Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quotidian Transformation and Renewal

See my recent
Fortnightly Posts

~ Tools for Everyday Use ~
"You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie," I said. Dicie is my sister. She named Dee. We called her "Big Dee" after Dee was born.

"But who was she named after?" asked Wangero.

"I guess after Grandma Dee," I said.

"And who was she named after?" asked Wangero.

"Her mother," I said, and saw Wangero was getting tired. "That's about as far back as I can trace it," I said. Though, in fact, I probably could have carried it back beyond the Civil War through the branches.

from "Everyday Use"
by Alice Walker

~ Crones At Last ~
" . . . give to the women of our time
the strength to persevere,
the courage to speak out,
the faith to believe in you beyond
all systems and institutions
so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty,
so that men and women become whole . . .

We call on the holy women
who went before us . . . "

from "A Litany of Women for the Church"
by Joan Chittister
and on
Kitti's Book List

~ My Strange Quest ~
" . . . the death of the Author leads of the rise of the auteur, showing that even in an ungoverned universe there is usually someone in charge. By having the scenery fall down a great deal and keeping other cameras in shot they proved that the films were fictions simply about themselves, and indeed this was a time when all art became about itself, books being about the writing of books and buildings about the building of buildings. Thus architecture became postmodern too and form stopped being a slave to function . . . . All art became a fund of eclectic quotations from all other art and it was clear
. . . that we now lived in the age of the imaginary museum, when all styles were simultaneously available
" (46).

from My Strange Quest for Mensonge
by Malcolm Bradbury
And now the Summer begins . . .
On Sabbatical until September!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Designs by Rosanne

The last time that Gerry & I were in England, his mother showed us her art portfolio from years ago, including these designs (each about 5" x 5") that she painted back in college.

Mothers and Children

Mothers and children from long ago,
Mothers and children from far away,
So many of them being together,
It's always been that way.

Some of them lived in dusty castles,
Some of them lived where monkeys play,
Each of them caring for the other,
Just as they do today.

Sharing a story, playing a game,
Looking alike, well, almost the same.
In cities, and jungles, and deserts, and farms,
See all the mothers with kids in their arms.

In happy times, sad times,
Hungry times, glad times,
There always have been, there always will be
Mothers and children, needing each other,
Just like you and me.

Sung by Alaina Reed Hall (1946 - 2009)
As Olivia
In that old childhood favorite from Sesame Street:
Don't Eat the Pictures

See Also:
In A Museum, Light As A Feather, Guggenheim

Ruth & Naomi, Birnam Wood,
Grim & Gram, There Will Your Heart Be Also

Friday, May 26, 2017

Natalya Gorbanevskaya

Born on this day 1936:
Natalya Gorbanevskaya

Russian poet, translator of Polish literature, civil rights activist
born: May 26, 1936 (Moscow, Russia)
incarcerated: 1979 - 72
immigrated to France: 1975
took Polish Citizezship: 2005
died: November 29, 2013 (Paris, France)

"It is because of people like Natalya Gorbanevskaya,
I am convinced, that you and I are still alive
and walking around on the face of the earth.
~ Joan Baez ~

Click to See Slides #20, #21, #22, #26


Weaver of words
Who lives alone
In fear and sorrow
Where are the words
To set you free
Perhaps tomorrow
Where is the earth
Where is the sky
Where is the light
You long for
What hope of you
Where you are now
Natalya Gorbanevskaya

Inside the ward
Naked and cruel
Where life is stolen
From those who try
To stay alive
And not be broken
Where are the friends
Where are the men
Who among them
Can defend you
Where is the child
You'll never see
Natalya Gorbanevskaya

What else there lives
Behind the door
That never opens
Are you insane
As they say you are
Or just forsaken
Are you still there
Do you still care
Or are you lost forever
I know this song
You'll never hear
Natalya Gorbanevskaya

Lyrics by Roy Apps, Shusha Guppy and G.T. Moore
Sung by Joan Baez
On her album Live From Every Stage, 1976

The good news is that
Natalya did live to hear this song!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Final Exam & The Road Ahead

With graduation season upon us, I took a moment
to look through my old scrap book and came across
the above photo (sorry so fuzzy) of my twin brother Bruce
speaking at our high school graduation in 1975
and these poems, saved from back in the day:


A Graduate's Prayer

Like a final exam,
Life stands before me.
I am frightened.
I face it with my pen lost
And my pencil broken.
I look at the questions with blurred eyes;
Facts drift in a senseless clutter
Down the corridors of my mind.
I am prepared with easy answers.
I have crammed with dates and details
That suddenly have no value.
I have skimmed and scanned and copied;
But the questions are essay
And not objective, as I had assumed.
You are the Text I have persistently ignored.
You are the Passages carefully underlined,
And never understood.
Grant me the time to understand Your plan
Before I write the final answer
And my only answer book
Lies permanently closed.

Charles A. Waugaman (1932 - 2010)
American poet and artist


The Road Ahead

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following
your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. ~Amen.

Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968)
American Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky
mystic, poet, social activist, theologian


from The Eden Express
by Mark Vonnegut (b. 1947)
American writer, pediatrician, son of Kurt

Vonnegut begins this memoir of his post - college
years with the unforgettable anecdote:

"June 1969: Swarthmore Graduation.
The night before, someone had taken white paint and painted
"Commence What?" on the front of the stage."


Rebecca Sprigg, Salutatorian
Lafayette High School ~ Ballwin, Missouri
Becky says:
"Somehow they let me send off the Class of 1976.
Hope my words inspired and encouraged!"

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Panama Bag

Panama Bag Selfie!
For those who have asked about the Panama Bag: My husband Gerry brought the bag from Panama as a present for me in 2002. A few years ago, I was putting together an album of various travel pics and realized that the Panama Bag was in every one. After that, I started making sure to bring it everywhere I went and photograph it. (Sorry to say, a few times I have unthinkingly brought along a different travel bag & then regretted it!)

Jay always gives the bag a big "Like," so on my recent roadtrip through the Midwest, which included Kirksville for the first time since 1989, I knew that Jay would want to see the bag in person and do it justice with his amazing camera skills!
"I found a picture of you . . ."

Company & Last Chance Texaco

Jay says, "Kitti holds the Nuclear Codes!"
So here's my favorite song about the nuclear codes:
Ammonia Avenue

Jay always says: "Gasp! The Panama Bag!"
So here's a picture of Jay gasping & me showing off!
I love the way the "Dukum Inn" logo
is featured right alongside the Panama Bag!
Jupiter aligns with Mars!

Previous Posts:


Threescore and Ten Again*


Cafe Presse at the Palazzo, Las Vegas

Do Come In!

And Panama Bag Photo Album

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Kitti the Magnificent

Best Mother's Day Greeting Ever!
2016 ~ Thanks Ben!

Best Mother's Day Sermon Ever:

"Wow! Those ladies were busy back then!
And so are you!"

Proverbs 31:10-31 ~ PWT (Pastor Will's Translation)

I enjoyed attending church with my mom
on Mother's Day this year (third year in a row!)
and hearing Pastor Will's one - sentence summary
of the Proverbial virtuous woman!

Here is the more lengthy original:
Proverbs 31:10-31 ~ KJV (King James Version)

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

And now the birthday cards begin ~ Thanks Natasha!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Judging Time Aright

Just yesterday morning, my oldest brother Dave wrote to say:

"Thankfully as I age, I am finally achieving a balance between
the past, the near past, and distant past.
They are finally starting to fall into place of their own accord."
Dave's words echoed back to me when I came across this poem later in the day:

Swiftly our pleasures glide away,
Our hearts recall the distant day
With many sighs;
The moments that are speeding fast
We heed not, but the past -- the past,
More highly prize.

Onward its course the present keeps,
Onward its course the current sweeps,
Till life is dome;
And, did we judge of time aright,
The past and future in their flight
Would be as one.

from Couplets on the Death of His Father
Don Jorge Manrique
quoted by Hector Abad
in Oblivion: A Memoir (see also "Magical Typing")
Here's the stained glass up above that was casting
the rainbow down on the giant fern leaves below.

Monday, May 8, 2017

An Original Sensitivity

A Model of Simone de Beauvoir’s Paris Studio Alcove
at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

“When she does not find love, she may find poetry. Because she does not act, she observes, she feels, she records; a color, a smile awakens profound echoes within her; her destiny is outside her, scattered in cities already built, on the faces of men already marked by life, she makes contact, she relishes with passion and yet in a manner more detached, more free, than that of a young man. Being poorly integrated in the universe of humanity and hardly able to adapt herself therein, she, like the child, is able to see it objectively; instead of being interested solely in her grasp on things, she looks for their significance; she catches their special outlines, their unexpected metamorphoses. She rarely feels a bold creativeness, and usually she lacks the technique of self-expression; but in her conversation, her letters, her literary essays, her sketches, she manifests an original sensitivity. The young girl throws herself into things with ardor, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence; and the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain All.”

from The Second Sex
by Simone de Beauvoir

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Rainy May Day

The Act
There were the roses, in the rain.
Don’t cut them, I pleaded.
They won’t last, she said.
But they’re so beautiful
where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said,
and cut them and gave them to me
in my hand.

~by William Carlos Williams

With many thanks to literary botanist
Burnetta Hinterthuer for the WCW reference!

Previous May Day Posts

Friday, April 28, 2017

Big Tree in the Middle of the Yard

Thanks to our friend Thomas Sheridan Walsh
for spotting Gerry's profile pic,
turning us into an album cover,
and upgrading us to "Raging"!

Our son Ben (age 11 at the time) took the original photo of us
back in 2001 with our extremely ordinary camera,
no special tricks, he just got everything right!
Haverford College Duck Pond ~ Pennsylvania

And we really do have a
big tree in the middle of our yard!

Speaking of which:

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make Man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night -
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.

[emphasis added]

Ben Jonson (1572 - 1637)
(With additional credit to literary botanist Burnetta Hinterthuer)

Good Bones

Previous Arbor Day Posts

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Magical Typing

A few days ago, one of my brothers posted an article whose title asks, "Should you feel sad about the demise of the handwritten letter?" In response, Dave comments:
Dave: I have lamented this trend for many years now. Its especially tough because I used to be both prolific and skilled in this lost art.

Bruce: I set out on a mission a couple of years ago to write at least one handwritten letter a week. I think I made it about two months. Maybe it's time to try again.

Kit: I'll take a birthday card!
It's true -- a simple card with handwritten signature would be great! One or two lines are just as welcome to me as one or two pages. In fact, I gladly receive, read, and respond to letters of any length -- hand - written, type - written, or conveyed electronically. Of course we value calligraphy, chirography, and longhand; however, technology not only facilitates communication but has its own artistry and even magic.

As a coincidental complement to this discussion, just a day after my brother's facebook post, I started a new book and encountered this tribute to typing. I like the connection he makes between typewriter and piano:
" . . . teaching me slowly and patiently how each letter represented a sound . . . On [my father's] typewriter I learned the whole alphabet, the numbers and all the punctuation marks, which may explain why a keyboard -- much more than a pencil or pen -- is for me the truest representation of the act of writing. That way of going along pressing sounds as on a piano, to convert ideas into letters and words, seemed to me from the start -- and still seems to me -- one of the most extraordinary acts of magic in the world."

from Oblivion: A Memoir, p 13
by Hector Abad (see also "Judging Time Aright")

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cordelia's Portion

Cordelia's Portion
by Ford Madox Brown (1821 - 1893)
"Wait until someone finally tells Trump
that he cannot divide the country into three parts
to be ruled by his children after he leaves office."
~ Leonard Orr

Something to think about on Shakespeare's 453rd birthday:
Ivanka Trump as Goneril / Regan
(the malevolent sisters, staring each other down, above left)
not as fair Cordelia (standing to the right, in the green dress)

"When it comes to President Trump, one must either begin from the proposition that he is a mentally ill huckster, unfit to serve . . . The argument amounts to the proposition that having elected a nutball, anyone who performs a braking function on the nutball is by definition a national hero. . . . the whole argument rests on the idea that Trump is more or less mentally and cognitively unfit to serve in office, but oh well, let’s let him do it anyway. It goes on to assert that only the Kushners can help make the best of this bad situation. This goes beyond ordinary lipstick on a pig. This analysis quite literally turns on the proposition that but for their intercession a madman would make even more insane decisions. . . . This is how one manages severely troubled people. It is not how one governs a nation. The underlying working assumption, once again, is that the president is so profoundly dangerous that these small Jared–Ivanka efforts are sufficient to be laudatory. It would be best to drug the commander in chief, but barring that possibility, let’s give him a King Lear–style daughter to ping off. . . . Ivanka isn’t Cordelia, she is Regan or maybe Goneril. And not only are she and her husband complicit in Trump’s actions, they also work for him. They are aiding and abetting."

from the article "Jared and Ivanka Are Not Good People."
by Dahlia Lithwick
My thoughts: With Ivanka on the scene as caretaker and enabler to monitor and offset her father's dementia, repeatedly accompanying him to meetings where she has no business being, shouldn't she be dressed as nurse's aide or hospital orderly, rather than fashion icon (is she even really a handbag designer)? If Trump can't function in anything resembling a normal way without a handler, then all the more reason he should not be president. This is so wrong. Ivanka has no place in our government; even less so than her stupid father. And neither does her husband. And if Kushner is so keen to "run the government like a great American company," why doesn't he run for office instead of flapping in on someone else's tuxedo tales? Deplorable.
Related Political Articles

"Ivanka Trump's White House Gig Is an Insult to Working Women"
And she's writing a book called "Women Who Work" -- as if! Please! I am beyond impatient with some of my friends & relatives telling me that it is "okay" to wear an Ivanka blouse or stay at a Trump resort. It is NOT okay!

"Ivanka Trump’s Terrible Book Helps Explain the Trump-Family Ethos"
In addition to NEPOTISM, "This is the definition of CORRUPTION, but as laundered through Ivanka—who’s been tweeting about banana bread and posting photos of her children—it won’t look so bad."
"Jared Kushner Calls Kim Jong - Un 'Totally Unqualified Person'
Who Got Job Only Through Nepotism
A challenge to write satire these days
when it could just as well be true!

"The tale of the dictator’s daughter and her prince"
"Ivanka Trump did not choose to be Donald Trump’s daughter, but she chose to participate in this administration, as did her husband. They are accountable. They are complicit. And they should be out."
Related Literary Posts
Wise Fool ~ King Lear ~ Lady Lever

A Little Fun on Shakespeare's Birthday
To Be Or Not To Be ~ Prince Charles

Previously on Shakespeare's Birthday,
or thereabouts:
23 April 2010
18 May 2011
23 April 2012
23 April 2013
25 April 2014
29 April 2015
23 April 2016

Crispin Crispian
I Changed My Mind
A Rose Can Only Smell So Sweet
Wise Fool
Scary Hair

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Oh, to be in England
Now that Earth Day's Here

I am slowly but surely closing in on my goal to visit England in every month of the year. Back in 2013, I checked off May and October; in 2015, November; and most recently April, when we were there just in time to see the Easter flowers (above and below) blooming in Ron and Rosanne's front garden (here's the back yard).

That just leaves June and September . . .

Home Thoughts, from Abroad

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Robert Browning (1812-1889)

I love the story -- as described in Victoria Magazine --
behind the tea set and travel case
donated to Baylor University
by American art critic Jean Sherwood:

"While traveling through Italy by train in 1889, she made tea from the set for an elderly stranger. When the man asked her who was considered the greatest American woman poet, she replied, 'I don't know, but we consider Elizabeth Barrett Browning the greatest woman poet.' Quietly the man went to the window, leaving Sherwood to wonder what had upset him. After regaining his composure he turned and said, 'She was my wife.'"

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach . . .
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints
. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life . . ."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Childlike Spring

The Easter Bunny?

Spring has come again.
The Earth is like
a child who knows
poems by heart.

~ Rilke ~
from Sonnets to Orpheus
~ translated by Edward Snow ~

I love this whimsical snail planter (found in the British garden of my parents - in - law) and the above bunny rabbit statuette (belonging to my British sister - in - law). Both figurines, as well as their attendant flowers, exemplify the child - like nature of Spring that Rilke captures in his simile of Earth as a poetic youngster. The following, also by Rilke, is a more serious poem for the Easter season; but keep in mind that, despite the maturity of its intropection, "this is how children cherish You":

Prayer #12

I believe in everything that has not been said,
I want to free my most pious feelings;
what no one has ever dared to want
will suddenly become my nature.

If this is impudent, my God, forgive me.
But with this I want to tell You
that my noblest power should be an instinct,
and thus without anger and without hesitation --
this is how children cherish You.

With this flood, with this flow
into the broad arms of the open sea,
with this expansive return,
I want to bear witness to You; I want to proclaim You
like none before.

And if this is pride, the let me be proud
in my prayer,
which stands so earnest and alone
before Your shadowed brow.

from Prayers of a Young Poet
written by by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
translated by Mark S. Burrows

Many thanks to my dear friend and spiritual advisor
Nancy C. Tiederman
for sending me this latest translation of Rilke's Prayers

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pine Forest Update 2017

One of our goals this time ~
finding the path that joins the forest to the beach.

Gerry & Ben ~ Checking the Coordinates

It has been four years since our last photo session at the Pine Forest, our longest gap for some time. With a little help from "notes to self," we made our way to the usual spot, but something seemed different this year -- aside from the obvious fact that we were missing Sam (Gerry has promised to photoshop him in ASAP). It turns out that the forest is an ever- changing ecosystem, and there was our landmark tree, chopped down and lying at our feet.


Christmas 1996

Christmas 1997

Christmas 1998

Spring Break 2000

Summer 2005

Summer 2006

Spring Break 2008

Spring Break 2009

Spring Break 2010

Spring Break 2011
Spring Break 2012
May 2013

Easter 2017

Pine Forest Update 2013
Pine Forest Update 2012
Pine Forest Update 2011
Tree of Life
Watching the Boys Grow