Thursday, May 31, 2012

All Our Time

How Time Is Kept

In the flurry of our beating hearts
there is never time enough for what we dream of.
Our intimate dead, however, lie calm of face
as if to say, no need for hurry.
They idle in such a wealth of stillness
it can never be wholly spent.

Yet they are close, deep in our one affair.
Don't disturb us, they say, we are busy
at the leisure of not breathing. It takes all our time,
it takes more time than being alive.

~~from the Collected Poems
of Ernest Sandeen (1908 - 1997)
Notre Dame Professor and Poet

For this poem and more
see my recent Fortnightly Post
"Poems for Memorial Day"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

For Megan

Kitti and Megan

We had to rely upon the kindness of strangers for this photograph of our Memorial Weekend Reunion. Luckily, a friendly passerby was more than happy to indulge us with an impromptu photo session, but he missed the part about centering the picture underneath the library mural and including Touchdown Jesus. Oh well! We like it anyway! As Megan says, "Tadaaa!" Or as Ben used to say when he was little and didn't fully understand what the sportscasters were saying: "Touch da!"

I have a very dear memory of the time Megan came to visit me for a couple of days in Philadelphia shortly after the birth of my younger son, Sam. My older son, Ben was 3 1/2 at the time, so we had our hands full, but we had fun, riding the trolley and walking around Rittenhouse Square with Sam in the Snugli.

Megan with Baby Sam
just before Christmas, 1993
Megan hasn't changed bit, but Sam (now 6'5") sure has!

On the last morning, before I drove Megan to the airport, she said she wanted to give me something different than a store - bought present; she wanted to do something practical -- such as vacuuming the carpet so that I wouldn't have to worry about being caught up with the housework. I was so touched by that kindness and Megan's way of knowing what I really needed right then. Of all the baby presents and hostess gifts I have received over the years, this is one that I always carry in my heart.

Thanks Megan!
Touchdown Megan!
I took this one, 28 May 2012

Megan took this one of me
the last time we were together
16 October 2006
I like to use it on my Book Blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ruth & Naomi

Happy Birthday
to my
Mother - in - Law Rosanne!
Ruth & Naomi by He Qi

See more artworks by He Qi
Read artist's bio

View a more traditional depiction
found in Sudley House Museum
Liverpool, England

Monday, May 28, 2012

Poems for Memorial Day

Memorial Day Service at Sunnyside Cemetery
Caney, Kansas

New Post for the 28th on

The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Poems for Memorial Day

Headstone For My Parents
in Sunnyside Cemetery ~ Caney, Kansas
#1: Memorial Day

On this day every year
our dead afflict us with
a kind of solemn astonishment
at how close to us they remain.

The dates on their headstones
reveal that even in their graves
they grow older year by year
just as we do. They are all still with us.
We are all going in the same direction.

from the Collected Poems
of Ernest Sandeen (1908 - 1997)
Notre Dame Professor and Poet

For this poem and more
see today's Fortnightly Post
"Poems for Memorial Day"
and from awhile back
"Day of the Dead"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You're Out Walking


You're out walking.
You come upon a house.
Describe the house.
Inside, there's a table.
On the table are three objects.
Describe the three objects.
Outside, you see a bear!
What do you do about the bear?
On the windowsill, you find a cup.
What do you do with the cup?


A quaint cottage, similar to my favorite tea cup (see above).
A book, a notebook, a pen.
A bear! Hunker down!
A cup! Similar to my cottage! See above!
Fill with very hot tea to drink while reading and writing.


The house is yourself.
The three objects are the things you do best.
The bear is a problem.
How you deal with the bear is how you solve the problem.
The cup is your love.
How you handle the cup is how you express your love.

from the novel
Do Try to Speak as We Do:
The Diary of an American Au Pair
(94 - 96)
by Marjorie Leet Ford


P.S. MARCH 2013

(randomly assign each other an age)
AGE: 21
I lived in Kirksville, MO.
I was in a relationship with Matt & El Gallo.
I drove a Dodge Dart that I shared with my brother; when he had the car, I used my trusty blue bike, from 6th grade.
I feared My Body, Myself; my judgment, my choices.
I worked at explaining my decisions to myself.
I wanted to be Luisa in "The Fantasticks."

AGE: 55
I live in West Lafayette, IN.
I am in a relationship with the Head Gardener.
I drive a bright red Honda Fit.
I fear the Road Not Taken.
I work at organizing my thoughts and notes and years of reading material; making connections; writing blog posts.
I want to get my priorities straight before I run out of time.

P.S. JUNE 30, 2017

(using only one word)

1. Where is your cell? Charging
2.Where is Your mom? Kansas
3. Your other half? Office
4. Your favorite food? Fruit
5. Favorite color? Red
6. Your favorite drink? Tea
7. Fear? Unlovable
8. Favorite shoes? Tevas
9. Favorite way to relax? Swim
10. Your mood? Moody
11. Favorite Place? Home
12. Where were you last night? Restaurant
13. Something that you aren't? Commercial
14. Muffins? Blueberry
15. Vacation spot? England
16. Where you grew up? Missouri
17. Last thing you did? Writing
18. What are you wearing? Comfy
19. Your TV? Netflix
20. Favorite Animal? Cats
21. Life? Contradictory
22. Regrets? Profession
23. Missing someone? Pets

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"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Angels: Incredible, Comitted Volunteers

Joplin, Missouri: Before and After
[Click here and slide cursor across photograph]

Reflections One Year Later
by my friend, Mitzi Smith

It would take hours and hours to write about the tornado that hit us one year ago today and the events since. Still can't believe it's been a year. Can't tell you how many times I've heard people say things like..."What happened to Joplin was really bad, but people are sick of hearing about it!" or "Why has Joplin gotten so much media coverage when other cities have had similar destruction without near as much attention?"

A Shocking Day

I don't know how to respond to statements like these. I don't have the answers. I went to Texas after Katrina/Rita and it was bad. People have died in all of these catastrophic weather events. The only explanation I can come up with can be summed up in one word...Volunteers.

Joplin High School

I live here. I've been deeply affected by the storm and it's changed me forever, yet I didn't lose a single loved one or experience any property damage. Within minutes after the tornado passed through, we headed to St. John's hospital. That was my first glimpse of the power of the human spirit and the word "volunteer" took on a whole new definition for me. To me, "volunteer" is synonymous with "angel." I became a volunteer that night, and for days, weeks and months after. It began with our own citizens, frantically digging through rubble, guided by the screams for help, loading up the dying and injured into their own vehicles to get them to the only hospital still standing and functioning. Then came the police, firefighters, paramedics, medical professionals from surrounding towns. From there, it grew, like nothing I've ever seen in my life. They, the "angels," came from Kansas City, St. Louis, and other Missouri cities. They came from bordering states. They came by car, RV, airplane, every mode of transportation you can imagine. Some even hitchhiked, but they came. And they kept coming. We've had volunteers come from virtually every state in this country and beyond. Africa, South America, Europe, just to name a few. Some of the angels have never left. They are still working to rebuild homes and shattered lives. New angels arrive every day, a whole year after the storm.

I believe it is the massive influx of volunteers that has produced the attention that Joplin has received. How can that be a bad thing? For those of us who reside here, we will forever refer to time as "before the tornado" and "after the tornado". We won't get sick of hearing about it or talking about it, because we are still living with the effects. We see it every single time we drive our city's streets. It will FOREVER be there, in some way. But if it weren't for the angels, those incredible, wonderful, committed volunteers, we couldn't have gotten this far. No way. Thank you will never, ever be enough, but each of you has our undying gratitude.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

National Bike Month

Motocycles Comiot, 1899
by Theophile Steinlen, 1859 - 1923
Swiss / French Artist

Many years ago, a friend of mine gave me a small copy of the above poster, along with this note written on the back:

"Last Spring, I saw you one day riding your bike and you reminded me of an image that I could not place at that time. I found out the other night that I had this poster in mind when I came upon it going through my things. I hope you like it."

Yes, I did like it; it remains one of my favorite presents ever; and it provides the perfect illustration for an international celebration of the bicycle!

You can also go to The Quote Garden for a collection of excellent Bicycle Quotes, including my favorite:

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle,
I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

H. G. Wells, 1866 - 1946
British Author

Biking Across Campus with My Friend Milly
Summer 1980

Bike Basket Full of Christmas Presents
& My Cat Jeoffry, 1986

A Couple More Posts About My Amazing Bike:
"Lucky Talismans"
"Thousands and Thousands of Uses"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Cosmic Task of Cats

Little Beaumont, working very, very hard!

"Why do cats sleep so much?

Perhaps they've been trusted with some major cosmic task, an essential law of physics -- such as: if there are less than five million cats sleeping at any one time the world will stop spinning. So that when you look at them and think,
what a lazy, good - for - nothing animal,

they are, in fact, working very, very hard."

~ from the novel Human Croquet (135)
by Kate Atkinson, b. 1951
English novelist

I am also reminded of Eleanor Farjeon's clever little poem, which has been illustrated as a children's book many times:

Cats Sleep Anywhere

Cats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair.
Top of piano, window-ledge, in the middle, on the edge.
Open drawer, empty shoe, anybody's lap will do.
Fitted in a cardboard box, in the cupboard with your frocks.
Anywhere! They don't care! Cats sleep anywhere.

Eleanor Farjeon, 1881 - 1965
English children's author

Farjeon also wrote the lyrics to "Morning Has Broken," way back before Cat Stevens made them famous (click here to hear).

For my favorite Farjeon passage,
check out: "The Precious Firstlings"

Basket Cats



Monday, May 14, 2012

Mrs. Ramsay

New Post for the 14th on

The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

"Life -- A Little Strip of Time"

Tablescape by Katy Bunder

For Mother's Day, I thought I would write about one of the most steadfast mothers in modern British fiction, Mrs. Ramsay from Virginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf had no children, but Mrs. Ramsay has eight; and Woolf intuitively fills Mrs. Ramsay's head and the first half of the novel with touching motherly insights.

Mrs. Ramsay is intuitive and creative, exhibiting love and care and motherly concern. She is filled with anxiety on her children's behalf, but also with pride. Fearing that the children are about to erupt in laughter over some private joke at dinner, she says to them -- by way of maintaining order and altering the dinner table dynamic: " 'Light the candles' " (145). Standing down the length of the table and illuminating an elaborate centerpiece designed by Rose, the tall candles number eight, just as Mrs. Ramsay's children do.
Happy Mother's Day!

Tablescape by Tina McCartney

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Graduation, Ben!

An Exciting Weekend Coming Up:

College Graduation & Senior Recital

And since I hadn't started keeping a blog back when Ben graduated from highschool, here are some ghosts of events past:

High School Graduation, 4 years ago

Summer Organ Recital, August 2008

High School Valedictorian Speech
by William Benedict McCartney
24 May 2008

Four years of high school have come and gone, and, seeing as for the last time in at least ten years, we are all together, I felt it appropriate to introduce one final piece of legislation.

A Resolution of Thanks:

Whereas, Mr. Ohlhaut, who came to a new school at the same time I did and stayed in my schedule every year, either as teacher or professional consultant; Mr. Spencer, who inspired and facilitated the most obsessive studying I've ever done for two two hour tests; Mr. Smith, whose influence on me as a teacher and coach was enough that I formatted my final words as a piece of congress legislation; Mr. Overley who witnessed my senioritis in a way that only a teacher who had me the first semester of freshman year, the second semester of senior year, and the football season every year in between could, and all the teachers and faculty members of West Lafayette High School were exemplary, and

Whereas Michael Bennett, my organ teacher, who ensured that when I didn't feel like doing homework I could do something else guilt free, maintains to this day a close friend and superb teacher, and

Whereas all my peers pushed, stimulated, motivated, and supported me, and

Whereas my friends have ensured that I have become a better human being, and in so doing become some of the people closest to my heart, you know who you are, and

Whereas my grandma, who made sure I didn't strain my eyes; my grandpa, who ensured I aimed straight and true in school and on the football field; Sam, who's pretty much a pain I'm most of the time proud to call my brother, and my mom and dad, who fed, watered, drove, put up with, listened to, and encouraged me every single impossible step of the way were the best family I could have hoped for

Be it resolved by the graduating class of 2008 here assembled that without the help, guidance, encouragement, and support of many, many people we could not have made it, so successfully, this far.

Be it further resolved that, as amazing has high school was, man, are we ready to get out of here. Thank you all for a four great years.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We'll Eat You Up -- We Love You So!

A Touching Obituary,
especially the little boy who eats up what he loves!

My favorite line in Where the Wild Things Are has always been when the Wild Things cry out upon Max's departure, "Oh please don't go -- we'll eat you up -- we love you so!"

I grew to understand my love for it even more when reading Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By, I came across an archetypal explanation for the human impulse to love and devour:

" . . . an ancient Zoroastrian legend of the first parents of the human race, where they are pictured as having sprung from the earth in the from of a single reed, so closely joined that they could not have been told apart. However, in time they separated; and again in them they united and there were born to them two children, whom they loved so tenderly and irresistible that they ate them up. The mother ate one; the father ate the other; and god, to protect the human race, then reduced the force of man's capacity for love by some ninety-nine per cent" (153 - 54).

So if it seems that we human beings are stinted in our capacity for love, now we know that, ironically, it's because our tendency to love each other is so overwhelming that it must be reigned in by the gods.

Maybe this also explains why we can't resist calling our children things like, "Honey Bun" and "Sweetie Pie" -- or to name a couple of favorites in our family: "Pie - Cake" and "Kielbasa." These endearments persisted until our younger son Sam finally objected: "Don't Call Me the Food Names!" A line that we quote to this day with great enjoyment -- not that we have ever stopped calling the children by the food names! Old habits die hard, particularly those with a sound theoretical basis!

Maurice Sendak,
thanks for sending the Wild Things to eat us up!
We love them so!
We'll miss you so!
Cartoon by Dan Wasserman

P.S. Another example:

"Eliza picked Isobel up from the counter and started nibbling her ear. Why, Vinny wondered, was Eliza always trying to eat bits of her children? What a tasty little morsel, Eliza murmured in Isobel's ear while Vinny patted butter aggressively, imagining it was Eliza's head. If Eliza wasn't careful, Vinny thought, she'd look around one day and discover that she'd eaten them all up."

from the novel Human Croquet (109)

"How's my treasure? . . . He's edible, don't you think?" (p 78)

from the novel When Will There Be Good News?

both by Kate Atkinson, b. 1951
English novelist

Monday, May 7, 2012


The Peonies
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart

as the sun rises
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open--
pools of lace,
white and pink--
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities--
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly
and there it is again --
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing forever?

by Mary Oliver (b 1935)
Contemporary American Poet
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1984
This poem found in New and Selected Poems

Update ~ 23 May 2013
Yellow Peonies at the Botany Garden
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Special Effects

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jacob's Ladder

My current Fortnightly Blog Post revolves around the theme of Jacob wrestling with the Angel. As I was inserting Marc Chagall's painting on this subject, I saw that he had also painted the equally popular theme of Jacob's Ladder at least half a dozen times. Which one to include was an easy choice:
the one with a house in it!

Still, I couldn't leave the others without a second look. It's easy to spend an hour comparing and contrasting the various renditions:

See my post

"Except Thou Bless Me"

my fortnightly literary blog [every 14th & 28th]
of connection and coincidence

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day

"If hereafter any highly cultured, poetical nation
shall lure back to their birthright, the merry May-day gods of old;
and livingly enthrone them again in the now egotistical sky;
on the now unhaunted hill; then be sure,
exalted to Jove’s high seat, the great Sperm Whale shall lord it."
~ Herman Melville ~

The Dancers, 1905
also known as
Eternal Summer, Wiesbaden

by Maurice Denis, 1870 - 1843

also by Denis
Jacob's Battle with the Angel, 1893

For more on Jacob and the Angel,
and Herman Melville
see my recent post

"Except Thou Bless Me"

my fortnightly literary blog [every 14th & 28th]
of connection and coincidence