dual personalities

Category: Quotes

What are you reading?

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The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things, she decided, wondering how many writers and philosophers had said this before her, the trivial pleasures like cooking, one’s home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.

–Barbara Pym, Less Than Angels

Today we celebrate the birthday of English author Barbara Pym (1913–1980) whose novels usually feature church ladies and are laced with irony. Quelle relateable, n’est-ce pas?

You can read more about her here. Guess I know what’s next on the docket.

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It’s going to be hot here the next couple of days.

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I keep forgetting it’s June…so for Pete’s sake, of course, it’s going to be hotter. Somehow, it still feels like it should be March.

Well, hang in there.

“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

Sackcloth and ashes

Daughter #1 usually posts on Wednesdays, but since she is on the road, traveling around the state, I am pressed into service.

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The OM and I went to the pancake supper at church last night as we usually do on Shrove Tuesday. No wild parties for us. Just pancakes–good times.

Now, on to Lent.

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Here are some wise words from Frederick Buechner to get us thinking for the 40 days of Lent:

In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness, where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

Is there any person in the world or any cause that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are, but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.

Whistling in the Dark

Well, there’s some food for thought.

“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

The thoughts you think

This made me laugh…

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newyorksocialdiary@instagram.com

And I have to agree with this…

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vegaslady42@instagram.com

I am not on Facebook or Twitter, but I do have an Instagram account, so I know about wasting time. But as you can see, it is not all a waste of time.

Classes have started up again at my flyover institute. Busy, busy again. Thankfully I got all my Christmas decorations taken down and stored away over the weekend. The OM and the boy even took the extra leaf out of the dining room table and the wee laddie freaked out, screaming that they were breaking the table (“my table”). Who knew he felt so strongly about the table? Life can be very disturbing.

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The wee babes are back in school too. It’s good to get back to a normal routine.

And lest we forget:

“When bad news is riding high and despair in fashion, when loud mouths and corruption seem to own center stage, when some keep crying that the country is going to the dogs, remember it’s always been going to the dogs in the eyes of some, and that 90 percent, or more, of the people are good people, generous-hearted, law-abiding, good citizens who get to work on time, do a good job, love their country, pay their taxes, care about their neighbors, care about their children’s education, and believe, rightly, as you do, in the ideals upon which our way of life is founded.”

― David McCullough, The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For

Yes.

“Hold the selfies, put the Gram away/ Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray”*

 

IMG_4072.JPGOn Friday I received my copy of Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout in the mail. It was a quick read and I finished it in a day. It was a big disappointment. All of the reviews I have read have been raves, so I am in a distinct minority it seems.

Olive, Again is a sequel to Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, which I loved. I have liked most of her books and almost all of them are tied up in this one. Indeed, in a series of linked short stories, we find out what happens to all those Maine characters who have populated her books. What we find out, basically, is that they are all frightened and lonely people with no spiritual life. It is a bleak world where nothing has much meaning. At the end of the book, Olive writes (spoiler alert!), “I do not have a clue who I have been. Truthfully, I do not understand a thing.”

I could go on, but it is just kind of depressing, so why bother.

Anyway, despite reading this disappointing book, daughter # 1 and I got quite a lot done this weekend, tidying up the house for daughter #2’s visit this coming weekend. I even persuaded the OM to hang up a pair of new drapes in my office. I got them on Etsy.com and I think they look great.

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We also watched Ghostbusters (1984) which I thought held up very well and is kind of a classic at this point.

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The scene at the beginning in the New York Public Library…

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reminded us of Lottie…LOL!

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“No human being would stack books like this.”

Meanwhile, the boy had a fine time at the wedding in Rye, New York.

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There he is to the right of the bride

And now he is home again, home again, jiggety jig.

And now I am back to wondering what to read. Have a good week!

“I don’t myself think much of science as a phase of human development. It has given us a lot of ingenious toys; they take our attention away from the real problems, of course, and since the problems are insoluble, I suppose we ought to be grateful for distraction. But the fact is, the human mind, the individual mind, has always been made more interesting by dwelling on the old riddles, even if it makes nothing of them. Science hasn’t given us any new amazements, except of the superficial kind we get from witnessing dexterity and sleight-of-hand. It hasn’t given us any richer pleasures, as the Renaissance did, nor any new sins-not one! Indeed, it takes our old ones away. It’s the laboratory, not the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. You’ll agree there is not much thrill about a physiological sin. We were better off when even the prosaic matter of taking nourishment could have the magnificence of a sin. I don’t think you help people by making their conduct of no importance-you impoverish them. As long as every man and woman who crowded into the cathedrals on Easter Sunday was a principal in a gorgeous drama with God, glittering angels on one side and the shadows of evil coming and going on the other, life was a rich thing. The king and the beggar had the same chance at miracles and great temptations and revelations. And that’s what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own little individual lives. It makes us happy to surround our creature needs and bodily instincts with as much pomp and circumstance as possible. Art and religion (they are the same thing, in the end, of course) have given man the only happiness he has ever had.”
― Willa Cather, The Professor’s House 

*Kanye West, “Closed on Sunday”

Walking along in the changing-time

Last Sunday was the Pedal the Cause bicycle event which the boy participated in for the third year, riding 20 miles in the PTC Classic. It was very hot.

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I did not go this year, because there is a little too much walking involved, but I was thinking of him and proud of him per usual.

My weekend was quiet. Daughter #1 was home and accompanied me to my chemo treatment, along with the boy who comes with me every Friday. I am very grateful to have such support! We stopped at Chik-fil-a on the way home. Then the boy went to work and daughter #1 went to Ikea and I went to bed.

I read a lot of Longmire.

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I hung up a new wreath (from Etsy) because fall is here.

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I have always loved those “Chinese Lanterns,” don’t you? One of these days I’m gong to try growing my own.

News flash: not only is fall here, but it is October! Zut alors!

“When they turned off, it was still early in the pink and green fields. The fumes of morning, sweet and bitter, sprang up where they walked. The insects ticked softly, their strength in reserve; butterflies chopped the air, going to the east, and the birds flew carelessly and sang by fits.

They went down again and soon the smell of the river spread over the woods, cool and secret. Every step they took among the great walls of vines and among the passion-flowers started up a little life, a little flight.

‘We’re walking along in the changing-time,’ said Doc. ‘Any day now the change will come. It’s going to turn from hot to cold, and we can kill the hog that’s ripe and have fresh meat to eat. Come one of these nights and we can wander down here and tree a nice possum. Old Jack Frost will be pinching things up. Old Mr. Winter will be standing in the door. Hickory tree there will be yellow. Sweet-gum red, hickory yellow, dogwood red, sycamore yellow.’ He went along rapping the tree trunks with his knuckle. ‘Magnolia and live-oak never die. Remember that. Persimmons will all get fit to eat, and the nuts will be dropping like rain all through the woods here. And run, little quail, run, for we’ll be after you too.’

They went on and suddenly the woods opened upon light, and they had reached the river. Everyone stopped, but Doc talked on ahead as though nothing had happened. ‘Only today,’ he said, ‘today, in October sun, it’s all gold—sky and tree and water. Everything just before it changes looks to be made of gold.’

“The Wide Net”
― Eudora Welty

Have a golden week.

 

Party postcards

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Our mother was a great believer in having parties–small parties with family and a few friends maybe–but parties nonetheless. When we were little, there were usually favors. I tried to continue this tradition with my own family. It encourages celebrating the little things as well as the big things in life and helps everyone keep a positive outlook.

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So when Herman Melville’s 200 birthday was coming up, it just seemed liked a great excuse to have a party. We gave everyone plenty of notice to start reading Moby-Dick (or, okay, something shorter) and we started planning.

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We didn’t let a cancer diagnosis stop us. Daughters #1 and 2 took the reins, and by the time last weekend rolled around they had things well in hand. When DN arrived on Friday we were cooking with gas. Everything fell into place, although the caterers were late, but DN dealt with that, and when guests starting arriving, the Typee Punch was ready to go…

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We toasted the great Melville and then ate dinner.

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We gathered again to listen to the great Gary play hornpipes on his mandolin…IMG_0996.jpeg

And then almost everybody read their own Melville selection, which represented a variety from Billy Budd and Bartleby to The Confidence Man and, of course, Moby-Dick. No one had chosen the same thing to read. DN read from a Melville essay about Hawthorne which included the often quoted “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation” in context which I loved.

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Our favorite Method Actor channels Stubb killing a whale

I think everyone had fun and I was flattered that my friends had humored me in my whimsy. And a few people went outside their comfort zones and read some Melville!

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Huzzah. It takes very little, to have a lot of fun.

So keep reading…and keep celebrating!

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And there were favors!

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Nobody had more class than Melville. To do what he did in Moby-Dick, to tell a story and to risk putting so much material into it. If you could weigh a book, I don’t know any book that would be more full. It’s more full than War and Peace or Brothers Karamasov. It has Saint Elmo’s fire, and great whales, and grand arguments between heroes, and secret passions. It risks wandering far, far out into the globe. Melville took on the whole world, saw it all in a vision, and risked everything in prose that sings.  You have a sense from the very beginning that Melville had a vision in his mind of what this book was going to look like, and he trusted himself to follow through all the way. (–Ken Kesey, interviewed in “Ken Kesey, The Art of Fiction No. 136” by Robert Faggen in The Paris Review No. 130 (Spring 1994)

Hanging out

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Which DP is that? It must be “Great-Aunt Sarah”!

Well, the dual personalities have been hanging out and gabbing away for several days now…

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…talking over the events and people of our shared lives. We haven’t dined out or visited any points of interest or gone shopping or anything.

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And now, on to another round of chemo.

The question is not whether the things that happen to you are chance things or God’s things because, of course, they are both at once. There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak — even the walk from the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before, even the moments when you cannot believe there is a God who speaks at all anywhere. He speaks, I believe, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of our selves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys. We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music. Sometimes we avoid listening for fear of what we may hear, sometimes for fear that we may hear nothing at all but the empty rattle of our own feet on the pavement. But be not affeard, says Caliban, nor is he the only one to say it. “Be not afraid,” says another, “for lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He says he is with us on our journeys. He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began. Listen for him. Listen to the sweet and bitter airs of your present and your past for the sound of him.

–Frederick Buechner, from The Sacred Journey 

Mid-week inspiration

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Most loving Father, who willest us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of thee, and to cast all our care on thee who carest for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which thou hast manifested unto us in thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

–William Bright (1824–1901), English ecclesiastical historian and Anglican priest

“Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure. The way you think about a fact may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. You are overcome by the fact because you think you are.”
― Norman Vincent Peale

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” –Oswald Chambers

“Ultimately the only answer God gave to Job was a revelation of Himself. It was as if God said to him, “Job, I am your answer.” Job was not asked to trust a plan but a person, a personal God who is sovereign, wise, and good. It was as if God said to Job: “Learn who I am. When you know me, you know enough to handle anything.”
― R.C. Sproul, Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

–Psalm 116:7 (NIV)