dual personalities

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Hey, Big Mike is a grandpa!

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Grandparenthood is pretty great, right?

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Have a good Tuesday!

“Stay calm, have courage and wait for signs”*

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 2.01.32 PM.pngWell, there is bound to be a big let-down after a big event that you have planned for so long…IMG_5623.JPG.jpegIMG_5935.JPGIMG_5933.JPGIMG_5934.JPGIMG_5936.JPGIMG_5940.JPG…and I am in the middle of it. Good grief, two weeks of non-stop socializing with family and friends and people staying in your house…IMG_5585.JPG.jpeg

IMG_5596.JPG.jpegBut c’est la vie. This past weekend I did very little but straighten up the house and do laundry. I still have more straightening to do, but I made a lot of progress.

I also spent a good amount of time with my new best friend Walt Longmire, who has joined the ranks of my small club of Best Fictional Characters Ever (Holden Caulfield, Philip Marlowe, Dick Summers…). The book (NOT to be confused with the television show) I just finished was As the Crow Flies, which ends with Walt’s daughter getting married in a traditional Cheyenne ceremony.

…the two birds I’d noticed were crows circling right above the meadow, the primaries of their wing tips spread like fingers as they rode the thermals that lifted them into the cloudless sky.

Maybe it was an omen, but I decided to take it as a good one. I’d heard that crows mate for life and are known to raise their young for as long as five years.

Sometimes you don’t get that long.

I thought about Audrey Plain Feather and how her life hadn’t turned out the way she’d hoped–maybe nobody’s did.

My wife Martha’s hadn’t. Mine hadn’t. Even Henry’s hadn’t.

Maybe Cady’s would.

It’s hopes like this that you cling to at major turning points in your life and, more important, the lives of your children. You keep going, and you hope for the best, and sometimes, maybe not very often, your hopes come true.

I also watched Red Beard (1965) directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune. I had read about this film on the Mockingbird website and knew it was a favorite movie of the Rev. John Zahl, but had never seen it or really heard much about it. Indeed,  the British Film Institute’s 2015 list of “10 Essential Kurosawa Films” did not feature Red Beard. But there is a Criterion Films DVD and so I got it from Netflix.

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And let me tell you, this is a great, great movie! It poses the question, “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” The answer is illusive, as we know, but there is solace to be found in knowing that there are, indeed, good people in the world. This is the lesson learned by several characters in the movie including the protagonist, a young, arrogant doctor played by Yuzo Kayama. Red Beard, Toshira Mifune, is one of the good people.  He has learned to overcome his own arrogance in order to love people where they are and to help them. It reminded me of Sunday’s Gospel, where Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 30)

Indeed, the movie is about love and grace and is absolutely amazing. There are so many great scenes–I tear up just thinking about them!–such as the scene where the clinic serving women scream the name of the dying child (“Chobu!”) down the well to pull his soul back from the dead. Do not put off seeing this great movie because it is three hours long and you think you are not in the mood for a “downer” movie. It is inspiring. Also, I was struck by the acting in this movie, which is so, so good and rather subdued by Japanese standards.

Anyway, I just loved it and highly recommend it to you. I watched it alone, of course. The OM left after half an hour to water the shrubs. I guess he wasn’t in the mood.

But, hello. Someone left this “toast prop” at my house!

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It’s the simple things, right?

*Cheyenne motto

On the road again

We’re home safe and sound from our epic road trip to the Midwest. It was a grueling drive full of huge trucks and lunatic speedsters, but at least some of the denizens of the highway had the right idea.

Taken through the rear window of the car. The cross is alight.

We had a wonderful time at our niece’s wedding, which was perfect in every way!

Maid of honor, mother of the bride and dual personality, bride’s sister-in-law, beautiful bride and her adorable nephew

Friends and family caught up over a delicious dinner,

and I got plenty of baby-time!

I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was having too much fun. Many guests, including our aunt and cousin, brother and sister-in-law (next to me in the picture above), and son #1 (who gets no photo), left town the next day, but the DH and I were lucky enough to stay with my dual personality through July 4th.

We visited Grant’s Farm, where we saw a large tortoise sprint across its enclosure (no kidding. The picture doesn’t do it justice).

We did some antiquing with great results if not good photos. Five minutes before the store closed I discovered (and then bought) this wonderful etching of Edwin Booth!

On the fourth of July we celebrated with a barbecue and fireworks. True to their family heritage, the twins faced the commotion with aplomb and the latest in baby fashion (look at those shoes!).

I must say that it was really nice to be back in the Midwest, where people are friendly, proud to celebrate the 4th of July, and unashamed to wave a flag. But all good things must come to an end, and we headed home on the 5th. I’ll save the story of our adventures in Ohio’s antique world for next week. In the meantime, you can think of me re-adjusting to my quiet, North Country life.

Have a great week!

Oh boy, this is the day

Here a few pics of the day before the nuptials got rolling…fullsizerender-6.jpgFullSizeRender-8.jpgIMG_8385.JPGFullSizeRender.jpgFullSizeRender-13.jpgFullSizeRender-7.jpgAnd a beautiful day it was! More pictures on Monday…

Daughter #1 heads back to NYC tonight and I have no plans this weekend beyond getting my house back in order and catching up on episodes of NYPD Blues on my DVR.  And, hey, I haven’t watched a movie (except 21 Jump Street the other night) in two weeks!

Meanwhile the newlyweds are halfway into their “honeymoonshine”–Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 6.23.56 AM.png…a leisurely drive through Kentucky to Virginia and on to the Outer Banks.

Have a good weekend!

(The wedding photos were taken by my pal Becky.)

Welcome back to the land of the living

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Going back to work today…so a real post will (hopefully) appear tomorrow! Zut alors–what a week!

Two better hemispheres

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The Good-Morrow

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?

Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

 

–John Donne

I am off for a week of wedding merry-making! Check back next week for photos of the Big Day.  L’chaim!

“God, the best maker of all marriages,
Combine your hearts in one.”
—King Henry V, Act V

“Velvet I can wish you For the collar of your coat And fortune smiling all along your way”*

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The sign’s up at the boy’s store! He’ll be open for business shortly. Can you believe it?

When it rains, it certainly pours.

Did I just mention rain? I didn’t mean to…

More on this exciting mercantile development later.

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Right now we are trying to focus on the upcoming nuptial events later this week.

But More I Cannot Wish You
Than to wish you find your love
Your own true love this day
With a sheeps’ eye
And a lickerish tooth
And strong arms
To carry you away.

*More I Cannot Wish You, Frank Loesser

“Trouble with you is The trouble with me”*

I spent the weekend cleaning my house so it will be spic and span for all the people who will be arriving this week for the nuptials on Saturday.

The OM and I did make it down to Forest Park on Saturday morning…

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to go to the new exhibit at the Art Museum before it opens to the general public.

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It was pretty special, and I enjoyed our cultural outing.

1-Reigning-Men-1024x682.jpgWe stopped at First Watch on the way home and I enjoyed my avocado toast. Then we headed home and back to gussying up the homestead.

The weather, of course, was absolutely perfect this weekend. God knows (literally) what next weekend will be like. C’est la vie.

I went to church because I was filling in for a friend as the intercessor. They have switched over to Enriching Our Worship, the modern “supplement” to the BCP, for the summer. “The liturgy is intended to expand the language, images and metaphors used in worship in a more contemporary and gender inclusive way.” Just shoot me. I guess I will be taking the rest of the summer off. I’m sure no one will miss me or my rolling eyes.

We watched Long Strange Trip (2017), the Amazon documentary about the Grateful Dead.

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I like the Grateful Dead as much as the next person my age, and Jerry Garcia was a fellow Episcopalian after all, but I was frankly shocked to find out the extent of his drug addiction and the longterm use of psychedelic drugs by the band. As usual, I am not cool enough to understand the Dead. I wasn’t in high school and nothing has changed.

Anyway, I can’t really recommend the documentary. The OM watched the whole four hours (!) but I baled and went back to Absaroka County and reading about Walt Longmire, who, as we know, is more my cup of tea.

And this little guy can now turn over from his back to his tummy. Brilliant.

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Enjoy your Monday. Nate and Susie arrive today!

*Casey Jones, Robert C. Hunter, Jerome J. Garcia

You Can Relax

During my epic attic clean-out, of which you will hear more in up-coming weeks, I discovered a small booklet by Norman Vincent Peale titled, You Can Relax (I believe that it belonged to my grandmother Cameron). Here’s a picture of NVP relaxing at his desk.

Since my niece’s wedding is ONE WEEK AWAY and the intervening days are bound to be a little fraught (so much to do, so many people traveling!), I thought it timely to share some of Mr. Peale’s advice. It’s really pretty good. I won’t include it all, but here are some choice suggestions:

  1. Drain Your Mind. Use “the vacuum cleaner prayer” for this: “Dear Lord, by the power of Thy spirit draw now from the unseen crannies and crevices of my soul the dust of the world which has settled there.”
  2. Relax Muscle Tension. This involves some stretching and breathing exercises.
  3. Don’t Take Tomorrow to Bed with You. Don’t think about what you have to do; repeat the Bible verse, Matthew 6:34 “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
  4. Practice the Presence. When you wake up in the middle of the night, assume that the Lord wants to tell you something. Lie there quietly and when He has spoken go back to sleep.
  5. Tranquilize Your Thoughts. This does not involve drink or drugs. Rather, NVP suggests that you hum or sing a tranquil hymn with words like “Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease.”
  6. Relax by Positive Thinking. Before you go to bed affirm, “I am going to enjoy a sound and restful night and will waken with renewed energy and eager zest for tomorrow’s activities.” When you wake up in the morning reaffirm your intentions for the day.
  7. Drop Relaxing Bible Verses into your Mind. Whenever you start to feel anxious, repeat “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself” (Psalm 37:7), or something like it.
  8. Add up Your Blessings. Remind yourself of all that you have to be thankful for.
  9. Become the Expert Forgetter. Don’t hold grudges — let them go. Forget all annoys you.
  10. Rocked in the Everlasting Arms. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (Psalm 55:22).

There. That’s better, isn’t it? Don’t you feel more relaxed? Many people find Norman Vincent Peale schmaltzy and out-of-date these days — or at least embarrassingly religious — but personally I think it’s far superior to most self-help advice (aka pseudo-mystical, self-indulgent, New Age navel gazing). Just saying.

Stay tuned for pre-nuptial excitement and remember, all is well and all manner of things are well. And don’t forget to cultivate an “eager zest” for life!

 

 

This and that

Tomorrow (June 24) is the 141 anniversary of the formal opening in 1876 of Forest Park here in my flyover hometown.

This 1,380-acre tract had been purchased by the city a year earlier for just under $800,000. Because more than 1,100 acres of its land was forested, the name Forest Park was agreed upon. At the time of its purchase the park was considered ridiculously far from the city–of which it is now a central and integral part. The Republic reported that the opening of the park “was something of a revelation to the public, very many having then for the first time become aware what a really beautiful place the park is, and what delightful possibilities of lovely landscape it possesses.”*

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1915 glass plate photo by Thomas Kempland

Well, Forest Park has always been important to me since the days of my youth when we lived just a hop, skip and a jump from it. We never went there without a parent–it wasn’t deemed safe enough, not after our older brother famously lost his fishing rod when some thug took it and tossed it into the pond.  But a trip to the Art Museum or the Zoo was always fun whether planned or spur-of-the-moment. When I had my own children, we also went frequently. There are still a lot of fun things to do there.

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In fact, it may be time to venture back for a visit this weekend. (This is opening.)

This also brings to mind memories of the wedding of the boy and daughter #3 almost five years ago…

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…which reminds me that a week from tomorrow is daughter #2’s Big Day! And I am freaking out just a little.

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Bear with me.

*St. Louis Day by Day, Frances Hurd Stadler