the tator tots at the dinner table.


Daughter #1 headed back to Mid-MO on Monday morning and I continued with my reading/napping routine.

Can’t quite believe it’s September. I have a very busy week at work–here’s hoping I can get through it without too much ado. How is your week shaping up?

“They smiled at the good, and frowned at the bad, and sometimes they were very sad.”*


On Sunday Lottie got busy and took all the books off one bookshelf and made two giant book towers. Thankfully her daddy put all the books back (and dusted too). One of the books–The Illustrated Treasury of Children’s Literature (1955)–I took upstairs later and perused at my leisure. What a treasury, indeed! I recommend checking out some of these childhood classics. We forget how really good they are!

“Later on, when they had all said “Good-bye” and “Thank-you” to Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and for a long time they were silent.
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting to-day?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
― A.A. Milne,  Winnie-the-Pooh


On another note, daughter #1 and I went to an estate sale last weekend where we hit the  proverbial jackpot. We found 12 place settings of my mother’s Lenox china for $30!


No one wants fine bone china anymore! Noted. But some of us still do, and that is why we go to estate sales.  Quelle score.

Meanwhile it keeps raining here in flyover country and flash flooding happens, causing school districts to close! Enough already.

Have a safe Tuesday! Stay dry.

*Ludwig Bemelmans

“I will not afflict you with complaining.”*

IMG_6583.jpegGreetings from the land of the living. I am checking in while daughter #2 is busy in NYC. For several weeks after my surgery I was not reading much; it was difficult to focus.

I started slowly with poetry…FullSizeRender-1.jpg

and  moved on to old, familiar Kierkegaard and a wonderful new history by David McCullough…


Finally I made my way back to Moby-Dick and a recent biography of Melville. (Don’t you just love his face?)


I am not a STEMM person by any means, but genetics has always fascinated me, and this book is quite engaging and easy to read.


This is not to say that I spend all my time reading. Hardly. I wiled away many an hour in the first weeks of my recovery watching two seasons of sleep-inducing episodes of Murder She Wrote (better than any sleeping pill). When feeling more engaged, I have chuckled my way through several seasons of Corner Gas (2004-2009), a Canadian show about a small town in Saskatchewan where nothing much ever happens, which in my weakened state, I have found to be hilarious.

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 2.51.12 PMSometimes, when I am feeling really productive, I work on a new needlepoint project while I watch the telly.


This old Victorian chair is remarkably well suited for sitting in and sewing by a sunny window. And how about that  decoupaged side table I picked up at an antique mall a few months ago? How could I resist those tassels?

Chemotherapy commences tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

“An intense copper calm, like a universal yellow lotus, was more and more unfolding its noiseless measureless leaves upon the sea.” (M-D)

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

P.S. Here are a couple of pictures of the wee babes, because I know you have missed them, right?


*Lucy Backus Woodbridge, pioneer, quoted in The Pioneers by David McCullough

Send us now into the world in peace

Well, first this:


The dapper wee laddie had his fitting for the suit he will wear as the ring bearer at his aunt’s wedding in June. He seemed pleased with the look. I am not surprised, as his father always liked getting dressed up as well.

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He has always been at home in formal attire…

Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 4.18.32 PM.pngAnyway…my weekend was low key and fun.

The gabfest with my two old friends was wonderful but too short. I forgot to take a picture.

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(taken at an event I did not attend–love those flyover blonds!)

Daughter #1 arrived home in time to make margaritas at 5 pm. Then she played DJ and we listened to music. There is nothing I like better than to listen to favorite tunes chosen by someone else.

We went to church on Sunday morning and then she had to hurry back to mid-Mo as she was heading to KC bright and early on Monday morning. But first we sat on the patio at Club Taco under the blue, blue sky…


..and listened to our friends Gary and Don play some good, good music…


Good times…Meanwhile I am re-reading Moby-Dick and loving it. It is amazingly current and prescient.

This, shipmates, this is that other lesson; and woe to that pilot of the living God who slights it. Woe to him whom this world charms from Gospel duty! Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale! Woe to  him who seeks to please rather than appall! Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness! Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonor! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation! Yea, woe to him who, as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself castaway! (“The Sermon”)

Look to yourself, Episcopal Church.

Have a good week!

Something all glorious and gracious

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“…But it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky; and the air smells now, as if it blew from a far-away meadow; they have been making hay somewhere under the slopes of the Andes, Starbuck, and the mowers are sleeping among the new- mown hay. Sleeping? Aye, toil we how we may, we all sleep at last on the field. Sleep? Aye, and rust amid greenness; as last year’s scythes flung down, and left in the half-cut swaths – Starbuck!”

–Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter cxxxii – THE SYMPHONY

Just a reminder that the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birthday is coming up on August 1, 2019, so it is time to read/re-read Moby-Dick!

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…God only has that right and privilege. Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that. And yet, I’ve sometimes thought my brain was very calm – frozen calm, this old skull cracks so, like a glass in which the contents turned to ice, and shiver it. And still this hair is growing now; this moment growing, and heat must breed it; but no, it’s like that sort of common grass that will grow anywhere, between the earthy clefts of Greenland ice or in Vesuvius lava. How the wild winds blow it; they whip it about me as the torn shreds of split sails lash the tossed ship they cling to. A vile wind that has no doubt blown ere this through prison corridors and cells, and wards of hospitals, and ventilated them, and now comes blowing hither as innocent as fleeces. Out upon it! – it’s tainted. Were I the wind, I’d blow no more on such a wicked, miserable world. I’d crawl somewhere to a cave, and slink there. And yet, ’tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind! who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow. Run tilting at it, and you but run through it. Ha! a coward wind that strikes stark naked men, but will not stand to receive a single blow. Even Ahab is a braver thing – a nobler thing that that. Would now the wind but had a body; but all the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless, but only bodiless as objects, not as agents. There’s a most special, a most cunning, oh, a most malicious difference! And yet, I say again, and swear it now, that there’s something all glorious and gracious in the wind. These warm Trade Winds, at least, that in the clear heavens blow straight on, in strong and steadfast, vigorous mildness; and veer not from their mark, however the baser currents of the sea may turn and tack, and mightiest Mississippies of the land swift and swerve about, uncertain where to go at last. And by the eternal Poles! these same Trades that so directly blow my good ship on; these Trades, or something like them – something so unchangeable, and full as strong, blow my keeled soul along! To it! Aloft there! What d’ye see?”

–Chapter cxxxv – THE CHASE – THIRD DAY

“The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

(The artwork is by Rockwell Kent.)

“When we were very poor and very happy.” *

Today is the birthday of Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), who was quite a gal. Daughter of a Presbyterian minister, she moved with her family to Paris in 1901 when her father was appointed the assistant minister of the American Church in Paris  and director of the American student center. The family moved back to New Jersey in 1906. Sylvia served with the Red Cross during WWI and never returned to the States.

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Sylvia is best known today as the owner/founder of the bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris and as the original publisher of Ulysses by James Joyce. (She wasn’t afraid to publish it.) Ernest Hemingway was a big fan of hers, and famously said that she was nicer to him than anyone he ever met.

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I wrote a paper about Sylvia Beach when I was in college. That was when my father told me that he had sat on Gertrude Stein’s lap as an infant–his way of saying his parents were a part of all that in Paris in the twenties. They probably hung out at Shakespeare and Company. He never elaborated because why would he do that? C’est la vie.

Anyway, in reading up on Sylvia, I was reminded that although Shakespeare and Company remained open after the Fall of Paris, Beach was forced to close by the end of 1941.  But she never left. Indeed, she was held for six months during WWII at Vittel, an internment camp for enemy aliens of the German Reich, until  Tudor Wilkinson managed to secure her release in February 1942. Wilkinson was an American  art collector and amateur art dealer, who was born and raised right here in St. Louis, Missouri! In gratitude for her release, Sylvia gave Wilkinson a first edition of Ulysses signed by Joyce.

When daughter #1 was in Paris a few years back, she made a pilgrimage to the second incarnation of Shakespeare and Company which I much appreciated. I probably have a photo of that occasion, but, of course, I can’t put my hands on it now.

Well, it may be time to dust off my copy of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company and re-read it. I will toast Sylvia tonight. I wish I had some French wine.

*Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

The scattering winds

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For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth’;
and to the shower and the rain, ‘Be strong.’
 He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men may know his work.
Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.

–Job 37:6-10

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I am grateful that I work inside. And have an attached garage. And seat heaters in my car. I am grateful for a warm coat and gloves.

What are you grateful for?

A thrill of delight

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Books of natural history make the most cheerful winter reading. I read in Audubon with a thrill of delight, when the snow covers the ground, of the magnolia, and the Florida keys, and their warm sea breezes; of the fence-rail, and the cotton-tree, and the migrations of the rice-bird; of the breaking up of winter in Labrador, and the melting of the snow on the forks of the Missouri; and owe an accession of health to these reminiscences of luxuriant nature.

—Henry David Thoreau, “Natural History of Massachusetts”

Here’s to some cheerful winter reading!

The painting is “Vermont Valley Farm – Winter” by Aldro Thompson Hibbard (American, 1886-1972)

The camp-fires of the past

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A soft veil dims the tender skies,
And half conceals from pensive eyes
The bronzing tokens of the fall;
A calmness broods upon the hills,
And summer’s parting dream distills
A charm of silence over all.The stacks of corn, in brown array,
Stand waiting through the placid day,
Like tattered wigwams on the plain;
The tribes that find a shelter there
Are phantom peoples, forms of air,
And ghosts of vanished joy and pain.

At evening when the crimson crest
Of sunset passes down the West,
I hear the whispering host returning;
On far-off fields, by elm and oak,
I see the lights, I smell the smoke,–
The Camp-fires of the Past are burning.

–“Indian Summer” by Henry Van Dyke

The painting is “Summer in the Blue Ridge” by Hugh Bolton Jones. Hugh Bolton Jones (1848-1927) was an American landscape painter. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he received his early training as an artist. While studying in New York he was strongly influenced by Frederic Edwin Church of the Hudson River School.