Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year is Going

New Year's Eve in Dallas
Storefront Decorations on Main Street, Neiman Marcus

Ring Out, Wild Bells
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Section #106 from the long poetic requiem
"In Memoriam A. H. H."
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809 - 1892
Poet Laureate of Victorian England, 1850 - 1892;
still one of the most popular poets in the English language.

For more seasonal Tennyson, see previous posts:
Tennyson for Christmas Eve, 2010
Tennyson for New Year's Eve, 2010

Not just giant ornaments but giant hooks as well!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Stall Become A Shrine

Manger Scenes with Ben
1991 ~ St. Mary's Church ~ Little Crosby ~ England

1993 ~ St. Francis de Sales Parish ~ Philadelphia

1995 ~ Liverpool Cathedral ~ England

A Stable Lamp is Lighted
A stable lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky
The stars shall bend their voices
And every stone shall cry
And every stone shall cry
And straw like gold will shine
A barn shall harbour heaven
A stall become a shrine

This child through David’s city
Will ride in triumph by
The palm shall strew its branches
And every stone shall cry
And every stone shall cry
Though heavy, dull and dumb
And lie within the roadway
To pave the Kingdom come

Yet He shall be forsaken
And yielded up to die
The sky shall groan and darken
And every stone shall cry
And every stone shall cry
For thorny hearts of men
God’s blood upon the spearhead
God’s love refused again

But now as at the ending
The low is lifted high
The stars will bend their voices
And every stone shall cry
And every stone shall cry
In praises of the child
By whose descent among us
The worlds are reconciled

by American Poet Richard Wilbur (b. 1921)

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Moon of Wintertime

My Indian Maiden:
Sacajawea with Rosemary Wreath

'Twas in the moon of winter-time
aka The Huron Carol
[click to hear sung by Chanticleer]

'Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wondering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp'd His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on
the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

1926 English translation
by Canadian poet, Jesse Edgar Middleton
based on the 1643 original by Jean de Brebeuf

For more on
the Full Cold Moon of Wintertime
Check out my new post,
"Moons of Wintertime and Beyond"

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Quiz

Fuqua's first Christmas. No breakables this year!
For me?

A couple of Christmases ago, I filled out this Christmas quiz with my siblings and cousins. I had fun with the answers and even got a few blog posts out of them (links provided).

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I especially like printed tissue.

2. Real trees or artificial? Fake -- because they can hold more heavy ornaments.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? As long as I can hold out (somewhere between mid - January & Palm Sunday).

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but not as much as Irish Cream (see below).

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A boy doll, when I was in 4th grade (age 9); I never gave him a name -- just called him Boy Doll and still have him. Little did I know that one day I'd have two little blond baby boys who looked just like that doll!

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes, about a dozen!

8. Hardest person to buy for? I used to say Gerry; but lately I have more good ideas for him than I do for Ben and Sam. Gone are the days of Brio & Thomas the Tank.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Sister - in - law Tina.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Maybe it was the Carolans Irish Cream Gift Tin -- with no bottle of Irish Cream inside -- just the empty tin. Symbolic?

11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Mostly snail - mail, with a few e-mail cards, photos, etc. thrown in for good measure.

12. Five Favorite Christmas Movies?

Starting at Thanksgiving with Home for the Holidays. Great cast including, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Geraldine Chaplain.

The House Without a Christmas Tree (Jason Robards)

The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (1973 animation, narrated by Tommy Smothers, Barbara Feldon, Arte Johnson)

A Christmas Memory, written & narrated by Truman Capote, starring Geraldine Page

A Child's Christmas in Wales, starring / narrated by Denholm Elliott

and . . . one more . . . the musical version of Scrooge with Albert Finney.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I Christmas shop on a perpetual calendar basis! I have, in fact, already started for next year.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Tiny Mince Pies (my recipe).

16 Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored.

17. Favorite Christmas song? "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "O LittleTown of Bethlehem," "Star of Bethlehem" (from the first Home Alone movie), and "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," especially the lines: "The world treats you mean Lord / Treats me mean too / But that's the way things are down here . . . "

One more: Stevie Wonder's "Someday at Christmas" -- best anti - war / protest song I know.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? You know that song, "I'll Be Home For Christmas"? I think it means staying at home, in your own home -- if only in your dreams . . .

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yup -- even to include Bambi! This is a little joke in our family because when I asked Gerry what ornaments he liked, he pointed to a little Rudolph and said, "Well, I don't think much of this Bambi." Bambi! Can you believe? Haha! We're not going to let him forget that one for a long time!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? On top of our big tree is a tiny Nativity scene -- with it's own very even tinier star on top -- so I guess the answer is Star. We sometimes top the other tree with a St. Nicholas Bishop's Hat that Sam made for a school project a few years back. When growing up, we had a white plastic angel painted with gold details; a Christmas light fit right into her back and she was beautiful. Some years, my mom would let us keep her out as a night - light, even after we had put the tree away.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning (delayed gratification).

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Rarely annoyed . . . just dismayed at how extremely fast away the old year passes, even as I'm trying to clean the house and hang the greens and write the cards.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color: Oh so many! Lots of kitty - cat ornaments; a couple of 12 - Days sets; a couple of Nutcracker Suite sets; a couple of Alice in Wonderland sets; the kings & queens of England. I love them all! Occasionally I've been tempted to try a "theme" tree, but in the end I just have to cram it all in. As one of my neighbors said last year, "Now, that's what I call a stuffed tree!" That's the way I like it!

Who wouldn't want to find a giant kitten
in a bread basket under the tree?
"Little" Fuqua (10 mos old; 10 lbs.)

24. Favorite Christmas dinner -- a big ol' repeat of Thanksgiving: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, stuffing, peas, cranberry relish. And for dessert: Nutcracker Sweet Chocolate Pecan Pie. And our four British favorites: Christmas Cake, Figgy Pudding, Tiny Mince Pies, and Sherry Trifle.

25. What do I want for Christmas? Funny, the year my family did this quiz (2009), I had just ordered eight pair of boots, tried them all on, returned five pairs, and kept my three favorites to wrap and put under the tree. What did I get this year? Three pairs of boots -- red, black, and brown! So, I guess I always want boots. I also like getting Christmas for Christmas: Christmas magazines, Christmas books, Christmas candles, Christmas stickers, Christmas tree ornaments.

26. Most likely to respond: We'll see!

27. Least likely: Bah, humbug!

Fuqua Watching For Santa

Additional quizzes . . .Possible ~ Plausible ~ Improbable

Quarantine Quiz Shows

Class of '75

Challenges: Special K & Ten Favs

["Christmas Quiz"]

"You're Out Walking"

"Take This Quiz!"

"Monday: Pop Quiz"

"Talk to Me"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Comfort & Joy Food

This book makes a great present
along with a canister of Comfort and Joy Tea
~ just ask my friend Cate ~

What do we all want for Christmas? Comfort & Joy Food! Not just regular ol' Comfort Food -- but sweets and tea! Magical desserts! First Gerry organizes all the British must haves: Christmas Cake and Sherry Trifle (his specialties); Figgy Pudding and Tiny Mince Pies (we have evolved our own British - American versions of these two).

And, lastly, for the boys-- the one and only Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet Pie. We always make a couple of these holiday favorites at Thanksgiving and -- though we don't really need it -- yet another one at Christmas!

Celestial Seasonings used to print this recipe on the inside of every box of Nutcracker Sweet Tea, but I haven't seen it there in awhile. Luckily, I have it written down; and the tea is still available. If you don't see it in your store, try amazon -- you may have to order six boxes at one time, but that's okay because a box of Nutcracker Sweet Tea makes a good Christmas present, so you can give some away!

Here are the easy instructions:

Make yourself a cup (or an entire pot!) of Nutcracker Sweet Tea

Now, boil one cup of water in medium saucepan; take two additional tea bags from the box, add them to the boiled water, and turn off the heat; steep for 4 minutes

After 4 minutes, remove tea bags, turn heat back on to "simmer"

Stir in

1/3 cup butter
2 oz. of unsweetened chocolate (I use two 1 - oz squares)

Stir until melted, remove from heat, cool for 10 minutes

Then add

1 1/2 cups white sugar (or less according to your taste for dark chocolate)

2 beaten eggs

1/2 teas. salt

Pour into an unbaked pie shell and cover with 1 1/2 cups of pecan halves (or smaller pieces, if you like)

Bake at 375 F, for 45 minutes.

I hope everyone will try it and love it! After my nephew Dan and I started making this 10 years ago or so, I gave up all other pecan pie and chocolate pie recipes. This is it for us!

Thanksgiving Rendition, Flanked by Large Mince Pies**Tradition at our house requires
large mince pies for Thanksgiving / tiny mince pies for Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2012

Poem for the End of the World

November Sunset ~ Champaign, Illinois

Dark, dark night.
The trees. The river.
One more day;
For so slow goes the day.
Before the end
the world goes round
once more.
The world begins the day.
The night has gone.
The day for the end of the world
once more begins.
Once more begins the sun.
Slow, so slow.
Go on, world, live.
Begin, sweet sun.
Begin, sweet world.
The people live and die,
people die alive

Lynette Joass
Age 12
New Zealand

Title poem from the collection:
Begin Sweet World: Poetry by Children (1976)
editing and photography by
John Pearson

And on the final page, another wise child writes:

And I awoke and it was true.
I saw everything. I saw sky of
roses, house of daisies, a tree
of orange, a book of apples, and
I loved it all and I lived with
it for the rest of my life.

Dick Link
Age 8
United States

(See the porch light?)
See also my previous blog posts
featuring poetry from Pearson's book:
"Day Dreams, Night Dreams" & "Arbor Day"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christ in Christmas

"Dear Santa Claus:
This year I'd like the best
to see my fellow man
give his fists and guns
and tongue a rest."
Rod McKuen

Old Favorite New Yorker Cartoon

I've seen so many Merry Xmas signs
with Christ squeezed out by laziness*
or the printer's economic need.
The outrage that it once produced
has almost found its way into the attic
with nineteen-sixty's broken toys.

(Had I not the faces of small children
to mirror Christ for me all year long
I might believe God dead, or sleeping anyway.
Though I doubt there lives a Lucifer
who could make September leaves to fall
or set the tails of dogs to wagging.)

God is living in the mountains,
a recluse from some people's hearts.
I bet he'd drop by smiling in the chilly night
and celebrate his first son's birthday
if we cared enough to keep the porch light on.

by Rod McKuen (b 1933)
from The Carols of Christmas, 1971
first published in Woman's Day Magazine, 1969

I still have the original article of McKuen's "Seven Psalms for Christmas," cut from my mother's copy of this magazine and glued onto the opening pages of my earliest Christmas scrapbook. I started at age 12, and have been at it ever since!

The Divine Sextuplets of Menard's
Photographed by Gerry McCartney,
way back in early October when the retail Christmas displays
began appearing for the season at all of our favorite stores

*In closing, I must add one brief disclaimer that although this McKuen poem has been one of my favorites for over forty years, I have never been too bothered by Xmas as an abbreviation for Christmas. My dear sainted grandmother (Rovilla Heidemann Lindsey) -- never one to be irreverent, and certainly never lazy -- occasionally substituted the "X" as symbolic of Christ. If it once received her blessing, then I shall never find fault with it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Magic Everyday

Who is this hip and handsome Santa?
" . . . the magic in your everyday life. It will be there . . .
Santa Claus isn’t a lie but a vision . . .
of magic, of hope, of generosity, of dreams . . . of love."

Here is a favorite Christmas essay, back from when my boys were small. It's one of those that I've saved in a big notebook to re - read every year and seems particularly appropriate this December when magic and hope and the heart of childhood have been so ruthlessly attacked. Author, Maureen Devlin Carroll offers us a way to keep on hoping. Even after the passage of seventeen years, it seems that her essay might have been written yesterday.

Season's Meanings
by Maureen Devlin Carroll

Driving my eight year old son Matt, and his friend home from school the other day, I heard them wrestling with the logistics of how Santa reaches every child’s home on Christmas Eve. “He couldn’t possibly get from Alaska to Australia to your house and my house in one night, could he?” asked Matt’s friend. Both boys fell silent. That's when it struck me. This was the last Christmas that Matt was gong to believe a fat man in a red suit squeezes down our chimney each year to leave presents under the tree.

In a rush, I remembered when my best friend told me the terrible truth about Santa. “Its just your parents pretending to be Santa Claus,” she announced one day on the way home from school. I stormed in to my house, determined to extract an explanation from my mom, “Why did you lie to me?” I asked furiously. I just didn’t get it.

Now that I’m a parent, I do get it. And I wanted my son to understand why I also chose to lie to him -- quite elaborately at that -- about Santa Claus. But I wanted him to hear it from me first, in a gentle and loving way. So I wrote this letter.

Dear Matt,

You were born the week before Christmas and I couldn’t wait to introduce you to the joys of the season, not the least of which was Santa Claus. Now, all too soon, I know you’ll be asking tough questions about jolly old St. Nick. This letter is to help you understand why I lied to you about Santa Claus.

I wanted you to believe that the world can be magical. When you grow up, you’ll be busy working and paying bills, doing chores and making decisions. It will be a struggle to discover the magic in your everyday life. It will be there, but it will be harder to find than it was when you were small. Maybe your memories of magical Christmases past will motivate you to keep searching.

I wanted you to believe in the possibility of a perfect tomorrow. When you’re experiencing tough times, try to recall waking up on a Christmas morning when everything was just as you had wanted it. Maybe that memory of perfection will help you to continue to hope.

I wanted you to experience the good will of a person you’d never met, who lived for nothing more than to make millions of children happy. (Someday I hope you’ll do something for someone who needs help, whether you know him or not, whether it's offering a warm blanket or a kind word). May Santa’s generosity inspire you to become a more giving human being.

I wanted you to know that your dreams can come true. When you’re older there will always be people telling you what you can't do, what won't work. They’ll tell you that the numbers don’t add up. They’ll list all of the obstacles that stand in your way. Maybe the memory of Christmas morning when your first dream came true will help you believe in your other dreams and you’ll continue to work to make them happen.

I wanted you to know how much you were loved. Santa Claus always knew exactly how to make you happy. When you get older you’ll find that loving people means caring very much about their happiness, knowing what they need from you, and trying your hardest to give them the best of yourself. I hope that knowing how you were loved--how you are loved -- will inspire you to love well.

So you see, Santa Claus isn’t a lie but a vision. A vision of magic, of hope, of generosity, of dreams and most importantly, of love.

Merry Christmas, Matt

by Maureen Devlin Carroll
from Parenting Magazine, 1995

Cookies for Santa: British Hobnobs,
Frosted to resemble Christmas Puddings!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day of Darkness

On such a dark day,
I am reminded of these cautionary watchwords from Virginia Woolf,
spoken by two of her best - known characters, two distraught mothers:

"There was no treachery too base
for the world to commit;
she knew that."

~ Mrs. Ramsay ~
from To The Lighthouse, 98

"She always had the feeling
that it was very, very dangerous
to live even one day."

~ Mrs. Dalloway ~
from Mrs. Dalloway, 11


and this sad stanza from one of my all - time favorite Christmas songs:

"And in despair I bowed my head:
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!'"

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
from "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day"


One of the best ever antidotes to cynicism are these
words of wisdom from dear, good, beautiful Anne Frank:

"It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death. I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that this cruelty too shall end, and that peace & tranquility will return once again."


Equally hopeful are these closing lines from "The Desiderata":

"With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful.
Strive to be happy."

Pastel December Sky
Or, as my friend Diane says, Cotton Candy Trees

See also
"Real Memorial Day"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day of Light

Wall Tile for Lucia Day
Erkers Marie Persson

As with so many of the December customs, St. Lucia's Feast Day is a celebration of light, vision, and enlightenment. Lucia, Lucy, Lux, Lucis -- all refer to Light. St. Lucia is a bringer of light -- in the form of candles, and breakfast in bed, early in the morning. And, as one who was violently deprived of her own eyesight, she has also become the patron saint of the blind.

Gerry and I brainstormed for a couple of songs in keeping with the day and came up with these; neither Christmas songs nor St. Lucy songs -- but a couple of our favorites on the theme of Light:

Blinded by the Light
"Mama always told me not to look into the eye's of the sun
But mama, that's where the fun is . . .
I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasin', sneezin' and wheezin,
the calliope crashed to the ground . . . "

Bruce Springsteen
as performed by
Manfred Mann's Earth Band


I Saw the Light
"It was late last night
I was feeling something wasn't right
There was not another soul in sight
Only you, only you . . .
Then you gazed up at me and the answer was plain to see
'Cause I saw the light in your eyes . . . "

Todd Rundgren

Hope you enjoy these classic rock tunes!


For more Lucia Day Connections
Check out my new post,
"Day of Light"
coming tomorrow on
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker:
A Fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
Literary Blog of Connection & Coincidence;
Custom & Ceremony

Click here
to see last year's
Quotidian post & photo from 2020
. . . and take a look at this 2007 post,
direct from Sweden,
by Tiffany!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Little Christmas

Little Angels on Gerry's Shoulder!
Christmas 2000

"For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet . . .
For I've grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And I need a little angel,
Sitting on my shoulder,
Need a little Christmas now."

from "We Need a Little Christmas"
As sung by Johnny Mathis


Ben said,
"I always thought it was 'grown a little meaner, grown a little colder.'
Learn something new every day."

Well, now that I think about it, maybe "meaner" is the Scrooge version! Though in a way, perhaps the two words -- mean, lean -- suggest the same thing; remember when Caesar says "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look." Of course, Cassius is thin but he's also mean, and that's what Caesar is really getting at. Lean as in heartless.

Another discrepancy: If you listen carefully, you can surely hear Johnny Mathis singing "spice up the fruit cake," but I've noticed that in the Glee version -- and a few others -- they are definitely singing "slice" (and it says "slice" in the printed lyrics as well -- so I' know I'm not just mis-hearing). "Slice" just seems so bland (e.g. sliced bread) compared to "spice."

Still and all, a favorite song for beginning the season!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Earl's Birthday

Grandpa Paul Jones Lindsey & Uncle Earl James Lindsey, 1980

I was inspired when I read the heartfelt essay, of a girl and her Down Syndrome brother -- Grace & Josh -- having fun and raising awareness together!

My Uncle Earl (8 December 1934 - 28 December 1982) who had Down Syndrome could do a lot of cool things like play the harmonica (which I still cannot do!); thumb through catalogs, turning down the corner on all his favorite pages (which I still do regularly!), fill notebooks with his tiny mysterious writing (like Leonardo da Vinci!); and give pretend haircuts, which we kids all loved. There wasn't a lot of education for him back then, but today there would be, and I have no doubt he could have learned many things.

When the doctor warned us, early in my pregnancy with Sam, that I had a low alpha - fetoprotein reading, I declined the suggested amniocentesis. I knew from my grandparents' example in raising Earl that we would find a way to handle whatever happened. As it turned out, Sam was fine; however, a Down's baby would have been fine too.

Earl was a great companion to my grandfather, especially after my grandmother died in 1966. Earl lived for 16 1/2 years after that; and then my grand - dad died a mere 6 months after Earl. I think of them all so often. I know there were difficult times, but also many happy memories.

Earl is also the one who gave me the nickname -- or more accurately completely changed my first name from Beth to -- Kitti, for which I (and even my mom) have always been grateful, since we all know that I make a much better Kitti than I ever would a Beth!

Thanks Earl! And Happy Birthday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day

Around this time last year, I asked my politically astute brother Bruce if he would share a few wise words with us on the solemn 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

He balked at first: "Since when do I take requests?"

I implored . . .

Then he relented: "Okay, I'll see what I can do . . ."

And I saved his response until today . . .

Bruce's Pearl Harbor Thoughts

Unable to shed her college professor instincts, my sister felt compelled to give me a homework assignment: Write something about Pearl Harbor. So, I tried. Sadly, when I looked online, most of today's articles and editorials about Pearl Harbor quickly degenerate into misguided attempts to support our military misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan; or exercises in justifying US jingoism.

Why DO we remember Pearl Harbor? Why not remember May 7 (VE Day) or August 14 (VJ Day) instead? Why remember the beginning of a national tragedy, rather than the end of the nightmare? I'm not sure I can answer that question, but I know what I'd LIKE the answer to be.

On December 7, 1941 [the 2nd Sunday of Advent] the Japanese bombed US military installations on Oahu, the biggest of which was Pearl Harbor. On December 8, the US declared war on Japan, thus entering World War II. The vote in the Senate was 88-0; in the House it was 388-1. (Jeanette Rankin of Montana voted no, saying, “As a woman I cannot fight in a war, and I refuse to send anyone else. She lost her seat in 1942.) Can you imagine any vote today, on any issue of importance, that would receive unanimous support in the Senate, and only one dissenting vote in the House?

Author Studs Terkel called World War II “the last good war.” In fact, it is our last war to date, period. Since World War II, we have not bothered to declare war on anyone before actually engaging in war. In any case, it is the only war in our history (not counting the Civil War, when we went to war with ourselves) when THE NATION went to war. It is the only war in our history when the civilian population at home played such an extensive roll. It is the only foreign war in our history when the entire country made real sacrifices – endured rationing of staple food items, couldn't buy a new car or major appliance because our full industrial capacity was focused on winning the war, paid higher taxes to fund the war.

Maybe THAT is what we ought to remember on the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It was a day that united all Americans, unlike any other in our history...even July 4, 1776. An entire nation came together and focused on one mission – winning the war – and making whatever sacrifices were necessary to bring about that end, as quickly as possible. It is the last time...the ONLY time...that AMERICA went to war. Before and since, we have sent our military forces to war. But, the country has not gone to war with them. Maybe THAT is what makes Pearl Harbor worthy of our remembrance: We should never again send our young men and women to die in combat, if all of and poor, military and not prepared to go to war with them.

Post Script 7 December 2012
: Reading this a year later, I am struck by this idea: The ONLY REASON...the ONLY ONE...that the war in Afghanistan has lasted eleven years is because THE COUNTRY is not at war. With the exception of the few families (as a percentage of our population) who have sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers fighting and DYING over there, the war is background noise. Many nights it's not even mentioned on the evening news. How can this be? HOW CAN THIS BE?

If no one had been able to buy a new car for eleven years, you can bet that war would be over. If no one had been able to buy a new refrigerator or a new washer and dryer or a new 84" television set, you can bet that war would be over. If the people who voted to send us to war had also voted to PAY FOR THE WAR by raising our taxes, you can bet that war would be over. If there was a draft, instead of an all-volunteer force, and the children, siblings, and parents of the 1% (or even the 20%) were fighting and dying and coming home maimed, you can bet that war would be over.

As a nation, we should be ashamed. Our politicians should be ashamed, and we should turn them out of office - EVERY ONE! We have sent the best of the next generation to fight and die, and then forgotten them - pulling them out for use as props, to score political points or elicit emotional support for some cause, then forgetting them as soon as WE'RE finished with them.

BUT, WHAT ABOUT THEM? When do THEY get to be FINISHED? When do THEY get to stop dying? When do THEY get to come home? When do we DEMAND that our leaders either SEND THIS COUNTRY TO WAR...ALL OF IT...or bring those kids home NOW!!!

Because, if it's not worth sending THE WHOLE COUNTRY to war, then it's not worth sending ANYONE!

from The Rev. Bruce L. Carriker

Previous guest commentary includes:

A Break From Politics

October, Baseball, and Cats

(also on facebook: A Note About The Cardinals)

Thanks Dave!

Happy Birthday to My Twin Brother Bruce

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Viracocha, St. Nicholas, Buller Clos

This German Buller Clos seems to fall somewhere
between ancient and modern,
along the middle of the Santa Claus timeline

In addition to the familiar lineage of St. Nick -- from the original 4th Century St. Nicholas of Myra to our contemporary incarnation -- I often wonder if his spiritual roots might be tied laterally to those of the much more ancient and enigmatic Viracocha : "Through all the ancient legends of the peoples of the Andes stalked a tall, bearded, pale - skinned figure wrapped in a cloak of secrecy . . . Viracocha, Foam of the Sea, a master of science and magic who wielded terrible weapons and who came in a time of chaos to set the world to rights" (see Fingerprints of the Gods, by Graham Hancock, p 46).

All of Hancock's sources suggest a similar appearance for the widely traveled Viracocha -- always the beard, the staff, and the long cloak; always venerable, wise, kind and mysterious. Always sounding a lot like -- and this is my conclusion, not Hancock's -- Santa Claus! I'm not kidding!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Viracocha

One and the same?

The connection rings true to me. Hancock may not agree with me, though I mean his work no disrespect; quite the contrary! And quite in keeping with my proposition, poet Richard Eberhart writes of a Mexican Santa who, consistent with my connection, seems a perfect blend of Jolly Old St. Nick and the prescient Viracocha. Surely, without ever saying the name, Eberhart's poem captures the soul of Viracocha. Mystical, apocryphal, legendary, walking through the ages, the Once and Future Santa Claus brings not just toys but light and reason:

Santa Claus In Oaxaca
Nothing seemed so incongruous
In this Christian country of Indians
In bright clothes, Indians part Spanish
And tourists neither Indian nor Spanish,
In the warm dusk in a place of bells
When the cathedral rips again the harsh sound
Of every quarter hour, and then the full hour,
Next to the Marques del Valle Hotel,
And in the square the noisy band goes off
Like a jubilant series of firecrackers,
The firecrackers shot off by Mexican young and old,
Where every breath taken is compassionate,

Nothing seemed so incongruous
As to see Santa Claus in the hot lands
In red cotton garments, trimmed in white,
His bearded face impersonal but appealing,
Walk awkwardly through the square of Oaxaca
Followed by popping strings of boys and girls,
Mothers with babes mangered in red rebozos.
Where are you going, Santa Claus, walking?
Are you going to the ruins of ancient Mitla?
A gentle Zapotec explains the tombs of Mitla.
This Zapotec survives, but gone is the last fierce Aztec.
Are you hastening to see where the future would go?

~ Richard Eberhart
(poem can also be found in
A Christmas Treasury
Selected by Stephanie Nettell)

Gift of Love ~ Counted Cross Stitch
{here & Buller Clos, above}

Happy St. Nicholas Day to All!
And thanks to my sister Peggy Carriker Rosenbluth
for these beautiful handmade presents from years ago!

Monday, December 3, 2012

City Wonderland

"For the heart of man's a palace,
And his dreams are as the sunlight.
They burn away the darkness as they warm the freezing cold.
. . . the diamond star shines down upon the pathway to the soul."
~ as sung by Peter, Paul & Mary ~

Plaza Lights at Sunset
Kansas City, MO ~ Sunday 2 December 2012
Thanks to my brother Bruce Carriker
for sending me this magical photo by Eric Bowers

Bruce said: "While I enjoyed my 17 years in the KC area, I really love rural south-central Pennsylvania. But THIS, I miss . . . a lot. . . .
What's even cooler is that you don't need to be in a helicopter
or anything special to see that view.
You can just go up on the high ground east of the Plaza
and this is exactly what it looks like!"

As my friend Burnetta said,
Cities can be so alluring . . .
especially at Christmastime!

At left are a couple of shots I took last week on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Looks like the North Pole, doesn't it?

And the Crate & Barrel Store looks like Santa's Workshop, inside and out!

I also found some lovely
snow scenes from Quebec City
[click here]
set to music from the
Home Alone Soundtrack.

Happy December!

*The Magi: The Heart of Man's A Palace
Oh the magi were the prophets
And they wandered through the desert,
And they saw the star above them
And they knew they'd find their way.
Through the valley of the shadow
With the hope of human kindness,
They were strengthened by the vision
Of a new and brighter day.

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle.
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed
In the weaving of your fingers,
In the whisper of a love that's born again,
In the weaving of your fingers,
In the promise that we made that never ends.

Well now each man is a pilgrim,
Yes, we all must make the journey.
And it seems that time is telling us to be all that we can,
To help lift up the fallen, we must sow the seeds of goodness.
The torch is passed among us now to light the way of man.

For the heart of man's a palace,
And his dreams are as the sunlight.
They burn away the darkness as they warm the freezing cold
As an eagle flying higher, as a river through the canyon,
The diamond star shines down upon the pathway to the soul


In the promise that we made that never ends.
In the promise that we made that never ends.

lyrics by Joe Henry & Peter Yarrow

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Year Grows Older

The Shortening Winter's Day is Near a Close
Scottish Landscape Artist,
Joseph Farquharson, 1846 - 1935

Each Winter as the Year Grows Older
Each winter as the year grows older,
we each grow older, too.
The chill sets in a little colder;
the verities we knew seem shaken and untrue.

When race and class cry out for treason,
when sirens call for war,
they overshout the voice of reason
and scream til we ignore all we held dear before.

Yet I believe beyond believing
that life can spring from death,
that growth can flower from our grieving,
that we can catch our breath and turn transfixed by faith.

So even as the sun is turning
to journey to the north,
the living flame, in secret burning,
can kindle on the earth and bring God’s love to birth.

O Child of ecstasy and sorrows,
O Prince of peace and pain,
brighten today’s world by tomorrow’s,
renew our lives again; Emmanuel come and reign!

Lyrics by William Gay
Music by Annabeth Gay

December is here, and the year grows older. The most beautiful close of day ~ and close of year ~ paintings that I know of are those by Joseph Farquharson who painted numerous vividly hued winter sunsets, all with such evocative names as "The Shortening Winter's Day is Near a Close" (above), "Day's Dying Glow," "The Sun Had Closed the Winter's Day,"
and this one --
Glow'd With Tints of Evening
For more pictures and poems
about the close of day
see last year's post

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Ant and a Grain of Sand

The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon
by Sir Edward John Poynter (1836 - 1919)

"Learn how to live
a joyful and constructive life in this world,
like ants. . . . The secret of a meaningful life
is not in the long-gone throne of Solomon and the like."

Sa'eb Tabrizi (1601 - 77)

Thanks to my nephew - in - law, David Kimbrel for calling my attention to this great quotation from Sa'eb. Sa'eb's reference to Solomon's "long-gone throne" reminds me of the statue of Ozymandias:

" . . . Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies . . .
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my words ye Mighty and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)

The kingdoms of Solomon and Ozymandias did not endure, their vast achievements dwarfed by an ant and a grain of sand. For more connections on the existential dilemma of time, size and perspective, see my new

Fortnightly Blog Post:
"Like An Ant"

featuring . . .

additional poetry by Mary Oliver & Earnest Sandeen

additional fiction by Padgett Powell & Samuel Beckett,

additional painting by Leonard Orr

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Post - Thanksgiving - Post

Post - Thanksgiving Moon

"And friendship had other charms to captivate my heart.
We could talk and laugh together
and exchange small acts of kindness.
We could join in the pleasure that books can give.
We could be grave or gay together.
If we sometimes disagreed, it was without spite,
as you might differ with yourself,
and the rare occasions of dispute
were the very spice to season our usual accord.
Each of us had something to learn from the others
and something to teach in return.
If any were away, we missed them with regret
and gladly welcomed them when they came home.
Such things as these are heartfelt tokens
of affection between friends.
They are signs to be read on the face and in the eyes,
spoken by the tongue and displayed in countless acts of kindness.
They can kindle a blaze to melt our hearts and weld them into one."

from Augustine's Confessions, Book 8

~ Counting my Blessings, from distant sisters ~
Thanksgiving Candles from Di & China Tea Cup from Peg

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Let Us Eat Quickly


So often it seems that artist Grant Wood (1891 - 1942)
is known only for American Gothic, but in fact there is so much more!

This one called
Dinner for Threshers
is perfect for Thanksgiving!

And it's also the perfect image
to go along with Linda Pastan's poem . . .

Home For Thanksgiving
The gathering family
throws shadows around us,
it is the late afternoon
Of the family.

There is still enough light
to see all the way back,
but at the windows
that light is wasting away.

Soon we will be nothing
but silhouettes: the sons'
as harsh
as the fathers'.

Soon the daughters
will take off their aprons
as trees take off their leaves
for winter.

Let us eat quickly--
let us fill ourselves up.
the covers of the album are closing
behind us.

Linda Pastan, American Poet (b 1932)


Previous Posts
. . . on "American Gothic"
Grim and Gram
Indiana Gothic
American / British / Indiana Gothic
. . . on Linda Pastan:
Your Poem
Kiss Today
Emily From Different Angles
What Do Writers Want?
Lucky Rock

Monday, November 19, 2012


A few brief excerpts from Jan Donley's story, "Blind"
and T. S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
available on my latest
Fortnightly Blog Post:
"There on the Edge of Autumn"

After having his manuscript of Sons and Lovers rejected, D. H. Lawrence exclaimed: "Curse the blasted, jelly-boned swines, the slimy, belly - wriggling invertebrates, the miserable, sodding rotters, the flaming sods, the snivelling, dribbling, dithering, palsied, pulse - less lot that make up England today. God, how I hate them."

Now, I realize that publishers and copyright attorneys are not one and the same. Still, I have to wonder if Lawrence would approve of how difficult and costly it can be to obtain permission to quote from his work. It certainly was for me anyway, back in the late 20th Century, though times are quickly changing (e.g., "The Captain's Doll" ~ on line!).

When I came across Lawrence's outburst on a page of literary insults, I was struck by the irony of the literary establishment's initially rejecting -- only to now so fiercely protect -- his work. The issue also came up recently when writer Jan Donley told me of the difficulties she was having in placing her short story "Blind": "I have not posted it because I was trying to get it published, only to find out that I need permission from Eliot's publisher to use the quotations in the short story. Sigh."

I could certainly commiserate with Jan about the copyright requests. Getting those permissions was one of the most disedifying experiences with publishing my doll book (dissertation) 10 years ago. Some were so kind, but others . . . not so much! Can you guess who was the meanest and the most costly -- The D. H. Lawrence Trust. So it looks like a similar crowd of Dickensian attorneys must have control of Eliot's work as well.

Another irony that has stayed in my mind -- one of the easiest to deal with and at minimal cost was the Angela Carter Trust, even though Carter had died young (at age 51, in 1992) and left behind a child, who deserved and could no doubt use the profit from his mother's work for his own education -- but no one was asking that from Carter's readers. On the other hand, there were no living relatives in receipt of the D. H. Lawrence money -- just some rule - bound law firm holding his work hostage and extorting the reading public!

I shortened the Lawrence passages as much as possible (not easy, since his short story "The Captain's Doll" was the focus of an entire chapter), but even then it cost me $250. And even though I had a "real" publisher (Assoc. Univ. Presses), I was responsible for paying the copyright fees (thank goodness for the McCartney Foundation!).

I called one of my advisors to be sure that I wasn't being hoodwinked by the copyright people, and he said, no, it's heinous, but that's the way it's done, and just bite the bullet and pay up, frustrating though it is! Really, I ask myself, is that what T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence wanted? What would Jesus do, etc. etc. Still and all, I remain yours in scholarship, stumbling blocks and all!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Edge of Autumn

"The sun shone down from the western sky
and pieces of light through the branches
made stripes along the shaded ground. . . .
there on the edge of autumn looking out toward winter."

All of the connections on my new
Fortnightly Blog Post:
"There on the Edge of Autumn"

are drawn from the writing and photography of my friend Jan Donley. References to Jan's work have appeared several times on both the Fortnightly and the Quotidian right from the very beginning. Previously:

Lucky Rock
Lost & Found
9 / 11 Retrospective [also on Quotidian Kit]
Dagmar's Birthday [also on Quotidian Kit]
Everyone Loves Stories

Sleight of Hand
The Little Door
Savor September!
Happy Birthday Coyote!
"I am a leaf!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin

I grew up in a nearly symmetrical family: big brother & big sister; my twin brother and me in the middle; followed shortly by little sister & little brother. The biggest age difference was the six years between my older sister Peggy and "us four little kids." So, as you can imagine, Peg got landed with a lot of babysitting. Now, I could be wrong about this, but she nearly always seemed to love it!

She took us shopping and to the movies, helped us bake cookies and plan parties, played Peter Pan with us and let us jump on the bed, wrote out treasure - hunt clues for us and took us for walks past the haunted house in our grandparents' neighborhood. Not to mention teaching us all the best old childhood songs like "Pony Boy" and "On the Good Ship Lollipop," and playing "Heart and Soul" duets on the piano with us whenever we wanted.

She also had a unique punishment for those times when we were not getting along nicely. The guilty culprits were required to sit on the floor with crossed legs, look each other in the eye, and say, "Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin." We might resist the first time through, but before long our begrudging smirks gave way to giggles and laughing fits: Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin!

I don't know where Peg came up with this magic formula for making kids behave -- I've never read about it in any book or seen it in a movie or known of any other family who subscribed to the "Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin" methodology. But it charmed us every time and remains one of my best childhood memories ever! Thanks Peg!

Happy Birthday to my big sister Peg -- always there for me!