Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sad September

Badminton House, Gloucestershire, England

one of the filming locations for the movie
The Remains of the Day

I think this is what Ishiguro means by "Remains of the Day":

"But what is the sense in forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently? One could presumable drive oneself to distraction in this way. In any case, while it is all very well to talk of 'turning points' one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect. Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one's life; but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had. Rather, it was as though one had available a never - ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one's relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable" (179).

from The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro (b. 1954)

For more on the sinking realization
that "a dream can die,"

see my recent post Sad September

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Autumn

Autumn Mural in Philadelphia

"Even as it envelops me
it is not mine, this autumn:
that wind blowing through the pines,
I regret how it makes them fall --
the leaves, the scarlet leaves of ivy."

verse found on the back
of a Metropolitan Museum of Art greeting card
~ no name given ~

Detail from above mural
~ And ethereal fall photo from Jay Beets ~

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Delicious Autumn!

“Is not this a true autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love--
that makes life and nature harmonise.
The birds are consulting about their migrations,
the trees are putting on
the hectic or the pallid hues of decay,
and begin to strew the ground,
that one's very footsteps may not disturb
the repose of earth and air,
while they give us a scent
that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit.

Delicious autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns."

~ George Eliot ~
from a Letter to Miss Lewis, Oct. 1st, 1841

"In the village store someone says,
'I heard the geese go over,'
and there is a moment of silence.
Why this is so moving, I do not know.
But all of us feel it.

~ Gladys Taber ~

"Birds of a Feather"
by Charley Harper

Friday, September 23, 2011

Equinox: Growing Darkness

Two more seasonal favorites
from Philadelphia cartoonist Tony Auth

Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?
So let us go on

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

by Mary Oliver (b 1935)
Contemporary American Poet
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1984
Most recently: Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, 2010

this poem found in The New York Times, 5 November 2010

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn Indefinable

". . . oh those first fall days, with the sad sharpness in the air
and the leaves bright so that our road is a line of color,
and the feeling of storing - in against the winter, and the pumpkins
. . . the indefinable sense of harvest entered the house,
of apples to be stored away,
of Christmas in the perceptible future . . . "

by Shirley Jackson, 1916 - 1965
[ best known for her dystopian short story "The Lottery"
and her ghost story The Haunting of Hill House]

the above passage is from
Life Among the Savages, 78, 160
referred to by Jackson as
"a disrespectful memoir of my children"

Beaumont says, "Go Boilers!"

See also: The Club - Burbs

Monday, September 19, 2011

Plastic Pumpkins

Guess who got to come up from the basement this morning, to be fitted with a new light bulb and placed near the window to brighten up a gloomy rainy overcast eerie pre-autumnal day? Yes, you guessed -- the big black and orange Halloween pumpkin - cat yard lamp that my friend Cate gave me back in 2002.

She and I and my in - laws, Ron and Rosanne, were meeting to enjoy a cup of our favorite pre-Halloween coffee (pumpkin spice!) at one of our favorite spots, the Restaurant School Coffee Shop in West Philadelphia. Cate had rescued Pumpkin - Cat from a yard sale, and brought it along to sit proudly on its own chair and draw lots of attention at the coffee shop! I wonder if whoever put that cat in a Philadelphia yard sale would be surprised to know that it now celebrates the season year after year in Indiana!

I also have some smaller plastic pumpkins that my father - in - law Ron and I were pleased to purchase at Walmart one year, on the day after Halloween for seven (7) cents each! One day last winter, I had just bought some new round cookie sheets and before taking them to the basement, where I have some pantry shelves for excess baking supplies, I piled them up with other things that needed to go downstairs -- a couple of the plastic jack - o - lanterns, Mardi Gras beads, Christmas bows. As I set them on the shelf, I thought, "Voila -- Still Life!" So many favorite holidays, all present simultaneously!

Some years Pumpkin - Cat stays out until Christmas!
Keeping watch from the Roof - top!

~ 2011 ~

~ 2013 ~

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Songs of Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun . . .
. . . touch[ing] the stubble-plains with rosy hue . . .

To Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, --*
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

by John Keats, English Romantic Poet (1795 - 1821)

[*my favorite lines]

Last Oozings
This picture is from a couple of nights ago when I was out in the yard with my camera waiting for the Harvest Moon to rise. Unfortunately, I didn't get any satisfactory photographs of the moon after all -- have to wait 'til next month and try again. However, I was pleased with this view of our back deck, complete with grapevines, both artificial and real. It looks almost as if the "warm days will never cease," but no, what we have here are the "last oozings."

Note on "To Autumn"
"In a letter written to Reynolds from Winchester, in September, 1819, Keats says: 'How beautiful the season is now--How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather--Dian skies--I never liked stubble-fields so much as now--Aye better than the chilly green of the spring. Somehow, a stubble-field looks warm--in the same way that some pictures look warm. This struck me so much in my Sunday's walk that I composed upon it.' What he composed was the 'Ode To Autumn.' "

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dolls in Literature

I like the American Express ad, where Tina Fey says that her "Most interesting souvenir" is "an Amish baby doll with no face." I wonder where she purchased hers? I found this pair at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, and my neighbor John Woodin photographed them for my book jacket.


For more about my dissertation / book,

see my recent post

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



The Mystery of the Matryoshka: Within Within Within

Fun Fall Food!

The Miniature & the Gigantic

Memoirs to Read in the Summertime

And my LIST: "Dolls in Literature"

And lastly, the voice of a skeptic in this recent article
concerning the value (or not) of dissertations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Moonrise, Sunset

Harvest Moon

A good poem to read just before the autumn leaves start to fall:

God's World
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, -- Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, -- let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950
American Lyrical Poet

Late Summer Sunset
Photography here and above by Jay Beets

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alabaster City

The Hope of a Nation by J. M. Haines

In honor of the 10th anniversary of 9 / 11, here are the words to my favorite national song, including verses often omitted (or rearranged):

America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov'd,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates (1859- 1929)
music by Samuel A. Ward (1847 - 1903)

On 17 September 2001, Dan Rather visited the David Letterman Show and talked to Dave about the terrorist attack of the previous week. Summarizing Dan's vist, reported that "Rather maintained his evenness until he told Letterman that a song Americans have sung since they were school kids, "America the Beautiful," will never sound quite the same to him: "Oh beautiful for patriot's dream/That echoes through the years/Thine alabaster cities gleam/Undimmed by human tears." His voice broke as he got to that last line."

The transcript reads:

"Dan: It's a new . . . It's a new place now, and we're headed to a new place, David. Time magazine had a wonderful essay this week, and said, you know, 'we're going now to a new place where, you know, even the songs we sing will have a completely different meaning.'

"For example, you know, 'America the Beautiful': Who can sing now, with the same meaning we had before, one stanza of that that goes 'O beautiful, for patriots' dream, that sees beyond the years, thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears.' We can never sing that song . . . [Sobs] . . . Again that way.

Naturally there were those to criticize Rather's interpretation of the patriotic lyric, but I have to confess his words have remained in my mind for the past ten years, along with my collection of images for the "alabaster city" . . . whatever, wherever it may be: New York City in 2001, Chicago in 1893, or St. Charles County Missouri in 1970.

When I was in Junior High, I rode the bus very early to school each day, past some abandoned grain elevators and army buildings. We always seemed to round the curve just as the rising sun hit those whitewashed structures, turning them pink and golden. Without fail, the words of "America the Beautiful" would enter my mind, and I'd say to myself (though not to my seatmates), "Look! The alabaster cities!"

Previous thoughts on 9 / 11

Previous thoughts on "America the Beautiful"

Previous thoughts on "The Hope of a Nation"

Chicago, Summer 2011
Photograph by Ben McCartney

Chicago, Summer 2009
Photograph by Gerry McCartney

Suggested reading:
"The Decade of Magical Thinking
by Steve Almond

Friday, September 9, 2011

Excellent Images

Haiku [if you ask me!]

"Things more excellent than every image,"
says Iamblichus,
"are expressed through images."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 82)
American Transcendentalist
from his essay "The Poet"

This passage from Emerson sprang immediately to mind when I first viewed a series of paintings by my friend and mentor Leonard Orr (in fact, the line from Emerson is something I learned in one of his classes years ago). I am rarely one to suffer writer's block; in my case it's usually the opposite, same as when I'm talking: how can we get her to stop!

However, when I feel the need for some creative focus, I like to make a little game of scrolling through Len's artwork and assigning one - word descriptions to each picture that catches my eye. As I look at each successive creation, my mind races to figure out what it might mean, what it makes me think of. Other viewers have responded to the various paintings by commenting in the form of brief pleasing poems: Click here to see and read.

Last month on facebook, Len mentioned his summer task of reorganizing his paintings: "In preparation for my daughter's visit, I restacked all of the paintings in my apartment to make them take the least amount of floor space (the walls are already covered with paintings). It occurred to me I should start painting over some of these before I use new canvases or else I will have to become a hunger artist, barely able to fit through my rooms and halls."

"Pentimento!" I replied. And Len responded, "Exactly! I have always been drawn to the palimpsest, the liminal, and multilayered."

Inspired by this intriguing list of words, I decided to look through Len's paintings in search of just the right one to illustrate each concept. You may choose differently, but here are my choices:

liminal (from the Latin limen, meaning threshold; relating to a sensory threshold, barely perceptible, an intermediate state, phase, or condition):

multilayered (self - explanatory!):

pentimento (from the Italian pentirsi, meaning to repent; traces of previous work in a painting, indicating an artist's change of plan during the creation process):

palimpsest (from the Greek meaning scraped clean; a page from which the text has been scraped off and written over). This one was easy, as I have already described a couple of Len's painting as such, when I was writing last autumn about the beauty and mystery of ginkgo tree:
Additional paintings by Leonard Orr,
seen previously on this blog:

Golden Paintings by Leonard Orr

End of Summer Sounds

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday to Sam

Speak to Us of Children

And ~the Prophet~ said:

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."

from The Prophet
by Kahlil Gibran, 1883 - 1931

Monday, September 5, 2011

Recuerdo: Apples and Pears

We gave her all our apples; we gave her all our pears . . .~ Combined McCartney Family Artistic Endeavor ~
acrylic on cardboard, late 1990's ~

American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay captures the charm of the Staten Island Ferry in her poem "Recuerdo," about two light - hearted lovers and a kindly mysterious stranger who enters their life briefly on the ferry. Recuerdo -- I remember. Millay remembers this night of innocent joy and hopeful recklessness. Who needs money! Right?

(set to music by American composer John Musto)
We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1901)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923

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

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Waiting for Football

Boilermaker Sam McCartney, #43

Gerry always says that there are two seasons at our house: Football Season and Waiting for Football. Waiting for Football began with the conclusion of last year's season when our hearts were touched by Sam's tribute at the Senior Banquet:

"I first want to thank my parents for their constant support and the countless hours they spent towards helping me be successful during my high school football career.

"I want to thank my mom for always driving me to practice during my football career in Little Gridiron, Junior High Football, and the early years of High School football. For making me breakfast during the summer after conditioning and doubles practices. I also want to thank my mom for undertaking and accomplishing the endeavor of understanding the game of football.

"I want to thank my dad for filming my kicks during the games this year. For driving all over the state of Indiana to watch my games. For driving me all over the Midwest to attend football camps. I also want to thank my dad for undertaking and accomplishing the endeavor of helping my mom understand the game of football.

Haha -- but true! Thank you Sam!

Even more endearing than Sam's parental tribute were the closing words that he dedicated to his big brother Ben, who had also been a successful kicker for the Westside Red Devils before he graduated and Sam took over: "I want to thank my brother for helping me become a better kicker, for his support through my successes and failures, but most importantly for showing me what dedication is. For showing me what commitment is and for showing me what it takes to accomplish your goals." As Sam has been saying ever since he was four years old: "Just like brudders!"

As of today, we officially make the transition from Waiting to the Real Thing. Last weekend we warmed up by attending Friday night's high school game as alumni parents, where we saw the West Lafayette Red Devils looking good! RDP!

Regional Champs, Fall 2010
The Seniors: Sam, 2nd from left, #23

The following day, we went up to campus for Purdue's "Meet the Team" preview where we inadvertently created this 5 - second video of Sam signing footballs and tee - shirts for young Boilermaker fans.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Morn

by Tony Auth (b 1942), Pulitzer Prize Recipient, 1976

When we lived in Philadelphia, it was always a treat to open the Inquirer around this time of year and see how cartoonist Tony Auth would capture the end of season. Always humorous, yet poignant, Auth knows how to convey that keen sense of sadness that comes with leaving the shore and returning to school, not merely because the fun is over but, more significantly, because life is urging us on at its own pace, not ours.

As C. S. Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters: "The humans live in time, and experience life successively. To experience much of it . . . they must experience change." Thus, Lewis explains, God has given us the seasons, which strike a balance between our need for change and our longing for permanence: "each season different yet every year the same. . . . always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme."*

Here are a couple more end of summer Auth favorites that I have been saving in my scrapbook for many years. I appreciate Auth's implication that in addition to the inevitability of seasonal change, a bit of each season is always lying just beneath the surface of every other season as well (click on each cartoon here and above to enlarge for details):

Or as my Grand-dad Lindsey always used to say
on the First of September:
"September morn
when the woodbine twineth
and the whacky - doodle mourneth."

~ Thanks to Mark Bass for this explanatory link! ~

~ This Google Doodle captures the spirit! ~

Around this time of year,
my brother Bruce always reminds me to listen to
*Mother Earth and Father Time
from the animated Charlotte's Web
I think you'll find that it matches right up with
Tony Auth's drawings and the C. S. Lewis passage.