Sunday, January 28, 2018

Pith of Sense & Pride of Worth

"Jack Frost" on the Garage Floor

Some words to the wise to keep in mind while you are watching
-- or instead of watching -- the State of the Union Address:
. . . The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gold for all that. . . .

You see that fellow called 'a lord',
Who struts, and stares, and all that?
Though hundreds worship at his word,
He is but a dolt for all that.
For all that, and all that,
His ribboned, star, and all that,
The man of independent mind,
He looks and laughs at all that.

A prince can make a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, and all that!
But an honest man is above his might -
Good faith, he must not fault that
For all that, and all that,
Their dignities, and all that,
The pith of sense and pride of worth
Are higher rank than all that.

Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that)
That Sense and Worth over all the earth
Shall take the prize and all that!

from "A Man's A Man For A' That" (1975)
by Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)

New Posts for January 28, 2018

~ "Robert Burns, The Man's the Gold" ~

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker


~ "An Admirable Sense of Priorities" ~

@ Kitti's List

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Love and Love

Check out my niece Amy's elegant line
of fine wedding stationery
from her independent company
I Love And Love

Sample ~ for a Wintry Wedding

The Boho Collection

Happy 3rd Wedding Anniversary
to Amy & Matt

And thanks to Amy, Matt, and Auntie Tina
for a magical, mystical, winter solstice evening
at Ex Cathedra ~ St. Paul's Birmingham

The Organ at St. Paul's

Indeed We Did!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Artistic Flair

I asked my sister Peggy if she remembered
taking this Bleak Mid - Winter photo from the back porch
of our house in Clover Meadows (St. Charles County, Missouri)
probably 50 years ago, in January 1968.

She said: I kind of remember this picture.
The tilted camera was my attempt at artistic flair!


A few others shared their memories as well:

Our little brother Aaron: "Definitely remember this view. Beyond the telephone pole was our baseball diamond. But who left the tracks in the snow????"

Our little sister Diane: "Aaron, it was probably a dog or a deer?"

Our neighbor Debbie: "That sure brings back childhood memories . . . from back when there were hardly any other houses around!

And I reminded Aaron: "Remember when you fired your BB Gun into that telephone pole and the BB ricocheted right into the lens of your glasses? Whew! Those glasses saved your eyesight! It's the moral of the BB Gun Christmas Story movie, as everyone keeps telling Ralphie: "You'll put your eye out!"

Playing in the backyard ~ 1968
Diane, Kitti, Aaron, Bruce

20 years later ~ Summer 1988
Diane, with her children Aaron & Jessica,
showing Uncle Gerry the garden.

This photo was taken, looking in the same direction as Peg's artistic winter scene. The telephone pole is gone, but would be somewhere right behind Gerry. The old farmhouse has been replaced by a large contemporary barn. Even this was 30 years ago, so no doubt a current picture would differ yet again.

Diane's son Aaron (named after his Uncle Aaron; the shy one above, peeking out from behind his mom) shared a perspective from the second generation of kids to grow up in the same house:
"The view there has changed quite a bit. That side is about the same but just down Central School Rd is Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and a million other places. We have some friends who live on the other side of Central School Rd, in the neighborhood next to Rolling Meadows. It’s funny to be over there visiting, so close to where I spent the first 8 years of my life (1982 - 1990)."

Monday, January 15, 2018

Crosby Christmas

Christmas Eve in Crosby Village
The Tree, The Creche, The George

Gerry Meets Up With An Old School Friend
"Happy Christmas, Peter!"

Midnight Moon & Fairy Lights
Across the Road From Little Crosby Church

This morning I pointed out to Gerry that it had already been a full month since we left for Christmas; and he responded: "Only a month!" To me it didn't seem all that long ago, even though we had already been home for two weeks. For him, however, it seemed ages ago! And dear Auntie Margaret wrote to say, "It is only 16 days since you left here but feels more like 16 weeks." Funny how the passage of time can be skewed that way.

Looking at photographs from one of my previous trips, my friend Burnetta asked:
"How do you feel when you are in England? Do you feel as if you are home or close? I have always thought I would feel like that. The photo albums were great, seemed very familiar. Maybe it was due to some of the books I read as a child. I also feel similar about NYC, having never spent much time there but having watched lots of movies set in the city.

"I suppose the name Carriker is Irish though? I thought I was mostly British in ancestry but found out that I am mostly western European, 44% French and German; however, there is 33% Irish and 19% Great Britain. Interesting. I have always responded so strongly to photos of Great Britain. Wish we could time travel sometimes."
I responded to Burnetta's intriguing observations:
"The fact is, traveling to England often feels to me the way it is for American families going to Ohio or Kansas, because we spend most of our time driving around in a rental car visiting cousins and elderly relatives, and sleeping on foreign futons. You can see how jaded I have become!

"So it was kind of nice to hear it from your perspective and tap back into the historical magic and not take it so for granted. I must say, assembling the photo albums always helps me reclaim some of the literary romance of the country! Just before we left for England, one of my neighbors in Indiana said, 'You were so smart to marry a Brit!' I said, 'I know!'

"As for ancestors, you're right, I don't have any from England that I know of. Most are from Ireland and Germany and some from Sweden and Switzerland."
Regardless of our genetic ancestry, I think what Burnetta and I feel in our bones is the literary lineage of all the English novels we have ingested over the years, filling our hearts and heads with visions of a British Christmas Past.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Wishing You Were Here

This year's calendar captures highlights from our Easter Break trip to England last April (except where otherwise noted). So even as we look forward to a year of new adventures in 2018, we will be remembering fondly our family visits of 2017, wishing we were there!
(photo from October 2016)
The Magical Wishing Well at Auntie Jan's

Tulips in Rosanne & Ron's Front Yard

Wrought Iron Re - finishing on the Crosby Waterfront

Easter Bunny at Auntie Tina's

The Ladies: Rosanne, Tina, Amy, Ella, Lucy

Dinner at the Sparrowhawk, Near Formby

Visiting the Bristow Family at Worth Hall Lodge

Lunch at the The Crooked Billet, Near Reading

Auntie Margaret's Back Garden Pathway


(photo taken October 2016)
Autumnal Blooming Gaura, South of England

(photo taken October 2016)
On the Little Crosby Footpath

A Game of Chess at Auntie Jan's

Everyday Custom & Ceremony ~ 2012
Mona's Clothes ~ 2012
Moons of Wintertime and Beyond ~ 2013
Never Quite the Same ~ 2014
Homes That We Love ~ 2014
814 ~ Where It Was Almost Always Christmas ~ 2015
Time for a Moondance ~ 2015
Love Me, Love My Cats! ~ 2015
A Day in the Garden ~ 2016
Team McCartney ~ 2017
Full Moon Night ~ Full Moon Year ~ 2017

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Walk With G'Poppa

Baby Ben with Grandpa Ron & Grandma Rosanne
(AKA Grim & Gram)
Christmas 1991 ~ Crosby, Near Liverpool, England
Also, see dear old Jasper, hiding behind G'poppa?

The above picture was taken just before Grandpa Ron and Ben set out for their Boxing Day walk around Crosby. Ben was 18 months old, enjoying his first trip to England and his first British Christmas. Reflecting later that afternoon, Ron wrote the following poem, put it away in his notebook, and presented it to Ben as a keepsake 18 1/2 years later -- on Ben's 20th birthday, 2 June 2010.

His First Walk

The wild geese fly
The curlew calls
The grey geese gaze
The bird song sounds

These Ben and I saw and heard
On his first walk in the realm of his ancestors
What pride and joy it gave to his grandfather
Who had prayed a day like this would come
A day that he could share with Ben
His first grandson

Christmas 1991

Gerry and Ben, same trip

24 Years Later ~ Christmas 2015
Ron, looking for coal on Crosby Beach
Photo by Ben

Ron and Sam, walking through the Pine Forest
Ben is there too, but he's behind the camera!

Sam following in G'poppa's Footsteps

Where the Woods Meet the Sea:
Another Afternoon of Reflection for G'poppa (look closely)

Pine Forest Update 2017
Pine Forest Update 2013
Pine Forest Update 2012
Pine Forest Update 2011
Tree of Life
Watching the Boys Grow

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Magi and Fruitcake

My brother Bruce sent me this cartoon
~ perfect for Epiphany ~
along with the suggestion for those
who fell behind in their baking this year:
"You don't have to wait for next Christmas.
Make a Valentines fruitcake,
or a St. Patrick's Day fruitcake!"

. . . but no one would turn away my fruitcake,
made with orange slice gumdrops!

Orange Slice Gumdrop Cake
Recipe from Midwest Living Magazine, December 1992

1/2 lb orange slice candy, cut up (1 1/2 cups) -- mixed with 1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup chopped dates
1 1/4 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts pecans or almonds

Bring butter and eggs to room temperature; then beat butter, sugar, and eggs in large bowl.

Add the 1 1/2 cups flour and buttermilk alternately to egg mixture, beating after each addition.

Fold in dates, coconut and nuts; then gumdrops.

Grease and flour 1 regular sized loaf pan (or use baking spray) and spread batter evenly.

Bake at 300°F for about 1 hour and 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Or you can use 3 medium - small loaf pans (not tiny) and bake for a slightly shorter period.

If you want to glaze the cake(s), stir together 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice until smooth, and pour over the hot cakes. (I never do this step; unglazed is fine with me.)

Cool in pans on wire racks for 20 minutes, remove from pans, cool completely.

Wrap each cake in plastic wrap or decorative holiday ziplock baggie.

Store in refrigerator for up to 4 weeks, or eat right away. Serve at room temperature.


And now, an epiphanic poem on the serious side:

Will Peace Come Forever?

We traveled together.
It took me two weeks to understand
what Ahmad was saying.
We studied the stars. Forever I
love the desert sky at night.
The stars, so strong, so guiding,
so, yes so bright, tonight and last night,
so bright.

To Bethlehem we agreed.
I saw an angel in my sleep last night.
He said that people will talk of
this trip for thousands of years.
I asked if the King we seek is really
that great. He smiled and muttered in
an angel's way.
Tears flowed down
his cheeks.

I love sinking my feet into the sand
knowing that each step takes me
to the King. I watch the star; we all watch
the star.
Luand is tall and he smells of his gift
frankincense. He glides along,
praying, praying that we will not
die in the dessert.
But Ahmad, the star seeker, the star
reader knows we will not.
And a thousand years from now,
who knows,
maybe someone will wonder where the
myrrh came from.

But oh I am happy, so happy to
follow this star and pray and
laugh in the night.

Catherine DeLong ~ writer ~ reader ~ friend
2004 Christmas

Some additional Magi / Epiphany Poems
to take a look at in greater detail when time allows:

Elizabeth Coatsworth

T. S. Eliot

Christopher Pilling

Muriel Spark

Sara Teasdale

Evelyn Waugh

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Little Touch of Eternity

"I do hope your Christmas has had a little touch of Eternity
among the rush and pitter-patter and all.
It always seems such a mixing of this world and the next
-- but that after all is the idea!"

~ British mystic ~ Evelyn Underhill (1875 - 1941) ~

~ Solstice Sliver Moon ~

~ The Supermoon on New Year's Night ~

~ Moonrise on January 2nd ~
"The moon on the breast of the new - fallen snow
Gave a luster of midday to objects below . . . "

If I want my Christmas to include a little touch of eternity, all I have to do is watch or read the closing lines of A Child's Christmas in Wales:
Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept. ~Dylan Thomas (1914 - 53)
Or the American counterpart; set a couple of decades later, but capturing the same magic of childhood, A Christmas Story, concludes with a similar bedtime reverie, the boys tucked under their blankets with their new toys, the snow falling outside the window:
That Christmas would live in our memories . . . All was right with the world. Next to me in the blackness lay my oiled blue-steel beauty [the Red Ryder BB Gun], the greatest Christmas gift I had ever received or would ever receive. Gradually I drifted off to sleep, pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots as I dissolved into nothingness. ~Jean Shepherd (1921 - 99)

"this world and the next"

Monday, January 1, 2018

Where We Have Come

The Parish Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, Edgware
To the New Year
With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

By W. S. Merwin
Author of The Shadow of Sirius
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2009
Poet Laureate of the United States, 2010 - 2011

Thanks Barb McFadden for the poetic reference!


Where we have been . . .
The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Worth

Worth Hall Lodge, Near Crawley

Cobham, Surrey

Heathrow Airport