Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Cat Friday

Who needs Black Friday when you have Black CAT Friday?!

Lester & Fuqua (i.e., James the Less & James the Great)

Anyone familiar with our cat Fuqua knows that he has a very elaborate and important name: James B. Fuqua. Some folks refer to him as "James" but I have always called him by his first name -- until a year or so ago when we came across a facebook funny about the little child who asks his parents why his baby brother is called "James" when, in fact, "He's only one Jame."

After that, it was just too much fun to start referring to Fuqua as "Jame" on a regular basis. He had been an only cat since September 2018, when we lost our dear old Pine; so, in every sense of the word, he was "only one Jame."

Then came a day in mid - July when the time seemed right to present Fuqua with a kitten, so off I went to the shelter and came home with this little Shadow Baby, who needed a name to match his brother's!

Using Fuqua's full name as a starting point, we decided to call our new pantherlet "James the Lesser" -- no, not a minor King of England but a minor saint. At last, we had two James! Not only is "James the Lesser" the perfect namesake for a Shadow Baby, but it also led to the perfect nickname:


Getting to know you,
getting to know all about you . . .

Eating Together


Making the bed . . .
or preventing the bed from being made!

Playing in the Bread Basket

Fuqua has loved this basket since kittenhood ~ July 2012

7 years later, Fuqua stakes his claim ~ July 2019

Hey, this is fun! ~ Lester ~ July 2019

Lester, channeling his inner Fuqua! ~ July 2019

Fuqua as a Baby ~ Spring 2012 ~ curled up for a nap
beside the ashes of Dear Old Josef 1988 - 2007)

Seven years later ~ Summer 2019
Baby Lester finds the same nesting spot

Halloween Cats
Fuqua ~ 2018

Lester ~ 2019

I love the way my friend Alma says, “Oh my cat!”
I’m going to start saying that as my primary exclamation of surprise!
[Like me, Alma is the keeper of two black cats.]

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Rich Pumpkin

Urban Pumpkin ~ Seen in Boston ~ November 2018

The Pumpkin

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 - 1892)

Friendly Porch Pumpkins ~ Boston ~ November 2018

Painted Pumpkins ~ October 2019
Wabash Landing ~ West Lafayette, Indiana

Monday, November 25, 2019

Writer's Tears

No, whiskey is not my favorite,
but I am partial to this name!

I asked Regen, one of the owners of our favorite neighborhood bistro ~ Town & Gown ~ if she and her husband Matt, who's from Ireland, carried this brand of whiskey in their bar. I told her that I was curious just because I liked the name of it, and she said:

"Me too! When the salesman first showed me this
product, I said 'Writer's Tears!' Sign me up!"

Haha! You can see why I like it there! They think like I do! I still haven't actually tried it though, so I have no idea how it tastes, but it might be good as a prop when reading an Irish novel!

Or an American novel:
Ordering drinks always floored me. I didn't know whisky from gin and never managed to get anything I really liked the taste of. Buddy Willard and the other college boys I knew were usually too poor to buy hard liquor or they scorned drinking altogether. It's amazing how many college boys don't drink or smoke. I seemed to know them all. The farthest Buddy Willard ever went was buying us a bottle of Dubonnet, which he only did because he was trying to prove he could be aesthetic in spite of being a medical student.

"I'll have a vodka," I said.

The man looked at me more closely. "With anything?"

"Just plain," I said. "I always have it plain."

I thought I might make a fool of myself by saying I'd have it with ice or gin or anything. I'd seen a vodka ad once, just a glass full of vodka standing in the middle of a snowdrift in a blue light, and the vodka looked clear and pure as water, so I thought having vodka plain must be all right. My dream was someday ordering a drink and finding out it tasted wonderful. . . .

The drinks arrived, and mine looked clean and pure, just like the vodka ad. . . .

I began to think vodka was my drink at last. It didn’t taste like anything, but it went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallower's sword and made me feel powerful and godlike.
(10, 11, 12)

from The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
Or a short story:
"Anis del Toro. It's a drink."
"Could we try it?"
The man called "Listen" through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.
"Four reales."
"We want two Anis del Toro."
"With water?"
"Do you want it with water?"
"I don't know," the girl said. "Is it good with water?"
"It's all right."
"You want them with water?" asked the woman.
"Yes, with water."
"It tastes like licorice," the girl said and put the glass down.
"That's the way with everything."
"Yes," said the girl. "Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you've waited so long for, like absinthe."

from "Hills Like White Elephants"
by Ernest Hemingway

"You're a writer; you're supposed to be sad."

What, after all, is a writer's life without a dose of despair?
from Dear Committee Members (p 68)
by Julie Schumacher

“The world is a hellish place, and bad writing
is destroying the quality of our suffering.”

Tom Waits

“I drank to drown my sorrows,
but the damned things learned how to swim.”

Frida Kahlo

Meme ~ The Scariest Halloween

The New Yorker ~ Ha

Friday, November 22, 2019

Ah Portland!

Late Autumn in Portland, Oregon

Now, what does that sign say?

As we know, all too well,
"Life is a constant battle
between the heart and the brain.
But guess who wins . . ."

Ah Portland! Ah humanity!

The pervasive homelessness that we saw while walking around Portland was very sad; it was painful to witness such evident despair. We did not see this problem when visiting Switzerland in September or Prague in October. On the other hand, those two places were plagued by relentless graffiti -- and not the artistic kind! Everywhere you looked, there was scribbling and defacement, even on centuries - old buildings. A shameful sight!

Lausanne, Switzerland

Prague, Czech Republic

Still, despite the urban issues, I would always choose to visit the city over the country.

One Portland friend responds: "I agree with you about the homeless in Portland and hear it debated frequently on OPB news shows. There is a general problem in Portland of new wealth and developers constantly removing affordable housing (as has occurred in many other cities). Even if agreements and plans are eventually reached, it will take years to carry them out (also true of the bridges and light-rail crossings between Vancouver [WA] and Portland; I now assume that won't change until they collapse after earthquakes). Every city has its problems but, like you, I prefer big cities as a tourist and like being within close range of a city, even a medium-sized city like Portland."

Dining With Dear Friends
The Zeus Cafe at the Crystal Hotel, Portland

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Terrific Title!

[click to enlarge for reading]

Who doesn't love a good title -- one so quirky that you just can't forget it, that you love to repeat over and over again, just to hear the sound of it? I particularly admire the way that Gregory Corso wrote an entire poem made up of Saleable Titles. Yes, indeed, I have always (ever since first reading his list back in 1976) wanted to read them all!

When it comes to irresistible titles,
poet Dana Roeser is the best!
Need I say more:

As soon as I murmured these intriguing titles under my breath, I knew I had to find those poems, track them down inside the pages beneath the magical cover art and read each word until I had discerned the mystery of the changed theme and the thundershirts. Sometimes a beloved family pet takes a turn for the worse on the very night that the household is filling up with not - very - loveable guests. Sometimes a transparent ghost in the wind reminds us that our exposed souls might need a thundershirt to make it through the coming cold. Read more! / Plus this review!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Dolce Far Niente

Dolce Far Niente, 1897
John William Godward, 1861 - 1922
[one of several "Dolce Far Niente" paintings by Godward

My friend Nikki recently taught me a new phrase to describe these mellow late fall days when we're inclined to hunker down in the kitchen, whiling away the autumnal hours under a pile of inconsequential projects: a little reading, a little writing, a lot of dabbling. How did I not know before now (especially since I'm so good at it) that the proper name for this kind of time - wasting is dolce far niente: the sweetness of doing nothing, pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness, or, as Nikki puts it, "indentured servitude to the goddess."

I admit that often when I say "I'm working from home today," I am, in reality, doing nothing from home all day! Still, I like to refer to it as "working" because, after all, I am always making connections:
Similar proverb: "How beautiful it is to do nothing and then to rest afterward."

Mark Twain: "Work consists of doing what a body is obliged to do; play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."

And of course dear Anne Lamott: "puttering . . . my main spiritual practice."
Sometimes, I'm practicing the piano!
Spirit, 1885
George Roux, 1853 - 1929
Thanks to Sir Igor for sharing this scary painting!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Still Small Snow

“Our winters are very long here, very long and very monotonous. But we don't complain about it downstairs, we're shielded against the winter. Oh, spring does come eventually, and summer, and they last for a while, but now, looking back, spring and summer seem too short, as if they were not much more than a couple of days, and even on those days, no matter how lovely the day, it still snows occasionally.”
from The Castle
by Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924)
[previous posts on this blog]

A timely quote from Kafka, since the theme for this week
seems to be the freezing temperatures and snowy weather,
with so many bright green leaves still clinging to the
branches, barely ready for autumn yet -- let alone winter!
For more Kafka,
take a look at my current posts:

Finding Kafka in Prague

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


Books That Affect Us Like a Disaster

@Kitti's Book List

The Castle ?
P.S. November 28 ~ Where's Kafka?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Too Soon For Snow

November 9th ~ 48 Hours Later ~ November 11th

Hail Purdue!

First, we have freezing temperatures and light snow on Halloween; then we have a follow - up of dangerous weather and 3 inches of ice and snow on Veterans Day. Too soon!

Now only was our street incredibly slick last night, but our power was out from 6:30pm - midnight. Due to some unexplained electrical mystery, our neighbors right across the street weren't affected, so they kindly invited us over for warmth, light, cocktails, and Monday Night Football. Later on, we came home to light up all the pumpkin spice candles leftover from Halloween, to read for awhile by candlelight, and to think about life without the miracle of electric everything, in the simple / complicated days of yore!

It was pretty amazing to watch out the window when the trucks finally came -- almost like staying up late enough on Christmas Eve to see Santa actually arrive!
See the heroic line-person way up in the cherry picker?
Thank you for your service!


It is obviously way too soon for The Last Nice Day of 2019!
Half the leaves on the trees are still green --
yet covered with snow! That's not right!
Last Nice Days of 2017 & 2018

Monday, November 11, 2019

Pale Battalions

The leaves are always doing something noteworthy
on Veterans Day ~ this year it was a snow show
In honor of the Armistice, I have looked up the following bleakly honest poem, new to me this year. A few lines are recited very briefly during a party scene in the 2017 movie (based on the novel by Penelope Fitzgerald), The Bookshop, in which a WWII widow finds a way to go on with her life:

A Sonnet [XXXIV]

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you’ll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o’ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook, None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895 - 1915)

And this one, suggested by my friend Bill McInerney

Two Sides Of War (All Wars)

All wars are planned by older men
In council rooms apart,
Who call for greater armament
And map the battle chart.

But out along the shattered field
Where golden dreams turn gray,
How very young the faces were
Where all the dead men lay.

Portly and solemn in their pride,
The elders cast their vote
For this or that, or something else,
That sounds the martial note.

But where their sightless eyes stare out
Beyond life's vanished toys,
I've noticed nearly all the dead
Were hardly more than boys.

Henry Grantland Rice (1880 – 1954)


I always take a moment on Veterans Day to contemplate
Two Things I Will Never Understand:
War [Waste] and Littering.

Take these two patriots, for example;
which one sounds sane and which one sounds insane?

Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor
shrink to insignificance. God help me, I do love it so

George S. Patton Jr. (1885 – 1945)
General of the United States Army in WW II

"Though I have been trained as a soldier,
and participated in many battles,
there never was a time when, in my opinion,
some way could not be found
to prevent the drawing of the sword.
I look forward to an epoch when a court,
recognized by all nations,
will settle international differences

Ulysses S. Grant (1822 - 1885)
Commanding General of the United States Army, 1864 to 1865
18th President of the United States, 1869 - 1877


I'm always highly suspicious of the war movie genre as well (and war video games). Is their goal really to teach about history or just a morbid interest in war re-encactment? I think the latter, as if somehow war is the pinnacle of human existence / achievement. I guess for some men, such as Patton, it is. God help him, indeed. So pathologically wrong.

" . . . something
I never had, that black tangle
of branches in a shifting light . . ."

Margaret Atwood

Friday, November 8, 2019

Artistic Rendering

Back before
Meryl Streep, Mia Farrow, and Glenn Close,
there was the Morton Salt Girl, 1956!

Gerry and I on our courthouse wedding day ~ February 3, 1989
A friend said I looked like Mia Farrow in this pic
-- maybe it was the hairstyle?

A decade or so later, my younger son Sam picked up this movie,
looked closely at Glenn Close, and said "Mommy, is this you?"
Once again, was it the hair? Whatever! I'll take it!
Thanks to my friend Robin for inspiring yet another introspective post! Once again she has triggered my memory -- this time asking: "When did you first identify yourself . . . with the visual of a child?" Of course, Robin's original prompt is more thoughtful and intricate than my summary; I'm merely grasping the essence here and responding from popular culture imagery rather than art museum portraiture. Sure, I love all the Morton Salt Girls, but 1956 remains my favorite!

Truly for me, the iconic Morton Salt Girl
of my early childhood sprang first to mind.
For Robin, it has always been this lovely painting:

Miss Beatrice Townsend (1882)
by John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925).
See the resemblance!

You get the idea!

Thinking about Robin's larger question of ethnic identity, I guess I'd have to say: hopelessly American (as in U.S.A.), perhaps as attested to by the Morton Salt Girl herself. Even though I knew all the stories of the various ancestors from Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and so forth, I never thought much beyond being from Kansas.

An interesting connection: the other day I was talking to one of my neighbors here about her unusual surname "Bougher." She said that growing up in Indiana, no one seemed to think much about ethnic heritage, but when she lived in Chicago, people would often ask what she knew about the meaning / source / history of her name. So she went home and asked her dear grandmother, who thought about it for minute, and answered: "Well, Honey, I think we're all from Kansas!"

So iconic! Wizard of Oz and Dorothy Gale!

Thanks to Laura Bougher McLaughlin
for letting me share this anecdote.
I hope I told it right!

It's fun to think of who your art world look alike might be and what that earliest moment of self - other identification might signify about your sense of person and place in our culture.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

American Souls

American Souls

Well, I'm waiting for the light to come on
and I'm praying it ain't really there
Oh, I'm closing my eyes and hoping the monsters are gone
I'm running up the basement stairs

We were playing with the ouija board
it was late, a voice said, "hey, can I play?"
When we asked the evil spirits who they were coming for,
it just spelled out "U...S...A."

Well, sweet baby Jesus, when are you coming home?
When will this world be saved?
Will there be room in heaven for our American Souls
When flowers grow on our graves?

Hush now child don't you worry no more
even evil demons have their end
I can't say it ain't really there, so I won't anymore
but It's safe to say the sun will come out again

Have faith and pray the sun will come out again
Have faith and pray for a brand new day
the sun will come out again

Music & lyrics by Andrew Robert Palmer
released May 1, 2019
posted with author's permission
all rights reserved


for further explication and more music,
take a look at my current post:

All - American Souls

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