Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Village

Usually the holidays don't slow me down, but somehow this year I had to slacken my pace, even though I love nothing better than writing about Christmas traditions.

While the Quotidian posts for December have been few and far between, never fear, there are still the Fortnightlies to peruse:

~~ Irish Village Christmas ~~
~~ Cool Girl ~~

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


My Miniature Village Scene (click to enlarge!)

Village Detail

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Don't Look Up My Dress!

“Los derechos de la mujer" / "The Rights of Women"
two verions, by Debora Arango
Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin, Colombia

Last month, I had the good fortune to visit Medellin and view the dramatic, larger - than - life work of Debora Arango. Her paintings capture many harsh and conflicted aspects of religion, politics, urban poverty, and gender.

For example, the above postcards above, make the point that the women are trapped between men either tyrannizing them or looking up their dresses or both. My friend Jan concurs: "Yes -- that's my read, too! I just read your Fortnightly about Raunch Culture and watching a British 'comedy' with your sons and husband. I often find myself in the same role you found yourself. I wish more men would try harder to imagine themselves in a woman's place. Really enjoyed reading this."

I was concerned about going out on a prudish limb, but wanted to look at the troubling concepts of "Cool Girl" and "sweet - assed gal" and felt that Arango's paintings made a fitting connection. To be screamed at from above or stared at from below is not really what women want.

More about these problematic gender issues on my current post

~~ Cool Girl ~~

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hip, Hip Hooray, for
Christmas Vacation!

"Stockings Were Hung"
I love these urban Christmas cards!
By New Yorker artist Witold Gordon (1885 – 1968)

Sorry I can't promise many posts this month . . .
because -- Hip, hip, hooray --
Christmastime is Here!

Christmas Vacation

It's that time, Christmas time is here
Everybody knows, there's not a better time of year
Hear that sleigh, Santa's on his way
Hip, hip hooray, for Christmas vacation

Gotta a ton of stuff to celebrate
Now it's getting closer, I can't wait
Gonna make this holiday as perfect as can be
Just wait and see this Christmas vacation

This old house, sure is looking good
Got ourselves the finest snowman in the neighborhood
Ain't it fun, always on the run
That's how it's done on Christmas vacation

Let's all deck the halls and light the lights
Get a toasty fire buring bright
Give St. Nick the warmest welcome that he's every had
We're so glad it Christmas vacation

And when the nights are peaceful and serene
We can cuddle up and do our Christmas dreaming


Christmas vacation
Christmas vacation

We're so glad it's Christmas vacation

Peace and joy and love are everywhere
You can feel the magic in the air
Let the spirit of the season carry us away
Hip, hip, hooray for Christmas Vacation

Fa, la, la, la, la and ho, ho, ho
Jingle, jangle, jingle as we go

~ Mavis Staples

Hip, hip, hooray for movies we love to watch every year:
Christmas Vacation & Home Alone I & II

Also by Witold Gordon: Skating at Rockefeller Center

Friday, December 2, 2016

Not There Yet

1980s Virginia Slims
April Fools Day Magazine Ad

Of course, there is the irony, unintended at the time, of equating cigarettes with liberation! I happened to think of this vintage advertisement (yes, I saved a paper copy in my Women's Studies Notebook) in conjunction with a recent discussion of both smoking and feminism, though not combined Virginia Slims - style, but as two separate topics.

Here's an excerpt (click for more):

~~ Carriker Barrel ~~

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

Concerning gender issues, you ask, "What's left? Aren't we pretty much there? What do women want / expect? What are the limitations?"

First, I worry about the role of women in a country soon to be led by a man who feels entitled to leer sexually, even at his own daughters. Despite all the men in America and in my family who love and respect the women in their lives, the acceptance of such lascivious public discourse defies belief and damages the position of all women. Until this kind of callous objectification is eliminated, we are not "there" yet.

Second, we are not "there" yet, as long as I can still attend a formal event and hear a speaker (male) begin his keynote address with a tired old sexist cliche --
“A good speech should be like a woman's skirt; long enough
to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

-- that relies solely on the assumption that women are for gawking at. I don't care if it is attributed to Winston Churchill, it is not funny; it's embarrassing. And I'm not talking decades ago at a bachelor party but recently at a holiday dinner on a university campus, where half of the guests were women.

This kind of so - called humor gives women in the audience three choices:
1. be one of the guys, guffaw guffaw

2. assume that you too are a sex object, valued for your legs, for your skirt, and for being stared at

3. know that you are in a some other sub - category of women who are no longer -- or have never been -- considered sexually desirable -- so no worries, right?
For any self - respecting woman in the audience these are three equally uncomfortable and insulting options.

Third, religion, has a long way to go before it is part of the solution rather than part of the problem. My son Ben has predicted the demise of religion (see below), but lets say that it stays around, then one of my required targets for gender equity would be to see the Catholic Church relinquish its opposition to female priests. I rank this as important whether or not I'm a Catholic because the Catholic Church has over a billion adherents worldwide and a great sphere of influence. Why not use that massive influence in the interest of including women rather than excluding?

Here's Jimmy Carter's opinion on how the role of women in the church informs their role in society at large:

Thank you President Jimmy Carter!
Jimmy Carter: "At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities. . . .
The truth is that male religious leaders have had -- and still have -- an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world."

Take Back the Day!
Remember the Take Back the Night rallies and marches
and candlelight vigils that began back in the 70s?
As I've mentioned elsewhere & many times before,
Take Back the Night is a noble sentiment . . .
but first things first! Let's begin by making
it safe to walk around in broad daylight!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Oh To Be Jo March

Happy 184th Birthday to
"The Most Beloved American Writer"
By Norman Rockwell

Today's Google Doodle in honor of Louisa May Alcott
More in the Telegraph and on youtube

I intend to get back around to writing more about beloved author Louisa May Alcott and her beloved heroine Jo March; but until such time, there is this great Alcott Blog to look at, with lots of illustrations!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Like a Planet

"End of Season" ~ Photo by Cate

The Gathering

Outside, the scene was right for the season,
Heavy gray clouds and just enough wind
To blow down the last of the yellow leaves.

But the house was different that day,
So distant from the other houses,
Like a planet inhabited by only a dozen people

With the same last name and the same nose
Rotating slowly on its invisible axis.
Too bad you couldn't be there.

But you were flying through space on your own asteroid
With you arm around an uncle.
You would have unwrapped your scarf

And thrown your coat on top of the pile
Then lifted a glass of wine
As a tiny man ran across the screen with a ball.

You would have heard me
Saying grace with my elbows on the tablecloth
As one of the twins threw a dinner roll
Across the room at the other.

by Billy Collins

Thanksgiving at the Little Planets' Table
~ Cartoon by Steve Breen ~

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Getting Ready

The week before Thanksgiving, Unlce Al sent us
an update from the Garden of Paradise:
"Lovely autumnal day.
Apple tree is a bit pitiful though."

The pumpkin, however, is brilliant!
Welcome Autumn! Welcome Guests!

The Guest House ~ Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Hollow Hawk

Red - tailed hawk on Robinson Street

Earlier today, this pre - Thanksgiving visitor was strolling down the sidewalk near my house -- not at all rare perhaps but unusual for me to see at ground - level! My kids tell me that our nearby middle school teams are known as the Happy Hollow Hawks because the adjacent park is full of hawks. Oh, that explains it! By the time I got outdoors with the camera he (she?) was high up in the tree.

Dan: You're going to fix him a plate, yes/yes?

Me: I was just hoping that he wouldn't swoop down and punish me for taking his photograph!

Dan: Nah, he looks mellow.

Peg: So handsome and regal.

Additional Visitors

Every season, a few of these little guys make their way
into our attic and have to be repatriated to the woods

Stopping by the back deck just to say "Hey"

Foraging Friends by Delilah Pierce

Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Here's Some Nature"

Earlier today, my friend Andrea shared this poster
from Janis Ian and Dean Jackson.

So true! Many years ago, when my little friend Natasha was about five, she gave me a rock that was special because it had a hole in it. Handing it to me, she said, "Here's some nature." How could I ever forget that? I still have it in my key - chain drawer.

More recently, young Liam gave me a marble as a souvenir of my visit to Bainbridge Island, and I still have it in my counter - top water fountain (that the cats drink from).

Thanks, Little Ones, for these treasures!

Here's Fuqua drinking from the fountain!

And Beaumont, back in May 2013

Thursday, November 17, 2016

How the Light Gets In

~~ 12 November 2016 ~~

A week after the U.S. Presidential Election, my friend Burnetta* and I were exchanging photographs of the full moon: "I know you will post one of your own," she wrote. "All of my friends are so down, Kitti. We must figure out what to do, how to act, and take back the best aspects of our democracy. Of course, we practice those every day. I hope they are enough. Everyone I know feels the same. Peace, love and hope for the coming days, weeks. May we find the high ground and work from there."

Mourning not only Hillary Clinton's lost chance at running our country, but also the death of Leonard Cohen, Burnetta posted this song as the pefect tribute to a timeless songwriter and a fitting response to our post - election trepidation:

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

Words and music by musical genius, poet, and man of vision Leonard Cohen
(September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016)
~~ 13 November 2016 ~~

Another favorite of mine is the "Song for Bernadette":
So many hearts I find, broke like yours and mine
Torn by what we've done and can't undo
I just want to hold you, won't let me hold you
Like Bernadette would do . . .
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we've done . . .

By Leonard Cohen, Bill Elliott, Jennifer Warnes
The Jennifer Warnes rendition is popular,
but I prefer Anne Murray or Judy Collins.

~~ 14 November 2016 ~~

*Previous Burnetta Posts:

Dawn of Doom (Dark Vapors) ~ 10/7/16

Roots of Kindness ~ 4/29/16

Your Poem, My Poem ~ 2/23/16

May Day Birthday ~ 5/1/14

The Wire Brush of Doubt ~ 3/16/14

The Fish Hatchery, Neosho ~ 2/8/14

Never Quite the Same ~ 1/9/14

Moons of Wintertime and Beyond ~ 12/28/12

Whatnots ~ 12/1/13

City Wonderland ~ 12/3/12

Come Back to the Present! ~ 10/22/12

Autumn Days ~ 10/17/12

Chrysanthemums ~ 10/9/11

Huckleberry ~ 7/21/11

All Souls: Never Alone ~ 11/2/10

Fair ~ 7/2/10

Opinions & Facts ~ 4/20/10

April Leaf ~ 4/8/10


Friday, November 11, 2016


Painting from Fall Celebrations @ Joyful Toddlers

For the past six years I've written a Veterans Day Post on November 11th, but this year, I'm going to branch out and write about St. Martin's Day instead -- a long - lost but lovely opportunity to light up a scary night.

As the Armistice at the end of World War I was signed at eleven o'clock in the morning, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, so too does the celebration of Martinmas begin at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Not widely observed in the United States, St. Martin's Day commemorates good St. Martin, a Hungarian Bishop of the 4th Century who cut his coat in half to share with a freezing beggar. It is the day that amongst other things, we can sort through our closets and donate half of our coats and sweaters to clothing drives for those more needy. That way, there will be plenty of room available when we receive new sweaters and jackets for Christmas a few weeks down the line. In fact, Martinmas (November 11) is the middle point between Michaelmas (September 29) and Christmas (December 25).

Coming less than two weeks after Hallowmas , Martinmas incorporates many of the same traditions: lantern carvings, neighborhood processions, the distribution of sweets, honoring the dead, bonfires, harvest celebrations, loss of daylight hours, and anticipation of the coming winter.

Martinmas Lantern Walk

Indiana poet Norbert Krapf draws another connection, from the tragedy of Kristallnacht, occurring November 9 - 10, 1938, to the hope of Chanukah, as the Martinmas lanterns "merge into the menorah":

St. Martin's Day

In damp dark, we parents and children
line up in groups behind teachers
in the Pausenhof of the Grundschule

to walk in procession to the park
behind the baroque palace. As we
move forward in unison, we sing songs

to celebrate the legend of a knight on horseback
who cut his cloak in half with his sword
to comfort a beggar on foot. The children

carry tiny flames through the dark
in lanterns they have made in school
and hooked to the end of sticks.

"Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne,"
they sing. In Elizabeth's blue box burns
a candle illuminating a paper angel, an apple,

a moon, and a star cut out in construction
paper she glued together. Before the arched
Orangerie in the park, the children stand

in semicircles to sing. Some play recorders,
some play violins, some tap rhythm
on tambourines. Behind them, facing

us parents, is a big illuminated sheet,
before which silhouetted children
actors mime the action of Martin

and his beggar as classmates narrate their
lines. At the end, all sing the round
"Hebet die Laterne / Lift the lanterns,"

repeat the refrain "Licht zu bringen
in dieser Welt / To bring light into this
world," and follow a rider on horseback

into the dark. As they wind along geometric
walkways in the Schlosspark, stringing
beads of light through the dark with their

handmade lanterns, I remember the first question
Elizabeth asked after we arrived in Erlangen:
"Daddy, do they celebrate Chanukah here?"

Fifty years after the Kristallnacht, I see
burning beads of light along looping walkways
merge into the menorah held in uplifted hands.

by Norbert Krapf

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

No Quandary

Wearing my sterling silver "Duke" earrings,
except today they stand for "Democrat." Thanks Ben

On "America's Choosing Day,"
everyone should read Walt Whitman & Robert Frost.

How to decide?

First of all, I do not think of Hillary Clinton as the "lesser of two evils." I think Donald Trump is vile (an anagram of evil). Hillary Clinton is neither of those things. No contest in my mind. However, even if one is of the "lesser of two evils" position, what is the quandary? Has there ever been any nobility in choosing the greater of two evils?

Second, as adults, every day, our lives are filled with a series of choices for lesser evil. (E.g., killing all the ants on the kitchen floor feels kind of evil, but allowing them to continue living there seems even worse.) Many of our beloved and well respected Presidents have made choices for lesser evil when presented with two or more imperfect choices.

Except in the world of cartoons, we are rarely granted the luxury of a choice for perfectly good vs pure evil. In real life, and even in good fiction, the choices and conflicts are always more complicated and problematic than that.

My well - respected brother,
The Rev. Bruce Carriker, agrees:

So, here's the decision some people are still wrestling with:

A distrusted, dislikable individual who, despite some really questionable judgment, has been cleared not once but twice of wrongdoing by the FBI; and has been investigated eight times by her political opponents in Congress for her actions as Secretary of State, without a single charge being filed;


A serial adulterer; racist, misogynist bully who threatens to jail his opponents; banishes the press from his campaign events if he doesn't like their coverage; admires political despots in other countries; says he may turn his back on our allies; wants to cut taxes for his rich friends; doesn't pay taxes himself; boasts about what certainly sounds like sexual assault; mocks the disabled; operates a fraudulent "charitable foundation" for his own personal gain; bribes at least two states attorneys general to drop investigations of his fraudulent "university"; says the judge in his "university" fraud case is unqualified simply because of his race; questions the patriotism of Gold Star parents because of their religious faith; calls Latinos rapists and murderers; and wonders, if we have nuclear weapons, why don't we use them?

How this is even a decision seemingly reasonable people have to think about is simply beyond me.
[Click for further thoughts]

And if you don't believe us,
how about Hadley Freeman,
writing for the Guardian:

" . . . the media promoted false equivalencies throughout this campaign to a degree never before seen.

On Tuesday, the Times headlined its editorial about the election “Tough Choice”, as if the decision between a woman who used the wrong email server and a racist, sexist, tax-dodging bully wasn’t, in fact, the easiest choice in the world. Clinton’s private email server was covered more ferociously than Trump’s misogyny. That Clinton had talked at Goldman Sachs was reported as a financial flaw somehow analogous to his non-payment of tax. However much people want to blame the Democrats, their voters or Clinton herself, the result of this election is due at least as much to anyone who pushed the narrative that Clinton and Trump were equally or even similarly “bad”.

Shame on them. The most qualified candidate in a generation was defeated by the least qualified of all time. That is what misogyny looks like, and, like all bigotries, it will end up dragging us all down."

A Vision for Election Day!
Thanks for the bulletin page Good Shepherd ~
Chapel of the Good Shepherd!

"And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision,
and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it."

Habakkuk 2:2, KJV
Pride was not made for men, nor furious anger for them that are born of a woman. They that fear the Lord are a sure seed, and they that love him an honourable plant: they that regard not the law are a dishonourable seed; they that transgress the commandments are a deceivable seed. Among brethren he that is chief is honorable; so are they that fear the Lord in his eyes. The fear of the Lord goeth before the obtaining of authority: but roughness and pride is the losing thereof.
Ecclesiasticus 10: 18 - 21, KJV

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Losing Daylight Time

The Hampton Court Astronomical Clock appears briefly in the background in The Tudors. My brother Bruce and I noticed it when we were watching binge watching the first coupple of seasons, and we had to rewind -- the movie, not the clock, haha! -- so that I could get a closer look!

Equally amazing is the world's oldest working astronomical clock (in Prague, dating from 1410). My friend Mimi says, "I'm always amazed when these things have continued to function after so much time! Wonderful!"

[And More!]
I know there's really no such thing as gaining an hour or losing an hour. Time doesn't really slip away. It merely gets rearranged temporarily or manipulated to suit our temporal purposes, as will be happening tomorrow when we "fall back." The sad thing about the return to standard time is that even though we seem to gain an hour's sleep, we also lose the evening light. But not to worry, in a few months we'll spring forward and the light will return.

In the meantime, in observation of the time change, here is a sad and lovely passage from last year's Pulitzer Prize winning novel:
"For all of Marie-Laure's four years in Saint-Malo, the bells at St. Vincent's have marked the hours. But now the bells have ceased. She does not know how long she has been trapped in the attic or even if it is day or night. Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever" (376).
from All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

And a couple of favorites from Storypeople
Just right for the end of Daylight Savings Time

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Soul Cakes

The Cider Mill, 1880
John George Brown, 1831 -1913

Back in Medieval times, back before Halloween candy, there were Soul Cakes. The cakes had a twofold purpose -- an offering for the dead who might be back to visit; and a refreshment for the soulers who came a'souling from door to door (like trick - or - treaters / Christmas carolers), offering prayers and songs in return for treats. The prayerful Hallowmas Season comprised three consecutive holidays: Halloween (aka All Hallows' Eve) on October 31, All Saints' Day (aka All Hallows') on November 1, and All Souls' Day on November 2.

On their Holiday Celebration Album, Peter, Paul, and Mary sing a jolly good rendition, rousing but with a hint of ancient mystery. I have not yet discovered why they alter the spelling from soulin' to soalin' -- perhaps to avoid some taboo of invoking the dead souls from beyond the grave.

A Soalin'

Hey ho, nobody home, meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry, Hey ho, nobody home.
Hey ho, nobody home, Meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry, Hey ho, nobody home.
Hey Ho, nobody home.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

God bless the master of this house, and the mistress also
And all the little children that round your table grow.
The cattle in your stable and the dog by your front door
And all that dwell within your gates
we wish you ten times more.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

Go down into the cellar and see what you can find
If the barrels are not empty we hope you will be kind
We hope you will be kind with your apple and strawber'
For we'll come no more a 'soalin' till this time next year.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

The streets are very dirty, my shoes are very thin.
I have a little pocket to put a penny in.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha' penny then God bless you.

Soal, a soal, a soal cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all.

Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace..
This holy tide of Christmas of beauty and of grace,
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

" . . . we'll come no more a 'soalin'
till this time next year . . . "

In addition to singing along with Peter, Paul, and Mary in the car, Ben and Sam got to experience the Soul Cake tradition firsthand as students at St. Peter's School in Philadelphia. Halloween Day was celebrated in the conventional way, with costumes, apple cider and donuts; All Saints Day was pretty much business as usual; then came All Souls Day with an all - school circle dance before school and the ceremonious distribution of "Soul Cakes" -- unceremoniously referred to by Sam as "stupid store - bought gingersnaps."

I tried to rectify the situation by baking a more authentic batch of Mrs. Sharp's Soul Cakes. These were not a big hit with the children. But that was fifteen years ago, so maybe it's time to try another batch:

Cream together:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar

Beat in:
3 eggs

Add & mix:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Sift & add to butter mixture:
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice

Stir in:
1/2 cup currants

Add to soften:
1/2 cup milk

Form into flat cakes & place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Some Modern - Day Soul Cakes
Everybody's Favorite Homemade Gingersnaps!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Poem Slips & Weathergrams

Autumn Maples with Poem Slips
by Japanese painter, Tosa Mitsuoki, 1617 – 1691

Poem slips! What a beautiful tradition to observe the changing seasons or to honor the dead -- or both at once, as this time of year always reminds us. When it comes to honoring the dead, I love the idea of stretching Halloween out to include All Saints and All Souls -- three full days and nights of Allhallowtide!

In Up from Jericho Tel -- a novel of time travel and communing with the dead -- beloved YA author E. L. Konigsburg describes a concept identical to Mitsuoki's beautiful 17th Century depiction of the Japanese poem slips: the weathergram.

Up From Jericho Tel, features a couple of introspective middle - schoolers, Jeanmarie and Malcolm, who come across a dead blue jay and feel that it deserves a proper burial "as far away from civilization" as they are allowed to roam. They find a spot of natural perfection right at the edge of their mobile home park:
"We weaved our way through a stand of evergreens where the underbrush was ragged and full of sticklers until we found ourselves in a clearing. As we stood in its center, we saw that the pines . . . were part of a thick protecting circle . . . We knew as soon as we saw it that it was the proper place to bury the jay."
They pushed aside the pine needles, dug the grave, and made a small pyramid of pine cones: "This will be the grave marker. Not a gravestone but a gravecone."

They call the pet cemetery "Jericho Tel," and for each deceased animal, they create a weathergram: "a poem of ten words or less that a person writes on plain brown paper and hangs on a tree. . . . The message is rubbed by the wind, faded by the sun, washed by the rain and becomes part of the world."

For example, in honor of the deceased blue jay: "May your soul have flown to heaven before you sank to earth" and for a stricken luna moth: "Fly. Fluttter. Falter. Fall" (9 - 10, 13).

I can hardly think of a lovelier transition rite or ceremony for All Saints Day than poem slips and weathergrams.

See also ~ Flowering Cherry with Poem Slips ~ Mitsuoki
"The land of the living was not far removed from the domain of the ancestors. There was coming and going between them, especially at festivals and also when an old one died, because an old one was very close to the ancestors. Life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought us nearer and nearer to our ancestors"(122, emphasis added).
Chinua Achebe ~ Things Fall Apart

Monday, October 31, 2016

Never Dead, Never Ceasing

The poetry of earth is never dead . . .

Happy 221st Birthday John Keats: born on Halloween 1795
Gone too soon: February 23, 1821

"The Grave of Keats" ~ by Walter Crane
At the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University, England
On the Grasshopper and Cricket
The Poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

And here's another little autumnal insect, to go along
with the Grasshopper and the Cricket . . .
the Ladybug!
Thanks to Carmen & Sacred Mists

Further reading for the three - day season of
From Catholic & Protestant Perspectives

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Cardinals Fans Aaron & Pam

World Series Thoughts from my brother Aaron, "A True Statesman"
With Responses from my brother Bruce

Aaron: I'll probably catch hell from many in Cardinals' Nation for saying this, but Go Cubs!! Congratulations to Cubs fans, the city of Chicago and the Cubs organization for making it to your first World Series in 71 years!!! As a life-long Cardinals fan I can't imagine how they must be feeling right now. I mean, an entire generation of Cubs fans have come and gone just waiting and hoping for this day to come. As Cardinals fans we've become spoiled with play-off baseball and World Series appearances (and victories!!), so when they don't make it, it doesn't seem right. The worst drought they've experienced in my lifetime was the 1970s. Actually a little longer; 1969-1981 with no post-season baseball. So at 55 years old, I can't imagine what it would be like to have never seen the Cardinals play in a World Series game. Unfathomable!!! So Congratulations & Go Cubs!!!!

Well, whether they beat the Indians or not, I'm happy for them.

After thinking about it, the Cardinals' longest World Series appearance drought in the past 55 years was 15 years; 1988-2003. They made it into the post-season four times, but not to the World Series. Still, it doesn't compare to 71 years!!!

I wouldn't go so far as to start putting Cubs stickers all over, but since the Cardinals didn't make the playoffs this year, yeah, I'll root for the Cubs.

Bruce: Five years ago I had just witnessed the fifth Cardinals' World Series championship of my lifetime. This was the last paragraph of my five-year FB memory this morning:

"The older I get...the more seasons that pass without the Cubs winning a pennant...the more I realize that this could easily be the last Cardinals' World Series win I ever see. And if that happens, I can't be sad or upset. I'm just grateful that somehow, for whatever reason, fate allowed me to be a Cardinal fan. My life as a baseball fan has truly been blessed, and I consider myself very fortunate."

go cubs

Lower case to denote lack of heartfelt enthusiasm for the sentiment, though intellectually I'm in agreement.

go cubs

For my friends who are Cubs fans: The first loaf-at-a-time bread slicing machine wasn't built until 1912. So, if you're a Cubs fan, winning this World Series really would be the best thing since sliced bread!

Dave: I saw my first Cubs game in the early spring of 1968. I had been back from Vietnam about six months and TET was upon us (ancient battle). I was in desperate need of something to occupy my mind. A fellow at work gave me a ticket to watch the Cubs and after clearing it with my SgtMaj I caught the "El" and went to my first professional ball game.

It was a very interesting experience. I had almost no idea of how the game was played but I could still see the symmetry and grace of how it was played. In the next two years I went to probably four or five games. Somehow, their message of "never give up" and "wait til next year" infused me and I took it for my own. In many ways, it was similar to learning how to become a Marine.

I have never regretted adopting The Cubs as MY team.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Winding Lanes

"Custom was the keystone of life. . . . the underlying deep continuity that represents the nature of England itself. . . .

"The ancient roads, the witnesses of prehistoric life and travel, still persisted in the medieval landscape. But they were joined by other highways in the historical period. Many winding lanes between farmstead and farmstead, many sunken hollow - ways leading to the village, deep - set and drowsy on a summer afternoon, were constructed in the twelfth century
" (7, 119).

from Foundation: The History of England
From Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors

by Peter Ackroyd, British cultural historian (b 1949)

From Auntie Jan's to Auntie Margaret's

From Auntie Margaret's to Auntie Tina's

Almost to Grim & Gram's

Out for a Walk

To Sunnyfields

Down the Back Lane