Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In Love of Candy

Such little steps
In love of candy
Knocking at my door!

~ A Halloween Haiku ~
by my former student, Patrick McDonough
Community College of Philadelphia, Fall 1997

It always makes me smile, the way Patrick chose to write not "in search" of candy, but "in love" of candy. How well his phrasing captures the spirit of trick - or - treat! As you can see from Sam's bright little face . . .

Post - Trick - or - Treating Inventory, 2002

This excerpt is taken from
my 2009 Halloween post:
"Candy and Poison"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lot's Wife: A Single Glance

Lot's Wife
by British artist John Bulloch Souter, 1890 - 1972

"Who will mourn for this woman?
Does she seem any the less for her losses?
Only my heart will never forget
She who gave her life for a single glance."

from the poem "Lot's Wife"
by Anna Akhmatova, 1889 - 1966

For more poems and paintings concerning Lot's Wife,
see my new blog post
"Lot's Wife, Who Gave Her Life For a Single Glance"
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Friday, October 26, 2012

Asked & Answered: What Do I Fear?

A thought for the weekend from my son Sam

This poster reminds me of something Stephen Dedalus says
in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

"You made me confess the fears I have.
But I will tell you also what I do not fear.
I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another
or to leave whatever I have to leave.
And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake,
a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too. . . .
I will take the risk."

~ James Joyce ~

I have always admired Stephen's list and suspected that, although he says the opposite, these are in fact the things that he fears most.
And he loves his fears.

More on Stephan Dedalus:
"Never Fear"
"Happy Bloomsday to All"
"Confidence in Confidence"
"Thoroughly Modernism"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

As Martha Stewart Says . . .
Good Things

Some of my favorite Good Things for Fall: Halloween fruit bowl, green tomato harvest, scented candles, and Salsabol with roasted pumpkin seeds!

1. Frasier Fir Candle by Thymes

2. Halloween Memories Bowl by Bethany Lowe

3. Salsabol by Michael and Tom

4. Pumpkin Pie Candle by Colonial Candle

5. Late tomatoes and eggplant from Gerry's vegetable garden.


excerpts from the poetry of
Mary Oliver

All my life
I have been restless --
I have felt there is something
more wonderful than gloss --
than wholeness --
than staying at home.

I have not been sure what it is.


every year
the hatchlings wake . . .

and love the world.
Is it necessary to say anymore?
Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields?
Have you ever been so happy in your life?


of course
loss is the great lesson.

But also I say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness
and that happiness,
when it's done right,
is a kind of holiness.


in this world I am as rich
as I need to be.


Look! for most of the world
is waiting
or remembering --
most of the world is time
when we're not here,


Look, I want to love this world
as though it's the last chance I'm ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.

from the poems
"Whelks," "Goldfinches," "Poppies," "Winter,"
"Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine," and "October"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Come Back to the Present!

Wise advice sent to me from my friend Victoria Amador:

"See it clearly without judgment and let it go.
Come back to the present moment.
From now on until the moment of your death,
you could do this."

~ Pema Chodron ~

The Mighty Wabash out at Fort Quiatenon,
photographed in mid - October, yet the leaves are still so green!

Observation from the perspective of a naturalist:
"The Wabash Cannonball!
~ Listen to the whistle, the rumble and the roar! ~
It could have been the Wabash River
they are talking about as well as the train."
Burnetta, thanks for that outlook!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Autumn Nights

In response to Wednesday's post on "Autumn Days," my brother Bruce said, "All of these platitudes about the beauty of fall are designed for one end, I think: To take our minds off the fact that fall means everything is dying. Somewhere in there is a metaphor for life, but I'm too depressed to deal with it right now. First, lunch."

Bruce's observation reminded me of the following lines from one of my favorite poets, Ernest Sandeen. Yes, autumn holds the metaphor, but what chance do we have of discerning its meaning?

A Fool of the Late Autumn Night
A fool of the late autumn night
he stumbles indoors, slamming the screen
behind him, his hair full of cold
rain, his head full of clouds
whose end and meaning
he knows he will not have time to decipher.

Ernest Sandeen (1908 - 1997)
Notre Dame Professor and Poet

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn Days

A poem for my British in - laws
Rosanne & Ron
who depart later today for
Great Crosby, Merseyside, England

I like what my friend Burnetta wrote:
"Kitti, I love that Gerry parents come over
and visit and get into the spirit of things.
That sounds loverly!"

One of those Autumn days
the light gets everything just right,
when crisper focus is unthinkable
and colours are absolute
about what colours want to be:

this common beech
on the cusp between green and brown,
brown's crux of desire,
green's determined surrender.

Matt Simpson
(1936 - 2009)
Friend of the Liverpool Poets ~ From Bootle, Merseyside

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Boy Like Icarus:
Too Thin For Wings

An excerpt from my latest Fortnightly blog post:
"Icarus, Who Really Fell"

Another version of The Fall of Icarus
by Henri Matisse

[To learn more, see Artsy]

In his nearly mystical poem, "Where You Go When She Sleeps," T. R. Hummer starts by comparing a woman's hair to the color of golden grain. Mesmerized by her hair, he next compares himself to the farmer's son who fell to his death when gazing over the edge of a silo mesmerized by the swirls of oats. Then he imagines the thin - armed boy as Icarus with his fabled wings. Both boys forget their fathers' words of caution, both feel the sun hot on their backs as they grow dizzy and fall, one into the ocean, one into the sea of grain.

An agricultural safety brochure depicts the danger

I can't help but notice the similarity between the silo victim and
Matisse's paper cutout of Icarus:

Where You Go When She Sleeps
What is it when a woman sleeps, her head bright
In your lap, in your hands, her breath easy now as though it had never been
Anything else, and you know she is dreaming, her eyelids
Jerk, but she is not troubled, it is a dream
That does not include you, but you are not troubled either,
It is too good to hold her while she sleeps, her hair falling
Richly on your hands, shining like metal, a color
That when you think of it you cannot name, as though it has just
Come into existence, dragging you into the world in the wake
Of its creation, out of whatever vacuum you were in before,
And you are like the boy you heard of once who fell
Into a silo full of oats, the silo emptying from below, oats
At the top swirling in a gold whirlpool, a bright eddy of grain, the boy
You imagine, leaning over the edge to see it, the noon sun breaking
Into the center of the circle he watches, hot on his back, burning
And he forgets his father’s warning, stands on the edge, looks down,
The grain spinning, dizzy, and when he falls his arms go out, too thin
For wings, and he hears his father’s cry somewhere, but is gone
Already, down in a gold sea, spun deep in the heart of the silo,
And when they find him, he lies still, not seeing the world
Through his body but through the deep rush of grain
Where he has gone and can never come back, though they drag him
Out, his father’s tears bright on both their faces, the farmhands
Standing by blank and amazed - you touch that unnamable
Color in her hair and you are gone into what is not fear or joy
But a whirling of sunlight and water and air full of shining dust
That takes you, a dream that is not of you but will let you
Into itself if you love enough, and will not, will never let you go.

~ T. R. Hummer
from The Angelic Orders

For more poems and paintings concerning Icarus,
see my new blog post
"Icarus, Who Really Fell"
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Friday, October 12, 2012

Columbus Day

Columbus, in chains and under arrest, by order of Judge Bobadilla, is sent from Santo Domingo to the Court of the Catholic Monarchs in Spain.

Monday was not Columbus Day!
Today is Columbus Day!

And in recognition of the occasion, here is an excerpt
from the novel Annie John
by Jamaica Kincaid, Caribbean novelist (b 1949)

Twelve year old Annie writes of her history class at the Anglican School on the Island of Antigua:

"I was no longer on the same chapter we were studying. I was way ahead, at the end of the chapter about Columbus's third voyage. In this chapter, there was a picture of Columbus that took up a whole page, and it was in color -- one of only five color pictures in the book. In this picture, Columbus was seated in the bottom of a ship. . . .

His hands and feet were bound up in chains, and he was sitting there staring off into space, looking quite dejected and miserable. The picture had as a title 'Columbus in Chains,' printed at the bottom of the page. What had happened was that the usually quarrelsome Columbus had got into a disagreement with people who were even more quarrelsome . . .

What just deserts, I thought, for I did not like Columbus. How I loved this picture -- to see the usually triumphant Columbus, brought so low . . . I wrote underneath it the words 'The Great Man Can No Longer Just Get Up and Go' [a phrase little Annie has recently heard her mother utter about Annie's aged grandfather]. I had written this out with my fountain pen, and in Old English lettering -- a script I had recently mastered. . . .

Now here Miss Edward [the teacher] stood . . . It was bad enough that I had defaced my schoolbook by writing in it. That I should write under the picture of Columbus 'The Great Man . . . ' etc. was just too much. I had gone too far this time, defaming one of the great men in history, Christopher Columbus, discoverer of the island that was my home. And now look at me. I was not even hanging my head in remorse. Had my peers ever seen anyone so arrogant, so blasphemous?"
(from Chapter Five, pp 72 - 82)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Experienced Old House

"I want a house that has got over all its troubles;
I don't want to spend the rest of my life bringing
up a young and inexperienced house."
~~ Jerome K. Jerome ~~
English Humorist, 1859 - 1927

"Build a fine house; and now you have a master,
and a task for life: to furnish, watch, show it,
and keep it in repair the rest of your life."

~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~~
American Essayist, 1803 - 1882

A strip of old wall paper -- a hundred years old? --
that Gerry discovered at the top of our stair case.


Just one more thing to love about our house!

Another find: wallpaper behind wallpaper
in our second Philadelphia renovation, 2001
(still there behind the drywall)

Monday, October 8, 2012


Mary Rovilla Heidemann Lindsey
born 121 years ago today: 8 October 1891
died 14 June 1966
Rovilla, age 17
Photo taken in Elk City, Kansas, 1908

[I love her black pinafore & black ankle boots!]

My grandmother's copy of
Dr. D. Jayne's Medical Almanac
for the year of her birth, 1891.
If you look closely, you can see in her writing across the top:
"Calendar of M. Rovilla's Birth"

The page for October.
Can you see? On Thursday the 8th,
her mother has penciled in "Baby"

I have always loved my grandmother's beautiful, unusual name; and always thought that I would use it if I had a daughter. The story goes that her mother -- Anna Mary Miller Heidemann -- had an elderly, childless friend who confided in her that she knew no one else on earth who shared her name: Rovilla. Thus, my great - grandmother promised her friend that if she had a daughter, she would name her "Rovilla."

Mrs. Rovilla Swarthout
My Grandmother's Namesake

The pendant that the first Rovilla
passed on to my grandmother as a keepsake:

My favorite!
On the back, in Grandma's script:
"Rovilla in ball suit"

My Grandmother Mary Rovilla Heidemann Lindsey
and my mother, Mary Elisabeth Lindsey Carriker
See Mother's Day Post

Friday, October 5, 2012

Come Little Leaves

"Beautiful, dramatic October,
I wish it could last for a year!"

Gladys Taber

One of Gerry's childhood favorites from
Treasure Magazine
Reprinted from Look and Learn

Come, Little Leaves
by George Cooper

"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day.
"Come over the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold

Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the sweet little song they knew.

"Cricket, good-bye, we've been friends so long,
Little brook, sing us your farewell song;
Say you're sorry to see us go;
Ah! you will miss us, right well we know.

"Dear little lambs, in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we've watched you in vale and glade,
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?"

Dancing and whirling the little leaves went,
Winter had called them, and they were content,
Soon fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a soft mantle over their heads.

also by Cooper . . .

October's Party

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."

Come, little leaves . . . and . . . play with Beaumont!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Song for Gandhi's Birthday

2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948
Mohandas Gandhi
Statue in Union Square, New York City

(I know there are better pictures on the web,
but I like this one because I took it myself, June 2007)

"Whither go the people?
I must hasten to follow them for I am their leader."
~~ Gandhi ~~

Rhymes and Reasons
Words and music by
John Denver

[click to listen]

So you speak to me of sadness
And the coming of the winter
Fear that is within you now
It seems to never end
And the dreams that have escaped you
And the hope that you've forgotten
You tell me that you need me now
You want to be my friend

And you wonder where we're going
Where's the rhyme and where's the reason
And it's you cannot accept
It is here we must begin
To seek the wisdom of the children
And the graceful way of flowers in the wind

[from my National Geographic Scrapbook, 1970s]

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Would clear a cloudy day

Like the music of the mountains
And the colors of the rainbow
They're a promise of the future
And a blessing for today
Though the cities start to crumble
And the towers fall around us
The sun is slowly fading
And it's colder than the sea

It is written from the desert
To the mountains they shall lead us
By the hand and by the heart
They will comfort you and me
In their innocence and trusting
They will teach us to be free

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Would clear a cloudy day

And the song that I am singing
Is a prayer to non believers
Come and stand beside us
We can find a better way

Gandhi: "Western civilization? . . . I think it would be a good idea.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gender Equity

Singing People by Debra Frasier
from On the Day You Were Born

Excerpt from new post on Kitti's Book List

Rainer Maria Rilke: pp 77 - 78 . . . someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only of life and reality: the female human being. ~ 1904, from his Letters to a Young Poet

Carole Maso: p 37 . . . All the personal pronouns -- j/e, m/o, m/a, m/es -- are split to emphasize the disintegration of the self that occurs every time women speak male language. ~ 1993, from her novel AVA

I wonder if Rilke would be disappointed to see what a lengthy and hard - fought transformation it has become? I appreciate Maso's description of the so often unacknowledged and wearying disintegration. First comes the exclusive language; then comes the taxing enterprise of pulling yourself back together again, putting yourself into the picture, the self - integration that is not a given. Like hearing "father" and thinking "and mother." Or "brother" and "sister too." "Men" -- "and women." "Mankind" -- "oh yeah, that means me."

I think the beautiful song "Let There Be Peace On Earth," (sung here by Gladys Knight in 2008 at the National Memorial Day Concert, Washington, D.C.) is a perfect example of what Maso is talking about here. I've loved this song since Junior High when we sang it in Girls' Chorus (emphasis added for irony!), but it requires some mental gymnastics to repair the damage done by the gender exclusivity of that key phrase:

"With God as our Father, brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony."

These words are chosen as a fitting observance of a National event, yet by their very nature, they omit half the people in our country. Okay, I can fix that in my head; but should I have too? I can try to believe that "when you say "men" you mean "women" too; that doesn't always work. But one thing I know for sure, without Gender Equity, there is never going to be Peace on Earth.