Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year's End

Currently on my Fortnightly Blog:
A Story About a Snowman

"I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snow that I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long, and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence. The whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day, and it was on that day I made the snowman."

Opening narration from The Snowman ~ animated movie
based on the book by Raymond Briggs ~ music by Howard Blake
The Snowman Ben and Sam Built,
with a little inspiration from Auntie Peg!
Photographs by Ben McCartney
December 2002

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Shomily

1961: Boo, Kit holding Di, Peg holding A, Dave
[Look how Little Di is patting me on the knee ~ I just love that!]

1967: Bruce, David, Aaron, Diane, Peggy, Kitti

On Christmas Evening, my twin brother posted on facebook:

"Sorry-- no Christmas shomily (short homily) this year. But, to all of you who make my life better by being a part of it, Merry Christmas!"

But, actually, he was just being modest. For, in fact, earlier in the day, he had emailed the family with this perfect "shomily":

"Merry Christmas, sibs! I was thinking last night about what an unlikely, eclectic mix we are; what each one of us brings to that mix; and how it just wouldn't work if any one of us weren't part of that mix. I love you all very much, and hope you all have a wonderful Christmas."

To which my older brother Dave replied with a "shomily" of his own:

"A very Merry Christmas from the Dave Carriker household. I agree with what Bruce had to say. Our branch of the clan is far and away the most unusual and had no chance of being otherwise. Our various life experiences have created an entity that is both blunt instrument and surgical tool."

Some Christmas Pictures:
Us Four Little Kids ~ 1967

A New Bike for Aaron ~ 1970 (best guess)

See also my
Haiku For the Family

Friday, December 25, 2015

"the green ivy and red holly
made you feel so happy"

Christmas Plum Pudding

" . . . and the warm heavy smell of turkey and ham and celery rose from the plates and dishes and the great fire was banked high and red in the grate and the green ivy and red holly made you feel so happy and when dinner was ended the big plum pudding would be carried in, studded with peeled almonds and sprigs of holly, with bluish fire running around it and a little green flag flying from the top" (30).

from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce

More Christmas Puddings by Mrs Beeton

"Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered: flushed, but smiling proudly: with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

from A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens

More recipes and references @Food in Literature and The Study

Miniature Rosemary Wreath

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Night and Light

Mystical Wintry Window
Photograph by Dagmar *

Winter Solstice
Observations & Poems & StoryPeople:

* Gourmet Christmas Cookies
These beautiful cookies were created in December 2010 by my friend Dagmar. It turned out to be her last Christmas, though at the time we didn't realize how sick she was. Dagmar loved food traditions such as making these cookies for the annual bazaar and for her family and friends.

"Never a Christmas morning,
never an old year ends,
but someone thinks of someone;
old days, old times, old friends."

~ Anonymous Rhyme ~

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Love, the Gift, is On the Way

Detail from On the Way with the Gift

This is not the typical snowy Belgium* village scene, so reminiscent of the bleak yet quaint mid winter, but take a close look at the dessert carried by the little girl: it looks like a Christmas Pudding to me! Everything about this painting -- the title, the guests bearing gifts, the implied hospitality, the flowers, the swans a - swimming, the custom and ceremony -- brings to mind Eleanor Farjeon's joyful carol:

People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way

~ Eleanor Farjeon ~

~ Sung by Marty Haugen ~

Here is the entire painting as Gerry and I saw it last January (2015)
when we visited the Groeninge Museum in Bruges:
by Emile Rommelaere, 1873 - 1961

And, in keeping with the season . . .

St. Nicholas Altarpiece, 1486-93
Oil on oak panel, 102 x 82 cm
Groeninge Museum, Bruges

Legend of St Lucy Triptych, 1480
Oil on oak panel, 79 x 183 cm
Sint-Jacobskerk, Bruges
Both by the Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy,
active in Bruges between 1480 and 1500

*Also at the Groeninge:
The Meebrug in Bruges Covered With Snow
Flori Van Acker, 1858 - 1940

On the slightly less serious side:
American Tourist Photobombs Fake Medieval Portrait
at the Historium Bruges Museum

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Meaning of Christmas

See also "Season's Cheatings"
by Duo Dickinson at Saved By Design

Last month, my brother Bruce posted an insightful explanation of not only the meaning of Christmas but also the meaning of the so - called War on Christmas.

I had to agree with our friend Mitzi who replied to Bruce, who usually has the last word on everything: "This was so good, you could have written it."

In this case, however, I also want to add my own "two cents worth":
I think the message of Christmas is "Be nice to pregnant women no matter who the father of the baby is and regardless of their legal marital status; and to babies no matter who their parents are. Remember: ". . . When you kiss your little baby, you've kissed the face of God . . . "
And this from The Reverend Nancy Rockwell in her article "No More Lying About Mary":
The Greek word Luke uses for virgin is an unusual one, a very specific word that means she has not yet born a child. Its precise meaning does not indicate sexual innocence. So let’s be clear: the focus is on her uterus. The state of her hymen is not at issue here. . . .

Mary is unmarried when the angel comes. The angel’s invitation and her independent decision tell us Mary does not need permission of clergy – or her parents – to become pregnant. God knows Mary owns her own body. And there is no shame in her decision. Mary is good news for unwed mothers everywhere.

Mary, wanted by God, according to the angel, for her bold, independent, adventuresome spirit, decides to bear a holy child – for a bold agenda: to bring the mighty down from their thrones; to scatter the proud in the imagination of their hearts, to fill the hungry with good things and send the rich empty away. This is Mary: well-spoken, wise, gritty.

I am a little church

i am a little church(no great cathedral) – i do not worry if
briefer days grow briefest,

i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving (finding and losing and laughing and crying)children whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope, and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature – i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence (welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

E. E. Cummings

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fake Trees & Gift Books

Currently on my Fortnightly Blog:
A Story About a Tree

Or, to be more specific, a story about three artificial trees:

Our Seven - Foot Indoor - Outdoor Tree

Our Big Nine - Foot Tree

Our Sunroom Tree

And on my Book List ~ lots of gift ideas:
"Would you like anything to read?

See also "Cutting Trees in Buffalo"
by Duo Dickinson at Saved By Design

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Latkes for Hanukkah

My cooking friends asked me to reveal the secret of my "pancakey . . . puffy" latkes, so here goes . . . it's a very easy secret:

End of the Weekend Leftovers

1. one scoop of mashed potatoes & one crumbled up piece of raisin / soda bread from Sunrise Diner

2. one half serving of fried breakfast potatoes & one half crumbled up breakfast biscuit from Town & Gown Bistro

3. mixed all together with 2 fresh raw eggs & fried in no - stick skillet with no - stick spray, served with applesauce and orange marmalade.

When I make them from scratch,
I use an old favorite recipe from
Paul Levy's
The Feast of Christmas: Origins, Traditions, and Recipes


And Here's a Picture of a Menorah Cat

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Peacemaker's Time

6 year old Ben explains Chanukah

Light one candle for the wisdom to know
when the peacemaker's time is at hand . . .

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

Rowan Williams (b 1950)
104th Archbishop of Canterbury, 2002 - 2012

Chorus from For The Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio

He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.

He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.

W. H. Auden / see also

Friday, December 4, 2015

O Christmas Tree

I love this beautiful photo & comment
from my facebook cousin Tina Carriker Davis:
"One of my favorite photos, taken from my perspective --
one cherished moment, one captivating scene at a time.
Even the smallest items can enhance your world,
with the right perspective."

Yet another charming perspective ~
My friend Michele LeNoir Palamountain's
end of season tree, a couple of years ago,
one ornament remaining:
Read About & See More Christmas Trees!
on my Fortnightly Blog

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Genuine religion is not about speculating about God or the soul
or about what happened in the past or will happen in the future;
it cares only about one thing — finding out
exactly what should or should not be done in this lifetime.


It is terrible when people do not know God,
but it is worse when people identify as God what is not God.

Leo Tolstoy
Path of Life or Calendar of Wisdom, 1909
as translated by M. Cote, 2002

It's true that the endless chorus of "oh my god" that passes for expression and dialogue in daily conversation grows tiresome very quickly, not so much because it's disrespectful but because it indicates such a limited vocabulary and lack of imagination -- similar to adults who chew gum visibly in public -- ewww, puh - lease, gag me! "OMG" is no better, yet somehow I find it less annoying -- sort of the way that changing "Kentucky Fried Chicken" to "KFC" made the meal seem a little less greasy.

Is the third commandment merely a rule against saying,"Oh my God" or does it suggest something more substantial that?

More about taking the name of the Lord in vain
on my current post

~ OMG! ~

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