Monday, March 30, 2015

Evening's Bright Lament

"Now begins
the evening's bright lament. Voices blaze
like sunset's spreading tent . . . "

from the poem "Lost Continent"
by Charlotte Stewart

Read "Lost Continent" -- and more,
on my current post:

~ "Celebrating Charlotte" ~

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

And the Paschal Moon

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sketch Pad

Also on my book blog:
"Do What You Can Do"
Many years ago, in my art appreciation class, I conceived of this futuristic device for suspending one's book aloft and thus being able to read without the need to prop up awkwardly. So much more relaxing than cramped elbows and smashed pillows and bulky headrests that never really work very well. Also perfect for reading in the tub: no more soggy pages or leaning over the edge or having to dry your hands just to turn a page!

Remember, this would have been years before remote controls for channel - changing or garage - door - opening were in daily use, yet notice the stick-man's hand held page - turning device that somehow works in conjunction with the magnetic (?) levitating reading lamp! In retrospect, I'm kind of impressed with my ability to tell the future!
Next day . . . this just in: Little Supergirl Scouts impress Obama with device similar to mine! My friend Marguerite writes to tell me of the amazing coincidence that a troop of six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, have created an amazing variation on my concept, using Lego pieces to design a battery-powered page turner for people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. Better yet, they took their invention to the 2015 White House Science Fair (on Monday, March 23rd) and demonstrated it to President Obama:
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
(and video of "Supergirls" from the Tulsa World)


Here are a few more pages
from my college sketch pad:

Title Page

Jim Thomas

Dorm Room Window

"How can we know the dancer from the dance?" ~ Yeats

"Surprise and Wild Connections"

Geometric Candle

"The Pursuit"

" . . . They've known it for a thousand years . . . but never changed the pattern . . . yet . . . not yet . . . but some day soon . . . "

Tongue in his cheek, Youth climbs the path
That leads atop the hill Success,
Too well aware that he will find,
When he has reached the crest

A crazy, topsy - turvy world,
With people fighting bout on bout
For everything they do not want
But dare not do without.

~ poem by Helen Doremus ~
opening remark by Ted Malone
found in his American Album of Poetry (p 137)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Father & Son: Attention to Detail
Click here to view the story
of our Do It Yourself Project in the
photo album ~ Spring Break Renovations

"I have always felt that the best security for civilization is the dwelling, and that upon properly appointed and becoming dwellings depends more than anything else the improvement of humankind. Such dwellings are the nursery of all domestic virtues, and without a becoming home the exercise of those virtues is impossible."
~ Benjamin Disraeli ~

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I never did figure out what was making this
unusual shadow on my kitchen wall the other day.
Was it a manifestation of Happiness?
Or did it have something to do with the Vernal Equinox?
A wispy harbinger of Spring?
Half darkness, half light . . .


A couple of poems for the First Day of Spring:

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

~ Mary Oliver

Here's another one that seems to go perfectly
with Mary Oliver's Box of Darkness:


There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon.
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.

It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

~ Jane Kenyon (1947 - 1995)
found in Otherwise: New and Selected Poems
[see also "A Brief for the Defense" by Jack Gilbert]

Miniature Daffodils in Ben's Backyard
Durham, North Carolina

They appear normal sized until you see them side by side
with their larger garden - mates

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Thanks to my backdoor neighbor Suzan Windnagel for this beautiful pre - Spring sunrise view, including the back of my garage and house! Look closely and you can see our little pink Christmas / Valentine / Easter tree!

A "cold and mercurial morning . . . "

I think this poem, that I discovered in Wayne Muller's Sabbath might explain why I like to stay up as late as possible instead of going to bed:

Another Loss to Stop For

Against such cold and mercurial mornings,
watch the wind whirl one leaf
across the landscape,
then, in a breath, let it go.
The color in the opaque sky
seems almost not to exist.

Put on a wool sweater.
Wander in the leaves,
underneath healthy elms.
Hold your child in your arms.

After the dishes are washed,
a kiss still warm at your neck,
put down your pen. Turn out the light.

I know how difficult it is,
always balancing and weighing,
it takes years and many transformations;
and always another loss to stop for,
to send you backwards.

Why do you worry so,
when none of us is spared?

~ by Jill Bialosky
American poet, book editor, and novelist

As for being spared:

"We don't receive wisdom;
we must discover it for ourselves
after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us."

Marcel Proust

"There's no basement in the Alamo.
It's not something they teach you in school.
It's one of those things you have to find out for yourself."

Pee Wee Herman

Sunday, March 15, 2015

At Christmas Time and
All the Whole Year Through

For a look inside of this beautiful old house
that we called home for eight years in West Philly,
check out my current post:

~ "814 ~ Where It Was Almost Always Christmas" ~

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

Now, just one quick question about the two songs you see copied below: are they in fact two songs? Or are they really both the same song? I love them both, but I'm confused. Whenever I hear one, the other comes to mind.

For example:

The Partridge Family:
I'm looking out my window
at the softly falling snow
that dances in the early morning light
. . .

The Seekers:
Looking from my window
On the freshly fallen snow,
It sparkles as it tumbles
Upon the street below
. . .


I quoted a bit from the Seekers on my latest Fortnightly Post because it seems to me the kind of Christmas song that you can still sing in March if you want to.

Here are the songs in full;
you can click on the titles to listen:

My Christmas Card to You
To you and all your family, your neighbors and your friends
May all your days be happy with a joy that never ends
May peace and love surround you
at Christmas time and all the whole year through

I'm looking out my window at the softly falling snow
that dances in the early morning light

I got my guitar right before me, strummin' a beautiful sound
watching it a-comin' down, all around
on the fields and the farms and the road to town

And I'm thinkin' up a letter that I'm writin' in my head
a Christmas card to all the folks I love
Instead of lettin' the postman bring it, I decided I'd rather sing it
especially for you, for you

To you and all your family, your neighbors and your friends
May all your days be happy with a joy that never ends
May peace and love surround you
at Christmas time and all the whole year through

May your life be filled with sunshine
May your every wish come true
May you find the sweet fulfillment in everything you do
May your days be blessed with the very very best
both now and the whole year through
it says so in my Christmas card to

You and all your family, your neighbors and your friends
May all your days be happy with a joy that never ends
May peace and love surround you
at Christmas time and all the whole year through
at Christmas time and all the whole year through

Sung by The Partridge Family
Lyrics and music by Tony Romeo, 1971


I Wish You Could Be Here
Looking from my window
On the freshly fallen snow,
It sparkles as it tumbles
Upon the street below,

The crackle of the fire
Is laughing in my ear,
The room is warm and sleepy
And I wish you could be here.
Somedays in this town
There's not a lot for me to do,
I've been listening to some records
And my thoughts return to you,
I tried to read the paper
But the words aren't very clear,
Oh I know there's something missing
And I wish you could be here.

I keep listening for your footsteps
Or your key turned in the door,
I sure could use your company
But we've been through that before,
I think the winter's going to last
A long time this year,
I've got empty time to fill
And I wish you could be here.

Sung by The Seekers
Lyrics and music by Bruce Woodley & Paul Simon, 1966

Snow Day ~ A Very Happy Boy!
Ben in Philadelphia, January 1996

To You and All Your Family . . . . I Wish You Could Be Here!
Sam ~ Our Neighbor Graham ~ Ben
January 2000

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Art Stuido

To see our former art studio
& many other rooms in the beautiful old house
we called home for eight years in West Philly,
check out my current post:

~ "814 ~ Where It Was Almost Always Christmas" ~

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

I wish I had also taken a photograph from the other side of the room, showing the sign that Ben drew for the door. Alas, I did not.
However, when we moved, I did save the sign itself:

"Supplies and Things"
by Ben McCartney

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Having It All

Look: not one but two!
First crocus sighting of the season!

[Warmer in Kansas than Indiana!]

from the essay, "Bakeries"
by Delia Ephron
found in her book Sister Mother Husband Dog

To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up. Like an eclipse. A total eclipse is when the moon is at its perigee, the earth is at its greatest distance from the sun, and when the sun is observed near zenith. I have no idea what that means. I got the description off a science Web site, but one thing is clear: it’s rare. This eclipse never lasts more than seven minutes and 31 seconds.

Personally, I believe having it all can last longer than that. It might be a fleeting moment — drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning when the light is especially bright. It might also be a few undisturbed hours with a novel I’m in love with, a three-hour lunch with my best friend, reading “Goodnight Moon” to a child, watching a Nadal-Federer match. Having it all definitely involves an ability to seize the moment, especially when it comes to sports. It can be eating in bed when you’re living on your own for the first time or the first weeks of a new job when everything is new, uncertain and a bit scary. It’s when all your senses are engaged. It’s when you feel at peace with someone you love. And that isn’t often. Loving someone and being at peace with him (or her) are two different things. Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It’s when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind. (p 79)

Not particularly American, unquantifiable, unidentifiable, different for everyone, but you know it when you have it.
(pp 151 - 52; see also p 13)

And this . . .
from the essay "Hurtling Toward the Eschaton"
by Wayne Muller
found in his book Sabbath:
Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

A Sabbath Challenge to the theology of progress: But we must ask this question: What if we are not going anywhere? What if we are simply living and growing within an ever - deepening cycle of rhythms, perhaps getting wiser, perhaps learning to be kind, and hopefully passing whatever we have learned to our children? What if our life, roughhewn from the stuff of creation, orbits around a God who never ceases to create new beginnings? What if our life is simply a time when we are blessed with both sadness and joy, health and disease, courage and fear — and all the while we work, pray, and love, knowing that the promised land we seek is already present in the very gift of life itself, the inestimable privilege of a human birth? What if this single human life is itself the jewel in the lotus, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price? What if all the way to heaven is heaven? (79)
[Bill Bryson says something along the same lines as Muller:
". . . you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. . . . That you are able to sit here right now in this one never-to-be repeated moment, reading this book, eating bonbons . . . doing whatever you are doing--just EXISTING--is really wondrous beyond belief." ~ Notes From A Small Island, 120 - 21]

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ready for the Shift

Surely Rilke would have been quick to observe that
Daylight Savings Time doesn't really save us anything.
It merely shifts an hour of light from morning to evening,
or an hour of darkness from evening to morning --
whichever way you want to look at it.

Prayer #1

The hour bows down and stirs me
with a clear and ringing stroke;
my senses tremble. I feel that I can —
and I seize the forming day.

Nothing was yet done before I beheld it,
and every becoming stood still;
my ways of seeing are ripe, and, like a bride,
to each one comes the thing each wills.

Nothing is too small for me, and I love it anyway
and paint it on the golden base and large —
and hold it high; and I don’t know whose
soul this might yet free . . .

On the 20th of September in the evening after a lengthy rainstorm,
when the sun suddenly broke through the forest’s dark canopy and through me.

Prayer #20

My life is not this steep hour
in which You see me hurrying so.
I am a tree standing before what I once was;
I am only one of my many mouths,
and, at that, the first to close.

I am the stillness between two notes
that don't easily harmonize,
because the note Death wants to lift itself up . . .

But in the dark interval both notes come
trembling, to join as one . . .
and the song remains, beautiful.

After this, the monk drew very near to God; on the same evening.

[Concluding notes from Rilke;
italics and ellipses in original text]
Both selections from Prayers of a Young Poet
written by by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
translated by Mark S. Burrows

Many thanks to my dear friend and spiritual advisor
Nancy C. Tiederman
for sending me this latest translation of Rilke's Prayers

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Staying Alive

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.”

~ Anonymous ~

No one seems to know who said those words,
but they remind me of something that
Walt Whitman says in Leaves of Grass:
"Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while."
from "The Song of the Open Road," #9 (112)

In very simple terms:
"A ship in the harbor is safe,
but that is not what ships are made for."

~ John Augustus Shedd ~

Or as succintly, existentially expressed
by David Wagoner, profound American poet (b 1926)
in one of my all - time favorite poems, entitled Staying Alive:

"This is called staying alive. It's temporary."

To read the entire poem ~ long but worth it!~ check out my current post:

~ "Staying Alive, Temporarily" ~

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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wind from a Leaf

Flowering Cherry with Poem Slips
Japanese painter, Tosa Mitsuoki, 1617 – 1691

If only I'd known this poem
back when Y2K was all the rage:

from Prayer #8

I'm living just as the century departs.
One feels the wind from a large leaf
that God and you and I had written on,
which turns above by hands no one knows.

One feels the radiance of a new page
on which everything could still come to be.
~ 1899

by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
from Prayers of a Young Poet
translated by Mark S. Burrows

Mitsuoki ~ Autumn Maples

Previous March First Posts

2010: Kiss Me & Kiss Today

2011: My Vegetable Love

2012: Love However Brief

2013: Beyond Ideas

2014: The First [Mild] Day of March

Thanks George Sfedu!

Or ~ more like what we're experiencing today:
Snow in March, 1904
by Russian Impressionist
Igor Grabar, 1871 - 1960