Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

A Tale from the Decameron
John William Waterhouse (1849 - 1917)

My last Fortnightly post, "Love You Can't Imagine" ~ in celebration of Valentine's Day ~ drew to a close before I was able to incorporate all of the great selections that I was hoping to connect. So I have assembled another Fortnightly post out of that remaindered material, including a couple of somber sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and a few sobering thoughts from Anne Lamott. As my father used to say when we had inadvertently left something behind -- a garment for dry cleaning, an overdue library book, a stack of newspapers on trash day -- "Well it's alright to save some over for seed." Over for seed. We weren't even farmers, but how I grew to love my dad's rustic way of saying, "I meant to do that!"

Another little intentional error ~ as in, "I meant to do that" ~ was saving this post, scheduled for the 28th, until today, Wednesday, February 29th! Since the opportunities for celebrating Leap Day are relatively rare and complicated, it would be a shame to let the chance pass by unobserved. Many of the customs and traditions of this every - four - yearly occasion are romantic in nature, providing a most fitting coda to Valentine's Day.

New Fortnightly Post ~ Love Is Not All

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

The Enchanted Garden
John William Waterhouse (1849 - 1917)

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Rose Can Only Smell So Sweet

Photograph by Nina Grice

" . . . the point Shakespeare makes in one after another love sonnet is that a rose can only smell so achingly sweet to those who know that someday they will die to that smell, to it and to every other joy and sorrow."

from the article "Connubial Abyss"
by Kathryn Harrison

This passage and more
on my recent post
"Love You Can't Imagine"

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

Look for New Fortnightly Post
on Wednesday, 29 February ~ Love Is Not All

The Enchanted Garden
John William Waterhouse (1849 - 1917)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Favorite Hats

"I tie my Hat — I crease my Shawl—
Life's little duties do — precisely —
As the very least
Were infinite — to me —"

I'm pretty sure that — Emily Dickinson
is saying something here about the — Quotidian

February 2012

My mom crocheted this little turquoise blue hat for me 40 years ago! Remember when we all wore crocheted sweater vests? My grandmother made a bunch for my sisters and me, complete with pom - poms on the tie - strings. And then Mom made us many more, with hats and scarves to match. I have saved them all. Now if only I knew a way to join them into an afghan, it would be incredibly spacious, colorful, and snuggly!

Jumping to the present, I bought the above sweater recently from Coldwater Creek and suddenly realized that somewhere in the depths of my hats ~ scarves ~ gloves basket, I had precisely the right hat to go along with the bright crocheted motif of my new sweater.

So, I suggest that you follow my advice and do not go by that old rule that you should give away anything that may have been lurking unworn for a year or more in your clothes closet! In fact, I say, feel free to save for decades! You just never know when a perfect match might present itself!

Sam donned the turquoise hat for added warmth
a few snow storms ago (2007)
Another old favorite:
Sam in the Joni Hat, February 2007
The fluffy white Joni Hat was a Christmas present to me from my dear friend Joni, back in 1974, when we were Seniors in High School. Unlike the turquoise hat, this old classic has been in perpetual use, easily claiming the status of longest - running fully functioning item in my wardrobe!Christmas 2009

Though certainly I have worn it consistently winter after winter, I don't seem to have any pictures of myself in the Joni Hat during the 1970s or '80s, but here I am with little Ben, in 1992. Of course, it would be much cuter if Ben was the one wearing the Joni Hat; but he seems to have picked out another favorite!
Even Gerry has been known to wear the Joni Hat upon occasion!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent & Lentils

Illustration of the Lentil Plant, 1885

When I posted "A song for Lent"
on facebook this morning,
my witty friend Len commented,
"Do you have a song for Lentils?"
Guess what? Such a song actually exists!

"You take some lentils and you take some rice"
by the Eurythmics

Who knew?!

As for my "song for Lent," most sources refer to it as a Christmas carol, but for me it is definitely Lenten:

"Remember O Thou Man!"

As in, Remember that from dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return! As in "Ashes to ashes; dust to dust." As in Ash Wednesday. I usually disapprove of gender exclusive language in liturgical texts, but this song is so beautiful that I make an exception.

Words and music by Thomas Ravenscroft
from “Melismata,” 1611

As for the six week Lenten season, my goals are

To give up "stuff" for Lent ~ one garbage bag full every week ~ to the trash, to Goodwill, to the Library, wherever it needs to go in order to be out of my house forever!

and though it may prove difficult,

To try giving up "Should have. Could have. Would have."

As in: "Oh, bosh! Should have. Could have. Would have. What an odious trio. When I was forced to keep to my rooms these past days, I made a promise to ignore those gloomy villains. I suggest you do the same." ~ by Philadelphia author Cordelia Biddle (from her novel, Deception's Daughter, 108).

and thanks to Len's suggestion,

3. to have Lentil Soup at least once a week!

There are many recipes from which to choose!E.g., Martha Stewart's Lentil & Bulgur

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gatsby: Sad Eyes

But I --
Ah, sooner would I die
Than see tears in those eyes of my soul.

Stephen Crane, 1871 - 1900
from The Black Riders and Other Lines, #LIII

Original book cover for The Great Gatsby

"It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes
at things upon which you have expended your own
powers of adjustment."

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1896 - 1940


Poor Gatsby. The form of his dream is pure, but the content is corrupt. Or is it the other way around?

" 'You can't repeat the past.'

'Can't repeat the past?' he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can!' "

No, you can't.*
Since it's Mardi Gras,
just pretend that the fun fair
pictured at the bottom of the book cover
is New Orleans!

*Similar sentiment:
"Forgiveness means giving up all hope of having had a better past."
~ Anne Lamott ~ Lily Tomlin ~


from "Like Pale Gold"
John Green's Crash Course on The Great Gatsby

Dear Heroic Past,

Like champagne poppers, you’re always a little bit underwhelming.

The thing is, Heroic Past, which of our pasts was so heroic?

Was it the part where we owned other human beings?

Was it the part where we fought over the right to own other human beings?

Was it Gatsby’s Jazz Age, with its fast cars, deliciously illegal alcohol and rapidly expanding stock portfolios?

I mean the amazing thing about the Great Gatsby is that Fitzgerald didn’t know the Great Depression was coming, [or did he?] but his book sure reads like prophecy.

The truth, Heroic Past, is that we may think we want to recreate you, but what we actually want to do is we want to recreate you without all the problems we don’t remember.

And that’s how you ruin your life over a girl you dated for a month five years ago.

Best Wishes,

John Green

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Other Vision

Marie Therese Accoundee
by Picasso


For a day, just for one day,
Talk about that which disturbs no one
And bring some peace into your
Beautiful eyes. *

Hafiz (1325 – 1389)
14th - Century Persian poet
popular, proverbial, profound


Marie Therese avec une Guirlande
by Picasso


from "Your First Eyes"

A lover has four streams inside,
of water, wine, honey, and milk.
Find those in yourself and pay no attention
to what so-and-so says about such-and-such.

The rose does not care
if someone calls it a thorn, or a jasmine.
Ordinary eyes categorize human beings.
That one is a Zoroastrian. This one is a Muslim.

Walk instead with the other vision given you,
your first eyes.*
Bow to the essence
in a human being. Do not be content
with judging people good and bad.
Grow out of that. . . .

Rumi (1297 - 1273)
13th - century Persian poet
philosopher & mystic


*emphasis added

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cabbage Soup

Now my ideal is the housewife
My greatest wish, a quiet life
And a big bowl of cabbage soup

from Doctor Zhivago
by Boris Pasternak

The Couple
Day after day their deep love softly decays.
This makes them wise. It makes them want to sing.
Sometimes, over cups in the kitchen or stirring
a warm soup in the dark, they feel such tenderness
as to turn quietly weeping for each other's arms.
Weeping. Song. They are so much alike after all.

in After the Reunion: Poems
by David Baker

These love poems appear along with several others
on my fortnightly post for Valentine's Day
"Love You Can't Imagine"

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

So Many Books

Girl Reading by Picasso
If you're looking for something to read, here's what I've posted lately on my book blog:

The Martha Beale Mysteries

Christmas Books

Girl With a Book

Mona's Clothes

Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino describes the dilemma
of entering the bookstore:

Books You Haven't Read,
the Books You Needn't Read,
the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading,
Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written.

the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered.

the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First,
the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered,
the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback,
Books You Can Borrow From Somebody,
Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too.

the Books You've Been Planning To Read For Ages,
the Books You've Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
the Books Dealing With Something You're Working On At The Moment,
the Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case,
the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified.

the Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time To Reread
the Books You've Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It's Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.

the New Books Whose Author Or Subject Appeals To You.
New Books By Authors Or On Subjects Not New (for you or in general)
New Books By Authors Or On Subjects Completely Unknown (at least to you) . . .

from Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler

See more: Kitti's Book List

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valen - Time

Good - bye Christmas - time!

Hello Valen - time!

Just for old - time's sake, my sisters and I still like to wish each other a "Happy Valentime's Day" -- or better yet, "Happy Balentime's Day!" Well, it's a hard word when you're in kindergarten.

Vintage Valentine Re-Issue

I was thrilled when this big book of punch - out Valentines was re-issued a few years ago. The cards, trimmed in red felt, are very similar to those we made for our grade - school Valentine boxes in the early 1960s, though not exactly the same. Contrary to all the commercial hoopla about love and romance, I have to say that for me Valentine's Day has always been more of an arts and crafts holiday, starting way back with those Valentine boxes. Even in high school and college, it was not so much about who had a sweetheart as it was about baking heart - shaped cookies and designing novelty cut & paste originals.

A few years ago, an old friend and I were reminiscing about the Valentines of yesteryear. She wrote, "I loved making the Valentine box when I was a kid, but I was embarrassed by the Valentines my mother bought, which I now realize were quite beautiful. But when you don't fit in, the most important thing is not being different. My mother bought these big over - sized books from which you punched out the cards (they were beautiful with lots of glitter); you also had to cut out the envelopes and glue them together. I was embarrassed by the homemade feel of them. All the other kids brought the Valentines du jour. I remember in first grade choosing, for the boy I liked best, a huge glittery heart with a girl on the front and the boy dressed as a doctor listening to her heart go pitter - patter for him."

Upon reading those words, my own heart went pitter - patter, for I immediately recognized that description as the very Valentine book from my own elementary school days. How well I remember the glitter and the cut - out envelopes, even the doctor card! Another favorite pictured a girl on a big swing -- I think it must have been the biggest Valentine in the glitter book! What I wouldn't give to see those cards today! How I wish I had saved an entire book so that I could see all the pages intact again before we punched out the cards and glued the envelopes together.

Yes, it's true that even in those years a lot of kids were already bringing in pre-cut Valentines with a Jetsons or Flintstones theme, but those never really touched my heart. It was the same when my own children were growing up, with a lot of their classmates exchanging whatever store - bought Valentines were current -- Harry Potter or Shrek. Not Ben and Sam, however! Poor kids! They had been blessed with a glitter and paste mother, who was forever urging them to design their own with all kinds of stamps and stickers from the Pearl Arts and Crafts Store on South Street!

I loved the answer that Brooke Shields gave (in a February 2009 magazine -- I think it was Self or maybe Real Simple) when asked, "How will you celebrate Valentine's Day?"

"I think the girls and I will really do it homemade:
Make our own cards for Dad
and just make that the celebration."

I couldn't agree more -- spreading out all the supplies and so forth is the real celebration! I don't put all the Valentines together in preparation for some bigger event -- that is the event! Playing with the paper hearts and stickers is my way of celebrating. As mentioned elsewhere, Gerry I observe two wedding anniversaries: our courthouse wedding on February 3rd, and our church wedding on September 2nd. So on February 3rd, we usually exchange Valentine - themed anniversary cards that serve also as early Valentines. Honestly, kind of like Brooke, the Valentine fun for me is finding the February anniversary card for Gerry and adding all the personal touches.

And how about baking some heart - shaped cookies: rosemary shortbread for Gerry, gingersnaps for Ben, peanut butter for Sam. Brooke is lucky she has some daughters to join in. And I'm lucky to have my cats Pine and Beaumont (both girls!) who like to help by chewing on cellophane, stealing ribbons, trying to guide my hand as I write, and taking a nice long nap atop a stack of doilies! Hey, why not?!

For a few fleeting years, Ben and Sam were game, but gradually -- just like Little Jackie Paper -- they ceased to fully appreciate the innocent pleasure of the school Valentine exchange. I knew they just weren't that into it the year that Ben informed me that the 6th graders were "so not doing Valentines anymore!" On the one hand, "Bah, humbug!" But on the other hand, we always knew it, didn't we:
A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.

Before that fateful turning point, my friend and neighbor, Cate [scroll down or click to "Trimming & Untrimming"] used to come over with all of her ink pads, rubber stamps, gold metallic pens and special ribbons to help the boys with their creations. Those were great Valentine's Days -- and great Valentines! Yes, I still have those little cards. In fact, that too is a part of my solitary celebration -- sorting through all the old favorites that I have saved, and admiring them once again.

Need some inscriptions for your Valentines?
Here are a couple of favorites:

Across the gateway of my heart I wrote "No thoroughfare."
But Love came laughing by, and cried,
"I enter everywhere."

~ Herbert Shipman ~

"It is overdoing the thing to die of love."
~ French Proverb ~

More Old Favorites &
Double Double Valentine

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trimming & Untrimming

Pure Magic!

Untrimming the tree: I started Tuesday, finished today. My friend Cate ~ a girl, like me, who just loves Christmas ~ talked me through the last few steps over the phone this morning. Even long distance, it's a more light - hearted task if you have an undecorating - buddy with whom to reminisce. In honor of Cate's assistance, I must post the most breath - taking Christmas tree photos I have ever seen (above & below). Yes! These are Cate's fabulous ornaments, placed by her unerring hand!

A Swan A' Swimming
Tea for Two
Goodbye Santa . . . 'Til Next Year . . .

I know I've shared the following poem before, but it is so absolutely perfect for the occasion, allow me to post it once again:


Now all that scintillation is a chore.
What they so recently assembled
Piece by piece in imitation
Of every year for twenty years ago

Each day became more everyday.
The delicate contrivances ignored,
This clutter in a corner of the eye
Now is an hour on the stepladder

And woman's work. This afternoon,
The sunlight brave and January thin
Reflecting on her, she sets down
Lightlier than they lifted them

Angel and orb and cardboard cornucopia,
The candy cane old as the eldest child.
Once she has packed away the annual farm
(Each cotton sheep plump as a thumb),

Hanging the glassy surface of the lake
Up on its hook in the back bedroom,
She sends the snowy field out to the laundry.
Arms full of a great weightlessness she arises

Toward the airless year in the black attic.
The Season's Greetings flutter in the trash
Out in the alley and the tree,
Naked, imitates mere nature.

All's done but this -- that at the last she blind
The windows of the Advent Calendar
From which next year again shall stare
The forest animals as day by day,

As the great Day approaches
Until the Manger stands revealed,
Husband and child and wife, restored
Out of the storm, once more shall be assembled.

by John N. Morris, 1931 - 1997
American author and educator [more on Morris]

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Say Snow Moon

Rumi writes of the moon:

As everything changes overnight,
I praise the breaking of promises. . . .

I swear by the one who never says tomorrow,
as the circle of the moon never agrees
to sell installments of light.
It gives all it has.

See complete poem: "The Polisher"

Maury Yeston writes:

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"

See complete song: "Say Moon"

Vachel Lindsay writes:

The Moon's the North Wind's cooky.
He bites it, day by day,
Until there's but a rim of scraps
That crumble all away.
The South Wind is a baker.
He kneads clouds in his den,
And bakes a crisp new moon that . . .
North . . . Wind . . . eats . . . again!

See more
Moon Poems by Lindsay
and photo comments

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl - o - Lantern

Suggested Superbowl Reading:

"How to Watch Football if You Hate It"
by Duo Dickinson

Thanks Duo! Your article inspired me to change my profile picture for the Superbowl Weekend. Though I would never go so far as to say I hate it, not anymore, I must admit that my interest in the game does not extend too far beyond a couple of kickers:

My Sons ~ Ben & Sam
P.S. For those who have asked . . .

Believe it or not, I've had the pumpkin since Halloween! In fact, I saved two pumpkins because I wanted to carve a "Turkey - o - lantern" at Thanksgiving and a Christmas - tree pattern at Christmas, but then I never got around to doing either one.

Luckily, the pumpkins have stayed fresh out on our back porch, so I was determined to carve one for the Superbowl (though not nearly as elaborate as a couple of years ago when Ben carved an Eagles' helmet). If the remaining pumpkin stays firm for another week, I will carve a heart in it for Valentine's Day ♥.

Philadelphia Eagles Jack - o - Lantern
Carved by Ben McCartney

Halloween 2009

P.P.S. And for those who have asked about the tree, if Football Season can last til February, then so can Christmas! Right? My goal is to take it down by Ash Wednesday, at which time I shall give up all Christmas decorations for Lent. It's a hard sacrifice!

Valentine - o - Lantern

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Kit & Dave at the Porsche Dealership in 1984

Happy Birthday to my eldest brother Dave,
who has honored me with yet another guest blog,
this time, a true story from Germany:

Our Monte Carlo Rally

Many of us dream of some day participating in a major motoring event but few of us have the opportunity to experience such a dream. My luck was considerably better and much more than I deserved.

In December of 1981 I was stationed in Neu Ulm Germany with a Pershing missile unit. My wife and I read in the local paper that the Porsche dealership and the city were to be the host of one of the intermediate stops for the Monte Carlo Rally. We tried like everyone else to find out the exact route that the rally would be taking through town but this seemed to be a closely guarded secret for some reason.

That December the weather was cold but more importantly there was a very heavy cover of snow on the ground; and the day that the rally was to come to Ulm, the snow was coming down in big soft gentle flakes, forming huge drifts at all intersections.

After some deliberation, my wife and I decided to just go cruising around the area near the dealership and see if we could pick up the trail and work our way back a bit until we found a place where we could watch the contestants come into town.

We patrolled back and forth for nearly a half an hour when suddenly we came upon an intersection that was completely blocked by pedestrians and under the nominal control of the Polizei. We approached the intersection very slowly hoping to ask one of the cops for more information. Imagine our surprise when he suddenly dispersed the crowd and waved us in and indicated we were to turn to our right.

Suddenly we found ourselves driving down a snow covered street with huge crowds on both sides, cheering madly and yelling for us to go faster, faster, faster. I looked at my wife, shrugged, grinned and gave our 1977 Porsche 911 her head. We roared down the street doing 50 mph or better, slithering around corners at the direction of more cops.

Then before we could react we found ourselves plunging underground into an underground parking garage. Very serious officials descended on our car asking where our Rally signs were and preparing to give us new ones under the assumption that ours had gone adrift somewhere on the course.

Sheepishly we found ourselves explaining the way we had found ourselves into their rally. We expected the wrath of the German officials and at least a fine of some type. Instead, they showed a true sense of humor and laughed heartily at our infiltration. After some good natured kidding we were shown the way out of the back of the garage but not before being given a complimentary toast of champagne!

As we drove slowly home that late afternoon in the gathering gloom, we still couldn't quite grasp what had happened over the previous four or five hours. I even suggested to my wife that perhaps we should have tried to brazen it out pretending to speak no German and representing ourselves as American privateers. She snorted and said that only I would be insane enough to try such a stunt.

Years later, I still wonder.

Dave the Brummbaer

Here I am, pretending to drive Marion's Porsche in 1984

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Candlemas Eve

One of my favorite things is growing the rosemary all year long,
then bringing it in to decorate the house at Christmas . . .

and making miniature wreaths . . .

and at last, taking it all down again . . .

"Down with the rosemary . . .

[ . . .it's time . . . ]

To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift; each thing its turn does hold ;
New things succeed, as former things grow old."

from "Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve"
by Robert Herrick
English Poet(1591–1674)

For more on the significance of February 2nd,
see my Imbolc post from a couple of years ago
and my Groundhog Day post from last year.