Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Meta - Gingerbread House

"Shop Around the Corner"
Gingerbread bookstore created a few years ago
by my friend Professor Kathleen O'Gorman

Look closely and you'll see that this Gingerbread House has its own Gingerbread House! When I praised Kathie for the charm of this particular design feature, she said, "Ah, the meta-gingerbread house! The measure of how desperately I didn't want to grade papers that year!"

In practice, that is.

In theory, it's the measure of "interiorty":

"A house within a house, the dollhouse not only presents the house's articulation of the tension between inner and outer spheres of exteriority and interiority -- it also represents the tension between two modes of interiority. Occupying a space within an enclosed space, the dollhouse's aptest analogy is the locket or the secret recesses of the heart: center within center, within within within. The dollhouse is a materialized secret: what we look for is the dollhouse within the dollhouse and its promise of an infinitely profound interiority."

from On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic,
the Souvenir, the Collection
(p 61)
by Susan Stewart ~ poet, professor, academic folklorist

For a more in - depth look at this and other fascinating examples of "gingerbread house theory," see my latest post:

The House You're Standing In
. . . or Holding in the Palm of Your Hand

The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Week of Thanks At Least

Denver, Colorado ~ City County Building


with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

~ W.S. Merwin (1927 - 2019)
Author of The Shadow of Sirius
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2009
Poet Laureate of the United States, 2010 - 2011

Thanksgiving 2018
See also: Laden With Fruit

Friday, November 22, 2013

Denver Idyll

A beautiful November twilight!
A definite sense that the holidays are near.
Warm enough for sandals, cool enough for a jacket.
Of course, the next morning it snowed
and took an hour getting to the airport,
and another two hours getting off the ground!
Oh well, it was lovely while it lasted.

Earlier in the day,
I visited the Molly Brown House:

And the Byers - Evans House:

And discovered another Bourguereau
at the Denver Art Museum:
A Childhood Idyll, 1900
by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
{To learn more, see Artsy's William Adolphe Bouguereau Page}

"You're Welcome!"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November's Gold

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

by Robert Frost , 1874 - 1963
Four-time Pulitzer Prize winner
Well - loved American poet

Frost says that "Nature's first green is gold," but guess what? Nature's last green is gold also! Look and see:

Good Bye Golden Flowers

Golden Tree

Golden Stairs

Golden Sky

#52 (in 73 poems)

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november*

(and feeling: that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

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

*emphasis added

And the ginkgo tree!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Little Lamp

artwork by Jan Donley

The rain fell on yellow leaves / 14 November 12

She remembered a place. It might have been a place in a dream. There were there no trees, and there was no sky. She had looked out of eyes that did not belong to her. And then she remembered, there was no ground either. No dirt. No grass. No branches or trunks or leaves. Just air. There may have been light. Yes. She remembered light coming from some distance—maybe a star or a moon or a lamp. She wanted it to be a lamp. And she heard a voice—a voice that whispered and whistled. That was the language of this place: whispers and whistles. [emphasis added]

This excerpt from my friend Jan's journal entry provided an immediate connection to one of my favorite stories by Katherine Mansfield (1888 - 1923), "The Doll's House," in which the two little poor sisters, Lil and Else Kelvey, are lucky enough to get a quick look at the elaborate dollhouse of the wealthy Burnell sisters, Isabel, Lottie, and Kezia. But their viewing lasts only for a few seconds, before the prejudiced cranky aunt shoos them away. Instead of being embarrassed by their poverty or disappointed in not getting to admire the dollhouse, the younger sister internalizes the reward of her adventure: "I seen the little lamp!" That was enough for her! A sign of comfort, hope, stability -- the same reasons that Jan's dream girl in "yellow leaves" hopes that the distant light is coming from a lamp!

I seen the little lamp!
To see many more miniature lamps, go to Ruby Lane,
where they also have a stunning collection of big lamps
and a vast collection of dolls!

For more fiction by Jan Donley & Katherine Mansfield

see my latest post: "I Seen the Little Lamp"

The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony

Another Lovely Little Lamp by Jan ~ January 2014

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not in Kansas Anymore!

The Reichstag Building
Technically in West Berlin, but near the Wall

A few years ago, one of my uncles got the whole family together via email and said, "Why don't we practice our creative writing and all compose something using the word audacious. Write about a time it felt pretty good to go a little crazy! Why did it feel so good?"

Early on in my blog, I shared what my younger sister Di wrote about her childhood trip to the Pacific Ocean in 1964. And today, in honor of the birthday of my older sister Peg, I thought I'd post her narrative of traveling in Germany in 1984, back before the Wall came down:

It was the winter of 1984 and we were living in Heidelberg, Germany. I was a stay-at-home mom and living on base so while we were in Germany, we actually lived kind of in a little U.S. because everyone spoke English and we all had the same customs. However, I did happen to have a friend who was the total opposite of me. Jeanne Labrecque was an elementary school teacher and she was always doing something crazy. So on Thursday before a long weekend, Jeanne suggested we take a trip to East Berlin which at the time was still Soviet controlled.

Since I was the stay-at-home mom, I spent all day Friday making the preparations, which included getting our border crossing orders, making arrangements to spend one night with a close acquaintance (she wasn’t even really a friend) who lived in West Berlin with her military husband, and getting our brand-new Volvo ready for the trip. On Friday evening, Jeanne, another friend (can't remember her name right now) and I took off from our house for the long drive to West Berlin.

Now, to get to West Berlin, you had to travel through East Germany which meant checkpoints along the way, and it was snowing. At each checkpoint, we would go through first a West German checkpoint, where we all got out and our papers had to be checked to make sure everything was in order (sounds like a bad spy movie, huh?). There were also strict instructions of what we could and could not do along the way. We were not allowed to divert from the main road, we had a set time limit to get from one checkpoint to the next and we could not arrive too late or too early, we were not to stop for anyone except at the checkpoints, and we were to salute the Soviet officers. So off we go and a little distance away we come to the first Soviet checkpoint.

We stopped and the Soviet soldier/conscript took our papers, examined them very thoroughly, and then instructed us that one of us had to go into a little nondescript building with all of our papers. Our friend said she would go and so off she went. She was in the building for what seemed a very long time before she came out. We saluted the Soviet officer and were on our way once again. When we asked our friend what happened, she told us that she went into the building and there was a wall with a little slot where she was instructed (verbally only since no one else was in the room with her) to put our papers through the slot. She did this and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited before the papers were shoved back through the slot and she was told that she could leave.

I drove on very deliberately to make sure I didn’t go too fast or too slow. It was pitch dark and snowing the whole way. It was eerie because usually when you drive down a highway you see lights from nearby towns and homes but there were no such lights anywhere along the drive or lights on the highway itself. Finally, we reached the next checkpoint, which was again the Soviet checkpoint (we haven’t even gotten to the famous "Checkpoint Charlie" yet; and I’ll tell that story another time or you’ll be reading this for hours).

Once again, there was the Soviet soldier/conscript standing stoically in the snow in his big, heavy wool coat and the big fur hat. We did the same thing as the last Soviet checkpoint. Our friend got out, went into a nondescript building and waited, and waited, and waited for our papers to be shoved back through the slot before coming out and saluting the soldier and then driving off.
Billboard at the border,
featuring a young Soviet Soldier

and the message (to the right in the above photo):


I have to mention one very disturbing point from both checkpoints. At both checkpoints the Soviet soldier/conscript was extremely young (probably about 17 years old) and yet, he spoke perfect American English. If I had met him on the street in Caney, Kansas, in regular street clothes, I would have never known he spoke anything but American English. I stress American English as opposed to the Queen’s English.

But back to the road trip. We drove a little way further, finally arriving at the American checkpoint, where we all went inside were given a mini-debriefing of how the drive went: did we see anything worth reporting, did we speak to anyone, did we divert from the main road, etc. And there I was -- the little stay-at-home mom from Caney, Kansas, who always dreamed of seeing the world -- in West Berlin. What a magnificent city. But as we drove around (we got a little lost but didn’t really mind) we could see the wall that surrounded the city, and I realized that I was most definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Someday I’ll write about the rest of this adventure because it was definitely one of the most exciting adventures I’ve ever had . . . so far!

by guest blogger, Peggy Carriker Rosenbluth

Thanks Peg . . .
and Happy Birthday!

My trip nineteen years later was not as harrowing as Peg's!
Here I am in 2003 at the Checkpoint Charlie Internet Cafe,
just inside the former Soviet Sector in East Berlin,
where the billboard features an American Soldier

and the sign -- now an artifact rather than an injunction -- says:
As you can see on the second sign
(immediately behind the first, to the right) it is now a museum,
where all are welcome to visit without showing passports,
travel documents, or crossing orders.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Point of Balance

"I'm sure that someday children in schools will study the history of the men who made war as you study an absurdity.
They'll be shocked, just as today
we're shocked with cannibalism."

Golda Meir, 1898 - 1978
Prime Minister of Israel, 1969 - 1974
[see also on this blog: "American Tune"]

Naming of Parts
Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got;
and the almond blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have the naming of parts.

[emphasis added]

Henry Reed, 1914 - 1986
British poet, translator, radio dramatist and journalist

See also my previous Veterans Day posts:

Armistice Day (2009)

Wartime Soldier, Wartime Child (2010)

"The same war continues . . . " (2011)

94 Years Ago Today (2012)

Flanders Fields ~ What Have We Learned (2012)

War Horse (January 2012)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Like thinking, like tears

"Actually, you smell like the sea. . . . it smell[s] . . . Like rocks.
Like an empty house with all the windows blowing open.
Like thinking, like tears. Like November."

~ p 481 ~
from the novel Fall on Your Knees
by Ann - Marie MacDonald
(see more on my book blog)

And here's a picture of a cat . . .
Fuqua sees November . . . outside on the patio.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Goodbye Daylight

Trick - or - treat Scarecrow,
ready for . . . Halloween . . . finished with Halloween.
Also, red wheelbarrow, black currant bush & mums.
Summer giving way to fall . . . giving way to winter . . .

Light Verse
It’s just five, but it’s light like six.
It’s lighter than we think.
Mind and day are out of sync.
The dog is restless.
The dog’s owner is sleeping and dreaming of Elvis.
The treetops should be dark purple,
but they’re pink.

Here and now. Here and now.
The sun shakes off an hour.
The sun assumes its pre-calendrical power.
(It is, though, only what we make it seem.)
Now in the dog-owner’s dream,
the dog replaces Elvis and grows bigger
than that big tower

in Singapore, and keeps on growing until
he arrives at a size
with which only the planets can empathize.
He sprints down the ecliptic’s plane,
chased by his owner Jane
(that’s not really her name), who yells at him
to come back and synchronize.

~ Vijay Seshadri, b. 1954
Author of The Long Meadow

How It Happens
The sky said I am watching
to see what you
can make out of nothing
I was looking up and I said
I thought you
were supposed to be doing that
the sky said Many
are clinging to that
I am giving you a chance
I was looking up and I said
I am the only chance I have
then the sky did not answer
and here we are
with our names for the days
the vast days that do not listen to us

~ W.S. Merwin, b. 1927
Author of The Shadow of Sirius
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2009
Poet Laureate of the United States, 2010 - 2011

two selections from the New York Times article
"Falling Back: Six poems to mark the end of daylight saving time"

~ November 2010 ~

"The treetops should be dark purple,
but they’re pink."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Great Divide

At the local cemetery on All Souls Day: from dust thou art . . .
"Remember, O Thou Man"*

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

Chief Tecumseh, 1768 - 1813
Shawnee Nation, Indiana

Similarly, Canadian singer and composer Loreena McKennitt
sings of "the great divide":

"Standing on the bridge that crosses
The river that goes out to the sea
The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me

from "All Souls Night"
words & music by Loreena McKennitt

You can find this song on her CD The Visit, perfect for this time of year and for this triumvirate of haunting mystic holidays: Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls. If you find yourself filled with seasonal sadness, McKennitt's music may not exactly cheer you up, but it will enter your heart.

* Also a good song for Lent.

Autumnal Grave Decorations

Friday, November 1, 2013

Macabre Matryoshka

card by

New Yorker Cartoon, 25 March 2013

I couldn't resist these matryoshka cartoons for Halloween,
even though I usually tend to take the Matryoshka Motif pretty seriously:

The Mystery of the Matryoshka: Within Within Within

Dolls in Literature


Laser Cut Russian Doll by Paperchase

Christmas Version ~ Prints Available
Thanks Katie Field!

Thanks Charlotte VanVactor!