Friday, May 31, 2019

Mental Health Awareness

Bouquet of Peace ~ Pablo Picasso

"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one . . .
"

John Lennon & Yoko Ono

****************

You learn something new every day . . . month . . . year . . . right? Well, this month I learned that May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949!

My niece writes a blog at saraswayforward.com devoted to making mental health a non - taboo topic. With May drawing to a close, she has posted an essay on how to displace persistent negativity with independence and confidence, and appeared as a guest blogger on okamiandco.com, courageously sharing her autobiography.

My personal tendency is to try dealing with these issues via literature. On the outside chance that someone might something useful here, I will re - share a few of my previous attempts to do so:

Don't Ruin My Birthday!

Dark Within Dark Within Dark

SSRIs & Walking Upright

Never Fear

Although Mental Health Month 2019 is ending, World Mental Health Day will be here on Monday, October 10, 2019. Here's to an entire year of re-newed mental strength as we make our way forward, boldly doing better than we have done before.

Summer Bouquet ~ Pablo Picasso
And Here's to a Happy Summertime!
Swimming Season Now in Session!
Sabbatical Now in Full Swing!
See You in September!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

You and I are Gemini

The Twins ~ Castor & Pollux ~ May 21 – June 21
Geminid Google Doodle
To celebrate the season of twin-ness,
here are two Favorites from The Alan Parsons Project:

Gemini
Watching waiting rising falling
Listening calling drifting
Touching feeling seeing believing
Hoping sending leaving
I couldn't say why you and I are gemini
If I tried to write a million words a day

I see your shadow coming closer
Then watch you drifting away

Watching waiting rising falling
Listening calling drifting
Touching feeling seeing believing
Hoping sending leaving
I couldn't say why you and I are gemini
We are traveling a million worlds away

I see your shadow coming closer
Then watch you drifting away


Duet: Alan Parsons & Chris Rainbow


Days Are Numbers
[aka The Traveler / Traveller]

The traveler is always leaving town
He never has the time to turn around
And if the road he's taken isn't leading anywhere
He seems to be completely unaware

The traveler is always leaving home
The only kind of life he's ever known
When every moment seems to be
A race against the time
There's always one more mountain left to climb

Days are numbers
Watch the stars
We can only see so far
Someday, you'll know where you are

Remember
Days are numbers
Count the stars
We can only go so far
One day, you'll know where you are

The traveler awaits the morning tide
He doesn't know what's on the other side
But something deep inside of him
Keeps telling him to go
He hasn't found a reason to say no

The traveler is only passing through
He cannot understand your point of view
Abandoning reality, unsure of what he'll find
The traveler in me is close behind

Days are numbers
Watch the stars
We can only see so far
Someday, you'll know where you are

Remember
Days are numbers
Count the stars
We can only go so far
One day, you'll know where you are


Songwriters: Alan Parsons / Eric Woolfson

**************

Previous Alan Parsons Posts

May Day Paradise

One Hundred Years From Now

Spring ~ Time

Until We Seek Until We Find Ammonia Avenue

Gemini Cats!
Catmint by Sarah Young
Also Dryads ~ Naiads ~ Sisters

P.S. In anticipation of Bloomsday . . .

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Fine Cargo & A Fine Cake

Thanks to my friend Katy
for this amazing double birthday cake!
From two years ago, yet the numbers go perfectly
with this thought from the author of The Little Prince:
Our age is something impressive, it sums up our life: maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves. Our age represents a fine cargo of experience and memories.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944)
from Wartime Writings (1939 - 1944)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of Katy's Specialties ~ Chocolate Guinness Cake

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Family Favorite ~ German Chocolate

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Writerly

Unicorn Writing

"Literature exists to help people know themselves."
~ Steve Almond ~
[See also ~ Magical Thinking
and "To Assume My Humanity"]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it."
~ Simone de Beauvoir ~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone's face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive? Did I love?
These are the real questions.

~ Henri Nouwen ~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On a quest for self - knowledge? Do some reading; do some writing! The best approach I know to the "real questions"? Grab some books and some notebooks! The various writers and characters in the following selections question the impact that all kinds of literature has had on their understanding of peace, joy, healing, anger, resentment, forgiveness, and love:
Two - Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage
by Madeleine L'Engle

"And how could I call myself a writer? . . . Perhaps I am a real writer as long as I go on writing, as long as I go on trying, which I shall always do" (158, 137).

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

"He is not a writer, but he has thoughts about the profession, and he wants to tell her [his daughter Maya] those things" (246).

Homer and Langley
by E. L. Doctorow

". . . Langley used to bring back from the secondhand bookshops slim volumes of poetry and read from them as if they were news. Poems have ideas, he said. The ideas of poems come out of their emotions and their emotions are carried on images. That makes poems far more interesting than your novels, Homer. Which are only stories" (15).

Case Histories
by Kate Atkinson

"She should have studied science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on" (42).
[See also Annie Barrow ~ The Truth . . . ]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One more directive that I would add to Nouwen's list:

Did I contemplate my mortality today?

I remain perpetually perplexed by the inadequacy with which I see my elders approaching their end - of - life, even though they've had a lifetime of eight decades or more leading up to it. One of the best ways to prepare, it seems to me, is read a book or two, watch some movies. The concept does not require excessive sophistication: you could start with Little Women, Old Yeller, Jesus Christ Superstar. So many characters dying all the time, right?

Reading -- and contemplating what you have read-- will greatly enchance your comprehension of mortality, both your own and that of others. Hemingway and Huxley, each in their own way, point this out:
Death in the Afternoon
by Ernest Hemingway

". . . all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and . . . no true-story teller . . . would keep that from you"(from Chapter 9).

Foreword to the Second Edition of
Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

"And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle -- the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: 'How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of our Final End?' "
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few additional thoughts on risk & loss & love:
Two - Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage
by Madeleine L'Engle

"If we are not willing to fail we will never accomplish anything. All creative acts involve the risk of failure. Marriage is a terrible risk. So is having children. So is giving a performance in the theatre, or the writing of a book. Whenever something is completed successfully, then we must move on, and that is again to risk failure" (173).

"Does a marriage end with the death of one of the partners? In a way, yes. I made my promises to Hugh 'till death do us part,' and that has happened. But the marriage contract is not the love that builds up over many years, and which never ends . . . despite our faults and flaws and failures, what we gave each other was good. I am who I am because of our years together, freed by his acceptance and love for me" (230).

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

"In Amelia's experience, most people's problems would be solved if they would only give more things a chance" (12).

"Friedman [a fictitious author] gets at something specific about what it is to lose someone. How it isn't one thing. he writes about how you lose and lose and lose" (99).

"'Maya, we are what we love. We are that we love. . . . We aren't the things we collect, acquire, read.
We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on," (251).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

P.S.

For more on the Readerly / Writerly Life
see my current posts

From the Desk of Ernest Hemingway:
"But never feel as good as while writing."


&

From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir:
On the Side of Happiness


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


&

From the Desk Of

@ Kitti's Book List

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Wooden Stories

"Polish stick people reading
wooden stories near the fireplace."
Photo & caption by Beata Ribeiro
Near Warsaw, Poland ~ Summer 2018

Catching Up @ Kitti's Book List

~ Summer 2018 ~


June: Döstädning: Long Live the Swedish Death Cleanse!

July: Queen of Cats

August: Books About Books

~ Fall 2018 ~

Sept: From Island to Island

Oct: Bush Lectures

Nov: Dawn or Doom ~ Player Piano ~ Westworld

Dec: End of Year Book Migration

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Getting to the Truth

Christina's World (1948)
by Andrew Wyeth (1917 - 2007)
Museum Curator, Patricia Junker: " . . . Wyeth was inclined to go beyond local color, employing surprising hues -- a deep blue and fuchsia . . . [his wife] Betsy disliked the affectation, and always a perceptive, unflinching critic, she challenged him: "Andy you've got to get rid of all this corny color. Everything is exaggerated . . . You're going down the wrong road. You've got to get to the truth."

from Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect
To learn more about Wyeth and other artists
see my current post

"The Painting's the Thing Wherein"

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

Junker's reference to "deep blue and fuchsia" brings to mind the watercolors, oils and egg tempera favored by Andrew's father:

N. C. Wyeth (1882 - 1945)
Odysseus And Calypso (1929)
On an earlier Fortnightlty post:
"He Said She Said"

Friday, May 10, 2019

Litterateur & Dilettante

The perfect window seat for contemplation!
The Mill Inn ~ Coulter
Near Edinburgh ~ Scotland
Thanks to my friend Carmen, who shared
this definition with me a few years ago,
along with the kind comment that
"Kitti frequently reminds others of this fact":

"Vocation" comes from the Latin vocare, "to call," means the work a person is called to by God.

"There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of society, say, or the superego, or self-interest.

"By and large a good rule for finding out is this: The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need to do and (b) that the world needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing cigarette ads, the chances are you've missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you're bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a), but probably aren't helping your patients much either.

"Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
" ~ Frederick Buechner

originally published in Wishful Thinking
and later in Beyond Words
[emphasis added]

******************

Awhile back, in a random conversation with
our brother Bruce, my sisters and I assured him that
"We have no special powers, legally or metaphorically speaking."

He responded:
"I thought you were metaphorically invincible!
You've ruined my day with this confession of mere mortality."


And I concluded:
"Awww Boo -- that is so sweet! I wish I were!
I've ruined your day,
but you've made mine with such a nice compliment!"


******************

That being said, I have upon occasion claimed
Reading & Writing as my superpowers!



******************

A name for my vocation?

Observer. Documentor. Noticer. Archivist.

Reader. Writer. Blogger. Connector.

Literateur. ~ Dilettante.

Literateur: One who is almost obnoxiously acquainted with literature & frequently reminds others of this fact.

Dilettante: One who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

Very Educated Housewife: dare I say it!

Organizer . . . of The McCartney Foundation. In fact, it's almost like I run this place: paperwork, record keeping, cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, communicating with loved ones, writing to relatives, petcare, garden assistance, community input; and, in days of yore, raising the children artisanally!

******************

Boundless thanks to friends and blog followers
like Holly & Tony, who make it all worthwhile:
"One of the unexpected blessings of having a Boilermaker son was meeting and following the delightful, creative, lady of letters Kitti Carriker - a friend of hers sent this to her and she shared it on Facebook. I can always count on Kitti’s FB posts and her blog to feed me with keen observations, poetry and gentle reminders to stop and look."

And joy to Michele
for reminding me that joy begets joy:

"Kitti, Gosh, your blogs are great. The thing that impresses me the most though is how absolutely joyful you are in all pictures. How wonderful!"

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Bread Basket Case

These days, Fuqua just barely fits into his bread basket
yet something about it says "home" to him!
Even so, as Sam observed, "Someone has to let
Homie know he's too fat for that basket!"

Stretching out for an hour --
after an hour of being squished into his childhood basket.
Not to mention that now his feelings are hurt
because somebody called him fat!

The Simple Joys of Kittenhood ~ how he used to fit!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Class of '75

A couple of summers after graduation,
wearing my Francis Howell High School Tennis Tee

Well it's been awhile since I've taken a quiz,
so I agreed to participate with my twin brother Bruce
in this high school nostalgia survey:

Q: What Year Did You Graduate
A: Class of 1975

1. Did you know your current spouse then? ~ No ~


2. What kind of car did you drive?
Same answer as my brother: I didn’t have a car then. If I got to drive somewhere, it was in my mom's 1968 Chrysler Newport.

3. Where did you work?
As a trustworthy near - (not total) perfectionist, I was in demand as a house-cleaner for several families in the Lake Saint Louis Subdivision ($2.50 per hour). Also, regular babysitter for two of our favorite teachers: Mr. Anderson's (Geometry) 4 kids; and Mr Thomlinson's (Chemistry) 2 kids.

4. Where did you live?
St Charles County, MO (and by county, I mean rural, as in stranded in the middle of nowhere and riding the school bus an hour each way)

5. Were you popular?
Wow! This is the kind of question that truly captures all the worst things about high school.

6. Were you in choir?
8th grade Girls Chorus
Marching & Concert Band grades 5 - 12!

7. Ever get suspended from school?
No. But I did get sent to the office one time by dear Coach / Vice Principal Frank Davis.

My crime -- sitting in a quiet corner of the stairwell finishing up a lab report because my assigned study hall was too noisy to think, and there was currently another class taking place in the biology lab. Yes, I was the kind of kid who got in trouble for sitting quietly, doing homework.

My punishment: having to go to the office every day for a week during my study hall period and and -- get this -- file other students' detention reports! I think that would be illegal these days -- not only unpaid child labor but also violation of privacy! Believe me, I gathered some bribe - worthy info.

8. If you could go back, would you?
Yes, for sure! I can think of no more appropriate occasion than going back to relive the night that our drama department put on a production of Our Town -- and I sat with my friends Cyndee Manley Hepworth & Jim Menard and watched our sibs / friends Joni Menard, Bruce Carriker, Yvonne Brooks, Kathy Mannino-Baldwin, Gail Gerdes Wood & Donna Postel star in the play! Was Paula Lee Bright there that night?

9. Still talk to the person that you went to prom with?
I didn't go to prom -- see #5 above.

10. Did you skip school?
Only twice, once in December & once in May of my Senior year, to complete some massive amounts of homework -- see #7 above. And, yes, I got in trouble for it both times.

11. Go to all the football games?

Yes -- as a member of the Marching Band.
9th & 10th grade: clarinet ~ 11th & 12th grade: trombone


12. What was your favorite class?
Okay, I'll keep one of Bruce's answers: Current Events (with Coach Gibbons). And, at the other end of the spectrum, Ancient History (with Mr. Wescott). Band every year (RIP Mr. McCune). Biology, beginning & advanced. And, of course, all the literature classes (see #16 below).

12a. Least favorite: Bad Algebra Memories
And Bruce agrees with me!

13. Do you still have your yearbook?
All of them from 7th grade through Senior in college. Don't forget, I'm an archivist!

14. Did you follow the career path you wanted?
Yes -- I've never veered from reading & writing & cutting & pasting!

When I went back, after my B.A., to visit one of my favorite high school teachers and told her that I was going to go ahead for an M.A. (and eventually Ph.D.) in English, she said, "Oh, ripe for unemployment! What do you want to do when you finish -- become a very educated housewife?" (her words).

I guess Ms Buerkle was feeling bitter about things, despite teaching some of the best classes: Humor & Satire, English Bible, Development of the Novel. Clearly, she was not trying to be supportive -- quite the opposite in fact; she was trying to be mean and make my career choice sound frivolous -- but the way she described it actually made it sound rather appealing! So, even though it hadn't occurred to me until that moment, I said, Yes, now that you mention it, I think I will do exactly that with my life! And I did! And I still do! It turns out that "very educated housewife" isn't actually such a bad calling after all. It's not about the money, but one can thrive!

15. Do you have a class ring?
Yes! Vikings Forever!

I am dismayed, however, to read that Bruce has lost his -- yet again -- because he already did that once before and I miraculously found it for him. Not sure if I can repeat the miracle!

16. Who was your favorite teacher?
Oh so many, but first and foremost Alice Lemp for Shakespeare and Senior English.

Next, all the other English teachers starting with Catherine Bell (8th grade), Roberta Buerkle, Rocky Donnelly, Oneta Henson, Judy King.

Plus special mention to Ken Kielty & Jim Lange -- for Student Council & Consciousness Raising; even though I was never enrolled in their classes, I still hung around and learned a lot.

17. Did you letter? ~ Yes -- for chasing tennis balls. ~

Freshman Year
We couldn't really play tennis, but we had plenty of nerve!

Sophomore Year
Look at my cute little sister Di!
No wonder the photograper put her first in line!

And a Lyre for Band

18. Did you graduate? ~ Yes ~


19. Did you graduate with a 3.0 or higher?
I think this probably qualifies as another one of those #5 questions. But, anyway, what do you think?

20. How old were you at graduation?

Bruce and I turned 18 on May 24th
and graduated on June 3rd, 1975.
Here he is giving the graduation speech -- 44 years ago!


Additional quizzes . . .Possible ~ Plausible ~ Improbable

Quarantine Quiz Shows

[Class of '75]

Challenges: Special K & Ten Favs

"Christmas Quiz"

"You're Out Walking"

"Take This Quiz!"

"Monday: Pop Quiz"

"Talk to Me"

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May Basket Day

A May Basket for All Seasons:
Reese’s Peanut Butter Christmas Lights
~ substituting as Candy Eggs ~
served in an Easter Basket for dessert on May Day!


Wishing a Very Happy May Day
to all who still celebrate and observe
the waning days of this nostalgic tradition!


Earlier today, my siblings and I were reminiscing
about the May Day's of our childhood in Southern Missouri:
Peg: Do you remember that we used to make May Baskets for our neighbors in Neosho?

Kit: That is one of my best memories of Neosho, along with playing "Statue" and finding Treasure Hunt Clues all over the place! I loved the way we did our May Baskets -- like our paper dolls --"from scratch," coming up with all of our own designs and then combining our homemade paper flowers along with real ones. Those were the days! I hope our elderly neighbors appreciated our handi-work!

Boo: There was a vacant lot across the street -- I think there might have been an old foundation on it. There were some flowers there -- I'm thinking daffodils, maybe some irises, also a lilac bush. I remember going over there and getting flowers on May Day.

Di: I do remember! And in later years, one of our neighbors in New Melle left us a May basket with candy!
Di's reference to candy gave me
the idea to re-purpose the leftover
Easter Basket Candy as May Day Candy!

How we loved surprising our parents, neighbors and school teachers! A few years ago, NPR really captured the spirit of the occasion, right down to calling this special day not merely May Day, but May Basket Day!

The History Channel explains the more serious side of May Day as an International Workers Day, observed in many countries with protests, marches, and parades of solidarity.

The Farmers Almanac explains the significance of May Day as the halfway point between the Spring / Vernal Equinox (21 March) and the Summer Solstice (21 June), a cross - quarter highlight in the annual circle dance of the calendar year.

My friend Victoria never fails to share quaint memories as well as current celebratory customs, honoring May Day's sacred role in the natural - cosmic cycle.
Even Christmas Tree Lights
go along with May Day!
Just ask the Bee Gees
!
Previous May Day Posts
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2016
2017
2018
2019