Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Samhain Triumvirate

My 5th Grade Art Project ~ Halloween 1967

"Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!"

~ Elizabeth Akers Allen ~

I was so pleased to re - discover this 50 - year - old (!) painting over the summer, rolled up in a closet at my parents' house. My friend Len humorously pointed out that perhaps it survived because "Somehow you knew as a child to always use acid-free archival paper, inks, and glues for all of your projects." On a serious note, my oldest brother Dave pointed out that "Interestingly your only concession to Halloween is the pumpkin in the lower right" and my own children were wondering why on earth their mom used to be such a morbid kid! What about candy, costumes, and jack - o - lanterns? I guess even at age 10, I intuited a sense of foreboding as the year wound itself down.

For a couple of months now, I have been haunted by Len's direful pre - seasonal warning:
"Two days ago I acknowledged the end of summer; Fall, with its ominous name, has been looming and lurking. With our backs turned, with our eyes fixed on new books, in the delusion of days without meetings or grading papers, suddenly the Fall leaps out and can't be shaken off any more. I posted the syllabuses to my course site. The books for my 'Representations of Exile' class are stacked on my desk (this time Conrad, Danticat, Cristina Garcia, Nabokov, Sebald, and Viet Thanh Nguyen). For the rest of the night: free reading."
Len's ode to Fall (ominous yet seductive) reminded me of many a paragraph in The Street of Crocodiles, eerie and lyrical. For example:
"Oh the skies of those days, skies of luminous signals and meteors, covered by the calculations of astronomers, copied a thousand times, numbered, marked with the watermarks of algebra! With faces blue from the glory of those nights, we wandered through space pulsating from the explosions of distant suns, in a sidereal brightness . . . The houses, wide open at night during that time, remained empty in the light of violently flickering lamps. The curtains blew out far into the night and the rows of rooms stood in an all - embracing, incessant draft, which shot through them in violent, relentless alarm." (Bruno Schulz, 155 - 56)
If the approaching autumn season seems too sinister, I find that a little lace -- black or white or some of each -- helps to soften the worrisome edges. For over twenty - years now, a delicate lace ghost has appeared to gently haunt us in honor of the previous residents of our various historical homes. Every year, as the October light works its magic, my mother and my friend Victoria never fail to inquire, "Is the ghost up yet?" My sweet sister Di had some kind words for this year's emanation: "That is the fanciest ghost I have ever seen. When I get home I will dig out my tablecloths and see what I can do!"


Black Cat ~ Black Lace

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Asking Little or Nothing

Elegant and mystical . . .

. . . just like Sylvia Plath's poem!
Notice how the mushrooms speak for themselves:

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.

American poet, Sylvia Plath
October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963

For more about mushrooms
see my recent post

"The Miracle of Mushrooms"

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony


Photo credit: Beata Ribeiro
taken in Poland ~ September 2018

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Swinger, Slinger, Malingerer

"The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky . . . "

~ W. B. Yeats ~ "The Wild Swans at Coole" ~

Autumn Birches, 1916 ~ by Tom Thomson, 1877 - 1917
Many thanks to Barbara McFadden for reminding me
-- see "October Light, October Heavy" ~ 2017 --
to re - read Frost's reflective poem,
in conjunction with Thomson's painting:


When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
[emphasis added]

by Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963
Four-time Pulitzer Prize winner
Well - loved American poet


And for a bit of fun, amusing wordplay, and sly truth,
starting with Robert Frost's conclusion and finishing
with a timely political nod in the "right" direction:


One could do worse than be a swinger of birches

For example, one could be a slinger of burgers at McDonald's.
Or one could be a bringer of frivolous lawsuits.
Or one could be a flinger of gossipy dirt
for The New York Post.

Or one could be a singer of inane songs on MTV for pre - teens.
Or one could be a clinger of apron strings.
Or one could be a dead-ringer for one
of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted.

Or one could be a hunch-backed ringer of French church bell.
Or one could be a second-stringer on a last place minor league baseball team.
Or one could be a stringer for a newspaper in the sticks.

Or one could be a finger man for the mafia.
Or one could be a dinger of car fenders on the parking lot of Walmart.
Or one could be a left-winger for a last place minor league hockey team.

Or one could be a right-winger of any country's politics.
Or one could be a jingler of idiotic jingles on the radio for
pre - teens.
Or one could be a malingerer.

J. R. Solonche, Contemporary American
in Invisible

Golden Autumn, 1895 ~ by Isaac Levitan, 1860 1900

Monday, October 22, 2018

Confused Shopper

Tamarind and Guava
We've been trying to branch out when grocery shopping and try some experimental foods, as displayed above on my tropical serving plate. In addition to novelty fruits and vegetables in the produce department, I was so excited to see this flavor in the frozen dairy case, something truly out of the ordinary: Thai Green Tea Ice Cream!
Imagine my dismay when Gerry took it out of the freezer and read aloud, "That Green Nut." What? I had managed to completely misread "That" as "Thai" and "Nut" as "Tea." Wishful thinking, I guess! As my cousin Marla so rightly observed: "Sometimes you see only what you want to see!"

Here I thought I was bringing home something exotic, but it was just artificially flavored pistachio, apparently designed to appeal to shoppers who can't even remember the word pistachio. Tasty enough, but not exactly what I had in mind.

I thought I was bringing home something along the lines of the "green tea custard" featured here. Maybe one day it will appear at the supermarket, but for now, we will just have to enjoy it as a treat from the specialty ice cream store.

Finally Found the Right Stuff!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Existential Crisis

Clock Face ~ Omni Shoreham ~ Washington DC
This really happened: At the Post Office, the line is long but only two cashiers are open, and both clerks have disappeared into the back room, so all the customers are just standing idly / oddly looking around. It's like a Bunuel film -- are we in charge now? Should I step behind the register and start helping people? How long will we all stand here with nothing happening? Existential Crisis!

Speaking of the Post Office, why not take a few moments to reread Eudora Welty's droll little story "Why I Live at the P.O."? [also, see earlier post]


from The Journals of Andre Gide: "One should want only one thing and want it constantly. Then one is sure of getting it. But I desire everything and consequently get nothing. Each time I discover, and too late, that one thing had come to me while I was running after another."

Stephane Moses [writing about Kafka's Parables]: "Certain situations are so desperate that the only way to escape them is through total ingenuousness."


Uh - oh, I've done it again, written down the passage but not the source. Does anyone recognize? If only I could remember who wrote these words . . .

"I devoted myself to my business to the best of my ability -- not taking much pleasure in it, but hoping by this semblance of work to give some stability to my disintegrated life.

Perhaps it was because the day had begun so badly that I felt so anguished. Oh, I thought, without doubt, everything in my life is falling to pieces. Nothing that my hand grasps can my hand hold."
Clock Face ~ Darling Harbor ~ Sydney, Australia
[And More!]

Closing thought from Margaret Atwood:

" . . . The year
isn't a circle or some
dream of a clock but one shadowy
moment after the next. . . . "

~ see True Stories, p 31 ~

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Back to School

School Scene, early 20th C
by J. C. Huntington

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.”

Isaiah 50:4


~ some advice from my earliest years of teaching ~
"Although speakers and listeners, writers and readers, are in one sense engaged in a cooperative effort to understand one another, they are also in conflict over the amount of effort that each will expend on the other. That is, the speaker or writer wants to say what he has to say with as little energy as possible and the reader or listener wants to understand with as little energy as possible. . . . Thus anything that facilitates the transfer of meaning is important in this tight economy of energy."

from Errors & Expectations, pp 11 - 12]

by Mina P, Shaughnessy (1924 - 1978)
Innovative and Inspiring Teacher of Writing
See also ~ Mina P. Shaughnessy: Her Life and Work


“The high-school English [or college composition] teacher will be fulfilling her responsibility if she furnishes the student a guided opportunity, through the best writing of the past, to come, in time, to an understanding of the best writing of the present. She will teach literature, not social studies or little lessons in democracy or the customs of many lands. And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed.”

by Flannery O'Connor (1925 – 1964)
American novelist, short story writer and essayist

~ some advice dear to my heart from grad school days ~

Linda Gray Sexton: "My mother, the late poet, Anne Sexton, wore a medallion around her neck—which I inherited and still wear—that is inscribed with the Latin phrase: “Illegitimi Non Carborundum.” This means, in rough English (if you will excuse the expletive): 'Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down.'”

Saturday, October 13, 2018

"October is on its way."

Ode to some yellow flowers

Rolling its blues against another blue,
the sea, and against the sky
some yellow flowers.

October is on its way.*

And although
the sea may well be important, with its unfolding
myths, its purpose and its risings,
when the gold of a single
yellow plant
in the sand
your eyes
are bound
to the soil.
They flee the wide sea and its heavings.

We are dust and to dust return.
In the end we're
neither air, nor fire, nor water,
neither more nor less, just dirt,
and maybe
some yellow flowers.

Pablo Neruda (1904 - 1973)

found in Neruda's Odes to Common Things
translated by Ken Krabbenhoft; Bulfinch Press, 1994
(other ~ translations)

For more by Neruda and others,
see my Fortnightly post: Yellow Gold Guayacan

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Summer Fortnightlies

Thanks to Sam for this Swell View!

From wishes to weddings to the wisdom of a little child,
here are some connections that we made over the summer:

"Greener Grass Over There"

"Lammas ~ Lughnasa"

"Advancing & Receding"

"The Rough Places Plain"

"I Shall But Love Thee Better"

@The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony

Congrats & Every Happiness to Cathleen & Ben!
~ 22 June 2018 ~

Monday, October 8, 2018

Two Fine Families

In honor of my grandmother's 127th birthday, here is a formal studio portrait of her with her family in 1911, when she was 20 years old:

The Heidemanns
Seated are my great - grandparents:
William Michael Heideman (1855 - 1931)
& Anna Mary Miller (1862 - 1923)
with their children, standing, L to R:
my Grandmother Mary Rovilla Heideman (1891 - 1966)
and her brothers Melville Miller (1896 - 1966) & Harry Louis (1887 - 1940)

16 years later she would marry my grandfather, in 1927

Here he is with his family in 1913, when he was 18 years old:

The Lindseys
Seated are my great - grandparents:
James Sankey Lindsey (1846 - 1921)
& Sarah Elisabeth Hartman (1856 - 1937)

Sitting by father: Wayne Wallace (1889 - 1951)
Sitting by mother: Samuel Gordon (1893 - 1918)
Standing, L to R: Lillian Virginia (1897 - 1980), Gail Hartman (1899 - 1944),
my Grandfather Paul Jones Lindsey (1895 - 1983)
Bertha Mabel (1880 - 1968), James Sankey, Jr. (1883 - 1965),
Edna Beatrice (1891 - 1922)


For more family history, see my recent posts:

"Talking About the Homestead"
"Thus Far Our Experience"
"Getting Almost Homesick"

@The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Tevas, Of Course!

Q: Fall or Spring?
A: Autumnal looking leaves covered
the sidewalk -- but it was Spring!
Amelia Island, Florida ~ March 2016

Biblical Mandate for Comfortable Shoes:

"As for shoes for your feet,
put on whatever will make you ready
to proclaim the gospel of peace!"

Ephesians 6:15 (NRSV)


Monday, October 1, 2018

Bright Soul of the Year

So fair a summer look for nevermore.
All good things vanish, less than in a day,
Peace, plenty, pleasure suddenly decay.
Go not yet away, bright soul of the sad year;
The earth is hell when thou leav’st to appear.

from Summer's Last Will and Testament
by Thomas Nashe, 1567 - 1601
English Elizabethan pamphleteer,
playwright, poet, and satirist


Hello October!
Good-bye summer fruits & veggies
from our own backyard . . .


Goodbye Butterflies . . .

Hello Falling Leaves!