Thursday, March 31, 2011

Experiments of Green

Fig Plant in Our Sun Room

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

~ Emily Dickinson ~

As Czeslaw Milosz says in his poem "Esse," we strive to name the world, the spring landscape, the green experiment: "repeating only: is! . . . I was left behind with the immensity of existing things. A sponge, suffering because it cannot saturate itself; a river, suffering because reflections of clouds and trees are not clouds and trees."

Dickinson, Milosz, and more ~ currently on
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker:
Like a Spinning Top, Like a Sponge


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Milosz & Sartre

"Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun."

I was left behind with the immensity of existing things.
A sponge, suffering because it cannot saturate itself;
a river, suffering because reflections of clouds and trees
are not clouds and trees.

~ Czeslaw Milosz ~

about Czeslaw Milosz and Jean - Paul Sartre:

Like a Spinning Top, Like a Sponge
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

previous Czeslaw Milosz posts
on The Quotidian Kit:

Czeslaw Milosz February 5, 2011

Bridge of Air February 6, 2011

Haiku For The Family January 24, 2010

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Laser Cut Matryoshka

Laser Cut Russian Doll by Paperchase

The Mystery of the Matryoshka: Within Within Within
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

~ Like a Sponge, Like a Spinning Top ~

Friday, March 25, 2011


A photograph for
The Feast of the Annunciation:

My little sister Di with her two new grandchildren,
Thomas (L) & Reuben (R)

"Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children's children and forever more!"

lyrics by
Timothy Dudley - Smith, b. 1926

~ Tom, Di & Family ~ October 2010 ~
right in front is Little Lyla, big sis to Reuben

The Magnificat
also called The Song of Mary
sung by Mary, when she felt the unborn child John the Baptist
move within the womb of her cousin Elizabeth

My soul doth magnify the Lord
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him
throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel
as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever.

music by
Sir Herbert Brewer, 1865 - 1928

P.S. More Grands!
~ Tom, Di & Family ~ August 2014 ~

Thursday, March 24, 2011

English Cottage Tea Cosy

My Favorite Tea Cosy and Tea Cup

Here at the frontier, there are falling leaves.
Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
And you, you are a thousand miles away,
There are always two cups on my table

Tang Dynasty, 618 - 906 AD

Come oh come ye tea-thirsty restless ones ~
the kettle boils, bubbles and sings, musically

Rabindranath Tagore, 1861 - 1941
Indian Poet, Playwright and Essayist
Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913

Christmas Pudding Cosy & Gift Bag

Novelty Tea Cosies
from Ulster Weavers

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pine Forest Update 2011

Every visit to Gerry's parents has to include an outing to the Pine Forest near Liverpool, where we stand underneath our lucky tree and take some photographs to mark how tall the boys have grown -- or should I say to document how short the parents have become! Here (above & below) are the pictures we took this morning, bringing the record up to date.

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

Pine Forest Update 2017
Pine Forest Update 2013
Pine Forest Update 2012
Pine Forest Update 2011
Tree of Life
Watching the Boys Grow

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Super Moon

Largest Full Moon of 2011
As Seen from back porch in Liverpool
I was disappointed to catch only a brief glimpse of this year's Super Moon before the British sky clouded over (bright views from around the world). Every bit as good as any picture taken by NASA is this one, taken by my super observant brother - in - law:

As Seen from front porch in Maryland

My super sis Peg wrote:

"Tonight the moon is on it's closest approach to the earth in 20 years. Here's a photo Ron took out our front door and it reminds me of the Cat Stevens' song, 'Moonshadow.' It really is beautiful and if you haven't had a chance to see it yet, just step outside. I think it was put there just to shine a beautiful light on my beautiful -- super sweet! -- niece Anna to close out her 21st birthday."

Coming tomorrow, while the moon is still full: the Vernal Equinox!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red Carnations & Matryoshkas

I have collected many matryoshka sets over the years and have been given many as presents, especially when I was writing extensively about dolls and miniatures and the secrets of interiority. My largest set ~ the elegant Renaissance Maidens shown above ~ and the very tiny Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland, that you can also see, were all gifts from my friend Marietta. Thanks Et!

Egyptian Mummy Matryoshkas from the Museum Catalogue
and Giant Mummy Earrings from Von's

For more:

check out the Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

and scroll down to yesterday's Quotidian Kit . . .

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Mystery of the Matryoshka:
Within Within Within

Little Ben with the Matryoshka Collection, 1997

The Mystery of the Matryoshka: Within Within Within
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

1. "For one thing, the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds has made me curious about the sun and the stars, for the universe itself must be like a world of great atoms . . . but most important, I suppose experiment has made me feel important--every atom in me, in everybody, has come from the sun--from places beyond our dreams. The atoms of our hands, the atoms of our hearts" (101-02).

from The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man - in - the - Moon Marigolds
by Paul Zindel

2. "Keep in mind, as you pray and meditate, that the God inside of you is more powerful than anything else in the world. The entire cosmos is imprinted on every atom of your being. . . .

"You can think of the universe as a set of wooden Russian matryoshka dolls, with each doll having a smaller one inside of it. The entire visible universe is the outermost doll, and nested inside it are galaxies, solar systems, stars, planets -- right down to the smallest doll, which is you. But inside of you is an even smaller doll that somehow has the biggest doll inside of it. When you figure out this riddle, you will have discovered the key to your ascension!"

from Reincarnation: The Missing Link In Christianity
by Elizabeth Clare Prophet

3. "Transcendence and the interiority of history and narrative are the dominant characteristics of the most consummate of miniatures -- the dollhouse. A house within a house . . . a space within an enclosed space . . . the locket or the secret recesses of the heart: center within center, within within within. The dollhouse is a materialized secret; what we look for is the dollhouse within the dollhouse and its promise of an infinitely profound interiority." (61)

from On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature,
the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection
by Susan Stewart

Stewart's insight on the dollhouse -- "the house within a house" and even more so, "the dollhouse within the dollhouse and its promise of an infinitely profound interiority" -- is equally applicable to the nesting Matryoshka / Matreshka dolls, stacked and nested so neatly within one another.

Sam's Display of the Tiniest

Read More:
The Mystery of the Matryoshka: Within Within Within

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grim and Gram

When the boys were growing up, we all became fans of Rodman Philbrick's novel Freak the Mighty and the sequel Max the Mighty. We also enjoyed watching the film (based on the first book) The Mighty. It was a great family movie to watch whenever Gerry's parents were visiting from England, and we gradually came to call them by the same nicknames used by Max for his grandparents in the book: Grim & Gram.

In the pictures below, I was photographing our Grim and Gram, along with some gardening tools that they had been given on their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Inspired by that stark English sky, I suddenly had the idea to pose them along the lines of Grant Wood's American Gothic painting, and then juxtapose their photograph with the original.

Ron might have been having a little bit too much fun,
but Rosanne really caught the spirit!

British / American Gothic

The original painting is also the inspiration behind a number of American poems, including the following by one of my favorite poets, William Stafford (click for a reading):

American Gothic
If we see better through tiny,
grim glasses, we like to wear
tiny, grim glasses.
Our parents willed us this
view. It's tundra? We love it.

We travel our kind of
Renaissance: barnfuls of hay,
whole voyages of corn, and
a book that flickers its
halo in the parlor.

Poverty plus confidence equals
pioneers. We never doubted.

by William Stafford, 1914 - 1993
in The Way It Is, 1999

for more
"American / British / Indiana Gothic"

You might also enjoy my previous posts
on the poetry of William Stafford:

9 January 2010
26 February 2010
11 June 2010
18 November 2010

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gone On Ahead

Beautiful Dagmar
1959 - 2011

Dear Dagmar,

"More precious was the light in your eyes
than all the roses in the world."

from "Dirge Without Music"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950
American Lyrical Poet

Blogs posts by others,
in honor of Dagmar:

Gale Charlotte
(Gale also read this beautiful eulogy
at Dagmar's Memorial Service)

Cindy Gerlach

Monday, March 7, 2011

To Soften and Blur

~ Space Center, Orlando, 2006 ~
Some have called Sam's photo "blurry"
but I call it "impressionism" (that's a mom for you)!

Claude Monet
in his garden
in Giverny
with an unidentified visitor.
New York Times, 1922.

Monet Refuses The Operation
Doctor, you say there are no halos
around the streetlights of Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.

Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?

I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

Lisel Mueller (b. 1924)
German born American poet
Pultizer Prize for Poetry, 1997

When I sent my brother Dave a copy of this poem, he wrote back: "I suppose the same could be said for the strange and often comical and interesting things that I hear when people speak to me. They assure me that I am missing the point and have not heard them correctly. I in turn assure them that whatever their intent, my perception is much more entertaining. Then accursed technology is plugged into my head and all returns to its cold and logical correctness with no whimsy."

A few additional points to ponder:

Check out this interesting poetry blog for commentary on
"Monet Refuses the Operation"

"Monet Refuses the Operation" appears as the prologue to
Anne Lamott's book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

To read Lisel Mueller's poem, "Moon Fishing," see my post:
"Many Many Moons"

Contemporary Watercolor of Monet's Garden
See more at

My friends Victoria & Steven
Standing on the bridge at Monet's Garden, 2012

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Insidious Trauma

X-ray: Normal Ankle and Foot

In Memoriam
ENYI OKEREKE, 1954 - 2008

"Death, be not proud . . .
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery."

from "Sonnet #10"
by John Donne, 1572 - 1631
English Metaphysical Poet

I had the occasion to meet Dr. Enyi Okereke in Philadelphia back in 2000, when I developed a mysterious persistent pain in my left ankle. Had I been skiing, fallen, worn strange shoes, twisted my ankle in any way? No. I recollected nothing of the sort. After some analysis of my case, Dr. Okereke cured me with a couple of shots of cortisone. I spent the next 24 hours with an ankle swollen larger and aching more than ever before, but as the swelling subsided, so did the pain, and it has stayed away for a decade. So, in my mind, Dr. Okereke was a miracle worker, and one of the kindest, funniest physicians I have ever had the privilege to meet.

On the afternoon of my first scheduled appointment with him, I had hoped to squeeze in a visit on short notice before picking my children up from school. The waiting room was crowded, and an hour passed. All the doctors were running behind, and as the time drew near for me to fetch the boys, I realized that both I and the scheduling desk had been much too optimistic. I let the receptionist know that I would have to leave without keeping my appointment, and we rescheduled for another day, first thing in the morning. When that morning arrived, the waiting room was quiet, and I was called to Dr. Okereke's office at the appointed time.

Glancing over my "new patient" chart, Dr. Okereke observed the notation that I had departed the previous week without seeing him. "Yes," I replied, "the appointments were getting all backed up and I couldn't wait any longer."

"Oh dear, he asked, "was I having a bad day?"

I laughed, and said, "Apparently you were!"

I was so warmed by his humor, and charmed by his joke of asking me how his day had been going.

I also joked with him about the similarity of our last names:

Carr - i - ker

Oker - e - ke

Mine was Germanic, his Nigerian, but maybe somewhere back in the mists of linguistic history, they were derived from the same root word. [I have the same curiosity about the surnames of several other friends whose families hail from various points around the globe, yet our names are all so similar: Carrigan / Carillo / Annecharico. But that's another story!]

As for my ankle, a number of times during the course of my treatment, I received questionnaires from insurance companies asking if I had injured myself on someone else's property, fallen on their driveway, tripped on their stairs. Was there someone to blame? Someone to sue for my aches and pains? But such was not the case. I could think of no external event, no evident cause for this effect.

Dr. Okereke had a different idea. His diagnosis: insidious trauma. Remember all those childhood bicycle accidents? It's true, I was not a natural when it came to keeping my balance! Well, the scabs and scars might have disappeared long ago, but deep inside each cell, the memory remained. Thanks to Dr. Okereke, I gained a new respect for my body's capacity to remember. In a related observation, Madeleine L'Engle points out in A Wrinkle in Time: "Sometimes we can't know what spiritual damage it [trauma] leaves even when physical recovery is complete" (189; see also my previous post: "Grief & Relief").

A year or so after my ankle crisis, my husband was called for jury duty. He was dismissed after the first round of questions when all M. D.s and Ph. D.s were asked to identify themselves and be excused. Apparently, the case was a lawsuit, a patient not satisfied with the outcome of his orthopedic surgery. "A doctor named Okereke," Gerry informed me, not recalling the name from my appointments the previous year. "What!" I was astonished. How dare anyone sue Dr. Okereke. I could not abide hearing a word spoken against him!

Our paths crossed for only an hour or so, but he made a lasting impression on me. Over the years, I've told my Dr. Okereke stories many times -- his sense of humor over the "bad day"; the oddly coincidental jury duty conflict; the intriguing concept of "insidious trauma" that I learned from him (applicable in so many psychosomatic ways); and my hunch that our names are somehow etymologically connected. This last topic came up in conversation just the other day, and Gerry volunteered to do some googling for me.

Sore dismayed is perhaps the only way to describe how I felt when Gerry informed me that sadly, the first few citations to appear on his web search were Dr. Okereke's obituary and numerous eulogies in his honor. No! Vibrant Dr. Okereke not here on earth with us? What insidious trauma could have laid him low, so unfairly, so many years before his time? How could this be possible when he seemed so invincible? Yet in a way he remains so. You have only to look at the many loving words delivered on his behalf to see that I was not alone in my estimation of this kind and humorous and helpful man. Invincible!

"I am not resigned
to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be,
for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. . . .

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned."

from "Dirge Without Music"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950
American Lyrical Poet

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Junior High Girl

17 Book Rosamond du Jardin Collection

Remember these Junior High Girl Books?

See these and many more on my Book Blog!

A couple of favorites from the lists:

1. I, Keturah by Ruth Wolff

. . . also loved A Crack in the Sidewalk
by the same author.

2. Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk

. . . also loved staying up late
to watch this movie in the summertime!
(song by Doris Day, Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Vegetable Love

Still Life with Brussels Sprouts and Leeks
Had we but world enough, and time . . .
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow . . .

But at my back I always hear
Time's wing├Ęd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

from the poem
To His Coy Mistress
by English Metaphysical Poet
~ Andrew Marvell ~
(1621 - 1678)

Back in the days of the earliest Roman calendar, March was the first month, the beginning of the New Year, making it the perfect annual marker for nature's rebirth, new life and new love, a fresh cycle of growth.

The day holds so much symbolism. It takes its names from Mars, the god of war, who was born with the New Year. It arrives like a lion, departs like a lamb (or vice versa); and it is St. David's Day. As the Patron Saint of Wales, St. David is associated with dragons, daffodils, leeks, and -- did you know this? -- Brussels sprouts! Yet another reason to love March First!

St. David (500 -589) and all the monks in his monasteries have the honorable position of going down in history as the earliest known vegans, eating only bread, herbs, and vegetables; and drinking only water.

Among all the rather silly poems written about Brussels sprouts, there is one that stands out as particularly lovely. So for St. David's Day, here is a lush, luscious poem in honor of vegetable love, and vegans everywhere:

Brussels Sprouts*

In drag-foot March, and fastening my coat

against a churlish wind, as I arrive

at the greengrocer's stall I have in mind

Bermuda onions, chard, asparagus,

red peppers, corn -- a salad for the eye

and long-stemmed hothouse marvels hastening

the spring in every hue; but daffodils

to mark St. David's Day have frumpy blooms,

carnations wither, and the tulip buds

are February's orphans. As for fruit

and vegetables, the apples look as hard

as wood, and flavorless; my leafy thought

of salads dies. But broccoli is out

in florets, with the kindred cabbages

and Brussels sprouts. Such lowly ancestry

they have, these sprouts, so plain! They could be beads

or dresser knobs, or marbles for a game

with winter, and at thirty-seven pence

a pound are not patrician. Yet their sweet

and minimal design, their modesty,

repeating an idea of round desire

and touched with Cezanne blue, invite conceits

with painted tables, sunshine in the shape

of fruit, a bowl, a porcelain carafe,

or curtains at a window by Matisse

as if in all things green there were a grace

awaiting hand or eye to contemplate

the world transcended in its common ways.

by Contemporary American Poet
Catharine Savage Brosman

*Intellectual property of LSU Press

For more vegetable poems by Brosman,
see my Fortnightly post: "Hungry Heart"