dual personalities

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing*

Friday is here. I have a few fun things planned this weekend–a belated birthday adventure primary among them. The rest of the time I will spend recovering from the week and catching up on vacuuming etc.

I am also belated in reporting that June is Leslie Howard month on TCM, so check out the schedule every Monday night. Coming up on 6/11:

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 1.05.25 PM.pngI will definitely watch Pygmalion (1938) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)!

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 1.12.11 PM.pngI will also note that Sunday is Judy Garland’s birthday (b. 1922) so you might want to watch The Wizard of Oz (1939)…

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 7.18.42 PM.png…which really is one of the all-time great movies of all time. (It’s in my top 5!)

Side-note: I read an  interesting essay by Salman Rushdie recently about The Wizard of Oz (the movie) and how he saw it when he was 10 years old and how it really got him started on his literary career. It was a good essay, but there was one thing about which I really disagreed with him. He said he never could stand Toto!

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 7.27.21 PM.pngI think Toto is one of the great dogs in movie history and smarter than most of the people in the film. He saves the day over and over. I would like a dog like Toto. Unfortunately, most dogs are not actually that smart.

And, excuse me, is there a trampoline in Busch Stadium?

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How do they do that?

Have a good weekend!

*James Weldon Johnson

Be yourself

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Jill Conway died last week. Here’s her obit in the NYT. She became the first female president of Smith College when I was a sophomore and I have to say I never really appreciated her until I was about to graduate. In her speech at the baccalaureate service at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel she told us to do what we wanted to do and not to worry about what we thought we should do. She said, in so many words, if you want to stay home and raise a family, do it. If you want to have a career, do it. Which is what my own mother had always said. It was quite freeing to hear it from Jill Ker Conway.

Be yourself. Don’t try to measure up to someone else’s vision of what you should be. Good advice. She was called a trailblazer, but really, she just didn’t want anyone telling her what she could or couldn’t do.

By the way, the Helen Hills Hills Chapel is really no longer a chapel. There is no longer a minister on staff.

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It is just a “large space…for formal gatherings.” They have “coordinators;” it is a “center.” Please. When this change occurred quite a long time ago, I gave up on my alma mater and I do not support them, financially or in any way. I certainly never encouraged my daughters to go there! Tant pis, mais c’est la vie.

But as for Jill Conway, Into paradise may the angels lead you. At your coming may the martyrs receive you, and bring you into the holy city Jerusalem. 

Pray and work

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This is the gospel of labor—ring it,

Ye bells of the kirk

The Lord of Love came down from above

To live with the men who work.

This is the rose he planted, here

In the thorn-cursed soil;

Heaven is blest with perfect rest, but

The blessing of earth is toil.

–Henry Van Dyke

(found on the Three Iron Nails blog)

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Vincent Van Gogh, The Sower (1988)

“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

–Martin Luther

“Good human work honors God’s work. Good work uses no thing without respect, both for what it is in itself and for its origin. It uses neither tool nor material that it does not respect and that it does not love. It honors nature as a great mystery and power, as an indispensable teacher, and as the inescapable judge of all work of human hands. It does not dissociate life and work, or pleasure and work, or love and work, or usefulness and beauty. To work without pleasure or affection, to make a product that is not both useful and beautiful, is to dishonor God, nature, the thing that is made, and whomever it is made for. This is blasphemy: to make shoddy work of the work of God. But such blasphemy is not possible when the entire Creation is understood as holy and when the works of God are understood as embodying and thus revealing His spirit.”

–Wendell Berry (Christianity and the Survival of Creation)

I have a stressful day ahead at work today. Pray and work. All will be well!

Postcards from Nashville

Nashville. as you know, is a very swinging place and always fun to visit. We stayed downtown this weekend so we could walk everywhere.

Friday afternoon we staked out good seats at a bar in sight of the river and people watched. We were amazed by the huge amount of bachelorette parties, i.e. groups of young women in matching tank tops sporting some cute bachelorette-themed saying, short shorts and cowboy boots. Ahem. (There were also large groups of young men–not wearing matching shirts.) The main attraction looked alarmingly like someone we know:


From there we moved on to the Wildhorse Saloon, which although huge, is not so loud and intense.


The crowd is more middle-aged and the line-dancing lessons are a spectacle in themselves.


The next day we walked around town and over the river for a good view of the city.



We checked out the Johnny Cash Museum and were very impressed.


We had lunch at the Ryman…


…and generally had a lot of fun reacquainting ourselves with Music City. Eventually we had to go back to our hotel to get gussied up for the wedding.


We did not look like this for long, as it was pretty warm in the airplane hangar in hipster East Nashville where the wedding reception was held.



Don’t worry, we stayed hydrated.

The parents of the groom had rented an RV, which was parked out back to be used by a select few to cool off, which we did.


Despite the heat, it was so much fun! And the bride and groom were lovely…

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Thankfully, the OM did not burn down the house, but held the fort while we were gone and rested up. We made it home in time to enjoy our usual Sunday night barbecue with the wee babes and their parents.


Little Miss Lottie is so focused! She loves her vintage figures…


The wee laddie not so much…he is a wind-up toy!


Well, I definitely needed a day to recover, but no way, José!


Have a good week!

“Gotta get back to Nashville / ‘Cause that’s where the good times are”*


Daughter #1 and I made it home from Nashville on Sunday and are back at our respective salt mines. More pics tomorrow!

*Everly Brothers

There’s a white line in the distance*

Today daughter #1 and I are hitting the road and heading to Nashville (sans the winded, but soldiering-on, OM) to celebrate our friend Andrew’s wedding. Hopefully we will have a chance to visit a few of our favorite spots in Music City, such as…

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the Johnny Cash Museum…

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and the Wildhorse Saloon…

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In Nashville one can drop the highbrow pretense and just have fun.

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If we are feeling hipster-ish, we can hit The Gulch. There is an antique mall there, after all. But I doubt we are cool enough.

We may be driving in the rain today, so please say a little weather prayer for us travelers!

BTW, we were distracted and missed mentioning Bob Dylan’s 77th birthday last week. but any day (including today) is a good day to toast old Bob.

*Bob McDill, On the Road

Of the progress of the souls of men and women

We like to say that tempus fugit, but can it really be 199 years since Walt Whitman was born?!


A toast to Walt (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892), American poet!

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
 (from Song of the Open Road)
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Chad’s Ford Landscape by N.C. Wyeth

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Wind from the Sea by Andrew Wyeth

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The Winding Road by Ernest Lawson

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The Road Heading Home by Lee Macleod

Hey, it might  be time for a road trip. Sounds like a good idea to me!

“Pray, and let God worry.”*

“I have decided the two options for me are (1) to torment myself or (2) to trust the Lord. There is no earthly solution to the problems that confront me. But I can add to my problems, as I believe I have done, by dwelling on them.”

–Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

We had a health scare with the OM over the long weekend which ultimately turned out to be not that scary, treatable, not a death sentence, etc. But, oh brother, it was another reminder to wake up every morning, rejoicing in the day, make the most of it, and trust in the Lord!

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*Martin Luther

What are you reading?


The wee laddie likes to be read to, but he also likes to turn the page (mostly likes to turn the page) and so it is not easy to read a book to him fast enough. We will persevere. Lottie likes to be read to also. If they are playing on the floor and I start reading aloud, they will stop what they are doing and come over and climb up on the sofa and listen. Not for too long, if I don’t turn the pages fast enough, but for a little while. This is a good thing.

I was talking to one of my students the other day, one who graduated from our alma mater 10 years ahead of me (and so is in her 70s). We were talking about her parents who are both 96 and about to celebrate their 75 wedding anniversary! I’m not sure how we got on the subject, but she was telling me about how her father was a great one for reading to his three children when they were growing up. He read to them until they were practically teenagers and always in the dialect/accent of the character. They all loved it. He is still reading aloud, all these years later, in our Shakespeare class. She admitted that he practices at home. I can hear him sometimes through the wall of my office and it warms my heart.

The only time I read aloud these days (except occasionally to the wee babes) is in church. This past Sunday, because it was the long holiday weekend I suppose, attendance was spotty. In fact, one of the assigned lay readers did not show up! So after a pregnant pause in the service, I jumped up and headed to the lectern to read, unrehearsed, from the letter of Paul to the Romans:

 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness  with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (8: 12-17)

How I do love old St. Paul and all his commas! I did all right and 90-year old Shirley told me after the service that I had made a good catch.

Never stop reading!

Laying down the bunt

Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) is the federal holiday in the United States when we remember the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

So today I recommend watching They Were Expendable (1945), John Ford’s loving paean to the U.S. Navy, specifically the PT boat unit, Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, defending the Philippines from Japanese invasion during World War II. It is a case study in how to do wartime propaganda, but it is beautifully understated and moving.

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Robert Montgomery was never better.

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[After the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, he joined the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander, and served on the USS Barton (DD-722) which was part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. He knew all about PT boats and the men who served on them; he helped direct the movie.]

John Wayne is, of course, terrific:

And the supporting characters are played by John Ford regulars, including Ward Bond, Jack Pennick, and the always wonderful Russell Simpson. Here he is watching the departing sailors after he refuses to go with them, preferring to stay and defend his property from the Japanese who are closing in.

Has “Red River Valley” ever been used more effectively? John Ford always gave his supporting players a chance to shine and they really do in this movie.

Gracious God, we give thanks for military men and women, both from the past and present, and for their courageous service and sacrifice to our country and its people to secure the blessings of life, liberty, and justice for all. May our remembrance be a timely reminder that our freedom was purchased at high cost, and should not be taken for granted. Give us resolve to labor in faithful service to you until all share the benefits of freedom, justice, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP)

Enjoy the rest of the three-day weekend!