Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ferry Cross the Mersey

Ferry Cross the Mersey by John Haslam
as seen in the Crosby Herald

Ferry Cross the Mersey
(click to hear tune)

Life goes on day after day
Hearts torn in every way
So ferry cross the Mersey
'Cause this land's the place I love
And here I'll stay

People they rush everywhere
Each with their own secret care
So ferry cross the Mersey
And always take me there
The place I love

People around every corner
They seem to smile and say
We don't care what your name is boy
We'll never turn you away

So I'll continue to say
Here I always will stay
So ferry cross the Mersey
'Cause this land's the place I love
And here I'll stay
And here I'll stay
Here I'll stay

1960s hit in the UK & the USA
by Gerry and the Pacemakers
1983 cover by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

This song and more Ferry Connections
on my latest post @
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Sam & Ben, 'Cross the Mersey with Grandpa Ron, Summer 1999

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Josef Poems by Sam & Ben

My cat is lazy and loving.

That is my cat, loves meat,

so sleepy but adventurous.

But no matter what,

my cat I love.

No not a thing --

he can scratch,

he can bite,

he can reject his meat.

I love him!

by Sam McCartney
August 2002, 4th grade


This cat lies down, not moving.
Contemplating. Why? What? When?
Will the world end today?
Tomorrow, now, then?

The Universe is great.
The cat knows its ways,
lying down, on my bed.
The sun flashes its rays.

Where did they come from?
Humans, I think they are called.
Interesting what they have done
with this planet, what they’ve hauled.

Well, they feed me, not what I want,
but they give me enough.
Sometimes it’s fun and entertaining.
Sometimes it’s boring and tough.

They give me a box of cardboard.
They give me a queen-sized bed.
They give me my own curtain.
They put me at their head.

But still I contemplate
The Universe. I know
they want to: tough!
They give me food and go.

by Ben McCartney, age 11
29 January 2002, 6th grade

December 2000: Josef appears to be about half the size of Sam!
Josef had a long life: July 1988 - April 2007

For more pet poems, see
"Ode to Josef: Nine - Lived and Contradictory"
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ocean City Artwork

Earlier in the summer, Ben sent this photograph from Chicago's Navy Pier, with the caption:

"I remember this being bigger."
He was thinking back to an identical climbing maze that we used to visit at the fun park in Ocean City, New Jersey, years ago when he and Sam were tots. I couldn't find a photograph of the maze from those days, but I know that Gerry captured a few of those exciting climbing expeditions on video tape. I still remember the time when I had to climb in and slide down with Sam in order to get him out! That was a bit of fun!

Always on our way home from those Ocean City vacations, we would stop by McDonald's for a farewell bounce in the ball pit, as captured in

Ben's souvenir drawing from 1997.

Every summer, we took our art supplies along on vacation, in preparation for turning the beach house into an art studio in case of bad weather. You never knew what we might create on a rainy afternoon.

This present from Sam to me is one of my favorites:

Gerry and I also experimented with the boys' nice big paintbox of watercolors and sketch pads:

Gerry tried his hand at a classic seascape --
notice the birds, a family of four! --
while I worked on a maternal beachscape.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Six Hours in New York City

Half a day in New York City might not sound like much, but you can do a lot in a short amount of time and space because there are so many great things to see, all within walking distance of each other. Here's a game plan:

Meet up with an old friend at the Plaza Hotel
Mumbi & Kitti*

Admire the new statuary
Giant "Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads" by Ai Weiwei

And the nearby street art (click for slides)
Take a walk through Central Park

Make your way north and west to the Museum of Natural History
Remember how much Holden Caulfield likes it here:
"I knew that whole museum routine like a book. . . .
I get very happy when I think about it. Even now. . . .
It always smelled like it was raining outside, even if it wasn't,
and you were in the only nice, dry, cosy place in the world."
I loved that damn museum." (156)

Pick out a couple of rooms to visit (and have lunch there)

Head south through the park, boat watching and people watching

Photograph some important public structures
9 West 57th (between 57th & 58th Streets

New York City Center, 55th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves)
aka City Center of Music and Drama
aka New York City Center 55th Street Theater

Grab a taxi to the airport . . . and vow to stay longer next time . . .


*The Story of Our Reconnection

Mumbi and I had a great time as college roommates, during the school year of 1975 - 76. Despite our age and geographic differences (I was a Freshman from Missouri; Mumbi was a Senior from Kenya), we became instant loyal and practically inseparable friends.

After receiving her B.A. and M.A. from NMSU, Mumbi returned to Kenya in 1977. That was the last time we were together in person, though we kept in touch by mail for the next 16 years. Coincidentally, though we didn't realize it at the time, in the Spring of 1993, Mumbi had returned to the States and settled in New Jersey at precisely the same time that I had re-located from the Midwest to Philadelphia.

When the dust settled after the upheaval of our simultaneous moves, we had somehow each lost track of the other's correct address. How ironic that at this point in our lives -- after writing back and forth to Africa during all those intervening years -- we should fall out of contact, when, in fact, we were now living a mere one hundred miles apart! A couple of hours on the train and we could have spent the day together at a moment's notice. Her two sons could have played together with my two sons!

Sadly, without the miracle of facebook & google, it was much harder to re-establish contact then than it is now. At last, in the Summer of 2009, with the help of the Alumni Locator Service, Mumbi and I were re-united! We were both dismayed to have fallen out of touch but then elated when you helped us reconnect! Not only were we back in contact after a 17 - year hiatus, but we were soon planning our first face - to - face get - together for the first time in 33 years! Whether or not it sounds like a hopeless cliche, honestly, it was as if no time at all had passed!

We hope that our story is inspirational to other alumni and their long-lost friends. We met up first, in Wichita, Kansas, in May 2010; and again in June 2011 in New York City -- two times in two years! (And, more recenlty, a third time, New York City in 2014.) See, it can happen! Many thanks from me and Mumbi to the Alumni Communications Office for making our reunion possible!

Photo Albums

Wichita, Kansas ~ 2010

New York City ~ 2011 & 2014

Words of Wisdom from Mumbi

Book Recommendation from Mumbi

Sunday, August 21, 2011


On Pierre de Fermat's 410th Birthday Google Celebrates
Fermat's Last Theorem

A couple of days ago, my mathematically inclined son Ben sent me a link to the above google logo and the accompanying informative background material from the Christian Science Monitor

I'm always curious to see what the logo designers have in store for us (and sometimes just a little disappointed if they fail to celebrate a day of significance on my calendar such as Shakespeare's Birthday or Lughnasa). The concepts are endlessly creative, and never fail to contribute to our collective cultural literacy. I love that!

LMGTFY: Click here to see all archived Google Logos

Friday, August 19, 2011

Favorite Passages
From Patricia Henley

Engine Books is offering a discount on bulk orders of Other Heartbreaks for reading groups / book clubs. In addition, Patricia Henley would be happy to SKYPE with book clubs who read the book and want her to talk about it. In fact, if there are groups in our local area, she would be happy to attend.

Please feel free to contact Patricia Henley via facebook,
and THANKS for spreading the word!

For my review of Other Heartbreaks
see my blog post ~ "Local Peace"
on my sort - of - monthly book blog ~ Kitti's Book List

Favorite passages from Other Heartbreaks:

16: "They toss little scraps of origami wishes into the fire. June thinks she should wish for World Peace, but she doesn't. She wishes for Local Peace."

69: "On Sunday afternoons, in the bittersweet hours from three to seven, they held an open house for friends and students and neighbors."

81: " 'We've been building a bridge, right? . . . I thought -- when I saw you -- that the last little bit of the bridge would click into place. . . . But there's still a gap.' "

101: "Her house was like a Carl Larsson watercolor, homey, cheerful, some earthy potpourri simmering atop the woodstove, the colors of her second-hand linens and furniture Swedish-pastel, chosen to ward off the chill of the long winters."

148: " . . . it's a fallacy to think that a mother can travel alone. If you have children, you're never quite whole again. There's a reason why they're called your flesh and blood . . . "

Another favorite from long ago:

"Sandra's love for Kelly is not the sort you hear about in songs on the jukebox. It's not desperate or crazy. They met three years ago and it was one year before they made love. Kelly said he wanted to get to know her first and Sandra thought that was a novel idea. When she remembers that year going by, she imagines ranging in the high country on a long hike, when it's tough-going at first and you don't know what to expect. Maybe you slip and fall when the trail crosses a creek bed, maybe the first lake is small, disappointing, but you push yourself, you glory in the little things along the way, the shooting stars and glacier lilies, the marmot whistling, and before long, just as you are simply traveling, putting one boot in front of the other, for the bliss of it, you come upon grand peaks and a string of alpine lakes so rare and peaceful that you imagine no one else has ever been there before you. It's where you belong. That's what being with Kelly is like. Easy, once you reach cruising altitude. Paradise, kind of. And ordinary. Common pleasures renew them. Razzing one another; watching a video in their bathrobes; dividing a foxglove in the fall; lying awake in one another's arms at midnight, waiting for Desiree [Sandra's teenage daughter] to come in from some breakneck double date. Love you can't imagine when you're young, when you think that love is you winning him over, a treadmill of pursuit and chicanery."

from the story "Love You Can't Imagine"
by Patricia Henley

Who doesn't love Carl Larsson!
Trying to achieve the Larsson Look in my own kitchen . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kitti's Book List Updates

Barefoot Prodigy by Martha Moore
Contemporary American Artist

When I was in junior high, a 5 x 7 reprint of this painting appeared on the back of a cereal box -- The Fine Arts, brought to you by Post Grape Nuts! I cut it out and propped it on our piano where it stayed for as long as I can remember, certainly until well after my high school years. Somewhere along the way, Gerry and I picked up a poster - sized copy, which is still looking good after twenty - odd years, framed and matted in our family room. That little girl has been an inspiration to me and many others for several decades now. She can do anything!

That's why I decided to use her picture on my recent book blog:

First Fiddle

It was a summer for catching up on essays of contemporary criticism:

Mama, PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life
Edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant


Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists
edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan

and also for reading and
watching lots of Harry Potter:

Favorite Quotations from the Latter Potters

For more, see: Kitti's Book List

Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Bray Back!

"Sometimes I can be such a dumb ass!"
(greeting card by www.Interart.com)

A couple of days ago my niece Sara posted the "Best quote ever" that seems to be floating around the internet:

"Don't try to win over the haters,
you are not the jackass whisperer."

Thanks Sara! This is definitely going on my "favorites" list, along with one that I have long remembered from the television series NYPD Blue. Racial slurs have led to conflict in the department, angering one of the younger officers, Reggie Fancy. Even though Reggie's anger is justified, his older brother, Lt. Arthur Fancy advises him not to act upon it: "My idea [about maintaining self - respect in the face of racial insults] is when I hear an ass out in the field braying, I don't feel any deep need to start braying back."

What excellent advice: Just don't bray back!

Centuries ago, the ancient Greek Poet Sappho captured a similar cautionary sentiment in one of her short poems:

When some fool
Explodes rage
in your breast
hold back that
yapping tongue!

"I see stupid people; they're everywhere;
they don't even know they're stupid."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poem for the Full Moon

Does Pine know that her "pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?"

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

by William Butler Yeats, 1865 - 1939
Irish poet and dramatist
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1923

"The Cat and the Moon" is reprinted from
The Wild Swans at Coole
New York: Macmillan, 1919

For more feline poetry, see
"Ode to Josef: Nine - Lived and Contradictory"
tomorrow's new post on
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th] Literary Blog of
Connection & Coincidence; Custom & Ceremony

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rosemary for Remembrance

"I had not thought death had undone so many."
from The Waste Land
Part I: "The Burial of the Dead"
by T. S. Eliot
As Ophelia says,
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance . . . "
Hamlet, IV, v

Wise words from my sister Diane, describing a life - changing sadness "that was hard to see, even a deeper or different sadness than losing [your mate] /other half of so many years. Life is hard, we were never told any different. But when those times come it sorta takes the breath away."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Benjamin Bunny

Earlier this summer, with the help of google, I successfully tracked down an elusive 6" Benjamin Bunny plate, from Royal Albert's "World of Beatrix Potter" Teatime Collection (as shown above). I knew exactly what I wanted, but would I be able to find it? Happily, yes! There it was, available from a shop called Margaret (www.marg.co.uk), based in England and offering a wide selection of discontinued nursery ware.

I placed my order right away and received a most satisfying brown paper parcel the following week. Mission accomplished: a flawless and professional transaction at reasonable price; and a lovely, long - lost keepsake replaced with an identical replica! I emailed Margaret to let her know of the plate's arrival and to explain its sentimental value to me:

July 6, 2011

Dear Margaret,

I'm writing to let you know that the dear little Benjamin Bunny plate arrived safely in this afternoon's mail. Thank you so much!

Just to fill you in on the background, I was given one of these exact plates by my co-workers, upon the birth of my first child, a boy, back in 1990. My boys (I had a 2nd son in 1993) never used any of their Beatrix Potter plates for dining, but we did always have them on display. Then, sadly, Benjamin Bunny got broken when we moved house in 2004. I had resigned myself to living without him until I saw the very plate on your website and realized that I could replace it, as good as new!

From now on, however, it will be a doubly sweet memory, for it represents both the baby shower present from years ago; and your recent kindness in sending me the second copy. Thank you so much for the care you took in getting it to me so quickly and safely.


Kitti C.


I few hours later, the following heartfelt reply from Margaret appeared in my email:

Dear Kitti

I have been dealing with quality china (both new and discontinued) in our family firm for fifty two years. Business now is very difficult in these hard times, and I constantly think we should give it up and spend our time with our little grandchildren and in the garden . . . until I get such an email as yours and then all is worthwhile. I am so very pleased that I could help.

My mother started the business selling antiques in 1959. Although I worked for my father who was a lawyer, I also helped my mother by doing her books and generally being on call. The business slowly expanded and she began to sell new products, as well as antiques, starting with Wedgwood and all its sister companies, then Royal Doulton (which included Royal Albert), Moorcroft, Border Fine Arts, and many others. I continued working with both my father and my mother, made easy by the fact that they operated out of the same building which was a huge Georgian house, with Dad at the front doing the law bit and Mum at the back with a lovely shop and me in the middle doing my bit for both!!

I also managed to have four children - in six years - and then worked for Dad at home in the evenings after the little ones were asleep, and I also did all Mum's bookkeeping. When number four child arrived we had a big meeting, and my husband Roy left his job in engineering design and came into the business in 1978. Dad died in 1982 and so the family moved on with the china and glass business and the rest is history. Roy is a genius - being able to sell snow to the Eskimos - but they all come back so he must be doing a good job. After Dad died, I was a bit at a loose end and so I set up the business of tracing and selling discontinued china. I had a lot of knowledge of the business and its products so I was able to give valuable help to people.

Mum died about five years ago aged 93 and was still very much involved with the business and with decisions. Now Roy runs the retail shop selling new products and I work in the office in my home helping people with queries and supplying discontinued items. My children are all grown up and my daughter has two little girls aged 3 and 1 who are a joy to us and who I see often.

Business now is not good in the china and glass industry. Nearly all products are made abroad and the internet has killed most of our trade but Roy enjoys the shop and the company of his customers (as well as their business) and we are happy for the moment doing what we do.

Hope I haven't gone on too much. I was so pleased to receive your lovely email, it makes my work all the more worthwhile.

With very best regards,


Don't forget to check out the beautiful and varied inventory on Margaret's website: Margaret (www.marg.co.uk)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

First Friday

Across the country, in many towns and cities you can find a variety of First Friday events, most having to do with art galleries, restaurants, neighborhood tours, and Open Houses. Here in my little community, the event that I participate in on the First Friday of every month is a spirituality discussion group. We gather informally, but regularly, just seven or eight of us, to talk about the nature of our quest for spiritual connection -- within ourselves, with each other, with the universe.

We have each tried many paths to peace, and we share with each other what has worked so far and what has not. For me, the journey is like Franz Kafka's reflexive parable on parables:

On Parables
Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says "Go over," he does not mean that we should cross to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter. . . .
from Parables and Paradoxes
by Franz Kafka, 1883 - 1924

The fabulous, the unknown, the incomprehensible, the cares we have to struggle with. That's what we discuss.

For example, this past Friday, we invited a special guest, Goldie Freeman, who talked to us about strategies for stress reduction, relaxation, and self - healing (see card above). I was most intrigued by Goldie's description of how our souls can be shattered by trauma and how the dislocated shards must be gathered and restored in order to achieve spiritual wholeness and health.

I couldn't help thinking of the selfish Voldemort who severs his soul intentionally, in his remorseless quest for immortality at the expense of others. The symbology of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had been on my mind all day, and prior to Goldie's presentation, I had been explaining to other group members about the Horcruxes and the Hallows. So, what a fitting coincidence that the divided soul should be one of our topics for the evening!

No matter what the subject happens to be, I never fail to leave a First Friday meeting without plenty of food for thought and the certainty of feeling more connected to the spiritual universe than I did before.

“Promises for apparently impossible contingencies
are not given. But if one achieves the impossible,
the promises appear retrospectively,
precisely where one had looked in vain
for them before.” ~Kafka

P.S. My thanks to Michael Lipsey, Master of the Epigram, for this concluding passage from Kafka.

*To read the entire parable, see my post "Go Over!"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thousands and Thousands of Uses

Just last week, I was reminiscing with some facebook friends about some of my favorite scenes from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. I remain a fan out of loyalty to Pee Wee's big bicycle because it's the kind that I still ride!

~ 29 August 2012 ~

And my heart is with him at that existentialist moment when he finds out that there is no basement in the Alamo: "Some things they don't teach you in school; some things you just have to learn for yourself."

Another priceless segment of the Alamo Tour (click to view) is the the mini - lesson on "culinary delights of the Southwest," provided by tour guide Tina (Jan Hooks): "The mainstay of the Alamo diet is corn. Corn can be prepared many ways. It can be boiled, shucked, creamed, or, in this case, dried. Corn can also be used to make -- tortillas! . . . Yes, there are thousands and thousands of uses for corn, all of which I will tell you about right now!"

Thousands! Poor Pee Wee! He is running out of patience!

This summer, the mainstay seems to be yellow squash. My cousin Dodie wrote from California to say that "somehow we have all these yellow squash and acorn squash, but no zucchini! How could this happen?" I had to agree; it's the same here in our garden. Though Gerry planted half and half and we usually have a medium amount of each, so far we haven't seen one zucchini, only yellow squash as far as the eye can see!

So yellow squash it is! I don't know a thousand uses, but I do know a good half dozen . . . all of which I will tell you about right now . . .

Shredded Yellow Squash (for fritters or freezing)

Yellow Squash Pickles

Yellow Squash Chutney

Yellow Squash Ratatouille

Yellow Squash Sandwiches, Soups, Salads
I've been cutting the larger ones into slab - size slices, grilling them indoors on a grill pan, and eating them on large wheat rolls -- yummy yellow squash sandwich! I've also cut several up into cubes and stuck them straight into the freezer, no blanching or anything. You can put them into almost any soup or chili throughout the winter. I also have this idea to make three - bean salad, but instead of the yellow wax beans, use little chunks of yellow squash. If we previously held a slight preference for the zucchini, we've gotten over it this summer!

Dodie reminded me of a family favorite, zucchini, shredded and frozen for making bread throughout the winter (nuts and chocolate chips, optional but extra tasty). Maybe this will be the year we try it with yellow squash instead. Who knows, it might be equally delicious. From my brother Bruce's kitchen comes the observation that "while the zucchini is more versatile (holds up better in soups, or when baked), I actually prefer the taste of the yellow squash."

Indeed! Who can forget the taste of yellow and white squash mashed up with tons of butter like the grandmothers used to do! No longer politically correct, I know, but delicious! As Bruce says, "Just like mashed potatoes!" Or, more moderately, "Steamed, with a little butter, salt and pepper." Along the same lines as my squash sandwich, Bruce also points out that a whole portobello mushroom, grilled, with a slice of Swiss or provolone, "makes a dandy sandwich" (but first, check out Catharine Savage Brosman's poem "Portobello Mushrooms" on my Fortnightly post from a couple of months ago: "Hungry Heart" ).

In addition to the poems you'll find there, I'm allowing my wise cousin the last word: "I usually just steam with other veggies or saute and occasionally grill . . . with fresh veggies, simple is always the best."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pilobolus, Punctum, Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash, yellow bowl

Pear as punctum*

As Ben used to say when he was little: "More too many!"

When I first posted the above series of yellow squash photos, my friend Eileen told me that she couldn't help thinking of her amazingly flexible flying friend

Adam Battelstein

and the

Pilobolus dancers

Even in black and white, you can see what she means, can't you? I was so intrigued that I had to learn more about the art of this talented touring non-profit modern dance troupe! Naturally, I was delighted to discover this next photograph . . . in the shape of a star, yes . . . but definitely the color of a yellow summer squash!

Pilobolus at the 2007 Academy Awards

Click here to see Pilobolus in Action
Learn More

*Punctum is French critic Roland Barthes' intriguing term for that touching or disconcerting detail which pierces through the still life, the object, or the studium. Rather than the usual sequence of subject first, object second, for Barthes, the "second element which will disturb the studium I shall therefore call punctum; for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole – and also a cast of the dice. A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me)" (Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, 27).

As Eileen says, "great pear, just there."

P.S. Yes, we have no bananas -- kind of like squash!

P.P.S. See also:
"The Lughnasa Moon"
"The Handwriting on the Wall"
"This Little World, This England"
"Pear as Punctum"