dual personalities

Category: Poetry

A bushel and a peck

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Well, I have had a busy week! I even gave a talk to 150 people and lived through it. “I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,” wrote Paul to the Corinthians. “And my speech and my proclamation were not in words of wisdom.” This is always how I feel, but according to people in attendance, I did not embarrass myself.

I also went to an event after work for a friend who is running for City Council. Another thing I haven’t done in a long time–go out after work!

Later today, after work, the OM and I are taking the River Runner Amtrak train to Jefferson City.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 11.36.05 AM.pngWe’ll stay with daughter #1 and come home on the train on Saturday evening. Wild and crazy I know!

On Sunday I hope the wee babes will come over with their parents for an old-fashioned Valentine’s Day party like the ones daughter #2 alluded to in her post yesterday.

The wee babes have been wearing Valentine outfits all week.


Lottie is one of only a couple of girls in a class full of boys, so odds are she will make out like a bandit in the Valentine lottery. Unknown-2.jpegUnknown-3.jpeg

The wee laddie has a coterie of older girls (5 year olds!) who follow him around and tell him he’s cute. They can’t keep their hands off him. The acorn didn’t fall too far from the tree…



Love is in the air.

Anyway, have a good weekend! Watch a good romantic movie!

dive for dreams

or a slogan may topple you

(trees are their roots

and wind is wind)


trust your heart

if the seas catch fire

(and live by love

though the stars walk backward)

honor the past

but welcome the future

(and dance your death

away at this wedding)

never mind a world

with its villains or heroes

(for god likes girls

and tomorrow and the earth)

–e.e. cummings

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-10)

A little fishing village where there are no phones

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

–Billy Collins

Older readers will relate to this poem. I certainly do. Billy Collins wrote it when he was 58 and he is still going strong twenty years later, so take heart, right?

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In other news, my vestry retreat went well. It always helps when half the group stops at the Hofbrauhaus in Belleville, Illinois for happy  hour on the way to the retreat. (This is an Episcopal Church vestry after all.)

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I got home in time on Saturday to relax and recover, and on Sunday I got my laundry/ chores/puttering done. But I could definitely have used another day off. The wee babes came over for dinner with their parents and we had a merry time. At one point we were discussing the fact that the governor was in Florida for the Super Bowl and Lottie told me that her Noni and Papa (the other grandparents) were in Florida. I said, yes, I know. There are a lot of people in Florida. She looked at me and repeated what she had said, definitely with a tone.

I am a blockhead.

We did not watch the Super Bowl. Instead, after everyone had gone home, the OM and I watched The Matrix (1999) at the recommendation of the boy. I had never seen it! I enjoyed it, although I cannot say I really understood what was going on most of the time.Screen Shot 2020-02-03 at 1.43.34 PM.pngWell, I am trying to enjoy the warm spell we are experiencing until the next wintry mix assails us on Wednesday. Par for the course in flyover country!

Keep re-reading those books you’ve forgotten.

“We deliberately forget because forgetting is a blessing. On both an emotional level and a spiritual level, forgetting is a natural part of the human experience and a natural function of the human brain. It is a feature, not a bug, one that saves us from being owned by our memories. Can a world that never forgets be a world that truly forgives?”
― Tim Challies, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion

Painting by Jacob D. Wagner (American, 1852-1898)

“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

Is it Friday yet?

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And the robin flew

Into the air, the air,

The white mist through;

And small and rare

The night-frost fell

Into the calm and misty dell.


And the dusk gathered low,

And the silver moon and stars

On the frozen snow

Drew taper bars,

Kindled winking fires In the hooded briers.


And the sprawling Bear

Growled deep in the sky;

And Orion’s hair

Streamed sparkling by:

But the North sighed low,

“Snow, snow, more snow!”              –Walter de la Mare

Do you have plans for the weekend? We are going to the annual Elegant Italian Dinner at our church, which, you will recall, is the fundraiser for the youth mission trip. Big Doings. The boy and daughter # 3 are going with us. The wee babes will be in the nursery. If the weather cooperates, daughter #1 will drive in from mid-MO and join us. Since it is an Episcopal church, there will be a cash bar. Good times predicted and one of my first social “outings” in a long time.

In other news, Lottiebelle has continued to build towers…


“The biggest in the world!” with a little help from Daddy

…and the wee laddie continues to improve his driving skills…


And here’s some news you can use:

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Plus, I thought that this was real good.

Have a good weekend!

Pick a little, talk a little

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I have had a very busy week at work. I got a lot done there, but there’s not much to write about here. So here’s a Wendell Berry poem to ponder.

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Have a good weekend. It is raining here and it is supposed to continue into the weekend, maybe turning to snow at some point. I am sleeping in.

“The Gossips” by Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios, children’s author: wood block print on cloth for the Folly Cove Designers near Gloucester, MA.

Dear Santa Claus

And the Lord will guide you continually,
    and satisfy your desire with good things,
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters fail not.

–Isaiah 58:11 (RSV)

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What do you want for Christmas? All I want is the usual–for everyone in my family to be happy with the gifts I give them. I would also like my eyebrows and eyelashes to grow back. 😑

By the way, the wee babes turned three on Wednesday!

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They are still pretty little, but they’ve come a long way, haven’t they?

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One and a half pounds!

They never cease to amaze me.


Yes, Santa came to the NICU!

Although there are two weekends before Christmas, I know that this is the last weekend when I will actually be able to get much done, so that is my plan. Maybe we’ll even get the tree up. (Maybe not.) How about you?

While I am getting things done, I will be listening to Christmas music. Here’s one of my favorite carols, based on an old Longfellow poem, and sung by Casting Crowns.

You can read the poem here.

Release one leaf at break of day

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O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
–Robert Frost

I love October; it is my favorite month. But I feel that it is rushing by and that I am not able to savor its beauty. No long walks or day trips to mid-MO wine country. Well, c’est la vie. We do what we can.

This past weekend daughter #1 came for a short visit and we did get out on Saturday to a good estate sale where we did rather well. She got a chair and I got a Christmas present for someone. We also went out to lunch. And we met the wee babes at the local farmer’s market to watch them frolic on hay bales and in the corn box.


They also came over afterwards for pizza and more time with the dollhouse.


We were certainly living our best lives.

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The painting is Autumn Branches by Jan Schmuckal (found on Etsy.com).

True for you or me

Well, the kids are back in school. They’re back at my flyover university and in all the schools around town. I can tell because the traffic is different in the morning. Even the wee babes are back and loving it.


So much to do! So much to learn! Life is good.

In honor of being back in school, here is a poem by Langston Hughes…

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

(Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”)

Have a good weekend.  Go home and write/a page tonight./And let that page come out of you—Then, it will be true. 

With a bit of a grin

I was going to blog about our little trip on Saturday to Jeff City, but none of my pictures turned out very well. C’est la vie. I didn’t do much anyway–unwrapped a few boxes for daughter #1 in her very nice pre-war apartment, which I couldn’t help thinking, in her old neighborhood on the UWS, would be a million dollar apartment.


Two bedrooms, a sunporch, a living room, a dining room, full kitchen. Zut alors! And she can literally walk across the street to work. Well, she will have fun arranging all her stuff, and hopefully I helped a little.


I mostly reclined on the sofa, but I was exhausted when we returned home on Sunday.

Anyway, I will mention that today is the birthday of Edgar Guest (1881 – 1959) who, you may recall, was an American poet popular in the first half of the 20th century. His poems often had an inspirational and optimistic view of everyday life and he became known as the People’s Poet. No one ever reads him any more, but you could do worse.

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

This poem had a bit of a revival in 2012 when Idris Elba read it at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards show. It was cool again.

We can always use a reminder to think positive and just do it, right?

So brave a palace


Well, the wee babes went back to school this week. They were pretty excited about it.

As you can see, Lottiebelle is already co-leading the class…


Tomorrow the OM and I are heading down to Jefferson City to hang out at daughter #1’s new apartment. (Check out the new video on the JC Visitor’s Bureau webpage–JC is a happening place.) I’m sure we won’t be much actual help unpacking stuff etc, but we can lend moral support and give advice.

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Yeah, that lamp looks swell over there….

I am looking forward to a change of scenery!

Today I start a new, once-a-week chemo routine and I am hoping it is a bit easier than the last rotation. On verra bien.

For us the winds do blow,
The earth doth rest, heaven move, and fountains flow.
     Nothing we see but means our good,
     As our delight or as our treasure:
The whole is either our cupboard of food,
          Or cabinet of pleasure.

          The stars have us to bed;
Night draws the curtain, which the sun withdraws;
     Music and light attend our head.
     All things unto our flesh are kind
In their descent and being; to our mind
          In their ascent and cause.

          Each thing is full of duty:
Waters united are our navigation;
     Distinguishèd, our habitation;
     Below, our drink; above, our meat;
Both are our cleanliness.
  Hath one such beauty?
          Then how are all things neat?

          More servants wait on Man
Than he'll take notice of:  in every path
     He treads down that which doth befriend him
     When sickness makes him pale and wan.
O mighty love!  Man is one world, and hath
          Another to attend him.

          Since then, my God, thou hast
So brave a palace built, O dwell in it
     That it may dwell with thee at last!
     Till then, afford us so much wit,
That, as the world serves us, we may serve thee,
          And both thy servants be.
--George Herbert, from "Man"