Thursday, October 31, 2019

Charting the Spoils

A Successful Trick - or - Treat for Sam ~ 2002!
Just as much fun as going door to door was getting home
and taking inventory!

Sam's Candy Graph ~ 2001, age 8
Notice that the largest category is "Sucking Candy"!
I think he merely intended to be descriptive,
but perhaps the subliminal message was
"That sucking candy really sucks"
-- as in "The Psychopath" -- see below!

Ben's Chart ~ 1997, age 7
No surprise that he grew up to specialize in statistics!

Thanks to my nephew Dan for this chart
and to ~How to Be a Dad~
As I'm sure my siblings well remember, we had one such "legendary dad" in our neighborhood when we were growing up. It was Mr. Fleming -- the father of our friend Brian -- who always gave out a full - sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cup to every kid! The best! Thanks Mr. F.
Happy Trick - or - Treating to All
And to All a Good Night!

More pics . . .

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Haunted Head

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one’s own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror’s least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O’erlooking a superior spectre
More near.


The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

both poems
by Emily Dickinson (1830–86)
More Dickinson posts --
just right for Halloween!
~ also facebook ~

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Both Hands Before the Fire

Left: Theodore Roosevelt As A Rough Rider
by Vincent Monozlay

Right: Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt
in Night at the Museum


Not Roosevelt's last words, but very nobly spoken
merely a year before he himself died relatively young:

"My sorrow is so keen for the young who die
that the edge of my grief is blunted
when death comes to the old,
of my own generation;
for in the nature of things
we must soon die anyhow and we have
warmed both hands before the fire of life."

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
October 27, 1858 ~ January 6, 1919 (aged 60)


As Halloween approaches with its emphasis on honoring our ancestors,
let us contemplate the magnanimity of Roosevelt's observation, along with these words of wisdom from Keanu Reeves:

Stephen Colbert:
"What do you think happens when we die?"

Keanu Reeves:
"I know that the ones who love us will miss us."

My Niece Jessica's Awesome Firepit

[And My Nephew Aaron's ~ All Souls' Night]

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Summer to Fall to Autumn

A Brilliant Fall Festoon

Two more poets who move seamlessly
from fall to autumn, autumn to fall:


Here I have come, oh, very close to God
In this high field, festooned with bittersweet.
Both summer and fall are done, and autumn now
Creeps up this hill on silent, frost - shod feet.

And I give thanks that in my heart today,
Time - harvested, the hours of peace and strife
Are linked as here are linked the earth and sky
By the enduring bittersweet of life.

Violet Alleyn Storey
in her book A Poet Prays

from The Call

Delay your leaving, Autumn;
If I must stay behind;
Seep in my heart and pillow it
Against the winter rind.
And may the season coming
Wipe out all trace of fall
Lest in a stranded acorn
I should hear you call.

Anna Maria Caldara

Autumn Along the Vltava River
Prague, Czech Republic

Monday, October 21, 2019

Autumn or Fall?

Fall Leaves in Prague

Remember the classic love song from Camelot?
If I Ever I Would Leave You:

But if I'd ever leave you,
It couldn't be in autumn.
How I'd leave in autumn
I never will know.
I've seen how you sparkle
When fall nips the air.
I know you in autumn
And I must be there.

by American lyricist
Alan Jay Lerner (1918 – 1986)

One thing I have always liked about this particular stanza is the ease with which it moves from autumn to fall and back again. Two words, same season, no confusion. In addition to checking out the dictionary, here is an interesting explanation for our doubly named season:
The persistence of two terms for the third season in the United States, while somewhat of a mystery, may have something to do with the spread of English to the American continent at the very epoch when "fall" began jockeying for position with "autumn": the 17th century. At that time, both terms were adopted stateside, and the younger, more poetic "fall" gained the upper hand. Back in Britain, however, "autumn" won out. The continued acceptance of "autumn" in the United States may reflect the influence, or at least the proximity, of English culture and literature.

According to Slate, British lexicographers begrudgingly admit that the United States got the better end of the stick. In "The King's English" (1908), H.W. Fowler wrote, "Fall is better on the merits than autumn, in every way: it is short, Saxon (like the other three season names), picturesque; it reveals its derivation to every one who uses it, not to the scholar only, like autumn."

~from Natalie Wolchover at
Along the same lines, Bill Bryson writes that "Other words and expressions that were common in Elizabethan England that died in England were fall as a synonym for autumn" (The Mother Tongue, 171) -- due most likely to a frankophile preference for French over English. Likewise, in Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States, Bryson observes:
Where they could, however, the first colonists stuck doggedly to the words of the Old World. They preserved words with the diligence of archivists. Scores, perhaps hundreds, of English terms that would later perish from neglect in their homeland live on in America thanks to the essentially conservative nature of the early colonists.

Fall for autumn is perhaps the best known. It was a relatively new word at the time of the Pilgrims--its first use in English was recorded in 1545--but it remained in common use in England until the second half of the nineteenth century. Why it died out there when it did is unknown

Personally, I'm betting on francophonism!
Most oddly, in the movie In America (loveable in every other way), the mother (portrayed by Samantha Morton) goes out of her way to explain to her little daughter (Sarah Bolger) that, unlike the Irish, Americans don't understand the word autumn because in America they only say fall. What? Not only is this throwaway comment completely extraneous to the plot of the movie, but it is also highly inaccurate. Sounds to me like the notion of some misguided Anglophiles who underestimate the breadth and flexibility of American English. And who, apparently, never listened to the lyrics of Camelot or sang along with "If Ever I Would Leave You" -- or read my brother's essay!

Autumn Evening in Prague

And then we have scones vs "skawns"!

Friday, October 18, 2019

In Praise of Prague

~ A Song of Prague ~

Hradczany Castle in Prague
by Bohumír Dvorský (1902 - 76)


from the novel The Valley Of Decision
by Marcia Davenport (1903 - 96)
fiance of Jan Masaryk (1886 - 1948)

Chapter 79 ~ 1936
Claire sniffed happily as the car rounded the turn of the hill and she could look down and see the sharp spires of Prague piercing the gray haze which seemed to always hang over the city. The air had the most pungent, unforgettable odor. And how different, Claire thought, from the smoky smell of Pittsburgh. She put the rabbity little car in second gear and steeed it noisily down the grade. It's a strange thing, she reflected, that I have this queer love for two of the smokiest, grayest cities in the world. . . .

She drove as slowly as she could because she wanted to fill her eyes with the ancient, beautiful vista -- the broad winding Vltava spanned by the lacy bridges and crowned by the jewel of the Karluv Most [Charles Bridge].

Beyond, the Hradcany brooded on its bluffs, the stern pile of centuries where the wise old coachman's son [Czech President Thomas Masaryk, son of Jozef Masárik, coachman and steward; Thomas's son was beloved Czechoslovakian Diplomat Jan Masaryk] had lived and guided the nation he had led to freedom. Claire . . . drove down the wide Vysehrad, crossed the Palacky Bridge and turned left on the Smichov Embankment. The river flowed along, steel - colored and heavy in the dank November air. Tugboats and steamers puffed about their business. Handsome buildings and monuments lined the banks, punctuated by the noble Gothic towers of the bridges. Claire looked back over her shoulder at the imposing pile of the Narodni Divadlo; the national opera house, the quintessence of nineteenth - century pomposity, and wondered for the thousandth time why European city - builders had the vision to line their rivers with architectural magnificence while in America -- she grimaced at the thought of Pittsburgh. All its riverbanks were a shambles of ugliness; stacks and sheds and chimneys and railroad tracks and mies of dingy warehouses to obliterate the beauty God had put there. Yet she loved it. She would feel this same inward happiness, this eagerness to throw her arms around a beloved friend, if she were reaching Mary in Pittsburgh instead of Julka in Prague.
(528 - 529)

View of Prague from the Castle District ~ 2019
See Gerry?!

Here I am, standing on the
(very crowded!) Charles Bridge

Previously, a few brief references to
The Valley of Decision
Kitti's List
Fortnightly KC
Quotidian K

See also Davenport's autobiography:
Too Strong for Fantasy

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Geese Going Over

In the village store someone says,
"I heard the geese go over,"
and there is a moment of silence.
Why this is so moving, I do not know.
But all of us feel it.

~ Gladys Taber ~

A flock of birds appeared in the sky. They flew high above us with no seeming sense of direction, whirling aimlessly as snow. Once the whole flock tumbled toward us, then suddenly swirled and soared into a V formation, rising upward and out of sight. They swooped right out of the sky. How did they know, I marveled, when to stop falling earthward and soar upward? How did the word get to each one when to turn, when to glide, when to flap a wing? How was it that not one of them ever bumped into the other? Where they came from and where they went I could not tell.

from I, Keturah (235)
by Ruth Wolff
~ Click for more autumnal imagery from I, Keturah ~

Thanks Nataliya!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Serendipity and/or Synchronicity

Serendipity ~ Horace Walpole (1717 - 1797)
Poster at AZ Quotes

Synchronicity ~ Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)
Wallpaper at quotefancy


A recent incident of serendipitous good fortune occurred when I took a wrong turn on the way to the post office. As I circled around the block to retrace my path, I realized that I was driving right by the school where my friend Beata teaches. In fact, not only was I passing the school, I was passing Beata herself, who was at the very moment walking down the sidewalk!

I pulled over to say hello and express my delight at seeing her so unexpectedly! I explained the detour that had brought me to her street, and she had a similar story. After leaving the school building for the day, she had returned not once but twice; first for a forgotten phone left behind on her desk, and then -- when she had nearly made it to her car -- a second time for some books she had intended to bring home. Luckily for us, this was one of those times when wrong turns and forgetfulness led to a happy crossing of paths.

Beata texted me the following day: "What a super - nice coincidence to see you yesterday -- you were just at the right place, and I had left school at the right time! My mood was sluggish and I was truly tired, until I saw you. Thank you for showing up at my school!"

Another time ~ Christmas 2017!


For more examples
see my current post:

Serendipity and/or Synchronicity

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

Morning Glory

Photographed yesterday at Town & Gown Bistro

"Morning Glories. . . there they

are in the story of [our lives]
bright random useless
year after year . . .
weeds without value
humorous beautiful weeds

~ Mary Oliver ~


I asked my sibs and cousins if any of them
remembered the way my dad used to say

"Morning Glory!"

when he knocked on our bedroom doors
to wake us up each morning!
We ended up with a lot of fun reminiscences.


My first gardening project:
growing Heavenly Blue Morning Glories
in the backyard at Clover Meadows ~ Summer 1972

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Uh Oh! Are Cathleen & Ben
on the verge of a snaccident

This term is a recent addition to my vocabulary,
introduced to me by Ben when he was recovering
from jetlag and sent me the following text:

"Oops, had a napcident and just slept for five hours."

Apparently, one can have not just accidents
but any number of -cidents!
E.g., Impulse Buy = Shopcident!

In the course of writing a lot and typing too quickly, I commit numerous typos, resulting in vocabcidents. For example, I accidentally typed "Sortry" when apologizing to my brother Aaron for clogging up his email with some duplicate messages (a dupliccident?).

In response to my apology, Aaron emailed back:
"Sortry" . . . Does that mean you're sorta sorry??? LOL!!!


Another time, instead of typing signification,
I accidentally omitted the "a," thus yielding significtion.

I was on the verge of correcting my voccabcident but had second thoughts. After all, signi - fiction sounds like an important genre of fiction that we need more of! My friend Len -- artist, poet, and professor -- responded that I should leave it as is, on the basis that "We always need more words!"

So Significtion it is!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Art & P.E.

One of My Grade School Art Projects ~ 1967

When my kids were little, I loved having the chance
to recreate some of my favorite projects with them.

Ben's Version ~ 30 years later ~ 1997

Many thanks to my friend and former Philly neighbor,
artist Robin Gresham - Chin for reminding me of the
joys of grade school art and physical education.

Awhile back on facebook, Robin
asked a most intriguing question:
"What is your first memory of making art?"

Her prompt yielded so many inspiring revelations
and vivid memories, all so creative and nostalgic!
For me, the moment that came to my mind:

Around age 5 (1962), I asked my mom if
I could have the lint from the dryer screen
to use for creating a snow scene in a shoebox.

I wish I could remember how that project
turned out, but, alas, no evidence survives!

From my earliest days, I enjoyed art class about a thousand
times more than I did P.E. However, I loved Robin's post
about the President's Physical Fitness Test and -- even
better -- my favorite gym class sing-along "Chicken Fat"!

"Chicken Fat" was another one of those memories that I
wanted to re-live with my children because it had given
me so much mirth in my own youth, so in the 1990's we
found it on a CD to play in the car while running errands!

First Place? You've gotta be kidding!
My only memories are of failure and humiliation
I didn't even remember that I had all this "Play Day"
memorabilia -- just happened to come across when
searching through my old notebooks for saved art

More Childhood Art:

Samhain Triumvirate

Harvest View

Don't Shoot My Pig


All Souls ~ Sam's Goblin

O Christmas Tree

Inscrutable Houses

Art "Stuido"


Watercolor by Ben McCartney, age 8 ~ 1998

Friday, October 4, 2019

In - Between Times

Elan = momentum
"The sky was a rich, mindless, never - ending blue, like a promise of some ridiculous glory that wasn't really there. . . . The days were clear and beautiful; and, as September [and October!] rolled around, the hateful glare gave way to a certain luminosity, a dusty, golden quality. . . . all the more stirring since it was drifting towards autumn half - ruined, careless of itself."

from The Goldfinch, 232, 234, 228
by Donna Tartt (American author, b. 1963)

"I like these out-of-season crossings. When you're young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons.* As you grow older you learn to like the in - between times, the months that can't make up their minds. Perhaps it's a way of admitting that things can't ever bear the same certainty again. Or perhaps it's just a way of admitting a preference for empty ferries. . . . The sky is a theatre of possibilities. I am not romanticising."

from Flaubert's Parrot, 83
by Julian Barnes (British author, b. 1946)
Early Autumn Sunset Over Lake Geneva
Lausanne, Switzerland
*Both Anne Lamott and Jimmy Fallon
make similar observations.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Record Albums & Live Concerts

A few weeks ago, my friend Don & my brother's friend Jim
asked everyone a nostalgia question:
"What is the earliest album you bought
to which you still listen regularly

That was easy! My first album ever,
with my birthday money in May 1974 was
Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits

I must have had $10 to spend that day,
because on that well - remembered shopping trip
I also bought a second album:
Carpenters: A Song For You

Don's next music enquiry:
"Name an album from the wayback to which you
rarely listen, but, whenever you do listen to it,
you think you should listen to it more

Once again, easy to answer, because Gerry and I had
named such an album only a few days before when a tune
from this album came up in the car on his random playlist:
Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, however, was a gift rather than
a purchase. Both the book (Richard Bach) and the
album (words & music by Neil Diamond) came into my life
for Christmas 1973, presents from my sweet siblings
Bruce and Diane, along with Chicago's first album:
The Chicago Transit Authority
All of the others I have replaced with CDs over the years,
but this one I still have, mounted in a frame on the wall.


This also seems like a good spot to post my list of live concerts attended.

For some silly reason, the list (as the activity was conducted on facebook) was supposed to include one concert that you didn't go to -- I guess to confuse your friends about your musical tastes. However, I fully intended to attend the Bonnie Raitt concert but did a good deed instead (gave my ticket to someone else).

All in all, I haven't actually been much of a concert - goer over the years, so here is my rather brief list:

1975 ~ Gordon Lightfoot ~ Mississippi River Festival
~ Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

1977 ~ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & Dave Loggins
~ Northeast Missouri State University, Kirksville

1977 ~ Buck White & the Down Home Folks with Ricky Skaggs
~ Northeast Missouri State University, Kirksville

1981 ~ Bonnie Raitt (bought tickets but didn't go)

1983 ~ Rita Coolidge ~ New Orleans

1986 ~ Monkees Reunion Concert (minus Michael Nesmith)
~ University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
~ with opening acts by Herman’s Hermits, The Grass Roots, and Gary Puckett & the Union Gap. Except that their ranks were greatly reduced, so it was more like Herman's Hermit, The Grass Root, and Gary Puckett & Morgan Fairchild (dating at the time).

1987 ~ Chicago
~ University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN

1999 ~ Tony Bennett ~ Wharton School, Philadelphia, PA

2008 ~ Emmylou Harris ~ Portland Zoo

2012 ~ Ben Harper ~ Edgefield, near Portland

2014 ~ Donny & Marie ~ Las Vegas

2017 ~ Judy Collins ~ Lafayette, IN

2017 ~ Lucinda Williams ~ Purdue University

2023 ~ Ben Folds ~ Paramount Theater,Charlottesville, VA

(updated Tuesday September 19, 2023)

See ~ Also
P.S. Not forgetting Pink Martini & Nicolette Larson!