Sunday, September 28, 2014


Thinking of the philosopher who did "not know
whether he was then a man dreaming he was a butterfly,
or whether he is now a butterfly, dreaming he is a man."

ZhĹ«angzi (c. 369 BC – c. 286 BC)

For more on this theme see
~ Am I Dreaming? ~

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

Floor Mosaics, here and above,
at the Wynn / Encore, Las Vegas

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rosh Hashanah:
Serious Redemption

You'd Like a Shot at Serious Redemption

You'd like a shot at serious redemption,
Only, like us all, you have no clue.
Mostly satisfied, you leave your pew
Knowing that you've satisfied convention
Instead of being some more painful you.
Perhaps there is no other truth than this;
Perhaps the yearning must be unfulfilled.
Unredeemed, you pay your debts as billed,
Returning to a bliss that dreams of bliss.

Nicholas Gordon

My friend Jacquie says, "What an iconic picture of home."
Thanks Jacquie!

Another kind of redemption:
loving the World, fully and completely:


The Garden releases its last
radiance, not as something failed,
but as its full reason for being: to give
continually, to its last bit of energetic being.
Its giving is its beauty. It is a smile,
it is the heart of love.

So the birdsong that surrounds me
is given, not away, but into the world.
It is given as rain, as sunlight, as snowfall
and autumn leaves. It falls on our ears
as what it is, with no deception,
the complete truth of being.

Even the smell of decay, drifting from
the deer, dead by the side of the road, says:
“This is what I am and no other. I do not
pretend to be. Even in death I speak
without deceit, even unto my flesh,
my very bones.”

Be tolerant of these songs,
my musings on the way these things are.
For I cannot give up this Summer except by
giving myself as well, fully and completely,
into the praise of our mutual beauty,
our total loving of the World.
[emphasis added]

Richard Wehrman

Homecoming Photo by Ben McCartney
"Home for the first time in 2014!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Equinoctial and Inscrutable

Inscrutable Houses drawn by Ben & Sam

September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It's time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle's small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911 – 1979)
Poet Laureate of the United States, 1949 to 1950
Pulitzer Prize Winner, 1956

A Page From
My Grandmother's Old Almanac

More about Elizabeth Bishop on Previous Posts:

The Inner World of the Dream Character
Elizabeth Bishop: Painter & Poet
Open the Book

Dolls in Literature
The Miniature & The Gigantic

Lost & Found
The Art of Losing

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Barely There

New Yorker Cartoon
from the fabulous Roz Chast

"For small creatures such as we
the vastness is bearable only through love."

~ Carl Sagan ~
For more about our place on the planet:
see my current FORTNIGHTLY blog post:
~ Safe Home ~

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dawn or Doom?

This Week at Purdue University

"We humans govern the future
not because we're the fastest or strongest
creature but because we're the most intelligent.
When we share the the planet with creatures
more intelligent than we are,
they will steer the future."

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917 - 2008

British Science Fiction Writer

Schedule of Events

For more on human weakness and lack of speed:
see my current FORTNIGHTLY blog post:
~ Safe Home ~


PS. More about the Dawn or Doom Summit:

I attended sessions given by various faculty in agronomy, linguistics, nanotechnology, and visual arts who were all voting Dawn. However, at the end of the day, the keynote speaker, James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era could not be dissuaded from his conclusion of Doom!

Barrat quoted Woody Allen: “Mankind is facing a crossroad -- one road leads to despair and utter hopelessness and the other to total extinction -- I sincerely hope you graduates choose the right road.”

We also watched several movies leading up to the conference -- Transcendence, A.I., Jurassic Park -- and Barrat pointed out that "Hollywood has inoculated us from thinking seriously about the risk of Artificial Intelligence because we've had too much fun letting the humans always win."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer Home

On last year's annual walk through the British Pine Forest,
we stumbled upon this little lean - to, or as Ben entitled this photo:
"Summer Home" ~ May 2013

from Chapter 2, "House and Home" (p 29)
in Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World
by Scott Russell Sanders
[see previous excerpt from Hunting for Hope]

The word house derives from an Indo-European root meaning to cover or conceal. I hear in that etymology furtive, queasy undertones. Conceal from what? From storms? beasts? enemies? from the eye of God?

Home comes from a different root meaning 'the place where one lies.' That sounds less fearful to me. A weak, slow, clawless animal, without fur or fangs, can risk lying down and closing its eyes only where it feels utterly secure. Since the universe is going to kill us, in the short run or the long, no wonder we crave a place to lie in safety, a place to conceive our young and raise them, a place to shut our eyes without shivering or dread."

These selections and more on
~ Safe Home ~

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back Before 9 / 11

Ben's 3rd grade field trip to NYC ~ back before 9 / 11
Ben has been a good photographer since he was 8 years old!
He took this one from the Empire State Building in Spring 1999.
Ben & Mom, visiting Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty
Comment from Tanuja Sheth:
A lovely picture and memory of what once was
and also about how much has been taken away. . . .
Innocence lost . . .

Now You Know the Worst
~To my granddaughters
who visited the Holocaust Museum
on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin
Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,

for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know

there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.

But remember:
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine

though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.

You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light. It will be

the light of those who have suffered
for peace. It will be
your light.

by Wendell Berry
in This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems

A few years later, Ben's class had another New York City
field trip -- this time to The Cloisters . . .

and a couple of years after that, a visit to The Holocaust Museum,
but I don't have a picture from that trip.

Previous 9 / 11 Posts

2009: Not a Normal Day

2010: Poem for Today and Tomorrow

2010: 9 / 11 Retrospective (Fortnightly)

2011: Alabaster Cities

2012: My Country's Heart

2013: On the Eve of that Other Perfect Day

2014: Back Before 9 / 11

2016: The Twain

2019: Who Knew?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sean or Sam?

Six years ago, we took our elderly neighbor along to Sam's confirmation. A bit behind the times when it came to gender roles and clergy, she kept asking me during the service if the bishop was the priest's assistant. I don't think I ever did get her to understand that the Bishop was actually the boss! That is not to say, however, that the Bishop is infallible. For example, when she was blessing Sam, she called him "Sean." Outrageous!

I wrote to ask my friend Nancy Tiederman, herself a priest, who remembers Sam from the day he was born: 'Does this mean that in the eyes of God, his name has been forever changed?'

Nancy sent the following amusing reply: "It means that you and Gerry misunderstood the voice of God when you named him originally and that God has always thought of him as Sean (John) and not Sam-u-EL. Well, so much for dream interpretation. Wouldn't it have been great if Sam had said, 'Excuse me, ma'am, my name is Sam'?

"Since that's the name he was baptized under, I think you are safe in spite of fallible bishops at confirmation. Aren't those three good looking young men! May God and the angels watch over them."

2009 Confirmation Class: Brendan, Sam, Ben

. . . and related posts . . .

July 10, 2011: Good Shepherd

August 28, 2011: Back to School




Friday, September 5, 2014

Commonplace Book

"It smells good here," she said.
It did. It had the indefinable smell of a perfectly - kept,
well - loved American home; the smell found nowhere else on earth.
A smell of cleanliness and polish and Ivory soap and potted plants
and baking bread -- the sweet warm smell of simplicity and abundance.
. . . everything in the room felt kind and gentle and safe."

~ Marcia Davenport ~
from The Valley of Decision, 407
[More on my Book Blog]

Regular as clockwork, yet another Fall Semester has arrived, with all the excitement and promise of course descriptions and syllabi! Risking repetition, I thought the beginning of the academic year would be the right time to provide
a thorough outline of my fortnightly initiative on my
~ "Commonplace Book" ~

Why? Because a blog is a digital journal or Commonplace Book that will be unique to whatever its keeper finds of interest, e.g., the clean metallic lines of the graceful leaves above (photographed earlier this summer at the at the Wynn / Encore in Las Vegas) and Marcia Davenport's blissful description of early twentieth homemaking. How are these apparently random items related? The blogger gets to impose the pattern! That's the beauty of blogging!

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Handed My Own Life

University of Glasgow Coat of Arms

[Thanks to Peter Bunder & Good Shepherd for this photo & caption]

In An American Childhood, Annie Dillard vividly describes her initiation into the world of natural science, her early discovery, years before college, "that you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself." I love her scenario of revelation, though the indifference of her privileged parents fills me with some misgiving:
“Mother . . . gave me to understand that she was glad I had found what I had been looking for, but that she and Father were happy to sit with their coffee, and would not be coming down [to check out her biology experiment in the basement]. She did not say, but I understood at once, that they had their pursuits (coffee?) and I had mine. She did not say, but I began to understand then, that you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself. I had essentially been handed my own life” (148 - 49, emphasis added).
In Homegrown Democrat, Garrison Keillor writes of his education in very similar terms, describing himself as an undergraduate "with no money to speak of and no clear plan for the future but . . . teachers who engage him with gravity and fervor and that's enough. That was the true spirit of the university, the spirit of the professors who loved their work. That was the heart and soul of the place . . . ." He enumerates half a dozen of his most inspirational professors, concluding with a visit to the library where "that Niagara of scholarship holds you in its sway, the deluge and glory of learning, and you begin to see where work and play become one. And imagine working at something you love. And that was how the University of Minnesota gave me life" (94 - 96, emphasis added).

These selections and more on my
~ Handed My Own Life ~

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Even lovlier than the Tree of Paradise is the Pomegranate Tree!
Beautiful E-card from Jacquie Lawson

"There is nothing to beat this solace...of reaching age in the company of the other; of speech shared and divided bread smoking from the fire; the unambivalent bliss of going home to be at home -- the ease of coming back to love begun. When the ocean heaves sending rhythms of water ashore...they will rest before shouldering the endless work they were created to do down here in paradise."

~ Toni Morrison
American novelist, b. 1931
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1988
Nobel Prize in Literature, 1993
[see also: Emily Dickinson ~ Eden]


Twenty - five Years Ago ~ 2 September 1989

The Cake Picture

New Home