Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Noble Country

Lego Flag, Original Design by Ben & Sam

"I believe that there lives a burning desire in the most sequestered private heart of every American, a desire to belong to a great country. I believe that every citizen wants to stand on the world stage and represent a noble country where the mighty do not always crush the weak and the dream of a democracy is not the sole possession of the strong."

National Spirit
For the past four decades, our national spirit and natural joy have ebbed. Our national expectations have diminished. Our hope for the future has waned to such a degree that we risk sneers and snorts of derision when we confess that we are hoping for bright tomorrows.

How have we come so late and lonely to this place? When did we relinquish our desire for a high moral ground to those who clutter our national landscape with vulgar accusations and gross speculations? Are we not the same people who have fought a war in Europe to eradicate an Aryan threat to murder an entire race? Have we not worked, prayed, planned to create a better world?

Are we not the same citizens who struggled, marched, and went to jail to obliterate legalized racism from our country? Didn't we dream of a country where freedom was in the national conscience and dignity was the goal?

We must insist that the men and women who expect to lead us recognize the true desires of those who are being led. We do not choose to be herded into a building burning with hate nor into a system rife in intolerance.

Politicians must set their aims for the high ground and according to our various leanings, Democratic, Republican, Independent, we will follow.

Politicians must be told if they continue to sink into the mud of obscenity, they will proceed alone.

If we tolerate vulgarity, our future will sway and fall under a burden of ignorance. It need not be so. We have the brains and the heart to face our futures bravely. Taking responsibility for the time we take up and the space we occupy. To respect our ancestors and out of concert for our descendants, we must show ourselves as courteous and courageous well-meaning Americans.

both selections from
Letter to My Daughter
by Maya Angelou
(pp 83 - 4, 125 - 26)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hair Today

In keeping with my recent hair-stories, Gerry picked this birthday card for me (and carefully added the glasses by hand). Cute!

Also arriving on my birthday was this little hair-story:

Tight Perm:
If you get a tight enough perm, she told me,
it's almost as good as a face lift.
But she had worked around a lot
of toxic chemicals in the 60's,
so I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

by Brian Andreas . . .
"telling people about a better way of seeing."

"Tight Perm," showed up as my "Story of the Day." and immediately brought to mind a recent discussion with my curly - haired friend Eileen about a hair "relaxing" treatment called the Brazilian Blowout. Because of our natural curl, we have both been receiving numerous suggestions to try the scary - sounding "Brazilian Blowout," because it will make us shinier, save on styling time, and give us a "more professional" look. But she says, "No! It's fun being curly girls! Curls are purty! And our products have clever names like Be Curly, Mixed Chicks, Bed Head, and Control Freak."

Eileen is adamant when it comes to the implements of hair torture, e.g., giant rollers (that was the old days), flat irons, and so forth: "I will not do it!" And her opinion of the Brazilian: "I think it's the botox of hair!"

See the connection here?
Tight perm = face lift,
Brazilian blowout = botox!

This excerpt is from "Ad Hairenum"

read more on The Fortnightly [Every 14th & 28th]
Kitti Carriker: A Literary Blog
of Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

P.S. Here's one more hair-themed StoryPeople:

Gathering Electrons:
This hair gathers electrons
from the atmosphere & uses it
to perpetuate new ideas about
hair's role in the history
of civilization.

~ Brian Andreas ~

And one more hair - themed blog post (by me): "Scary Hair"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Graduation to My Younger Son Sam

Sam's Graduation Party With His Friend Brendan
Sam's Graduation Announcement, May 2011


Since I wasn't blogging three years ago, when my older son Ben graduated from high school and gave his Senior Recital, I'll post those notices here, just for old time's sake and safe-keeping:

Ben's Graduation Announcement, May 2008
Ben's Senior Organ Recital, August 2008

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Twin Brother Bruce

In honor of my brother's birthday -- which also happens to be my birthday (scroll down to read previous Gemini post) -- I thought I would post this archived interview about his work that appeared in The New York Times a few summers ago.

On Public Land, Sunday in the Park With Prayer
article by Neela Banerjee
The New York Times, July 24, 2006
photographs by Kalim A. Bhatti for The New York Times

Worshipers at an outdoor service at Cowans Gap State Park on July 16, part of the Pennsylvania park system’s summer chaplaincy program

COWANS GAP STATE PARK, Pa. — This is what church looked like to Deana Wingert on a recent Sunday: the wind ruffled the lake behind the pulpit, evergreens towered above the pews, a yellow butterfly danced over a sunny patch of grass, and the scent of lighter fluid wafted through, followed by the smell of meat grilling.

Most members in the congregation did not know one another. They had come, like the Wingerts, to Cowans Gap, about 100 miles southwest of Harrisburg, to camp, swim and picnic. But it was Sunday, and for the 100 or so Christians with baseball caps and bug spray who wanted to worship, the park offered itself as their church.

Bruce Carriker, one of 27 chaplains working in the parks this summer, strummed a guitar during his service

“This is the day that the Lord has made,” the congregation sang to the cloudless sky, as the chaplain, Bruce Carriker, strummed the guitar and began the service. “We shall rejoice and be glad in it.”

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, 42 state, national and private parks in Pennsylvania hold nondenominational Christian worship services. It is the only state with such a program, said the Rev. Paul L. Herring of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. The chaplains come from local towns and faraway states, as do the worshipers, mostly Protestants. Last year, 18,000 people attended services in Pennsylvania parks.

Cowans Gap usually has about 85 people at Sunday service — not a bad turnout for what is essentially a small-town church. Many people come because they would never go a Sunday without hearing God’s Word. But they are also drawn by the beauty and novelty of praying outdoors, and they become open, they say, to understanding their place in the world in a deeper way.

“It is enriching to be here,” said Ms. Wingert, 34, from nearby Fort Loudon, Pa., who comes regularly to the service with her husband and two young sons. “Your mind wanders a bit, but it focuses, too: on the fact that you’re in it, you’re in God’s creation, and that there is so much beyond your control.”

Although the services are held on state land, the chaplaincy program is financed with private money from local churches and denominational bodies. The program began 46 years ago when the Parks Department approached the Pennsylvania Council of Churches because many denominations wanted to preach and evangelize in the parks.

The council developed a program in which the chaplains conduct nondenominational worship services, and they are prohibited from proselytizing, said Mr. Herring, the council’s coordinator of leisure ministries.

Over the years, some people have objected to the religious services being held on public lands, but there has never been a formal complaint or organized opposition, said Mr. Herring’s administrative assistant, Audrey Crawford.

This year, 27 chaplains are working in the parks, Mr. Herring said. About half are ordained ministers; the rest are college and divinity school students and lay people.

Full-time chaplains usually live in trailers in nearby private parks, in apartments or in local homes. They receive $4,000 for the 15 weeks they serve in the program.

For Mr. Carriker, an intense, bustling man whose gray hair curls down to his shoulders, his only previous experience in Pennsylvania had consisted of two trips on the turnpike.

But after being checked out by the program’s selection committee (and the state police), the 49-year-old retired infantry officer and former minister in the Church of the Nazarene was assigned to Cowans Gap three years ago. At home in Kansas City, Mo., he works with juvenile offenders. Here, he said, he satisfies his itch to preach. He lives next to forested hills and a shimmering lake. He is a small-town pastor.

“After I came here,” Mr. Carriker said after a recent service, “I finally understood the idea of coming home to a place you had never been before.”

Over the summer, people use the parks as they would their own churches. At French Creek State Park, a large Alcoholics Anonymous group meets outdoors, many members arriving on their motorcycles. They like having the chaplain there, but the members run the meeting, Mr. Herring said.

Mr. Carriker holds a movie night on Fridays, and for reasons unknown to him, he must attend a sand castle fest on the lake’s shores on Saturdays. But mostly, he walks through the campgrounds and lets people know he is there to listen and pray.

And they turn to him. People like the couple whose son committed suicide years ago but loved the park like no other place. Or the veteran who asked Mr. Carriker to pray for his son in Iraq. Or the woman whose granddaughter is struggling with anorexia, as is Mr. Carriker’s older daughter.

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut and cry,” Mr. Carriker said. “You may read a Psalm once in a while, but sometimes there are no words you can speak.”

Though they have some guidance from the council, chaplains fashion their own services, and in general they are more informal than those in a traditional church setting. At Cowans Gap, the service is usually held at an amphitheater at the lake, and when it rains the service is in a nature center with displays of stuffed foxes and birds. People bring their own Bibles, sometimes their own chairs, and Mr. Carriker provides the songbooks.

Mr. Carriker uses the lectionary, a three-year cycle of readings from Scripture of the main teachings of Jesus, as the basis of his services. He always places a small wooden cross before him.

On a rainy Sunday, Mr. Carriker read passages from the Gospel of Mark, in which a storm on the Sea of Galilee threatens a boat carrying Jesus and the disciples. Jesus calms the storm and rebukes the disciples for their fear.

Mr. Carriker was a stranger to most of those before him. But he used the homily to share his life and to show that he knew theirs. He told them that though people strive for control of their lives, a storm always rises. It may be the dark spot on the X-ray, or the drugs found in an honor student’s locker, or a daughter’s anorexia, he said, his voice cracking just a little. It takes a lot of courage to have faith in the face of such storms, he said.

“But through faith, we can always figure out who is in the boat with us,” Mr. Carriker said, “because he is enough. He is always enough.”

John Morrow, 77, a retired Presbyterian minister from Acme, Pa., had heard homilies on the passage before, but none as good as in the nature center of this small park, he said. Mr. Morrow had heard something new, and the surprise fed his faith.

“When you’re traveling, it’s easy to assume that you’re alone in your faith,” he said. “But with all these people here together, you realize you are not alone, and it’s reinforcing.”

article by Neela Banerjee
The New York Times ~ July 24, 2006


P.P.S. Wombmates forever! Don't forget to call Mom (I talked to her yesterday). I know it's ~our~ birthday, but since delivering us was a life-risking activity, I figure we're the ones who should call her! We are all survivors! xo

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gemini, A Mutable Sign

It may not have meant so much to me being a Gemini all these years, except for the fact that I was born not just a Gemini, but a real twin. Though we may not have those special vibes that you hear of identical twins sharing, my twin brother Bruce -- or as I called him in younger days, "my swin Brucie" -- and I have always enjoyed our twin-ness and had fun with our special status. Being a twin -- that's my TOP 10 reason for being a Gemini!

[just try not to notice major usage error: your / you're]

The Gemini personality is described as changeable, talkative, mercurial; a profile of duality, paradox, and opposites. But even more interesting than these characteristics is the concept of the Mutable Sign that can cross a cosmic divide with grace and ease and flexibility.

The Four Mutable Signs of the Zodiac
Signs of adaptation and adjustment, also called double - bodied or common, because they fall between two seasons, thus making the time neither truly fixed nor truly movable but common, i.e., half fixed and half moveable.

Gemini: between the spring and summer seasons
Virgo: between the summer and autumn seasons
Sagittarius: between the autumn and winter seasons
Pisces: between the winter and spring seasons

The Four Cardinal Signs
Moveable signs of creation that initiate change, coinciding with the beginning of each season and directing energy outward:

Aries: spring begins in the northern hemisphere
Cancer: summer begins in the northern hemisphere
Libra: autumn begins in the northern hemisphere
Capricorn: winter begins in the northern hemisphere

The Four Fixed Signs
Sustained signs of preservation and perseverance, all occurring when the seasons are already fixed in place.

Taurus: spring in northern hemisphere (autumn in the southern)
Leo: summer in northern hemisphere (winter in the southern)
Scorpio: autumn in northern hemisphere (spring in the southern)
Aquarius: winter in northern hemisphere (summer in southern)


Friday, May 20, 2011

Off to a Bad Start

Does this ever happen to you: someone recommends a new TV show; several opportunities to watch it slip by; you finally sit down to give it a try; and . . . the moment of truth . . . your expectations are not fulfilled.

Is this really the series that everyone seems to find so great? Were your expectations too high? Unfortunately, it appears that you have just seen the stupidest episode of the entire season; and after that bad first impression, it's difficult to take much of an interest, no matter how many people protest, "No, no, really, it's a good show; it's really funny; it's usually better than that!" Yeah. Whatever.

This is what happened the first time I ever switched on Northern Exposure, as well as the first time I ever tuned into Friends. The plot, in both cases, involved measuring sticks and a barrage of puerile jokes about penis length. Bad first impression.

Most recently it was Arrested Development. I had the ill-timed fortune of sitting down to watch right at the part where they start making fun of the girl with glasses and frizzy hair. C'mon writers! Let's move beyond that tired cliche. Besides, it's such old material, it's not even funny, especially if you happen to have glasses and frizzy hair. Remember Princess Diaries? Anne Hathaway is "beautiful" when she puts in her contacts and straightens her hair but "ugly" with her curly hair & glasses. Now why is that?

Thankfully, there are those who see the beauty
of the situation and pay a kind compliment!
Thanks to my sister Peg for this poster

For additional speculation on literary references
to naturally curly hair, try reading my post:

"Scary Hair"
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony


May: the Full Milk Moon

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not in the Stars

Moon & Stars Garden Mosaic by Ben McCartney, at age 12

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny,
but in ourselves.”

Try searching for this quotation and you will easily get a hundred entries attributing it to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. You'll even find it on a Top Ten List of Favorite Shakespeare Quotes.

Yet a complete word search of the text of Julius Caesar reveals not a single instance of the word destiny. What's going on here? A different edition or something? Here's how it really goes:

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene ii

Handprint Garden Mosaic by Sam McCartney, at age 8

Mosaics, as previously displayed on back garden wall
Philadelphia, 2003

see additional blog posts: "Secret Garden" & "Scary Hair"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Scary Hair

Milly and Kitti ~ 1980

Scary Hair / Scary Glasses!
In these pictures from college days, my twin brother Bruce says that I have "Scary Hair." We also have fun describing an earlier photograph, from 8th grade [sorry, I don't have a copy] in which he appears to have his arm around my shoulder but is in fact suppressing my springy hair behind my back! My friend Eve, blessed with a texture similar to mine, refers to this as our "Easter Grass Hair."

Just last summer, my husband Gerry and I were out in the garden checking out our raspberries, and I mentioned that the mosquitoes didn't seem as bad as they had the night before. In reference to the fact that after swimming I had allowed my hair to air - dry in its naturally unruly fashion, i.e., pretty much standing straight out from my head, Gerry responded: "Maybe they're scared of your hair!" Now that really made me laugh.

This excerpt is from "Scary Hair"

read more on The Fortnightly [Every 14th & 28th]
Kitti Carriker: A Literary Blog
of Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Not So Scary!
Kitlet & Evelet ~ 2011
Different styles, a few years back ~ 2002

Before that ~ 1989

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Planned Parenthood

Indiana Health Insurance Emblem

On April 27, 2011
Indiana HB 1210
Repealing Medicaid Funding for Planned Parenthood
Concurrence Vote Passed:
House (66 - 32) Yea

Sheila Klinker (D) -- voted Yea, in favor of repealing funds
There may be a thousand explanations, but I can never forgive Sheila Klinker for joining the Republicans to prevent Indiana from receiving health care funding for our citizens. Shameful!

Attention: Mitch Daniels (Governor) & Sheila Klinker (State Representative)

The entire time that I was a student, from undergraduate days through grad school, in Missouri, Arkansas, and Indiana, Planned Parenthood was my primary health care provider. I was not often sick, but I did need to see a doctor at least once a year for an Annual Exam, and it was rare in those days for a campus health center to offer any kind of gynecological service, even a Pap smear.

Luckily for me, Planned Parenthood was always nearby, in an accessible location and an accessible building. I kept my appointments there without any harassment or stigma or erroneous assumption that abortion was the only service a woman might seek at Planned Parenthood. As I recall, it was considered a logical, sensible, affordable, responsible option for meeting routine needs. It pains me to realize that this is not still the case.
It should be.

I am grateful for those years of available, reliable, dignified health care from Planned Parenthood, so readily provided that I took it for granted without ever giving it a second thought. Now I find it distressing and inequitable for Planned Parenthood of Indiana to be under attack. I want to live in a country and a state where any student seeking health care can visit Planned Parenthood unimpeded by political squabbling and hectoring.

and I vote!

Post Scripts

March 2012: Very annoying to hear Rush Limbaugh complain that pharmacy benefits are an extravagance. In fact, women need hormone coverage for many reasons. Maybe his wives have been lucky -- no acne, dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, menopause, migraines, or ovarian cysts. Not that Rush needs to know why I might be taking estrogen, that's between me and my doctor. And don't forget, he has no children -- would he feel differently if he had a daughter?

April 3, 2017: Please remember: "Planned Parenthood does more to PREVENT abortions than any other organization. A vote against Planned Parenthood is a vote to increase the overall number of Abortions. When you attack Planned Parenthood, you embrace abortions, and become complicit in their growth." ~ Jon Thorpe

Friday, May 13, 2011

Brush Hog

The Yellow Morchella rotunda, a true Morel
photographed in France by Pascal Blachier

My personal introduction to the morel occurred one Spring, thirty - six years ago, just a month before my high school graduation, when my friend Yvonne invited me mushroom hunting. We rode the same school bus, but she lived just a little further out than I did, and in a more wooded area. I was never one for hiking or campfires; however, this particular excursion sounded not only pleasant but practically literary, like Wordsworth and his daffodils, or "gathering nuts in May." After all, it was May, and we hadn't much homework, and the sun lasted long into the evening. Yvonne said we should be able to find a lot; and she was right -- the morels were everywhere! However, I was startled abruptly out of my Wordsworthian reverie by Yvonne's observation that "obviously the brush hog had been through recently."

What? Should we turn around and run home? "No, it'll be okay." How could she remain so calm? She didn't seem the least bit bothered by this fearful news, so I tried to be a good guest and follow her lead, but visions of tusks and wild boars and razorbacks were racing through my head. I picked the rest of my mushrooms nervously and totally mystified by her lack of agitation.

As you might have already figured out, the last laugh was on me when I finally made it home and informed my parents of my brush with danger. It turns out that all the while that I was envisioning something like this:

Yvonne had something more like this in mind:

Well! How was I to know that
a Brush Hog (aka Bush Hog)

was not the same thing as
a Bush Pig?!

Above excerpt is from my current post
"Hungry Heart"
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

New Fortnightly Post Tomorrow
Saturday ~ May 14, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gift Ideas for Graduation

Gerry's Gift to Me

For Christmas, Gerry downloaded a blog - to - book program, transferred over all of the Fortnightly Kitti Carriker posts from the first 18 months, and painstakingly edited every little detail until the format was perfect. Thanks Ger!

If you need to order some presents for the graduates in your life, I have a couple of suggestions for you, creatively hand - crafted, unique, and fun:

Perhaps a cool, colorful tee - shirt with Stickman
from SonOroN Creations
designed by my nephew Dan . . .

Order Now at CafePress

Or some funky deco punk jewelry with attitude
from Lizone's
created by Lila McRainy . . .

Order Now at Etsy

I first discovered Lizone's at the Stan Hywet Ohio Mart a few Octobers ago. Here are the irresistible brooches that I brought home that day. I gave each one as a present to three very lucky and appreciative recipients:

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Sir, With Love

A song for Mr. McCune: "To Sir, With Love"
(as performed by the cast of Glee, 2009)*

Mr. Albert P. McCune, 1943 - 1975

In our high school yearbook we wrote:

"For those of you who did know "Mac," he was not only a teacher. There was no way you could be in band and not get to know him. If you had a problem, he was a counselor. If you had a complaint, he would listen. You could walk into his office any time of the day, and there would be a crowd of students gathered around his desk talking to him.

"At band contests, if we lost, he would always have words of encouragement. If we won, he was always bursting with pride and praise. To sum it up, we loved Al McCune. We will always hold him in our memories, and we will dedicate ourselves and our music to that memory."

~ Tribute written by Cheryl Heil Riley & Erik Ketcherside

*The original hit and title song
of the Sidney Poitier film
was sung by Lulu, in 1967.

A bunch of us kids with Mr. McCune at Band Camp
Cape Girardeau, Missouri ~ Summer 1972

2014 & 2015

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Piano Lesson

Intriguing Old Piano Books
From My Mother's Vintage Collection

I loved looking at these pictures when I was little
and used to wonder: "How can I get to that place?"

Though it doesn't seem to be one of my natural gifts, I'm still practicing major scales, minor scales, and a little Bach every day, in hopes of making up for my misspent youth. My son Ben (excellent pianist, organist, and actuarial scientist) has suggested YouTube as an additional learning tool, so I google each new piece to see what I can find. This approach requires not being discouraged by all the tiny little children whose parents have video - taped them playing at top speed!

This time, I was lucky enough to find a couple of instructive and non - discouraging examples of my current assignments:

Schumann: Album für die Jugend Op. 68, No. 32 ("Sheherazade")
~ So beautiful and so inspiring ~

Bach: "Invention #14"
Ben pointed out that this pianist may not be going fast,
but he is going somewhere
~ a finer element that apparently I too should be working on!

Funny, my piano teacher told me the same thing!

For additional piano practice tips,
see my earlier post: Scales ~ September 8, 2009
and later: Embracing Imperfection ~ May 16, 2023

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Remember to Vote!

Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket
I am unjust, but I can strive for justice.
My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness.
I, the unloving, say life should be lovely.
I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.

Man is a curious brute — he pets his fancies —
Fighting mankind, to win sweet luxury.
So he will be, tho’ law be clear as crystal,
Tho’ all men plan to live in harmony.

Come, let us vote against our human nature,
Crying to God in all the polling places
To heal our everlasting sinfulness
And make us sages with transfigured faces.

by American Poet, Vachel Lindsay, 1879 - 1931
from General William Booth Enters into Heaven, and Other Poems



Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Baskets

Eggs from Williams Sonoma & wreath from Tuesday Morning

How lovely to have MAY DAY exactly one week after EASTER!

Beaumont's May Basket --
naturally pastel free range eggs; no dye!