Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dream Road

Corner of Hickory Avenue & Baxter Street Road ~
Neosho, Missouri
Photographed by Rebecca Sprigg ~
my childhood friend and neighbor

Poem #XL.
from A Shropshire Lad

Into my heart on air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A. E. Houseman (1859 - 1936)

P. S. Adding a bit of humor to Houseman's sad, serious poem:

When pulling this post together, I was struggling to move Becky's Neosho photo from my desktop to my Kodak file, though I knew I had executed the exact same maneuver only recently. Now what step in the process was I forgetting? When I succeeded at last and was able to add the "cartoon fun effect," I forwarded the result to my husband Gerry, along with the Houseman poem.

He wrote back right away: "Now is the poem describing your feelings at getting the picture to work?"

And I replied: "Well, I was going for the "Dream Road" effect, but I guess it works either way! However, it turned out to be so easy, it was more like the land of "found content" ~ now if only I can remember next time, instead of having to re-invent the wheel!"

Thus Gerry was inspired to compose:

Into my heart on air that kills
From yon far desktop blows:
What are those blue remembered files,
What pics, what clicks are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy file structures where I went
And cannot come again.

W. G. McCartney

Thanks Ger!


P. P. S. On the serious side:
Recent Fortnightly post
on A. E. Houseman:
"Daffodils of Autumn"

And here we have . . .
Another Dream Road, Another Story, Another Time

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Say Moon

Includes: "Lullaby of Broadway" (from 42nd Street)
"Never - Never Land" (from Peter Pan)
"Jenny Rebecca" (by Carol Hall)
"Blueberry Eyes" (from Gone With the Wind)
"Castle on a Cloud" (from Les Miserables)
"Not While I'm Around" (from Sweeney Todd)
"My Broth of a Boy" (by Cole Porter)
"Edelweiss" (from The Sound of Music)
"New Words" (by Maury Yeston)
"Count Your Blessings" (from White Christmas)

Lullabies of Broadway by Mimi Bessette was one of our family's earliest lullaby purchases, so early, in fact, that we owned the old technology cassette tape version (1990), ordered from one of our all-time favorite catalogues: Music for Little People. I upgraded a few years ago to CD, because I just can't live without this beautiful, lyrical collection of tunes for night - night and early morning ("Manhatten babies don't sleep tight until the dawn"). I first bought it for my kids, of course, and then for friends of ours as their children came along, but it turns out that I'm the one who has remained in love with every song, every word.

One of my favorites is "New Words," a song about discovery, connection, the magic of language, and the gift of naming. I couldn't find it on youtube, but listen ~ here ~ for a short, sweet snippet.

And the rest:

New Words
[published by Yeston Music Ltd.]

Look up there
High above us
In a sky of blackest silk
See how round
Like a cookie
See how white, as white as milk
Call it the "moon" my son
Say "moon"
Sounds like your spoon, my son
Can you say it?
New word today, say "moon"

Near the the moon
Brightly turning
Are a thousand sparks of light
Each one new
Each one burning
Through the darkness of the night
We call them "stars," my son, say "stars"
That one is "Mars," my son
Can you say it?
New word today, say "stars"

As they blink all around us
Playing starry-eyed games
Who would think it astounds us
Simply naming their names

Turn your eyes
From the skies now
Turn around and look at me
There's a light
In my eyes now
And a word for what you see
We call it "love," my son
Say "love"
So hard to say, my son
It gets harder
New words today
We'll learn to say
Learn "moon," learn "stars"
Learn "love"

Music & lyrics
by Maury Yeston

These lyrics and more on my latest fortnightly post
"Say Moon"

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

Friday, January 27, 2012

No End

We will say this poem again and again . . .
there is no end to anything round."

These words of wisdom from Rumi
& my friend Eileen S. H.
appear on my latest fortnightly post
"This Year's Words"

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


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The Raggedys are always out for the holiday season and then go back into the toy box until next year. I made the Raggedy Ann from a craft kit that Santa left in my stocking back when I was in junior high; my friend Cheryl gave me the small twins as a Christmas present when we were in high school; and my sister Peg made the big Raggedy Andy for Sam's first Christmas. Altogether, they make the perfect Raggedy Family!

Okay, this is not the same kind of "raggedy," but here's a poem from childhood that always made an entertaining read - aloud, not that there were any Raggedy Men about doing anybody's chores that I knew of! No, it was just make believe, plus I suppose we liked the rhythm and the silly vocabulary.

The Raggedy Man
O the Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;
An' he's the goodest man ever you saw!
He comes to our house every day,
An' waters the horses, an' feeds 'em hay;
An' he opens the shed -- an' we all ist laugh
When he drives out our little old wobble-ly calf;
An' nen -- ef our hired girl says he can --
He milks the cow fer 'Lizabuth Ann. --
Ain't he a' awful good Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

W'y, The Raggedy Man -- he's ist so good,
He splits the kindlin' an' chops the wood;
An' nen he spades in our garden, too,
An' does most things 'at boys can't do. --
He clumbed clean up in our big tree
An' shooked a' apple down fer me --
An' 'nother 'n', too, fer 'Lizabuth Ann --
An' 'nother 'n', too, fer The Raggedy Man. --
Ain't he a' awful kind Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' The Raggedy Man one time say he
Pick' roast' rambos from a' orchurd-tree,
An' et 'em -- all ist roast' an' hot! --
An' it's so, too! -- 'cause a corn-crib got
Afire one time an' all burn' down
On "The Smoot Farm," 'bout four mile from town --
On "The Smoot Farm"! Yes -- an' the hired han'
'At worked there nen 'uz The Raggedy Man! --
Ain't he the beatin'est Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

The Raggedy Man's so good an' kind
He'll be our "horsey," an' "haw" an' mind
Ever'thing 'at you make him do --
An' won't run off -- 'less you want him to!
I drived him wunst way down our lane
An' he got skeered, when it 'menced to rain,
An' ist rared up an' squealed and run
Purt' nigh away! -- an' it's all in fun!
Nen he skeered ag'in at a' old tin can ...
Whoa! y' old runaway Raggedy Man!
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' The Raggedy Man, he knows most rhymes,
An' tells 'em, ef I be good, sometimes:
Knows 'bout Giunts, an' Griffuns, an' Elves,
An' the Squidgicum-Squees 'at swallers the'rselves:
An', wite by the pump in our pasture-lot,
He showed me the hole 'at the Wunks is got,
'At lives 'way deep in the ground, an' can
Turn into me, er 'Lizabuth Ann!
Er Ma, er Pa, er The Raggedy Man!
Ain't he a funny old Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' wunst, when The Raggedy Man come late,
An' pigs ist root' thue the garden-gate,
He 'tend like the pigs 'uz bears an' said,
"Old Bear-shooter'll shoot 'em dead!"
An' race' an' chase' 'em, an' they'd ist run
When he pint his hoe at 'em like it's a gun
An' go "Bang! -- Bang!" nen 'tend he stan'
An' load up his gun ag'in! Raggedy Man!
He's an old Bear-shooter Raggedy Man!
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' sometimes The Raggedy Man lets on
We're little prince-children, an' old King's gone
To git more money, an' lef' us there --
And Robbers is ist thick ever'where;
An' nen -- ef we all won't cry, fer shore --
The Raggedy Man he'll come and "'splore
The Castul-halls," an' steal the "gold" --
An' steal us, too, an' grab an' hold
An' pack us off to his old "Cave"! -- An'
Haymow's the "cave" o' The Raggedy Man! --
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

The Raggedy Man -- one time, when he
Wuz makin' a little bow-'n'-orry fer me,
Says "When you're big like your Pa is,
Air you go' to keep a fine store like his --
An' be a rich merchunt -- an' wear fine clothes? --
Er what air you go' to be, goodness knows?"
An' nen he laughed at 'Lizabuth Ann,
An' I says "'M go' to be a Raggedy Man! --
I'm ist go' to be a nice Raggedy Man!"
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

by James Whitcomb Riley, 1849 - 1916
American Writer, known as "The Hoosier Poet"

An Indiana Classic
A favorite library book from our earliest lending library days
[Don't forget, I said I've had a library card since age five!]

In addition to "The Raggedy Man," this collection also contains the poem "Little Orphant Annie" -- always good for giving us little kids a good scare when read aloud dramatically by our elder sister Peg!

~ February 2015 ~
A New Look for Raggedy Andy

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Certain Slant of Light

Thanks to Brent Green for this incredibly
stunning Missouri winter photograph

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons —
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes —

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us —
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are —

None may teach it — Any —
’Tis the Seal Despair —
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air —

When it comes, the Landscape listens —
Shadows — hold their breath —
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death —

Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 86
found in The Complete Poems

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's Magic

A guest blog from my brother Dave:

I was a Voting Judge yesterday here in Kansas. This is one of my experiences.

[Saved from a few years back, but still relevant . . . ]

Fellow Kansans, we live in a magical kingdom! While participating in our recent primary elections, I found out just how magical it really is. Most folks here in Southeast Kansas take some pride in being either a broad majority Republican or a thorn in your side Democrat. Then there are those folks who choose the party of the essentially anti-government Libertarians who truly believe that the less government the better and unlike others who talk the talk, they also walk the walk.

And then there are the unaffiliated. These are the scant few folks who feel it should be their privilege to vote for whoever they think is best qualified regardless of party affiliation. Each election cycle they ask why Kansas can’t support a split ballot and each cycle no one gives them a real answer. The real answer of course is quite simple. The majority rules in all cases and the majority wants no truck with such silliness as sharing the ballot with some other well qualified candidate.

During this most recent primary election an odd thing happened. Unaffiliated voters were given a choice! Select a Republican ballot at the polls and as you walk out the door, POOF! You are a registered and legal Republican! Select a Democrat ballot however and there is no POOF! Instead the unaffiliated voters are theoretically asked whether they would like to become Democrats or would they prefer to remain unaffiliated. Complicated in some ways but essentially straight forward. Except that it is only straight forward if the unaffiliated voters ares aware of the choices available to them.

The key to this process is making certain that those few unaffiliated voters are aware of the possible ramifications of their choice. It boils down to a simple matter of an informed choice. If they are unaware or not fully informed, they may be inclined to vote a ballot that appears to offer more choices over one that is always marginal at best. But is this really the intent or the mind of the staunch unaffiliated voter? By their very nature they are saying they don’t wish to be labeled. If this is the case, which ballot choice would seem more logical for them? Well, I saw three of them over a period of twelve hours and after having it all “explained to them” they all chose to become staunch Republicans rather than continue to be an informed and questioning unaffiliated voter.

Were they truly given the choice they deserved?

Or is it magic?

Dave the Brummbaer

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Up & Down

A guest blog from my brother Dave:

Like most everyone else, I have been watching what our national economy has been doing for the last couple of years. There is very little argument from anyone that the recession that first appeared in 2007-08 has been a very serious drag. For months on end I have listened to news commentators, reporters and editorialists nitpick every small decline in every aspect of our economy. At the end of each "report" it is made clear again that it is President Obama in particular and Democrats in general are behind this never - ending spiral downward. Truth be told, it seemed to me that some of them actually enjoyed bearing the bad news.

Going into the 2012 elections, the talking heads have again chimed in to predict the defeat and fall of our President for reelection. They constantly harp on percentage point spreads of 8 -10% (with a margin of error of +/- 3%!) as irrefutable proof that President Obama has no chance. Even the wonkiest Republican will be sufficiently talented enough to boot him out.

Then something interesting began to happen about 3 months ago. While admittedly a small span of time, taken as a whole, the trends are consistent. Economically things are looking up and not just in a dry dusty drawer full of statistics but rather in concrete gains in employment, housing starts, etc.

And yet, I have yet to hear any of the pundits give any credit to the man in the office of the President. Perhaps it's like Topsy and it just grew. Or perhaps it is the profound effect of millions praying like crazy, but regardless, what goes down earns the blame and what goes up should win the credit.

Dave the Brummbaer

Kit & Dave, back in 1984

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Song for Martin Luther King Day

Album cover for Songs

If Peace Was All We Had
(click to listen)

from the album Peace

As the thought of Yule enters my mind
I think of all mankind
and the way he's changed the tide
of giving to receive
taking without need

thinking and remembering times past
tranquility at last
or was it what it seemed
to be a fantasy

I wonder what would be
If peace was all we had
Joy will drown the sadness

With a hope I feel more alive
This feeling must not die
The thought comes to my mind
It's not a thing you see

I wonder what would be
If peace was all we had
Joy will drown the sadness

~ Rotary Connection

Sunday, January 15, 2012

This Year's Words

Sunrise on Friday the Thirteenth
[I've read many explanations for why the sun may appear as a horizontal oval, especially when setting, but none for why it would appear as a vertical oblong when rising. Does anyone know?]

"Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers."

from The Wasteland
by T. S. Eliot

A new year full of new words!

Some of the best New Year's words I know come from T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets":

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice . . .
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from . . .
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.*

from the Fourth Quartet, "Little Gidding" (sections II & V)

*These great lines from Eliot have already
appeared a couple of times previously on this blog:
see ~ "Three Passions"
and ~ "Parallax"

A Little Window on Winter

These passages are from my latest fortnightly post
"This Year's Words"

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

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Snow at last!
Time to winterize your croquet set!

Or as my friend Len suggests:

Alternatively, encourage winter croquet,
badminton, and snow volleyball.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Divine Homesickness

"When we are constantly focused on externals,
we are not centered, that is, we are not aligned
internally -- body, mind and soul.
Without that alignment,
we have a case of Divine Homesickness.
We feel empty and lost, always trying
to find our way Home . . . always
looking for something 'out there' to fill us up.
And nothing out there can."

The Little Book of Peace of Mind
by Susan Jeffers

Similarly, Frederick Buechner writes:

"If with part of ourselves we are men and women of the world and share the sad unbeliefs of the world, with a deeper part still, the part where our best dreams come from . . . there is a child in all of us who is not just willing to believe in the possibility that maybe fairy tales are true after all but who is to some degree in touch with that truth. . . . a world where nothing is too familiar or unpromising to open up into a world where a path unwinds before our feet into a deep wood, and when that happens, neither the world we live in nor the world that lives in us can ever entirely be home again, any more than it was home for Dorothy . . . "
from Listening to Your Life,"The Child in Us * May 6"
by Frederick Buechner

And Salman Rushdie seems to pick up Buechner's thought in mid - sentence:

"So Oz finally became home; the imagined world became the actual world, as it does for us all, because the truth is that once we have left our childhood places and started out to make up our lives . . . we understand that the real secret of the ruby slippers is not that 'there's no place like home', but rather that there is no longer any such place . . . (see more).
from Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002,
Essay #1: "Out of Kansas"
by Salman Rushdie

This excerpt is from my latest fortnightly post
"Divine Homesickness: If Only In My Dreams"

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

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home."


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stars, Moons, Phosphorescence

Falling asleep and waking up to the intense light of this month's full moon made me think of my sister Diane's pre - Christmas epiphany. Back in mid - December, she wrote:

"Early this morning I took our garbage to the curb. Our subdivision is very dark, as we have no street lights and the lots are big. Other neighbors are hard to see. It was raining a little, and I almost changed my mind about going in the dark. But when I opened the front door to look out, I saw a big bright star. It was only a decoration on my neighbor's house, but it shone down on my driveway just enough so I could tell where to walk. Taking that walk so reminded me of that long ago walk taken by Kings to see our Savior. God bless your day."

Reading her description of the bright Christmas star, even if it was "only a decoration," brought to mind my favorite quote from the movie Apollo 13, when the television reporter asks Jim Lovell (as portrayed by Tom Hanks) if there is "a specific instance in an airplane emergency when you can recall fear?"

Both Lovell's revelation and my sister's epiphany give me goosebumps. Reading their words, I feel exhilarated and humbled at the same time.

Lovell:"Uh well, I'll tell ya, I remember this one time - I'm in a Banshee at night in combat conditions, so there's no running lights on the carrier. It was the Shrangri-La, and we were in the Sea of Japan and my radar had jammed, and my homing signal was gone... because somebody in Japan was actually using the same frequency. And so it was - it was leading me away from where I was supposed to be. And I'm lookin' down at a big, black ocean, so I flip on my map light, and then suddenly: zap. Everything shorts out right there in my cockpit. All my instruments are gone. My lights are gone. And I can't even tell now what my altitude is. I know I'm running out of fuel, so I'm thinking about ditching in the ocean. And I, I look down there, and then in the darkness there's this uh, there's this green trail. It's like a long carpet that's just laid out right beneath me. And it was the algae, right? It was that phosphorescent stuff that gets churned up in the wake of a big ship. And it was - it was - it was leading me home. You know? If my cockpit lights hadn't shorted out, there's no way I'd ever been able to see that. So uh, you, uh, never know . . . what . . . what events are to transpire to get you home" (ellipses in original text).

Awhile back (see "How to Keep On Hoping"), I mentioned a favorite passage from E. L. Doctorow, quoted by Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, describing a similar phenomenon: " 'writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' You don't have to see where you are going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you" (18).

That's what stars are for . . . and moons . . . and headlights . . . and phosphorescence . . .

P.S. A friend writes:
Tonight, the first full moon
after the winter solstice.
The "Wolf Moon" or the "Old Moon."
A beautiful full moon over Lee's Summit
as we roasted marshmallows.

Monday, January 9, 2012

War Horse

Movie by Steven Spielberg
Book by Michael Morpurgo

When watching this movie last week, I couldn't help thinking of the letter my grandfather, Paul J. Lindsey, wrote about his trench warfare experience:

"Kessler and Moore were my two best buddies and were killed not over two feet from me in an awful artillery bombardment with shells bursting from the treetops to the ground, just a literal rain of shrapnel. We had dug in the night before but had not cut brush to cover our foxholes up with. We pitched our pup tents over the holes and the shellfire was so awful that all the ropes holding our tents up were cut and the tents had fallen down. I had turned on my right side with my face to the side of the foxhole and a slug of shrapnel hit my helmet laying on my head. I have always thought the old 'hard hat' saved my life that night. In that awful rain of death I promised God if He would let me live I would serve Him. My life was spared, and I was spared from any real dangerous duty after that."

My Grandfather's
Battle of the Argonne Participation Medal in Miniature
More information on the Battle of the Argonne
For more information on World War I

Paul in Uniform

Friday, January 6, 2012


An extra minute of light ~ January Sunset

"Haven't you noticed the days
somehow keep getting longer?
And the spirit - voices whisper in us all
Haven't you noticed the rays?
The Spirit Sun is stronger
And a New Day is dawning for us all."

from "Hummingbird"
by Seals & Crofts

Epiphany . . . according to James Joyce:
Claritas is quidditas

P. S. Must confess I haven't been writing much commentary lately, but I'll get back to it ASAP. For now ~ just letting the pictures & poems stand for themselves. The lazy [holiday] way, but sometimes less is enough, right?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Twelve Little Drummers

Montessori Re-enactment of the Twelve Days of Christmas
Philadelphia ~ December 1994
featuring Ben McCartney
(front, center)

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas . . .
my true love gave to me . . .
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords-a-Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids-a-Milking
7 Swans-a-Swimming
6 Geese-a-Laying
5 Gold Rings
4 Colly Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter Light

At Dusk on New Year's Day, 2012

Winter Light
(click to hear Linda Ronstadt)

Hearts call
Hearts fall
Swallowed in the rain

Who knows
Life grows
Hollow and so vain

Wandering in the winter light
The wicked and the sane
Bear witness to salvation
And life starts over again

Now the clear sky is all around you
Love's shadow will surround you
All through the night

Star glowing in the twilight
Tell me true
Hope whispers and I will follow
Till you love me too

~ from the motion picture The Secret Garden
~ by Eric Kaz, Linda Ronstadt, Zbigniew Antoni Preisner
~ copyright 1993 Normal Music, BMI
~ Acoustic piano and synthesizer: Robbie Buchanan
~ Vocals: Valerie Carter and Linda Ronstadt

Late December Moon

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Little Tree ~ I Will Comfort You

"there won't be a single place dark or unhappy"

little tree

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

E. E. Cummings, 1894 - 1962
Very popular American poet
Somewhat unconventional,
sometimes eccentric

"little tree" was originally published in The Dial Vol. LXVIII, No. 1 (Jan. 1920). New York: The Dial Publishing Company, Inc.

Decorating Idea: Lacing Cards!
I hope everyone's tree will be staying up for awhile! My projected take down date is 22 Feb (Ash Wednesday). Any time before the New Year is way too soon for me. Seeing a tree out on the curb before the Twelfth Day of Christmas (January 5 or 6, depending on how you count it) just makes me feel sad.