dual personalities

Category: reading

What are you reading?

Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 9.55.51 PM

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.


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

Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 8.57.07 PM

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.

Mish mosh*


We had our first snow of the season yesterday and, in fact, I had to call off afternoon classes and send everyone home early.  It is always a bit weird, though, when it snows and most of the leaves are still on the trees. The temperature dropped 40 degrees from what it had been over the sunny weekend.

Daughter #1 came into town on Friday because she was part of the big Veterans Day doings at the Soldiers Memorial downtown on Saturday.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 2.20.10 PM.png

Members of the Scottish-American Military Society

I liked what Chris Pratt wrote about his older brother, a vet, on his Instagram:

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 2.19.20 PM.png

And this great picture of the Queen with her poppies. She remembers.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 6.45.23 AM.png

scottmeachamwood @Instagram

I had my last chemo treatment on Friday and it was a surprisingly emotional experience to ring that bell and say goodbye to all those nice people who work in the Cancer Center at Missouri Baptist Hospital.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 2.26.12 PM.png

Well, on to the next phase.

Over the weekend I re-read Delano Ames’ Corpse Diplomatique which I thoroughly enjoyed. Jane and Dagobert Brown are very diverting amateur sleuths and Jane is always saying things like:

I glanced at him witheringly and risked no comment. But Henry did not wither readily.

And we watched The Ten Commandments (1956). It is hard to beat Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner together in a movie.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 3.32.06 PM.png

Be still my heart.

This movie holds up remarkably well and the pre-CG special effects–the parting of the Red Sea in particular–are impressive. I will also note that Yul Brynner was also in the King and I and Anastasia in 1956. Seriously–wow–quelle year.

The wee babes came over Sunday night for dinner, but no one took any pictures!

Today I will remind you is the 359th anniversary of the day John Bunyan was arrested and taken into custody for preaching in a Puritan meeting house in England. He was convicted as a dissenter and spent 12 years in jail. While there, he began a book–The Pilgrim’s Progress.

“Mr. Worldly-Wiseman is not an ancient relic of the past. He is everywhere today, disguising his heresy and error by proclaiming the gospel of contentment and peace achieved by self-satisfaction and works. If he mentions Christ, it is not as the Savior who took our place, but as a good example of an exemplary life. Do we need a good example to rescue us, or do we need a Savior?”

No surprise that it is still in print and read all over the world. It’s a story that never gets old. My denomination is full of Worldly-Wisemen, that’s for sure.


Stay warm and drive safely.

*Yiddish for a motley assortment of things

“I simply gotta march/ My heart’s a drummer”*

We had a beautiful day for our local Greentree Parade on Saturday.


Vrooom, vrooom!

The wee laddie got quite a kick out of all the army trucks and tractors etc…


And Lottiebelle made the round of laps…IMG_1044.jpegIMG_3225.JPGIMG_4041.JPG

After the parade we went home for Episcopal soufflé and Prosecco. Daughter #1 didn’t want birthday cake so we had donuts…IMG_3241 2.JPGThe wee laddie approved.


Daughter #1 liked her presents especially this one…

59017712068__D087EFD0-7A50-411E-8C1A-7969D73F5820.JPGIt was a fun day and a fun weekend and on Sunday I even managed to go to a couple of estate sales with daughter #1. I rescued a needlepoint  pillow!


The good news for today is that the 15th Walt Longmire novel is being released and I should get it in the mail today!

Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 4.05.56 PM.png


See you on the trail.

*Bob Merrill/Jule Styne

“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.

WRC 2.jpeg

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.

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 2.09.18 PM.png

(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!

The Second-Fastest Boy Runner in the World

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 10.36.09 AM.png

I was thinking about this ‘anecdote’ the other night and looked it up to read. It always reminded me so much of the boy when he was…a boy…and also, what I imagined my grandfather Bunker to be like.

It’s an Anecdote, sink me, but I’ll let it rip: At about nine, I had the very pleasant notion that I was the Fastest Boy Runner in the World. It’s the kind of queer, basically extracurricular conceit, I’m inclined to add, that dies hard, and even today, at a supersedentary forty, I can picture myself, in street clothes, whisking past a series of distinguished but hard-breathing Olympic milers and waving to them, amiably, without a trace of condescension. Anyway, one beautiful spring evening when  we were still living over on Riverside Drive, Bessie sent me to the drugstore for a couple of quarts of ice cream. I came out of the building at that very same magical quarter hour described just a few paragraphs back. Equally fatal to the construction of this anecdote, I had sneakers on–sneakers surely being to anyone who happens to be the Fastest Boy Runner in the World almost exactly what red shoes were to Hans Christian Andersen’s little girl. Once I was clear of the building, I was Mercury himself, and broke into a “terrific” sprint up the long block to Broadway. I took the corner at Broadway on one wheel and kept going, doing the impossible: increasing speed. The drugstore that sold Louis Sherry ice cream, which was Bessie’s adamant choice, was three blocks north, at 113th. About halfway there, I tore past the stationery store where we usually bought our newspapers and magazines, but blindly, without noticing any acquaintances or relatives in the vicinity. Then, about a block farther on, I picked up the sound of pursuit at my rear, plainly conducted on foot. My first, perhaps typically New Yorkese thought was that the cops were after me–the charge, conceivably, Breaking Speed Records on a Non-School-Zone Street. I strained to get a little more speed out of my body, but it was no use. I felt a hand clutch out at me and grab hold of my sweater just where the winning-team numerals should have been, and, good and scared, I broke my speed with the awkwardness of a gooney bird coming to a stop. My pursuer was, of course, Seymour, and he was looking pretty damned scared himself. “What’s the matter? What happened?” he asked me frantically. He was still holding on to my sweater. I yanked myself loose from his hand and informed him, in the rather scatological idiom of the neighborhood, which I won’t record here verbatim, that nothing happened, nothing was the matter, that I was just running, for cryin’ out loud. His relief was prodigious. “Boy, did you scare me!” he said. “Wow, were you moving! I could hardly catch up with you!” We then went along, at a walk, to the drugstore together. Perhaps strangely, perhaps not strangely at all, the morale of the Second-Fastest Boy Runner in the World had not been perceptibly lowered. For one thing, I had been outrun by him. Besides, I was extremely busy noticing that he was panting a lot. It was oddly diverting to see him pant.

–J.D. Salinger, Seymour an Introduction

Classic Salinger. I love it. So. Much.

“Curiosity is what separates us from the cabbages.”*

In case you didn’t know, a lot of things happened on February 13.

1542: Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, was executed for adultery.

1689: William and Mary, were proclaimed co-rulers of England.

1945: RAF bombers were dispatched to Dresden, Germany to attack the city with a massive aerial bombardment.

1955: Israel obtained four of the seven Dead Sea Scrolls.

1990: An agreement was reached on a two-stage plan to reunite Germany.

Yes, these are but a few of the interesting historical things you can find out more about if you are so inclined.

It is also the birthday of Chuck Yeager (b. 1923)– WWII flying ace and test pilot who famously broke the sound barrier.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 5.40.45 PM

Sam Shepard played him in The Right Stuff (1983). Yeager wrote an autobiography called Yeager: An Autobiography, which I think I will read. I will certainly toast him tonight.

“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up, but you don’t give up.”

On a personal note regarding things in the history genre: the other day, while perusing the latest issue of Missouri Conservationist, I came across an interesting article about Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who made an amazing 900-mile trek 200 years ago into what is now southern Missouri and northern Arkansas to learn more about the lead mining potential in the area. This was Osage country then and pretty wild. There were not a lot of white settlers around, just scattered cabins. It was easy to get lost and he and his partner did, several times.


Fascinating in itself, but, hey, look:


Matney’s Cabin! This is about the time our own Matneys were in Arkansas, having journeyed from western Virginia. (Our great-great-great grandmother Susanna Matney was, in fact, born in Arkansas in 1818!) Was this the cabin of William Matney, our great-great-great-great grandfather? Well, this got me started looking further into it and there is a Matney Knob in Arkansas on the White River that today features a beautiful Ozark Highlands Trail.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 8.47.33 PM.png

I also ordered Schoolcraft’s book, so I shall see what he had to say about Matney’s Cabin. (Probably not much. It is a travel journal, after all.)

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 8.42.43 PM.png

The world is more than we know.

And this was adorable: the wee laddie on Instagram…

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 9.01.54 PM.png

*David McCullough

What are you reading?


I read a lot and I am always looking for something new/old to read. Right now I am reading A Light in August by William Faulkner, which I have never read before. We’ll see how far I get.

Here are a few things to read from around the internet:

From the gee-no-kidding department.

This was interesting!

Here’s a picture of John Wayne and his daughter Aissa on the set of Hatari! (1962). He loved to have his kids with him on set/location. Sometimes they even had a little part in the film. She looks just like him.

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 5.12.03 PM.png

And this was a good thought from Conan O’Brien:

I had a great conversation with Albert Brooks once. When I met him for the first time, I was kind of stammering. I said, you make movies, they live on forever. I just do these late-night shows, they get lost, they’re never seen again and who cares? And he looked at me and he said, [Albert Brooks voice] “What are you talking about? None of it matters.” None of it matters? “No, that’s the secret. In 1940, people said Clark Gable is the face of the 20th Century. Who [expletive] thinks about Clark Gable? It doesn’t matter. You’ll be forgotten. I’ll be forgotten. We’ll all be forgotten.” It’s so funny because you’d think that would depress me. I was walking on air after that.

Stay humble.

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 6.00.17 PM.png

Enjoy your Thursday. Friday is just around the corner!

“Strive for the greater gifts”*

My weekend did not turn out as planned due to my ungainly fall outside an estate sale on Saturday morning. I was okay, just shaken up a bit, but I went home and stayed home.  I was grateful not to have broken anything, but falling makes one feel old and clumsy. It wasn’t even ice that tripped me up, but an uneven brick walk. C’est la vie.

At home I iced my knee, and worked in my office. I also got out my copy of Eudora Welty’s Collected Stories and read several, including “A Worn Path,” which was referenced in a story I linked to in a post last week.


Old Eudora is so good and I encourage you to revisit her oeuvre.

The OM and I watched Scottish movies: Dear Frankie, Whisky Galore! and Tunes of Glory. As it turned out, Brigadoon (1954) was on TCM, but I only saw the last 20 minutes. (That was enough.)

I went to the annual meeting at church–


and stayed for the cake after church. (Those are cupcakes surrounding the cake–not a terribly appetizing display.)


Then I went home and wrote some notes and mailed some photos to my daughters. (I still believe in snail mail.)


A 90+ year-old lady at work frequently exhorts me to have copies of photos printed and not just keep everything on my phone. Periodically I do that and I bring them in to show her. She is right, of course.

The wee babes and their parents came over per usual for Sunday night tacos.


And Lottie found all the bunnies (Dedham pottery)–so many bunnies!


Back to the salt mine today, limping but ready to go.

*I Cor. 12:31