Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Resolutions for the New Year

1. Start Fresh

2. Drink Deep

3. Run With the Wind*

4. Live in the "Golden Envelope of Light"**

Spiced Coffee at Town & Gown Bistro

"Gilgamesh, whither rovest thou?
The life thou pursuest thou shalt not find.
When the gods created humankind,
Death for us they set aside,
Life in their own hands retaining.
Thou, Gilgamesh, let full be thy belly
Make thou merry by day and by night.
Of each day make thou a feast of rejoicing,
Day and night dance thou and play
Let thy garments be sparkling and fresh,
Thy head be washed, bathe thou in water.
Pay heed to the little one that holds thy hand,
Let thy spouse delight in thy bosom,
For this is the task of humankind.

~From The Epic of Gilgamesh ~ Tablet X
~Translated by E. A. Speiser

For additional New Year Poems:

"i am running into a new year" by Lucille Clifton
** "in celebration of surviving" by Chuck Miller

see my current post

Ghost of Myself

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony


Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Patience Larger Than Time

Three Grandmothers

After Epiphany . . . the Flight Into Egypt

Could these grandmothers be the Wise Ones,
departing "for their own country another way?"

Could this family's decision be to
"take the young child and . . . flee to Egypt?"
(Matthew 2: 12 - 14)

A Decision to Move

Both pantings by Yerbolat Tolepbay (b (1955)
At the National Museum of Kazakhstan

Neither look back upon Thy starry country,
Nor hear what rumors crowd across the dark . . .
Go, Child of God, upon the singing desert,
Where, with eyes of flame,
The roaming lion keeps thy road from harm . . .

~ Thomas Merton ~


. . . O terrified birds in your nest,
Close wings on doubt, and rise, and come.
The corn shimmers with darkness, and the road
Is strong enough to bear the feet of God. . . .
. . . knowing at last . . .
A patience larger than time.

~ Vincent Buckley ~

Click to read more poems
about the flight into Egypt


National Museum in Astana, Kazakhstan
By Night

By Day

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Three More Wise Ones

Words of Ancestors ~ Bakhytzhan Myrzakhmetov
Canvas & oil, 1997
1. The Three Kings

Where do we go from here?
We left our country,
Bore gifts,
Followed a star.
We were questioned.
We answered.
We reached our objective.
We enjoyed the trip.
Then we came back by a different way.
And now the people are demonstrating in the streets.
They say they don’t need the Kings any more.
They did very well in our absence.
Everything was all right without us.
They are out on the streets with placards:
Wise Men? What’s wise about them?
There are plenty of Wise Men,
And who needs them?—and so on.

Perhaps they will be better off without us,
But where do we go from here?

~ Muriel Spark (1918 - 2006)
Silk Road ~ Sagyntai Alimbetov
Canvas & oil, 1998
2. Christmas Carol

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.

The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs—
They had not any gold.

The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.

The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.

The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.

The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.

~ Sara Teasdale (1884- 1933)
Golden Steppes ~ Kazakbay Azhibekuly (b 1966)
Canvas & oil, 1997
3. St. Helen’s Prayer
to the Three Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany

Everyone in Jerusalem remarked on Helena’s vigour. The old lady was positively indefatigable, they all said. But in truth she was very weary. Winter set in. The convent was exposed, damp and chill. It was not thus, in Dalmatia, that she had planned her old age. She seemed to have come to the end of her questions. No one was helpful. No one was hopeful. At Christmas she had not the strength to ride out with the procession to Bethlehem. She went to communion in the convent chapel and that day allowed the nuns to make a fuss of her, spending the feast crouched over a wood fire which they lit for her in her room.

But by Twelfth Night she rallied and on the eve set out by litter along the five rough miles to the shrine of the Nativity. There was no throng of pilgrims. [Bishop] Macarius and his people kept Epiphany in their own church. Only the little community of Bethlehem greeted her and led her to the room they had prepared. She rested there dozing until an hour before dawn when they called her and led her out under the stars, then down onto the stable-cave, where they made a place for her on the women’s side of the small, packed congregation.

The low vault was full of lamps and the air close and still. Silver bells announced the coming of the three vested, bearded monks, who prostrated themselves before the altar. So the long liturgy began.

Helena knew little Greek and her thoughts were not in the words nor anywhere in the immediate scene. She forgot even her quest and was dead to everything except the swaddled child long ago and those three royal sages who had come from so far to adore him.

“This is my day, she thought, “and these are my kind.”

Perhaps she apprehended that her fame, like theirs, would live in one historic act of devotion; that she too had emerged from a kind of ‘ουτοπία’ [Utopia] or nameless realm and would vanish like them in the sinking nursery fire-light among the picture-books and the day’s toys.

“Like me,” she said to them, “you were late in coming. The shepherds were here long before; even the cattle. They had joined the chorus of angels before you were on your way. For you the primordial discipline of the heavens was relaxed and a new defiant light blazed among the disconcerted stars.

“How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculations, where the shepherds had run barefoot! How odd you looked on the road, attended by what outlandish liveries, laden with such preposterous gifts!

“You came at length to the final stage of your pilgrimage and the great star stood still above you. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod. Deadly exchange of compliments in which there began that unended war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent!

“Yet you came, and were not turned away. You too found room at the manger. Your gifts were not needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life there was room for you too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.

“You are my especial patrons,” said Helena, “and patrons of all late-comers, of all who have had a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.

“Dear cousins, pray for me,” said Helena, “and for my poor overloaded son [the Emperor Constantine himself, who was still unbaptized]. May he, too, before the end find kneeling-space in the straw. Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly. And pray for Lactantius and Marcias and the young poets of Trèves and for the souls of my wild, blind ancestors; for their sly foe Odysseus and for the great Longinus.

“For His sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the Throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.”

~ Evelyn Waugh (1903 - 1966)
from Chapter 9 ~ “Epiphany” ~ of his novel Helena
Thanks to Peter Bunder
for including this selection for Epiphany
in the Good Shepherd Bulletin
on Sunday, 14 January 2018


All artwork above from the
President`s Center of Culture & Museum
Astana, Kazakhstan


More Magi
Medellín Magi
Magi and Fruitcake
"The Magi" ~ Peter, Paul & Mary

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Medellín Magi

Huge Wise Ones from the Medellín Alumbrados ~ 2016

"Three for the kings
bringing gold, bringing myrrh, bringing incense . . . "

1. Song of the Camels
Not born to the forest are we,
Not born to the plain,
To the grass and the shadowing tree
And the splashing of rain.
Only the sand we know
And the cloudless sky.
The mirage and the deep-sunk well
And the stars on high.
To the sound of our bells we came
With huge soft stride,
Kings riding upon our backs,
Slaves at our side.
Out of the east drawn on
By a dream and a star,
Seeking the hills and the groves
Where the fixed towns are.
Our goal was no palace gate,
No temple of old,
But a child on his mother's lap
In the cloudy cold.
The olives were windy and white,
Dust swirled through the town,
As all in their royal robes
Our masters knelt down.

~ Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893 – 1986)

2. The Journey Of The Magi
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

~ T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)
Collected Poems, 1909-1962
This poem has been shared here under fair use guidelines.

3. The Meeting Place
(after Rubens: The Adoration of the Magi, 1634)
It was the arrival of the Kings
that caught us unawares;

we'd looked on the woman in the barn,
curiosity you could call it,
something to do on a cold winters night;
we'd wished her well—
that was the best we could do, she was in pain,
and the next thing we knew
she was lying on the straw
—the little there was of it—
and there was a baby in her arms.

It was as I say the Kings
that caught us unawares—
Women have babies every other day,
not that we are there—
lets call it a common occurrence though,
giving birth. But Kings
appearing in a stable with a
'Is this the place?' and kneeling,
each with his gift held out towards the child!

They didn't even notice us.
Their robes trailed on the floor,
rich, lined robes that money couldn't buy.
What must this child be
to bring Kings from distant lands
with costly incense and gold?
What could a tiny baby make of that?

And what were we to make of it?
was it angels falling through the air,
entwined and falling as if from the rafters
to where the gaze of the Kings met the child's
—assuming the child could see?

What would the mother do with the gift?
What would become of the child?
And we'll never admit there are angels

or that between one man's eye and another's
is a holy place, a space where a king could be
at one with a naked child,
at one with an astonished soldier.

~ Christopher Pilling (b 1936)
[I first heard this poem, given as a reading
entitled "A Soldier’s Recollection," at
Ex Cathedra, 21 Dec 2017, Birmingham, UK]

More Magi
Three More Wise Ones
Magi and Fruitcake
"The Magi" ~ Peter, Paul & Mary

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Sun Returns

Sunrise on the 10th Day of Christmas

The Winter Solstice was two weeks ago and Earth's perihelion is today. Is it just a coincidence that the Earth is closest to the Sun a mere two weeks after the shortest day? Yes, mostly, kind of. It was not ever thus; it will not be ever so, just as the North Star will not always be Polaris, no matter how constant it may seem to be in our day and age.

I'm reminded of that mystical line in "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," when the Messiah arrives "Late in time." Or even better, the closing stanza of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear":

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold . . .

(Wikipedia & The New Oxford Book of Carols give this version)

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold . . .

(this version from the Episcopal Hymnal &
The Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook)

Lyrics by Edmund H. Sears (1810 - 1876)

Peter, Paul, and Mary capture the mystery in their prophetic lyrics:

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle.
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed
In the weaving of your fingers . . .

We are "invited by our culture and by the shortened days to a time of reflection" (Peter Bunder). On one of the darkest nights, the Child is born. Fast away the old year passes, and the days hasten on. A fortnight later, the Wise Men arrive, the days lengthen visibly, and we shift our focus to yet another ever - circling year.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Time to Travel

Pereunt et Imputantur
"The hours pass and are reckoned to our account."

Sundial in St. Augustine, Florida ~ February 2017
This motto also appears on clocks
in Cornwall, Exeter, and Oxford.
[Variously translated: lost and counted, vanished yet evident]

I finished the calendar -- "Time to Travel" -- in time for the New Year! Thanks to my daughter - in - law Cathleen for suggesting a theme of random favorites from various trips over the last few years. As we plan for new destinations in 2019, the calendar pages will bring to mind our previous wanderings and inspire us farther down the road.

(photo taken 26 April 2016)
Clock Face at Old St. Mary's ~ San Francisco

(photo taken January 2016)
Perfect Spot for Xmas Dinner ~ New York City

(photo taken January 2015)
A Town Frozen in Time ~ Bruges, Belgium

(photo taken February 2017)
Garden Wall ~ Nassau, Bahamas

(photo taken September 2018)
Cousin Johnny Bristow's Pub ~ Edinburgh

(photo taken June 2017)
Chinese Garden of Friendship ~ Sydney, Australia

(photo taken August 2017)
World Expo ~ Astana, Kazakhstan

(photo taken June 2014)
Sunrise at McCarran Airport ~ Las Vegas

(photo by Sam, taken July 2018)
A Vista Fit for Kings ~ Colorado

(photo taken November 2018)
Autumn in Bay Village ~ Boston

(photo taken November 2015)
The Castle Bright & Beautiful ~ Dublin

(photo taken December 2016)
Alumbrados ~ Medellin, Colombia

Everyday Custom & Ceremony ~ 2012
Mona's Clothes ~ 2012
Moons of Wintertime and Beyond ~ 2013
Never Quite the Same ~ 2014
Homes That We Love ~ 2014
814 ~ Where It Was Almost Always Christmas ~ 2015
Time for a Moondance ~ 2015
Love Me, Love My Cats! ~ 2015
A Day in the Garden ~ 2016
Team McCartney ~ 2017
Full Moon Night ~ Full Moon Year ~ 2017
Wishing You Were Here ~ 2018
Time to Travel ~ 2019

Friday, December 28, 2018

Product Placement

Clever Christmas Candy

Homemade is good, but so is store-bought!
Miniature British Christmas Puddings from Grandpa Ron

Gluhwein, Wassail All Over the Town

Cute Collectibles ~ Gotta Catch 'Em All!

Gluhwein Mugs ~ Christkindlmarket, Chicago

Previous Visits: 2011 ~ 2012 ~ 2013

For more fun Christmas Mugs
see my recent post

Past Three O'Clock

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mince Spies

Happy Christmas To All & To All A Mince Pie!
Thanks to Elisabeth Keller Green for the festive photo!

A Christmas Cracker Joke from Sam:

Q: Who hides in the bakery during Christmas?

A: Mince Spies!


Q: What makes the perfect midnight
or after - midnight snack?

A: Mince pies!


Past Three O'Clock

past three o'clock,
on a cold frosty morning,
past three o'clock,
good morrow masters all.

born is a baby
gentle as may be,
son of the Eternal
Father supernal.

seraph choir singeth,
angel bell ringeth,
hark how they rhyme it,
time it and chime it!

mid earth rejoices
hearing such voices.
ne'ertofore so well
carolling nowell!

hinds o'er the pearly
dewy lawn early
seek the high stranger
laid in the manager.

cheese from the dairy
bring they for Mary,
and, not for money,
butter and honey.

light out of star-land
leadeth from far land
princes, to meet him,
worship and greet him.

myrrh from full coffer,
incense they offer;
nor is the golden
nugget withholden.

thus they: i pray you,
up sirs, nor stay you
till ye confess him
likewise and bless him.

Old English Carol
by George Ratcliff Woodward (1848 - 1934)


A Package for Mom


From The Quotidian Kit &
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Winter Wonder

Winter Solstice yesterday!

Full Moon today!

The last time these two events fell within twenty - fours of each other was 2010 -- see my post "Eclipse, Moon, Snow, Solstice." This year we don't get an eclipse, nor is there snow in the forecast, but two winter wonders out of four is plenty enough to celebrate!

It's too bad that this Bethany Lowe ceramic pattern seems to have become entirely unavailable. I have two mugs, but it would be so nice to have these larger serving pieces for the season. The colors combinations are lovely -- the silhouettes against the pastels, and the depicted activities convey the celebratory tone of the Winter Solstice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Pomegranate Reminded Me

One of several fabulous pomegranate
ornaments hanging on my Christmas tree!

How to Cut a Pomegranate
[Read by the poet]

"Never," said my father,
"Never cut a pomegranate
through the heart.
It will weep blood.
Treat it delicately, with respect.

Just slit the upper skin across four quarters.
This is a magic fruit,
so when you split it open, be prepared
for the jewels of the world to tumble out,
more precious than garnets,
more lustrous than rubies,
lit as if from inside.
Each jewel contains a living seed.
Separate one crystal.
Hold it up to catch the light.
Inside is a whole universe.
No common jewel can give you this."

Afterwards, I tried to make necklaces
of pomegranate seeds.
The juice spurted out, bright crimson,
and stained my fingers, then my mouth.

I didn’t mind. The juice tasted of gardens
I had never seen, voluptuous
with myrtle, lemon, jasmine,
and alive with parrots’ wings.

The pomegranate reminded me
that somewhere I had another home.

by Imtiaz Dharker (British poet, born in Pakistan 1954)


Another pomegranate, behind the nutcracker:

So many more favorites!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Even Cowgirls

Cowgirl Keychain from my friend Eve.
I gave the little boot to my dad decades ago --
and now it has found its way back to Christmas tree.

Even cowgirls get the blues sometimes --
especially around Christmastime.

A couple of ways to cheer yourself up:

1. Read the novel by Tom Robbins

2. Sing along with Emmylou Harris:

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Sung by Emmylou Harris

She's a rounder I can tell you that
She can sing 'em all night, too
She'll raise hell about the sleep she lost
But even cowgirls get the blues

Especially cowgirls, they're the gypsy kind
And need their laid on 'em loose
She's lived to see the world turned upside down
Hitchin' rides out of the blues

But even cowgirls get the blues sometimes
Bound to don't know what to do sometimes
Get this feelin' like she's too far gone
The only way she's ever been

Lonely nights are out there on the road
Motel ceiling stares you down
There must be safer ways to pay your dues
But even cowgirls get the blues

Even cowgirls get the blues sometime
Bound to don't know what to do sometimes
Get this feelin' like she's too far gone
The only way she's ever been

Even cowgirls get the blues sometime
Bound to don't know what to do sometimes
Get this feelin' like the restless wind
The only way she's ever been

Lyrics & music by Rodney Crowell

Friday, December 14, 2018

Turning Towards the Solstice

As the earth turns towards the solstice, so do we:

The white dove of winter
sheds its first
fine feathers;
they melt

as they touch
the warm ground
like notes
of a once familiar

music; the earth
shivers and
turns towards
the solstice.

Linda Pastan, American Poet (b 1932)


For more Wintry Solstice Imagery
see my current post

Shorter by the Day

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony


Previous Linda Pastan Posts
Turning Towards the Solstice
Dogwood Days
Your Poem
Let Us Eat Quickly
Kiss Today
What Do Writers Want?

Shorter by the Day
Dogwood, Spring and Fall
Lucky Rock

Emily From Different Angles

Monday, December 10, 2018

Happy Hanna Day

Hanna Andersson Holiday Patterns:
Gnomes & Reindeer
Recipe for Christmas Pudding

You can't see much of it, but this is my
Hanna Andersson dress for moms ~ Summer 1990

Ben & Sam in their almost - matching
Hanna Andersson Vests ~ Christmas 1997

My Boy Dolls:
Ben (1990) & Sam (1993) in Sailor Suits
& Hanna Andersson Pilot Caps