Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Travels

Trying to follow the advice of the Dalai Lama -- or somebody:
Once a year -- or better yet, as often as possible --
go someplace you’ve never been before!

"My favorite thing is to go where I've never been."
~ Diane Arbus ~

Christmas Decorations, cheery yet eerie!
Mountain Cemetery ~ Sonoma, California
"Once in awhile it really hits people
that they don't have to experience the world
in the way that they have been told to."
~ Alan Keightley ~

Moxhull Hall Gardens
Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, England
~ photo by Tony Cartwright ~
"The reason for any journey is this:
in a journey, discoveries are made."
~ Kobi Yamada ~

Palace Tower and Belfry of Bruges
Bruges, Belgium
"To awaken in a strange town is one of
the most pleasant sensations in the world."
~ Freya Stark ~


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mere PhD

J.B. Handelsman ~ New Yorker Cartoonist

On our flight to England last week, the pilot made an announcement over the intercom that up 'til now I have heard only in the movies: "Ladies and gentlemen, if there is a doctor on board, or any other medical personnel who could help, please alert the crew or ring your call button." He spoke in a most reassuring tone, conveying no panic or even urgency. There was no rushing around, just a small cluster of people at the front of the plane tending to the distressed passenger, who was escorted from the plane, upon landing, by a team of EMTs.

As there was no sense of dire emergency, I think it's okay to admit what crossed my mind after the pilot's initial announcement. Gerry and I have a favorite cartoon: one person looking at another's name tag and asking, "Are you the kind of doctor who helps people, or just a mere PhD? Ever since our encounter with that cartoon (similar to the one above), we refer to ourselves as "mere PhDs." On the plane that night, all we could do was glance at each other silently, shake our heads and mouth the words: "Mere PhD."

Awhile back, all in fun, I described the cartoon to a friend who responded kindly, "I'm sure you help people, just not medically." One day on facebook, my niece Anna and I were discussing the fact that there is a National Doctor Day (March 30). Who knew? There are even cards for the occasion! Does it include mere PhDs? I don't think so. Is there a separate holiday for the mere PhDs? I don't think so! (ScienceBlogs and tvtropes take a somewhat more serious look at the distinction.)

Anna recommended the earnestly humorous YouTube video, "So you want a PhD in clinical psychology?" in which the student thinks "it's cool that people will call me doctor." "No," says her advisor, "your patients will call you by your first name and will not even know that you have a PhD . . . they will be confused that you are a doctor who cannot prescribe medication . . . your friends will laugh at you if you ask them to call you doctor . . . your mother will cry and ask you why you did not become a real doctor."

You can go to YouTube and enjoy numerous droll videos in this series. "Clinical psychology" is my favorite thus far, moreso than the one for majoring in English, which didn't strike me as quite as funny, though it too has its moments. For laughs in their area of specialization, Ben and Sam showed me "I want to work at [the] Goldman Sachs".

It's always good to keep one's sense of humor. Anna learned about "So you want a PhD in clinical psychology?" from "one of my favorite professors, who is a clinical psychologist and who shared it with my entire class a year ago!" I always have to laugh when the student in the video tells the professor that she wants to be a clinical psychologist because "my friends say that I give really good advice and I like to help people and tell them what they are doing wrong . . . I really just want to tell people that what they are doing is wrong based upon my gut reaction and because I feel that I have all the right anwers."

This line of reasoning reminds of the time in graduate school when I was supposed to pick a type of a literary criticism to use in a paper and explain why. I chose psychoanalytic (Freud & Lacan). Why? My line of reasoning was that all of the fictional characters were suffering from the Ache of Modernism. My professor expressed skepticism: "Do you think you can diagnose their problems?" "Yes!" "Do you think you can make them better? "Yes!" "Fictional characters?" "Yes!" Why? Because I just want to give them good advice and tell them that what they are doing is wrong based upon my gut reaction!

P.S. Connections of interest:

From my friend Beata: "Bibliotherapy"

From my friend Joe: "The Science of Storytelling"

From my friend Katie: "Can Reading Make You Happier?"

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Amy & Matt

I was honored to give the following reading today
at my niece Amy's wedding:

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” — those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” — and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed — well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another — acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this is my husband, this is my wife.
by Robert Fulghum


Allons! the road is before us . . .
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

from Part #15 of Walt Whitman's
Song of the Open Road

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Joy of Reading

Bringing you up to date on

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Winter Reading

"Letter From Birmingham Jail"

Christmas: The Girl Who Just Loved Christmas
That would be me!

Thanksgiving: Happy Thanksgiving
Dylan Thomas

Halloween: Books for a Scary Night
Dylan Thomas and more . . .

Autumn Magic: A Book Inside Me
Let's Not Get Too Crazy Mayonnaisy!

Back to School: Stories Worth Telling
Tevas & Terry Galloway

Three Girls Reading, 1907
by American Impressionist
Edmund C. Tarbell, 1862 - 1938

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lucky Hiding Places

"A place a cat tries to hide in is a lucky place."

~~ Dr. Xia, quoted in Wild Swans, 110 ~~

Beaumont in the Wrapping Paper Drawer

Pine in the Cereal & Table Cloth Cabinet

Fuqua, Napping Next to Josef's Ashes

A secret napping spot of our youngest cat, Fuqua (3 years old next month), is in the sunroom on the little underneath shelf of the wicker coffee table, wrapped around the can containing the ashes of our dear old Josef cat (who died in 2007 at age 19). As my sister Peggy said: "I find there are very few coincidences in this universe. Sweet little Fuqua is probably channeling equally sweet little Josef."

Even though Fuqua never met Josef, he seems to sense that there is some kind of special connection on that shelf! Some of Josef's toys are there, and you can also see Josef's favorite purple socks with green cuffs, which he loved dragging around the house or bringing up and leaving beside my bed as a present. They actually had little kittens printed on them as part of the original design! Once again, it's as if he knew that those socks were meant for cats! Cosmic!

Please see my Book Blog for more
Words of Wisdom from Wild Swans


And so many more pictures
in my photo albums . . .

Love Me, Love My Cats
Love Me, Love My Cats Too

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time for a Night Walk

"Past three o'clock,
And a cold frosty morning,
Past three o'clock;
Good morrow, masters all!"

~ chant of the medieval musical night watchmen ~
~ also called The Waits ~


A couple of weeks ago, it was Time for a Moondance;
tonight, it's Time for a Night Walk, a very late night walk . . .

Connections for the week:
~ three poems about staying up past 3 A. M.~

"Night Walk" by Franz Wright

"Poem to be Read at 3 A.M." by Donald Justice

"The Furnace Man" by Amelia J. Burr


You can read these poems on my current post

~ "Time for a Night Walk" ~

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

They Can't Take That Away

A New Year

A couple of days ago, my friend Paula
asked a most interesting question on facebook:

Is there anyone else who ends up still awake in the wee hours, thinking of times gone by? Maybe that's what old people without kids just do. The Beatles, other music from my youth, plays from high school and college, and a few years after.

Vacations with my family as a child, our early houses when the boys (old men now!) were just babies or little tiny kids? And my early years, singing with my ex-husband. Followed by horrid years as a secretary. Followed by great years as a singer in bands.

Followed, thank God, at long last, me with a teaching degree and loving my work. I think it's a function of having no children of my own. Just curious. Just asking. And missing my parents, and even my grandparents, more than is normal? I just want to figure out if I'm normal! But there are very few childless friends to ask. if you're on my list, it means you're my nearest and dearest in my heart. Sorry to bother you!

No bother, Paula!

Our mutual friend Mitzi responded: Oh my. Without fail, every day, my mind goes back somewhere. It may be a memory from 5 years ago, or 50, or even farther. Reconnecting with so many people here on Facebook, who were such a big part of my childhood, has revived great memories that I go back to often. I pull up memories of my brother when he was little as well, and my folks, and my precious grandma Elsie who was the best grandma ever. As we get older, dear Paula, we remember less and less about what we did five minutes ago, and more about what we did fifty years back. The piece of advise that I hand out most often is, 'Be sure to make memories.' One of these days, my memories will be all I end up with, and I want to make sure that I have a whole lot to look back on.

As I'm sure you can easily imagine, Paula's initial question
grew into a thread of over thirty comments, with lots of
friends contributing opinions and memories and kind words.

My two cents' worth: Such uncanny timing for your post Paula, because I read it just moments after Gerry and I were talking about that sad feeling of losing a friend to an untimely death, esp. someone with whom you didn't have many common acquaintances to join in your grief. All you can do is work through the sorrow in your own head, hang on to your memories, and let those recollections validate your experience, even if there's no one else to share with. More uncanniness: No sooner had we drawn that conclusion, than guess what song came on the radio (we were in the car, driving home from having breakfast out) ~ "They Can't Take That Away From Me":

There are many, many crazy things
That will keep me loving you,
And with your permission
May I list a few?

The way you wear your hat.
The way you sip your tea.
The memory of all that -
No, no - they can't take that away from me.

The way your smile just beams.
The way you sing off-key.
The way you haunt my dreams.
No, no - they can't take that away from me.

We may never, never meet again
On that bumpy road to love
Still I'll always,
Always keep the memory of...

The way you hold your knife (do-do-do-do do-do).
The way we danced until three.
The way you've changed my life.
No, no - they can't take that away from me.
No, they can't take that away from me.

Written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Shall We Dance
Also sung beautifully by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra,
and many others -- pick your fav!

A New Day

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bleak Mid - Winter

In the bleak mid - winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

~~ Christina Rossetti ~~

Thinking back to Halloween, which seems only a week or so ago, it's hard to believe that another festive season is coming to a close and already the days are visibly longer. No matter how long we make Christmas last -- starting well before Thanksgiving and stretching it out for the full Twelve Days -- it never seems quite long enough. It goes too fast, stranding us in the very midst of the bleak mid - winter.

My antidote to an entire week of single digit temperatures: Christmas Decorations! Don't put them away yet!

For those who don't live in Lafayette, all of the village pieces you see here are store - bought from various places over the years -- nothing fancy. Except for the "St. John's Church," which is part of a series that was commissioned by our local Historical Society several years ago. It is a replica the church at 6th & Ferry, where Gerry & I were married 25 years ago. The "St. John's Church" sign, however, did not come with the building. Just by chance, I found half a dozen of them in an after - Chirstmas sale bin at Walmart. Coincidentally -- and luckily for us -- Walmart had decided to name their village church "St. John's," so I bought all the leftover signs (for something like 50 cents each!) to distribute to our St. John's friends and neighbors who I knew had one of the St. John's replicas.

You can barely see, but about half - way up the row of cars are the two Volkswagon Beetle "Love Bugs" that my friend Jes brought to Ben & Sam when she came to visit us in Philly in November 2000! We've kept them in our village ever since!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Time for a Moondance

2015 ~ HAPPY NEW YEAR! ~ 2015













Moons of Wintertime and Beyond ~ 2013
Never Quite the Same ~2014

Van Morrison's "Moondance"
Michael Buble's Rendition

"It's a marvelous night for a moondance!"