Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kiss Today

When the Earl King came
to steal away the child
in Goethe's poem, the father said
don't be afraid,
it's just the wind...
As if it weren't the wind
that blows away the tender
fragments of this world—
leftover leaves in the corners
of the garden, a Lenten Rose
that thought it safe
to bloom so early.

from "The Months"
by Linda Pastan

Above and top:
Woodcut illustration for the Month of March
from "The Shepheardes Calender," 1579
by Edmund Spenser, English Poet (1552 - 1599)

The woodcut features two shepherds, Thomalin and Wyllie, discussing the difficulties of love in the springtime and their strategies for courtship in the coming months. Behind them is winged Cupid, and above them is the zodiac symbol for Aries, the Ram. To the left is Love's victim, "entangled [in a fowling net], and unwares wounded by the dart . . . of Cupides arrowe" and to the right is Thomalin fighting with Love, throwing stones to no avail. Of the Sweetness and Sorrow of love, Thomalin concludes ruefully:

Of Hony and of Gaule in loue there is store:
The Honye is much, but the Gaule is more.

Somewhat more hopefully, the following contemporary song finds the reverse to be true:

Kiss today goodbye,
The sweetness and the sorrow.
Wish me luck, the same to you.
But I can't regret
What I did for love,
what I did for love.

Look my eyes are dry.
The gift was ours to borrow.
It's as if we always knew,
And I won't forget
what I did for love,
What I did for love.

Love is never gone.
As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember.

Kiss today goodbye,
And point me toward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do.
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for

lyrics by by Edward Kleban
from A Chorus Line
music by Marvin Hamlisch



Friday, February 26, 2010


I started my Fortnightly Literary Blog exactly one year ago this weekend; thus it seems only appropriate to go back and take a look at the initial feature. Here's the link,

and, better yet, here's a re-post:

An excellent motto, one of my lifelong favorites: "Some haystacks don't even have any needle." But some friends I mentioned it to recently immediately objected to my choice, finding it "utterly depressing." I was confused! This is a hopeful little poem, full of optimism. But no matter how I defended it, my audience just couldn't see how. They said, "Searching and searching forever and never finding anything? How is that optimistic?"

Now this was bewildering indeed! I was first attracted to these William Stafford poems back in high school when we studied from a poetry book entitled Some Haystacks Don't Even Have Any Needle. I was so taken with this anthology that I squirreled my copy away at the end of the year, claiming to have lost it, so that I could pay the replacement fine and keep the book to myself. A few years later, William Stafford came to speak at my college and I was honored to interview him for our literary magazine and ask him to autograph my book, the title of which was taken from his sequence of short poems included as the anthology's closing selection.

So, back to the present, why was the message suddenly coming across all wrong?

Then I had a "Eureka" moment and realized that the reader needs the title of the poem in order to grasp its liberating message that you don't always have to be searching for a needle in a haystack, performing a goal - oriented task, or striving for a particular outcome. Sometimes you can just take the haystack for what it is (think Monet), maybe even jump into the haystack with joy, as into a snowdrift or a pile of leaves, and with confidence that there's nothing hidden there to hurt you, no puzzle to solve.

At last, here's the poem complete with title:


Some haystacks don't even have any needle."

--short poem by William Stafford


"Gravity -- what's that?"
--short poem by William Stafford

When we first moved here, we hired a tree trimmer to assess the entire yard, which was a mess. We observed that the original owners who planted that oak tree as a nice finishing touch to their front yard a hundred years ago probably never envisioned that it would flourish to the point of one day nearly obscuring the front of the house. Our tree guy just shrugged his shoulders and delivered his conclusion: "The tree wins. It'll be here long after we're gone."

Always nice to have a bit of existentialism thrown in with your tree service! Since then, whenever we're faced with the inevitable, we look at each other, shrug like the tree guy, and acknowledge the truth: "The tree wins."


We think it is calm here,
or that the storm is the right size."

P.P.S. September 2013

"But on the other hand, and I can't really understand why, I do care about the birch trees. . . . all the swaying, rustling birch trees and I felt light, so light.

"After I'd had a chance to think about it for a while I began to understand why I felt this sudden joy . . . when anyone talks about trees, any trees: the linden tree in the farmyard, the oak behind the old barn, the stately elms that have all disappeared now, the pine trees along wind - swept coasts, etc. There's so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature -- yes, that's it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are -- vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth -- and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honor this beauty that owes us nothing. . . . I suddenly felt my spirit expand, for I was capable of grasping the utter beauty of the trees."
(169 - 70)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Colorful Cassons

This humorously captioned color chart is a trade postcard, advertising the BBC Good Homes Show 2002,
held at the National Exhibition Center
in Birmingham, England, 3 - 6 May 2002.
Click on chart to enlarge, and enjoy the clever paint names!

Written by British author, Hilary McKay, the five Casson Books are a great series, not only for teens (let's say PG 13, as there is a substantial amount of adult conflict) but also for precocious younger readers, and for adults like me and my nephew Daniel (maybe you, too!) who keep on discovering new adolescent favorites no matter how old we get! For more in this genre, see my post Summer Make Believe (July 2009).

The Casson parents are eccentric artists, who have named all their children after colors: Cadmium, Saffron, Rose, and Indigo. * The parents' naming method made me think of a story from childhood about a family whose last name is Apple. Each child is named after a type of apple: Jonathan, Macintosh, Golden Delicious, until the last little girl comes along and the parents fear they are out of names. So the dad goes to the library (this was before Google!) and discovers that there is a variety called the Snow Apple: a perfect name for the new baby! Does anyone else happen to recall this story? I am going to have to track that book down and re-read!

The first novel in the Casson series, Saffy's Angel (2001), opens and closes with a reference to the all - important paint chart on the wall of their chaotic kitchen: "Each little square had the name of the color underneath. To the Casson children those names were as familiar as nursery rhymes. Other families had lullabies, but the Cassons had fallen asleep to lists of colors" (1, Saffy's Angel).

Color Chart Reflected in Cake Knife

You are going to love the Casson Family! And also the Conroys!

Thoughts About Thinking From Hilary McKay

"Only people with no mental resources get bored."
from The Exiles in Love (122)

"Rachel's diary . . . In it every meal she had eaten that summer had been carefully recorded. Writing accounts of mere events, she had soon decided, was a waste of time and not at all necessary. For example, she could look at the previous Sunday's entry: 'Ordinary breakfast, roast chicken, peas, pots, runny trifle pudding, egg sandwiches, chocolate cake, ginger cookies,' and the whole day's happenings would immediately spring to mind and insert themselves neatly between the appropriate meals. Rachel thought that everyone's brain worked this way."

Even better than Rachel's "meticulous record of . . . eating" (which I think just might work for me as a method of recollection!) is the girls' description of their grandmother's way of thinking: " . . . she doesn't forget things. She notices everything and it goes into her head and makes patterns. Or something. So the more she notices, the more she knows."

from The Exiles (148, 201)
and The Exiles at Home (102)



* Indigo has appeared on this blog once before. See my post "Never Fear" (September 2009).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fridge Magnets

Fridge Poetry and a Heart for George

I discovered a couple of my favorite refrigerator magnets at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd / The Episcopal Church at Purdue University -- a long name for a cool place, i.e., the Episcopal Campus Ministry!

Anyway, here's what the magnets say:

"Everything will be okay
in the end.
If it's not okay,
it's not the end!"

"The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals;
it's just that they need more supervision."
As for the fridge poetry up above, it was created by my family a few years ago after my friend Etta gave us a set of poetic word magnets. Slowly but surely we found a spot for every word. The one I liked best was put together, unbeknownst to me, by my sister-in-law Tina, when she came over from England to see us in Philadelphia in 2002. I did not discover it until a few days after her departure, when it caught my eye as I was passing through the kitchen. What a sweet surprise and lingering souvenir of a wonderful visit! I kept it there for the next two years, until we moved from that house, leaving the refrigerator behind:
Here are the rest, some of which you may be able to discern -- just barely -- off to the right of George Washington. You might also notice that we gave George Washington a heart -- and a hat! Happy Birthday George!

We hope you have as much fun reading our little poems as we had writing them:


grow up




make brother a super hero and a strong god

let me grow blue and soar with spirit

I think I will be a doctor

be a courageous Ph.D. survivor

you are not the un tender

dance at sunrise
pink morning
red day
rose evening
night sky
full moon

come musician share the joy
listen to live music charm away sad ness
gentle rhapsody and quiet song
a sound like heaven

remember that every embrace is sacred

sweet angels ward off evil dream of tremendous dark power

we must kneel to receive your infinite care

I am we are
he she it is

do you like my most favorite film

regard only chocolate and TV

I want my honey dew fruit blossom

please make me laugh

cool web of language

can you understand my soul?

search for the universe

I am in love with the world

Friday, February 19, 2010

Little Tigers in the House


At an art exhibit many years ago, I saw a wooden sculpture of a cat sitting atop a metal climbing frame, entitled "Little Tiger in the House." How I would love to see that again, but I don't know where to find it or who the sculptor was. How could I have neglected to write that name down?

The sculpture looked a bit like this painting
by Kwong Kuen Shan:

Two of my own Little Tigers in the House
Josef (left, in 1993) & Pine (right, in 2007)
Same Chairs: Refinished & Reupholstered

"For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is a servant of the Living God
duly and daily serving him . . .
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying. . . .
For he counteracts the powers of darkness . . .
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death,
by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons,
he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger
. . . .
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion."

from one of my all-time favorite poems "My Cat Jeoffry"
by Christopher Smart (eccentric English Poet, 1722 - 1771)

For More on the Year of the Tiger, see
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

Searching for a good book? Take a look at
my running list of recent reading

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's the Big Idea?

The big ideas huddle in the jar together.
You spread them over the black bread of day after day
and swallow them. ~Quinton Duval

If you are a newcomer to "The Quotidian Kit," what I hope you will discover about this blog is how well it embodies the quotations above. When Emily asks, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?" I want the answer to be "Yes, Kitti Carriker does!"

I picked the above photo, taken in Chicago by my friend Dagmar, because the city looks to me like a big, rounded jar where big ideas might huddle, along with the miniaturized images of me and my friends. I like to think of my blog as "the plain brown bread of day after day," and if I can, I'm going to pull some of the big ideas out of that existentialist jar and spread them on the bread for you to savor. I want these entries to prove the truth of Virginia Woolf's observation that indeed life does exist fully in what is common, in what is small, and "in what is commonly thought small."

So, every other day or so, I post my observations, large and small, ideas that crop up in the course of any given day. In addition, I occasionally feature blogs run by friends, various cross references and links that you may find of interest, announcements of community events, news about my family, favorite poems -- old and new, seasonal pictures and quotations, and photos of my adorable cats (sorry, can't resist!).

(Thanks to my nephew Hans for this one!)

In the right-hand column (-> over there -> and continue strolling down) you can see a permanent list of the many inspiring one - liners and memorable quotations that I have collected over the years. I hope you will find a few there that will stick in your mind as they have stuck in mine.

On "The Quotidian," I also take the opportunity to print excerpts from my two lengthier blogs, in order to keep you informed of what is going on there. You can reach either of these sites by clicking on the big "CARRIKER" signs that you see to the right ( <- over and scroll up).

1. "The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker": my literary blog of connection and coincidence. If you scroll down to Monday's post, "Joy Luck," you'll see that it announces the most recent Fortnightly entry (these appear every couple of weeks, thus "fortnightly," i.e., every fourteen days -- on the 14th of the month & then again on the 28th).

Click Here to find out more about "The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker."

2. "Kitti's List" : my book blog, a running log, with commentary of my past and current reading. The titles are organized primarily by the date of reading but also somewhat thematically.

If you are interested in reading previous "Quotidian" posts, you may continue scrolling down, reading backward in time until you eventually reach "older posts," where you can click for even more. Or you can go the "Blog Archive" in the right - hand column (over -> and scroll down, way past the words of wisdom!). Click on the black arrows for a list of months, then click on the name of each month for that month's posts. You will find many, starting in June 2009.

Please read, enjoy, follow & comment! Thanks!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Joy Luck

To celebrate the Year of the Tiger, here a few of my favorite fortune cookie fortunes that I have saved over the years:

"Answer just what your heart prompts you."
[Not diffidence. Confidence.]

"Stop searching forever, happiness is just next to you."
[Not in Oz. In Kansas.]

"Launch a regiment for a new healthier you!"
[Not a regimen. A regiment.]

Break open your fortune cookie or your Christmas Cracker and more often than not you will find some ridiculous little proverb whose so-called meaning evaporates even as your read it aloud. Luckily, though, every once in awhile, Fate makes an exception and offers an idea you can run with, one that will speak to your heart and bring you Good Fortune.Joy Luck: "It's not that we had no heart or eyes for pain. We were all afraid. We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish back for something already lost. . . . What was worse . . . to sit and wait . . . Or to choose our own happiness? . . . So we decided to hold parties and pretend each week had become the new year. . . . And each week we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy. And that's how we came to call our little parties Joy Luck."
(from The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, 24 -25)

Happy New Year of the Tiger! Joy! Luck! Good Fortune!

For Further Fortune Cookie Analysis, see
my fortnightly literary blog
of connection and coincidence

Looking for a good book? Take a look at
my running list of recent reading

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just Not That Into You

"Next to being married,
a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then."
Jane Austen, from Pride and Prejudice

Last year around this time, my friend Vickie and I were reminiscing about those lucky girls back in college (never us) who received flowers, actually delivered to their dorm rooms, on Valentine's Day. So special for them. My flower delivery story, on the other hand, happens to be one of those "too bad to be true" dorm memories.

Breaking up is always bad; could a flower delivery make it even worse? (Answer: Yes.) There I was on a miserable Monday afternoon, sitting at my desk, teary-eyed and feeling incredibly sorry for myself, still in emotional dismay, the day after one of those inevitable splits.

For some reason (expecting someone to stop by?), the door to my room was slightly ajar. Next thing I knew, I heard a light knock and looked up to see a flower delivery person with a beautiful bouquet. Naturally, my foolish heart jumped to the immediate conclusion that here was the apology I was yearning for. It had all been a big mistake, the woeful weekend wiped away in one larger - than - life romantic gesture . . . but . . . no! It was not be be.

This delivery geek was merely LOST and just needed directions to SOMEONE . . . ELSE'S . . . ROOM. Unbelievable! What are the odds that he would ask this knife-twisting question of me, the most lovelorn girl around? No flower deliver-er had ever asked me for directions before -- why this day? Talk about insult to injury! A soap opera or sit-com writer could not have devised a more ludicrously disappointing scene than the one I experienced in that ironic moment.

Ah, Cruelty. Ah, Youth. Ah, FTD.

" 'Love,' says Squire Allworthy, 'however much we may corrupt and pervert its meaning . . . remains a rational passion.' "
--Henry Fielding, from Tom Jones

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What A Wonderful World

" . . . Skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed day . . . "

Citizen Green

Linda Anderson, aka Citizen Green, is a retired high school biology teacher who writes one of my favorite Eco - Blogs, focusing specifically on how to reduce the proliferation of single-use plastics. She writes to benefit the environment, to educate herself, and to assist her readers in becoming more responsible inhabitants of our wonderful world.

Linda says: "The purpose of this blog is to share ways to reduce consumption of plastic (especially single-use plastics) with friends and potential friends. Hopefully you will get ideas as well as give ideas. Please leave a comment!" Citizen Green

I have already learned so much from Citizen Green. For example, when you check for the "chasing arrows" recycling triangle, do you ever wonder about all those numbers: 1 - 7?

I do! I thought maybe it was #1 for big things, #6 for small things, or something along those lines. Well, it's much more complex than that, and Linda is just the blogger to give you an informed explanation:

#3, #6, #7 [Click #s for more info]

#1, #2, #4, #5 [Click #s for more info]

Citizen Green offers the perfect combination of scientific fact and practical application. Check out her tips for a healthier kitchen, a happier life, and a greener world!

Monday, February 8, 2010

February Lunchtime Concert

Announcement From Michael Bennett,
Director of Music

"On this month's docket of our lunchtime concert series you will be dazzled by Ben McCartney, our Church Music Intern, playing the King of Instruments. Ben is an organ student of Michael Bennett, a member of our Parish Choir, and a sophomore at Purdue. Ben frequently plays in our 10:15 a.m. worship, accompanying the Jr. Choristers and playing hymns and voluntaries. His eclectic program will feature music of Bach, French contemporary organist Jean Langlais, and also that of a living American composer, Dan Locklair."
Plan to join us Wednesday, February 10.
The concert runs from 12:10 - 12:30 pm,
with lunch following.

St. John's Episcopal Church
600 Ferry Street
Lafayette, Indiana 47901-1142
Rector: The Reverend Ed Tourangeau
Director of Music: Michael Bennett

Ben McCartney
Church Music Intern

[P.S. Did I forget to mention that Ben is my son?!]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

That Vase

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

by Philip Larkin
British Poet (1922 - 1985)


Above and below:
my simple copy in acrylics of the cover art
on one of my favorite mystery novels

Just Too Sad For Words

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tammy Sandel, Guest Poet

I do not write much poetry myself,
but I have plenty of friends who do.
Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you some poems -- about
childbirth, childhood, motherhood,
and eating what's put before you --
written by one of my talented friends:

Tammy Sandel
Certified Doula (DONA),
Poet, Prankster, Mom]

Postpartum Visit

Three days after I attended the birth as doula, I visited this new mother and her little one at home…

You hand me your sleeping newborn
And his warm weight thumps against my heart
Flying me back to when I held my own tiny son
(I hold him still, my lap overflowing with legs and arms and words).
Your boy works the indescribable magic
That brings motherhood and family and friendship to a sparkling point of light
That smells like new skin
And feels like truth.
Your trust helps me remember
That your child and my child
Breathe the same air
Gaze at the same sky
Reach out in the same emptiness
To nestle in a safe place.
And love from me is love from you
In an endless circle of women
Holding each others’ hands
And babies.

By Tammy Sandel, CD(DONA)

Tammy Knox Sandel is a birth doula in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she shares a home with her husband, two sons, and three animals. She works to notice, amplify, and celebrate relationships and connections through the experience of birth.

west side CVS

three moms are at the photo kiosk
smiling, nodding,
murmuring to themselves
as faces flash by –
baby-plump, gap-toothed, prom-bound
compact little squares of time

i know these
women on stools.
i got here first today
then sally from the blue room,
who used to greet me with a smile and read stories to my son
and kim, the master scrapper,
who helped me learn to PTO

we chat briefly, learn that all 3 of us know all 3 of us,
learn fast about important things:
a daughter’s graduating,
the boys are playing baseball,
good to have both kids at one school

as my pictures print,
i shop
for toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant
and realize in beauty that I lost a greenbag somewhere
a tall man smiles and hands it over
“in the liquor aisle,” he replies
betraying my selection of
cheap and delicious red wine
oh well.

i finish, look forward to
with my 68 shots of science projects, easter outfits,
and spring break in chicago.
i am so proud to be “mrs. sandel”
whose order is now ready at the counter
who swipes her reward card
and pays the nice man who found my bag

i peek at the photos
and softly pat my own back
for doing this errand
releasing them from the camera
for noticing and celebrating
and chronicling these moments
of an ordinary
extraordinarily sweet life.

tammy sandel, april 28, 2009


Bon Appetit

On a quiet stretch of country
I see you down the road –
Patient turkey vultures
Looming like giants
above the wooly worms.
If you have to take your supper
In the middle of the street,
Get someone to come with you, right?
Enjoy the company
While you feed your young,
And accept the interruptions
with gratitude for the food.
Hunched inside your black housecoats
You meander and strut
Keeping watch
‘Til I’m close enough for someone to sound the alert:
“Hey ever-bod-ee!”
And it’s heavy lift-off in
Then you all just hang
Still and colossal on the fence
Waiting for the quiet
So you can go back to work
And clean your plate.

Tammy Sandel, September 1, 2009


Parting words from Tammy:
Learn things. Have fun. Do some good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Today is Groundhog Day, my brother's birthday, the 128th birthday of James Joyce, and Candlemas Day -- a good day for taking down the Christmas greens if you haven't done so already. As the old 17thC poem goes:

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall . . .

Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the misletoe . . .
Thus times do shift: each thing its turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.

from "Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve"
and "Ceremonies For Candlemas Eve"
both by Robert Herrick
English Poet (1591–1674)

Following Herrick's advice, I removed all the pine roping from the porches yesterday and dismantled the big tree. Sad, but it had to be done. Just like the poem a few weeks ago:
"an hour on the stepladder . . .
woman's work . . .
The sunlight brave and January thin"
"Untrimming the Tree"
by John N. Morris (1931 - 1997)
American author and educator

Today is not only Candlemas but also Imbolc, the Cross - Quarter Day that falls half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, a time of clear vision into other worlds and festivals of purification.

I recall a day back in college when my professor, Jim Thomas read "Ode to the West Wind" aloud to the class, concluding with his own cynical answer to the hopeful romanticism of the poem's closing question:

"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

"Yes, Shelley, Yes!" he thundered. "It can be a long way behind!"

Well, whatever the Groundhog decides today, we're halfway!