Monday, August 31, 2009

Quote For The Day

Chicago Lake Front, August 2009

"All August is condensed in this one day.
The golden cup of summer runneth over."

~ Slicer ~

Good bye August! Good bye Summer!


~ August 1, 2020 ~
Veggies from our garden, fruit from the store . . .
. . . a golden summer day!
The above homage to August by the near - anonymous Slicer came into my life late in the summer of 1975, just as I was beginning my first semester of college. After all these years, the identity of the mysterious Slicer remains unknown to me -- no first name, no dates ever given and none found, so far, on the internet.

For me, Slicer's golden imagery has always signified the end of summer, the return to school, the beginning of fall -- ready or not! Yet, somehow this year, for the first time, it seems to evoke not the conclusion of August but the onset. Not the last day but the first: Lughnasa, the Feast of the First Fruits!

As Lammastide begins, enjoy some fresh fruits and veggies, and feel the first stirrings of autumn deep within your summer soul!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pretty Enough For All Normal Purposes

Pretty Girls: Coyote, Ramrod & Goth (our school pictures, 1966)

Another touching scene in Our Town takes place on the front porch, while Emily is helping her mother snap the beans. Emily cannot stop pestering:

"Mama, am I good looking?"

"What I mean is: am I pretty?"

"Mama, were you pretty?"

"Am I pretty enough . . .

Finally in exasperation, Mrs. Webb exclaims:

"Emily, you make me tired. Now stop it. You're pretty enough for all normal purposes. -- Come along now and bring that bowl with you."

Over the years, Mrs. Webb's concluding remark has become a stock phrase in our family, applicable to any number of situations. Is the car clean enough? It's clean enough for all normal purposes. Is there enough frosting on the cake? There's enough frosting for all normal purposes. Have we planted enough okra? We've planted enough okra for all normal purposes. How did the school pictures turn out this year? Good enough for all normal purposes. Have I included enough examples in this paragraph? Well, enough for all normal purposes!

dialogue from Our Town (1938)
by Thornton Wilder, American playwright (1897 - 1975)

P.S. For more on "Coyote, Ramrod, and Goth," see below:
August 3rd & 5th.

For more on Our Town see below: August 28th.

And my essay "The Mind of God"
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Friday, August 28, 2009

Our Town

On the 14th & 28th of every month, I publish a Fortnightly Literary Blog of Connection and Coincidence. So today, being the 28th, let me share with you an abbreviated version of the longer entry that you can find at

"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?"

You've probably already noticed that Emily Webb's question from the classic American drama, Our Town (1938) appears as a perpetual header for this life-is-just-so-daily blog, chosen because it so accurately captures the sense of dailyness that I want to convey in the every-other-day-or-so entries that appear here on the Quotidian Kit.

"to find a value above all price
for the smallest events in our daily life"

Thornton Wilder
writing of Our Town

My friends and I fell in love with Our Town when it was produced by our highschool drama club in 1973, and my twin brother Bruce played the part of George Gibbs. One of our favorite scenes occurs at the end of Act I, when Rebecca (George's little sister, played by my friend Joni), reads out the mind-boggling address that she saw on an envelope:

Jane Crofut
The Crofut Farm
Grover's Corners
Sutton County
New Hampshire
United States of America
Continent of North America
Western Hemisphere
The Earth
The Solar System
The Universe
The Mind of God

Suddenly in awe of our own cosmic identity, we spent a lot of time recopying this long address, inserting our own names and addresses, and passing our versions around to each other in geometry class. (Sorry, Mr. Anderson!) Not that any mysteries, either universal or local, were revealed; but it sort of felt that way.

Additional Our Town Posts:

Our Town Too

What's the Big Idea

Quinton Duval

Pretty Enough For All Normal Purposes

The Mind of God

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Grandmother Knows Best

If you've had time to check out my latest book blog, you may have already encountered the excellent encouragement that Pam and Peggy (The "Slob Sisters", aka "A Couple of Domestic Goddesses" receive from their grandmother:

Our granny had a simple yet profound way of looking at life. She'd hear a problem and have one of three things to say about it. It didn't matter what the problem was; one of her three responses would take care of it. Having had only an eighth-grade education, she used bad English, but her words were wise. She'd say:

1. "It don't matter."

2. "He don't mean nothin' by that."

3. We can't tell you the third one. She reserved this one for people like Hitler.

You could go to her and say, "My husband just ran off to Tahiti with his secretary," and she'd say, "Oh, honey, he don't mean nothin' by that." You could tell her you lost your wallet and all the grocery money was in it, and she'd say, "It don't matter." (Catch-Up on the Kitchen, 83-84).

These grandmotherly antidotes to fretfulness should serve you well if your interpersonal pitfalls, like mine, include being too reactive, flying off the handle before taking time to measure the insignificance of every little upset, feeling too easily wounded by stray remarks instead of dismissing them for what they are worth (usually very little). The next time I sense myself veering off in one of these fretful directions, I shall remember the message of Pam & Peggy's grandmother -- i.e., there's just no need to take most things so personally!

Another piece of inspiring grandmotherly advice comes from one of Ilene Beckerman's darling books: What We Do For Love:

My grandmother knew what she was talking about when she said, "If you have to stand on your head to make somebody happy, all you can expect is a big headache." (142).

Can you think of better advice than that?

Don't get a headache!

To read more about Ilene Beckerman,
see "Highlights From 2006"
on Kitti's Book List

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Slob Sisters

All Caught Up In The Kitchen:
Homegrown eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes from my husband's garden;
apples from Michigan; citrus fruit from Florida;
Christmas cards up year round!

Pam Young and Peggy Jones are two earnest comediennes, who half-seriously, half-jokingly call themselves "The Slob Sisters."

Their books include:


Slob Sisters or Domestic Goddesses? You decide. These gals really are sisters and they really are the greatest! I love their books and their humor and their advice on life & happiness. Their message covers so much much more than keeping the house running smoothly, though it must be said, they are good at that too!

Pam and Peggy's books help you work your way around and through and out of any number of stupid, fretful, forgetful-making things, freeing up your mind and your time for worthier pursuits. And they know how do it not only with file cards, charts and recipes, but also with references to Shakespeare, Emerson, and William James.

To read more about the Slob Sisters, check out my latest reading list update:
"A Couple of Domestic Goddesses"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Circular Reasoning

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that I would stop being so fretful if only I knew how to stop being so fretful?

Just a few days later my Story of the Day from StoryPeople said --

"Some days I think life would be a whole lot more fun if I just knew how to make it a whole lot more fun . . . ."

And a few days after that, it was --

"Apathy: I don't care if no one likes it, she said, unless no one likes it."

And that's why I just have to love Brian Andreas; he thinks like I do!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer Camp

Pere & Fils at Camp ELMO
Somewhere in Pennsylvania, 2002

Happy Camper
"What if we all got along & people loved each other
& sang songs about peace? he said.
Would that be a good world?
& I said I didn't know about that,
but it would be a good summer camp . . ."

by Brian Andreas, STORYPEOPLE

If you want to start every day with a bit of wit & insight,
go to and sign up to receive the Story of the Day from Brian Andreas, irresistible artist, poet, and prophet for the New Millennium.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Do Writers Want?

by W.S. Merwin

. . . reader I do
not know that anyone
else is waiting for these
words that I hoped might seem
as though they had occurred
to you and you would take
them with you as your own

by Linda Pastan

Finding a new poet
is like finding a new wildflower
out in the woods . . .

And the words are so familiar,
so strangely new, words
you almost wrote yourself, if only

in your dreams there had been a pencil
or a pen or even a paintbrush,
if only there had been a flower.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Choose Me

Read More About Choose Me

About those movies that I like in spite of myself (see August 10th below: "Monday: Pop Quiz"). Here's why:

Talladega Nights (2006): because of the hilarious table grace & the cougar named Karen.

Zoolander (2001): because of the School for Ants.

The Terminator (1984): because, unlike the follow-ups, this one resembles real science fiction (Harlan Ellison &Philip K. Dick), not just special effects.

Another movie that I'm crazy about, not so much in spite of myself, but rather unaccountably, is Choose Me (1984). The setting is dreamy and offbeat, like One From the Heart (1982), which I mentioned on my Fortnightly blog not too long ago (see "Child Beheads Mannequin," Monday, June 15, 2009). Both movies are accompanied perfectly by sultry signature songs: "One From the Heart" by Tom Waits and Crystal Gale; and "You're My Choice Tonight (Choose Me)" by Teddy Pendergrass.

Choose Me is the kind of movie that I recommend to my friends and they say, "Why did you tell me to watch that? What do you like about that odd movie?" Well, first, I have just adored Lesley Anne Warren ever since she portrayed Cinderella on television in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical (1965); and, second, Keith Carradine ever since he sang "I'm Easy," in Nashville (1975); and, third, Genevieve Bujold ever since Coma (1978), not to mention King of Hearts / Le roi de couer (1966) and her portrayal of Cassandra in The Trojan Women (1971).

In Choose Me, Lesley Anne Warren is named Eve (Everywoman) and her bar is called "Eve's" (named not for her but for the previous owner, another Everywoman). I've always been intrigued by the poster you can see on the wall (in the apartment not the bar) that says, if you look really close: "She often thought of killing him." Whoa!

But what I like most about this movie and always have liked is the imperative title -- CHOOSE ME! That's what has stayed in my mind. Isn't that what we all really want? And the people who can't or won't do that -- well, to heck with them. The only people in whom it's worth investing time & emotion are those who are into us, those who choose us. I love lots of movies (everything Christmas, everything Meryl Streep, everything Kristin Scott Thomas), but if I have to choose just one, I always choose Choose Me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Birds of Pray

"Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don't you think we might see other once or twice?"

-- from Jonathan Livingston Seagull (p. 81, by Richard Bach)

For more, go to: "Birds of Pray"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moisturizer? Yes, Please!

University City Swim Club, West Philadelphia
Summer 1998

Back when our kids were little, one of my neighbors called to ask me if we should take them all to the pool that evening.

I started pondering the drawbacks: "Oh dear, we already went this afternoon."

She wasn't giving in that easy: "Guess what? You can go twice in one day!"

My next excuse: "Well, yes, but I've already moisturized, and if I get in the water again, then I'll have to moisturize again."

Her persuasive reasoning: "Think of it this way: re-moisturizing is not a hardship! It's a luxury! Now, get ready!"

Around that same time, another neighbor called up with last minute tickets to go see STOMP. Again, I defaulted into noncommittal hemming & hawing and thinking of reasons why this might not be possible; but she quickly interrupted me: "All you have to say is Yes."

I learned a couple of important things that summer:
1. Re-moisturizing is a blessing &
2. When an unexpected gift presents itself, say Yes! Thank you!



Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday: Pop Quiz

Even Proust liked quizzes! Who knew?
Click to learn more and see Proust's questions & answers!

I like the observation by editor Henry-Jean Servat that even when the questions were simply of the yes / no variety, Proust's answers were not: "The stupid answers in the album would have required conclusive answers, too uncouth to be exact. But a master with words like Proust knew how to get out of a trap like this. And he escapes either by remaining silent and not answering, or by doing the opposite and producing long lists or general ideas."

I tried to do the same, though I never realized when I was doing these a few years back with a few friends and relatives, that we were following in the footsteps of Proust!

Thanks to my friend Leonard Orr for bringing my attention to
The Proust Questionnaire!

Not the Proust questions, but same idea:

A PERFECT DAY IS: Swimming, reading, writing, drinking tea, the kitchen clean, maybe baking, the windows open. Ger home on vacation.

MY LOVE LIFE IN A WORD OR TWO: I am the luckiest.

WORST EVER BLOW TO MY PRIDE: Some scholarships I failed to receive in grad school.

YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO KNOW: That I like Sudoku better than Crossword Puzzles.

NO ONE KNOWS (well, now they will): That I have given up sorting the laundry. I just toss it all in together & hope for the best

MY SIMPLEST PLEASURE: Playing with stickers.

MY GUILTIEST PLEASURE: Spending a lot of money to have my nails done.

MY STATED HOBBY: Writing cards & letters.

MY SECRET HOBBY: Rewriting history.

MY HIDDEN TALENT: I'm surprisingly good at parallel parking, considering my general dislike of driving & my lack of spatial skills.

IN MY FRIDGE YOU'LL ALWAYS FIND: Milk for my kids' cereal. Oops! Except when we run out!


WHAT I'D SAY TO MY TWENTY-SOMETHING SELF: No need to get married just yet.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER I WOULD: Major in Accounting instead of English. Go figure!



I'D LOVE TO BE A FLY ON THE WALL OF: Shakespeare & Jesus, so that we could have comprehensive biographies of these two guys.

IF I COULD WIGGLE MY NOSE LIKE IN BEWITCHED, I WOULD: Pop in to visit all my faraway friends & relatives.

ALWAYS MAKES ME LAUGH: Reading Dave Barry, Bill Bryson, Roz Chast, Jack Handey, Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell; listening to Stephen Colbert; watching Christmas Vacation.

MY MOTHER / FATHER WAS RIGHT ABOUT: Learn to drive a standard before an automatic!

ECO-FRIENDLY CHANGES IN MY LIFE: No more Plastic "Glad" Wrap, instead I save the wax paper cereal bags to reuse for food storage; always running the dishwasher on "Light" and doing most of the laundry on "Delicate" -- so far, everything still comes out clean (see sorting tip, above).

MY LIFE WOULD BE SIMPLER IF: I would stop being so fretful.

I WOULD STOP BEING SO FRETFUL IF: Only I knew how to stop being so fretful. (See righthand column!)


SOME MOVIES THAT I LIKE IN SPITE OF MYSELF: Talladega Nights, The Terminator (#1 only, the others -- no), Zoolander

ON MY "NOT TO DO" LIST: Coloring my hair & polishing the ceiling (our phrase for excessive housecleaning)


If you'd like to read what a few others have said . . .

Here's another one I did with my family:
Family Fun, Peg's Quiz

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
Hot tea

2.Where was your profile picture taken?
Little Rock

3.Can you play Guitar Hero?
Never tried

4.Name someone who made you laugh today?
My friend Cate

5.How late did you stay up last night and why?
3:00 am, because I like to be the last one up

6.If you could move somewhere else, would you?
Maybe back to Philly

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?
Metaphorically speaking!

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you?

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends?
Maybe the good ones -- after 20 years or so;
the bad ones --see you around in a million years.

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper?
My fav!

11. When was the last time you cried really hard?
A couple days ago, but that's normal for me.

12. Who took your profile picture?
An ex

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of?
Gerry in Colorado

14. Was yesterday better than today?
I think it's a tie -- both good

15. Can you live a day without TV?
I think I could go for the rest of my life & never miss it!

16. Are you upset about anything?
Well, worried, but that's normal for me.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?
Connect, only connect!

18. Are you a bad influence?
On whom?

19. Night out or night in?
Usually in

20. What items could you not go without during the day?
I guess most things are optional, but . . . books, cats, tea.

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
Must have been when Daddy died.

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?
I think it says take this quiz!

23. How do you feel about your life right now?
Every day, a new surprise!

24. Do you hate anyone?
"Let no man pull you low enough to hate him."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

25. If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find?
I think about 92 unanswered requests -- if one of them is from you,
please forgive!

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
Well, there IS some Excedrin in my system.

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
An ex

28. What song is stuck in your head?
"Call me, call me, call me any any anytime. Call me!"

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m. who do you want it to be?
An ex. No, just kidding! Santa Claus with presents!

30.Wanna have grandkids before you’re 50?
Uh, too late for that. Maybe 60?

31. Name something you have to do tomorrow?
Take Sam to get his driver's license (see #16 above).

32. Do you think too much or too little?
If only I could turn my brain off . . .

33. Do you smile a lot?
Yes, also smirk a lot

And yet another, from 2002, like a nice long conversation with a friend! The thoughtful questions reminded me of this recent poetic discovery:

There are certain ladies in our land
Still living and still unafraid
Whose hearts have known a lot of pain,
Whose eyes have shed so many tears,
Who welcomed pity with disdain
And view the fast encroaching years
Humorously and undismayed.

There are certain ladies in our land,
Whose courage is too deeply bred
To merit unreflecting praise.
For them no easy, glib escape;
No mystic hopes confuse their days;
They can identify the shape
Of what's to come, devoid of dread.

There are certain ladies in our land
Who bring to Life the gift of gay
Uncompromising sanity.
The past, for them, is safe and sure.
Perhaps their only vanity
Is that they know they can endure
The rigours of another day.

by Noel Coward (1899 - 1973)

Not sure about the identity of "L. R - M" but loved the poem on first sight and would be proud if I could ever be known for my "uncompromising sanity." The poem seems to go along with some of these survey answers:

1. FULL GIVEN NAME: Kitti Beth Lindsey Carriker McCartney.

& LATEST NICKNAME: "Kit - Bag." No, I didn't mind it when my sister - in - law gave me a new book bag inscribed "Your Old Kit Bag." In fact, "Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag" has long been one of my favorite tunes, especially the way that Roy Scheider sings it in All That Jazz!

2. CURRENT LIVING ARRANGEMENT? Big old (1805) renovated (2001) colonial house in Philadelphia's historic district, or as we like to call it
-- our nation's oldest neighborhood!

3. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee & THE RADIANT WAY by Margaret Drabble (both re-reads). I'm also just getting ready to read THE ENGLISH PATIENT (Michael Ondaatje) for the first time. I loved MY YEAR OF MEATS and have passed that recommendation on to many people; it ties in perfectly with Sei Shonagon & THE PILLOW BOOK and all the wonderful lists, e.g., "Hateful

4. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Hello Kitty! And my screen saver is a photograph taken by my son Ben.

5. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Yahtzee (does that count?) Close seconds -- CLUE and SCRABBLE.

6. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? Not a big magazine reader . . . just like to thumb through & look at the pretty pictures in Victoria, Victorian Homes, Mary Engelbreit

7. FAVORITE SMELLS? Windsong perfume (but not to wear; I've had the same bottle for at least 25 years. I just open it up every now & then and enjoy a few seconds of aroma-therapy! Also, baking bread or other treats from the oven, lilacs, dry red wine (breath in deep -- even better than tasting!), and a nice hot load of laundry with Clorox bleach. I also like to be walking along the sidewalk and suddenly catch a whiff of someone else's dryer vent, perfumed with one of those little fabric softening sheets.

8. FAVORITE SOUND? those old-fashioned and highly breakable glass wind chimes from kindergarten, and -- this may sound like a strange one -- but I love the sound, when I'm watching a movie or a TV show, of someone opening up a letter. That crackling sound of the paper always takes me by surprise and doesn't sound to me anything at all like the unremarkable sound of opening up a letter in real life. Also, listening to music by the great composers (Bach, Mozart, etc.) and hearing my children or my husband play the piano. And how about hearing that talented Andreas Scholl sing a sad, sad song? Heartbreaking, but in the very best way!

9. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE UP? An optimistic (& unrealistic) mental run-through of all the chores & projects I hope to accomplish that day. I'm usually off by at least 50% of what it is humanly possible for me to actually do. Oh, well, hope springs eternal!


11. HOW TALL ARE YOU? 5'5"

12. HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU ANSWER THE PHONE? I never answer the phone anymore, but my machine picks up at the 3rd ring; after that, if I can hear that it's a call I want to take, then I pick up as soon as I can race down to the kitchen (yes, there are other phones around the house; but the only answering machine is in the kitchen, and I HAVE to screen in order to avoid crazies). Where is the oddest place that you've ever found your phone? One of mine was missing for three days one time before I was able to locate it in the laundry basket!


14. MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE? My relationships & keeping in touch.


16. FAVORITE ICE CREAM, CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? Peanut Butter Chocolate by Haagen Daz or Baskin Robbins; or Espresso Chip by Edy's. This week, I bought some Rocky Road and some Coffee ice cream both by Turkey Hill. The Rocky Road is yummy. But for my favorite flavors, I always go by brand. For example, Turkey Hill's Peanut Butter chocolate is nowhere near as good as the above-mentioned brands, and their coffee flavor is nice enough but doesn't hold a candle to Edy's.

17. DO YOU LIKE TO DRIVE FAST? Too scary for me! But I am a gifted parallel parker, and have been known to parallel park six times before breakfast!

18. DO YOU SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL? I've developed the habit of sleeping with one of Sam's hand knitted baby blankets (a gift when he was born) wrapped around my shoulders. Occasionally I am honored by Josef's decision to sleep next to me. This doesn't happen often, but lately he's been snuggling up every night, I think because he wanted to be sure he got more than one mention in this survey!

19. STORMS--COOL OR SCARY? Worrying. I'm always so glad when they come to an end and the sun breaks through in an Emily Dickinson kind of way.

20. WHAT TYPE WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? A green 1979 Dodge Dart (this was in 1976) with a manual transmission on the steering column -- if you can believe it! That was really way back when!

21. WHAT DO YOU DRIVE NOW? A red 1994 Oldsmobile station wagon with a backward facing way-back -- yes, this IS your father's Oldsmobile!

22. IF YOU COULD MEET OR SEE ONE PERSON? One of my once & future Messiahs -- Jesus or King Arthur or Princess Diana.


24. DO YOU EAT THE STEMS OF BROCCOLI? Yes, and asparagus stems also!

25. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB YOU WANTED, WHAT WOULD IT BE? My long ago dream was to design and edit beautiful literary artistic greeting cards, but it turns out that so many others had that dream as well, so I have become content with purchasing their products instead. I also have a happy memory of teaching a couple of wonderful literature classes that involved a lot of talking and not a lot of grading. I wouldn't mind doing that again, but I'm afraid that's thinking inside the box because it's something I've already done before. My DREAM job, hmmmmm? I'll have to think some more on that one.

26. EVER BEEN IN LOVE? Remember that lovely Rita Coolidge song, "All Time High": "In my time I've said these words before, but now I realize my heart was telling me lies. . . . " Well, over the years, my heart has told me many lies; however, it was right a time or two! Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies!

27. IS THE GLASS HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL? Well, I can be such a misery and a closet pessimist that I fear I have to say half empty. But the Dalai Lama and various other spiritual advisors continually show me that this is not wholesome path to take, so I try to count my blessings and believe in what I can -- Christmas, the miracle of oxygen, the precession of the equinoxes.

28. FAVORITE T.V. SHOWS? I can only answer ALL MY CHILDREN. Anything else would seem disloyal. The only other show that I can remember watching as faithfully as AMC was SISTERS, but it's off the air now.

29. DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS? Yes, of course, having been raised back in the days when they used to say about Einstein, "But can he type?"

30. WHAT IS UNDER YOUR BED? One of those big cardboard art portfolios, containing some old scrap books. And also, a good sized roaming herd of dust buffalo . . . you know, as in, "Give me a home where the buffalo roam"? Well, in my case, that's "where the DUST buffalo roam." Haha.

31. FAVORITE NUMBER? I never thought about this one. I guess I have a fondness for a nice even dozen.

32. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? Diving and figure skating.

33. CURRENT MOVIES: Gerry & I have just recently seen two very good, thought-provoking, understated British films at the cinema: Lawless Heart & Spider

34. HELPFUL ADVICE: Going through Dr. Christine's list of "What Women Should Have" step by step will take you out of your cynical mood [not sure anymore what I was referring to here]. Listening to in the car: Dr. Julie White's Self - Esteem for Women.

Additional quizzes . . .Possible ~ Plausible ~ Improbable

Quarantine Quiz Shows

Class of '75

Challenges: Special K & Ten Favs

"Christmas Quiz"

"You're Out Walking"

"Take This Quiz!"

["Monday: Pop Quiz"]

"Talk to Me"

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Romeo is Banish'd

My younger son asked me the other day, "Mom, can you banquish?

Hmmm. Let's see. You can vanish and vanquish; and you can banish, but you can't really banquish. Though you have to admit, it sounds like a pretty good word, and it seems like something one should be able to do.

A couple of days later, I came across a similar conundrum, some characters in one of my summer reading selections discussing astoundished and astonded: "No, that's not, not quite -- Astonished? . . . Astounded?" (p 192).

This conversation takes place in The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, a book I picked up only because Benedict is the name of my other son (older brother to the banquished Sam). The Benedict Society consists of four quirky little geniuses (Constance Contraire, Kate Wetherall, Reynard Muldoon, and George "Sticky" Washington) out to save the brave new world, kind of like Edward Gory's Gashlycrumb Tinies, except upbeat and resourceful instead of doomed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On the Lanai

A favorite place for us (pseudo) Goth Girls to hang out is on my sister Peg's screened deck, which we have taken to calling The Lanai, because that sounds so much more romantic and exotic than veranda or patio or porch or deck. Well, The Lanai is important to us, and I readily confess to random capitalization as one of my favorite English usage errors, not to mention that important words should be capitalized.

When my brother-in-law Tom (Di's husband, the Warrior-Worrier, see June 25) saw that we were capitalizing this word in our e-mails, he said, "Why? Is this Lanai a person?" No. A place? Well, kind of. It's not a place as in Lanai -- Hawaii's most enticing island; but it is a place we like to be. A mere thing? Well, it is a thing, but it's not merely a thing. It's a favorite thing. It's our vacation hideout, the way we used to build a clubhouse in the summertime, in the woods or on a vacant lot.

Okay, said Tom. Let's think about this: "Imagine the word, Springfield. Is it a field full of (coil) springs, not capitalized; or is it a place, e.g., Springfield, Missouri? There is a Springfield in just about every state. If there is a Lanai in almost every state (not just Hawaii!), then I think it's okay to capitalize. See you have to dig deep to see the real meaning of life."

Then he offered a conclusion that sounded for all the world like something our dear departed dad would have said: "Just thought some calcification was in order."

P.S. Thanks Tom!

Triple Sisters Weekend

My Girls, Washington, DC

Monday, August 3, 2009

Goth Names

After reading Sarah Vowell's essay, "American Goth," (in Take the Cannoli) my sisters and I decided that we needed to pick some goth names for ourselves. In this wicked little essay, Vowell recounts her experience of getting a "goth makeover," in hopes of turning herself into someone more menacing less sweetie-pie, someone the waitresses don't call "Hon."

She signs up for private goth lessons, complete with goth homework, like listening to sad songs, writing goth haiku, and picking a goth name. After running through some of the darker, more sinister choices, Vowell looks in another direction for inspiration: post-war Pleasantville, USA. Now there's Goth for you! Amazing her goth instructors with her insight, she settles on "Becky." Perfect! I like it too, for it suggests that maybe I've had a goth name all along and didn't even know it.

If you look in the baby name books, names like mine and my older sister's: Kitti Beth & Peggy Linn, turn up on lists entitled "Freckle - Faced" or "Comfy," or "Short & Sweet" (compiled, apparently, by non-goth editors who know nothing of "Becky"). Whereas Peg and I got the "girlish" names, our younger sister got the "feminine" names: Teresa Diane, both of which are likely to appear on lists like "Sheer Elegance" or "Goddess - Given."

When picking our new goth names, we decided that Di has a lot to live down, after all those years of elegance, so we're just going to call her "Goth" for awhile. For Peg, it's "Coyote," in reference to a card she received upon her recent retirement, likening her to a Wild * Free * Coyote. And for me, "Ramrod," derived from my newly acquired reputation for forcing my opinions upon the rest of the family. We love our new goth names, although a couple of times my sloppy hand-writing has led my sisters to call me "Raymond." But, hey, that also sounds kind of goth, doesn't it?

I guess my only other way of being goth (besides being named "Kitti" -- haha) occurred when I got my first pair of prescription sunglasses and started wearing them all the time. One overcast day, I ran into a bothersome acquaintance at a bus stop, who asked me why I had my sunglasses on when the sun wasn't out; I said, "Well, the sun may not be OUT but it is UP." That was back in the day when I cultivated my "Doberman" attitude in order to dissuade people (that guy at the bus stop, for instance) from speaking to me on the street. After reading Sarah Vowell, I realize, that was my "Goth" stance. Nevertheless, all the grocery store ladies still called me "Hon"!

Peggy, Kitti & Diane *AKA* Coyote, Ramrod & Goth