Saturday, March 29, 2014

House With a Past

Thank you old house for imparting your secrets!

I'm sure you remember Robin William, in Dead Poets Society, telling the students to listen closely to what the old photographs are whispering:

"But if you listen real close,
you can hear them whisper their legacy to you.
Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - -
Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day!"

That's exactly the same feeling I get when browsing through all the old papers that came with the house.

As Walt Whitman writes in "Song of the Open Road":

You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me. . . .

Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.

~ Selected lines from Parts 3 and 13 ~

These and more can be found on my
~ House With a Past ~

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

P.S. Related post on my book blog

8 June 2007

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Contract With the Reader

Two Women Reading on the Verandah
Ingham, North Queensland, Australia ~ ca. 1894-1903
photo by Harriett Pettifore Brims, 1864-1939 (below left)

If you're looking for something to read, here's
what I've posted in the past few months on

Reading Buddies

Fiction: Appraising and Grasping the World

A Tree of God

Sixteen Years Ago & Still So Sad

" 'Is it possible to write a reverent novel,' said Nassrin,
'and to have it be good? Besides, the contract with the reader
is that this is not reality, it's an invented world.
There must be some blasted space in life,' she added crossly,
'where we can be offensive, for God's sake' "

(p 50 -- read more).
from Reading Lolita in Tehran
by Azar Nafisi

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Hopes Eternal

Happy Vernal Equinox!
Wishing you a world in perfect balance
& a season of symmetry!
Hope springs eternal! Spring hopes eternal!

Outdoor . . .

and Indoor . . .
Labyrinths at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Stand right in the middle . . .

. . . and look up . . .

. . . the ribbons were still there!

When I visited on Mardi Gras ~ 4 March 2014 ~
walking on the ribbon shadows was mesmerizing!

So thrilled to discover that the ribbons had remained up
so far into the Spring, so much longer than expected!
So glad I got the chance to bear witness
on Mardi Gras / Ash Wednesday.
A truly mystical, cosmic experience!

Click to learn more about the Grace Cathedral Ribbon Installation
and to see more photos in my album Points West

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Time Fulfilled

One of the best places for St. Patrick's Day Greetings:

I sent the above e-card to my friend Beata a few years ago, when I was in England and she was having a quiet Spring Break at home. She e-mailed back to say that her St. Patrick's Day had been an ordinary, unmemorable day.

Unmemorable perhaps, but described in such a memorable way! I saved her note because I knew that her eloquent description of a day well - spent belonged on my Quotidian blog! And I just had a feeling that she might want to re-read it some time in the future (today!) and recollect the long forgotten, peaceful, pre - Spring day she enjoyed with her family five years ago. Beata, do you remember?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Dear Kitti,

Thank you for the lovely card. Every time I get one of these from you I enjoy it. I really wish I could jump into this scene! It is very, very poetic.

Here at home, we are blessed with beautiful weather by the Leprechauns' special order. You need to ask them why they are so generous, because only they know the answer. In my garden, I saw four snowdrops blooming and a few other varieties from last year which I had been told would survive only one season. I am glad to see them return to life. This is a good sign of spring coming to Indiana.

I wish I could work in the garden or go to the gym, but I need badly to finish my paper for my class. It's slowly progressing. I have to finish my second draft by tomorrow - that's what I promised myself.

I had a good time at Burnett School today, giving a puppet show for the kindergarten classes. The children liked our presentation and asked many questions. Later, I played with my cats; Johnny went to David's after practice to work on their project; Fabio went his way: to see the dentist, to his office, and finally to the kitchen to ask what's for dinner.

You see, bits and pieces, nothing special, nothing extraordinary, a day which I am sure I will not remember but what makes time fulfilled.

I hope you enjoy your stay.
Greetings to everyone!
Thinking of you,


[saved in gmail / Beata Letters Juno/ 12 - 11 - 10]

Beata & Kitti at the Gym
. . . and since it IS St. Patrick's Day . . .
look closely at my white turtleneck and you'll see
a tiny green shamrock, courtesy of Notre Dame!
See also
"Czeslaw Milosz"
"Intellectual Cup of Lyrics"

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Wire Brush of Doubt

Last Full Moon Before the Vernal Equinox

Thanks to my friend Burnetta & her friend Craig for sharing these words, so timely as we anticipate the nearing spring, even as the temperatures remain below freezing!

. . . This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

lines from "A Blessing for the Breakup of a Relationship"
found in To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
by Irish poet & priest John O'Donohue, 1956 - 2008

~ blushed with beginning ~

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dream House

814: Dream House

Certainly in my life, there are a couple of old houses that I would like to re-visit, to be greeted with open arms by the current resident and welcomed inside to relive my past. Houses that come back to me in dreams. Looking for poems that capture those mixed feelinsg of inaccessibility and familiarity, I came across this website of the best old house poems ever:

Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

by Derek Walcott, b. 1930
Saint Lucian poet and playwright; professor at the University of Essex
1992 Nobel Prize Recipient

To My Old Addresses
. . . O
My old addresses! O my addresses! Are you addresses still?
Or has the hand of Time roughed over you
And buffered and stuffed you with peels of lemons, limes, and shells
From old institutes? If I address you
It is mostly to know if you are well.
I am all right but I think I will never find
Sustenance as I found in you, oh old addresses
Numbers that sink into my soul
Forty-eight, nineteen, twenty-three, O worlds in which I was alive

by Kenneth Koch, 1925 - 2002 [pronounced "coke"]
American poet, playwright, professor
(see previously posted poem by Koch & another by Larkin)

These poems and more can be found on my
~ House Sisters ~

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


You'll notice that this week, I posted early -- on March 12th --
in celebration of my friend Vicky's birthday!
Happy Birthday to my House Sister!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Parable for Daylight Time & Lent

First Sunset of Daylight Savings Time
" . . . traveling from day to night only, neither forward nor sideward . . . "

First divesting ourselves of worldly goods, as St. Francis teaches,
in order that our souls not be distracted
by gain and loss, and in order also
that our bodies be free to move
easily at the mountain passes, we had then to discuss
whither or where we might travel, with the second question being
should we have a purpose, against which
many of us argued fiercely that such purpose
corresponded to worldly goods, meaning a limitation or constriction,
whereas others said it was by this word we were consecrated
pilgrims rather than wanderers: in our minds, the word translated as
a dream, a something-sought, so that by concentrating we might see it
glimmering among the stones, and not
pass blindly by; each
further issue we debated equally fully, the arguments going back and forth,
so that we grew, some said, less flexible and more resigned,
like soldiers in a useless war. And snow fell upon us, and wind blew,
which in time abated — where the snow had been, many flowers appeared,
and where the stars had shone, the sun rose over the tree line
so that we had shadows again; many times this happened.
Also rain, also flooding sometimes, also avalanches, in which
some of us were lost, and periodically we would seem
to have achieved an agreement; our canteens
hoisted upon our shoulders, but always that moment passed, so
(after many years) we were still at that first stage, still
preparing to begin a journey, but we were changed nevertheless;
we could see this in one another; we had changed although
we never moved, and one said, ah, behold how we have aged, traveling
from day to night only, neither forward nor sideward, and this seemed
in a strange way miraculous.
And those who believed we should have a purpose
believed this was the purpose, and those who felt we must remain free
in order to encounter truth, felt it had been revealed.

BY LOUISE GLÜCK, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
and author, most recently, of A Village Life

This poem appears on the New York Times list of six poems for the end of daylight savings time, along with others by W. S. Merwin and Vijay Seshadri; Mary Oliver, James Tate, and Derek Walcott. It is a fascinating assortment of poetry that I have already referred to a few times, all just right for the shift in time and light that occurs each November. I think, however, that Gluck's "Parable" is, if anything, even more perfect for the beginning of dayight time, as well as the beginning of Lent.

Daniel Bosch at Arts Fuse comments on Gluck's poem (and the other five) without even grasping the connection that "falling back" refers to the annual conclusion of daylight savings time and the reversion to standard time. Duh! He wonders if he missed "some sort of equinox" or "sunspots." No! You just missed re - setting your clock to match the season!

Rather unkindly, Bosch suspects that admirers of Gluck's "Parable" "do not know as many poets as I do." Yet I wonder if perhaps he does not follow the passing seasons with the same verve and precision as Gluck, Merwin, Oliver, and I do.

P.S. Some closing thoughts
from Leonard Orr & Nova Languages
9 November 2010

Len: You are right; I read it in the times and thought it was great to find such a grouping of poems in the major newspaper. Now if only they did this regularly not only for seasons but for each month, major events, solstices and equinoxes, the start and end of Daylight Savings Time, elections, New Year's, the release of the new press of Beaujolais, TuBishvat, and dozens of other occasions.

Nova Languages: I completely agree. I especially like the idea of a group of poems celebrating solstices and equinoxes; but also for many other astronomical events, not to mention planetary events. What a great way to learn about these things! This brings to mind these often quoted lines from William Carlos Williams: "It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there."

Len: That sounds much better than the Times motto "All the News that's fit to print." Even there they would have been improved by consulting poets.

Click for
additional comments
from facebook post.

Friday, March 7, 2014

One Day You'll Find This Picture

Our Yearbook Pictures
Junior Year at Francis Howell High School Fall 1973

"Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you"

lyrics from
"Bookends" by Simon & Garfunkel

Back in the summer of 1995, at our twentieth high school reunion, the most ironic thing happened; or maybe it was just plain uncanny. One friend had remembered to bring along a Senior yearbook, and as we thumbed through the pages, a loose photograph fluttered to the floor, landing face down. Shaking our heads sadly, we read the poignant and strangely true inscription, in Marilyn's familiar curly cursive:

“We may see each other again or we may not,
but one day, you’ll find this picture in your attic
and remember your old friend ~ Marilyn"

How painful it was to kneel down and pick that picture up, to turn it over and see Marilyn's eternally young smile, to imagine her writing that haunting sentiment. Sad enough for those of us who knew, but even more shocking for the few classmates in the crowd who, until that moment, had been unaware of her untimely death from ovarian cancer a year and a half earlier. Gone too soon.

Yet she was there with us that day, telling us a story! I shouldn't have been surprised. Marilyn was always recommending something good for me to read or telling me about a poet I should have known about but didn't, always raising my consciousness! A true friend! How appropriate that the forgotten photo came to light twenty years later, not in an attic, but in the midst of a gathering of friends. Indeed, as she had predicted, we all stood transfixed for a moment remembering our old friend ~ Marilyn.

A week ago, I included one of my favorite memories of Marilyn in my current Fortnightly post "A Heart That Watches and Receives." Do you remember that lush and hazy song from the 70s -- "The Air That I Breathe." Marilyn used to say, "What? No books to read? That can't be right!"

Whenever we happened to hear it on the radio, Marilyn would always express her dismay. She was torn; she wanted to like it; but why No books to read? What kind of paradise would that be?" No sleep -- okay. Nothing to eat -- okay. But no books? Not okay!"

Although it is still a favorite, I never hear it without the memory of Marilyn's wise words!

The Air That I Breathe
[click to listen]
If I could make a wish, I think I'd pass
Can't think of anything I need
No cigarettes, no sleep, no light, no sound
Nothing to eat, no books to read . . .

All I need is the air
That I breathe
And to love you . . .

sung by The Hollies
written by Albert Louis Hammond / Mike Hazlewood
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing
Copyright: Imagem Songs Ltd.

Click to read previous reminiscences:
What You Might Call Beautiful
Happy 448th to William Shakespeare
Rainbow Trail

and see photo album:
My Friend Marilyn, 1957 ~ 1993

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What the World Needs

Memories of the Garden at Etten*

Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890)
Post-Impressionist painter of Dutch origin

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive
and then go do that.
Because what the world needs
is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman (1899 - 1981)
African American author, theologian, educator

*I discovered this particular Van Gogh one day when googling "Garden of Eden" -- even though "Etten" has nothing to do with "Eden." It just goes to show how sometimes when you search for one thing, you find another?!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The First [Mild] Day of March

"It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before"
"Come forth, and bring with you a heart
that watches and receives."

~ William Wordsworth ~
Major English Romantic Poet

The first of March! It may not be the first mild day of March, but whether the weather be lion or lamb the first of March is here, a day often associated with the New Year and new beginnings. As Wordsworth says, we have before us a day of "blessing," an "hour of feeling." I like the way that he feels free to discount January and February as not quite living up to his expectations:

No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living calendar:
We from to-day, my Friend, will date
The opening of the year.

For Wordsworth, it is the long - awaited month of March that captures "the spirit of the season" and sets the true course for the remainder of the year. He doesn't want his sister, or anyone else, to miss out on his sense of urgency and certainty that "One moment now may give us more / Than years of toiling reason":

Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey:
We for the year to come may take
Our temper from to-day.

For more on this poem, as well as
"The Tables Turned: An Evening Scene on the Same Subject"
by Wordsworth


"The Air That I Breathe,"
by The Hollies

See my new blog post:
"A Heart That Watches and Receives"
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony


Previous March First Posts

2010: Kiss Me & Kiss Today & Dear March

2011: My Vegetable Love

2012: Love However Brief

2013: Beyond Ideas

Photo from last year ~ March 1, 2013
Thanks George Sfedu

Additional Martisor folklore from George:

Romanians have a beautiful ancient tradition on the first day of March : Martisor (The Amulet). Its name is a diminutive from the name of Martie - the Romanian word for March.

Every year the festive day of March 1 brings back to us renewed hopes, confidence, faith in good fortune and a prosperous life. It is life, spring and the shining sun which win the battle against chilly weather, overcast skies and the nasty, cold days of the “Babele” (old women - the first 9 days in March).

This triumph of rebirth and regeneration cannot be better embodied but in the Martisor which is offered to loved ones in early spring. The white and red thread of this amulet which parents customarily tie around their children's wrist, young men offer to young women, and young women exchange among themselves is believed to bring good luck and health.

"The Martisor is offered early morning on the first day of March; it is worn for 9-12 days, sometimes until the first tree blooms, when it is hung on a flowering branch to bring good luck to its bearer."

Additional Martisor Blog Posts

2014: The First [Mild] Day of March

2015: Wind from a Leaf

2016: Reading the Obituaries

2017: Piano Bar

2018: The Sweetheart Tree

2019: Flora or Fish?

2020: The Once and Future Guenever

2021: Felix Anno Novo

2022: March Begins: The Heart's Desire

2023: Happy Martisor Day!