Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Day Nephews and Nieces

Happy Leap Day!
A day for magic . . .

Thanks to my teleki - nieces and teleki - nephews
for all the good vibes and
Empowering Tchotchkes!

Kinetic Carlie:


“If you want to be a good Hero, you
have to learn how to be a good Human."

Hans & Jerrod:


Aaron: On Patriotism & Feminism

More Autumn Fun



No matter how serious the issues,
the nieces & nephews
never lose their sense of humor!

Amanda, Brittany & Kiyah:

Additional Leap Year Posts
Fortnightly: 2012 & 2016 & 2020
Quotidian: 2016
And John Mulaney on SNL

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Dust Only If You Must

Magnified house dust: "The little circles with crosses are starch grains. The flat colored particle just right and above center is from cosmetics. Most of the white fibers are paper fibers. The flat colorless particles are primarily human skin flakes. There is one glass fiber halfway to the left edge from center."

Here's something good to give up for Lent: dusting!
Dust is sacred, right?

As in "Leave it lay where Jesus flang it!" ~Anne Lamott

As in, for a snowy Ash Wednesday such as today,
"You are but flakes, and to flakes you shall return." ~Jay Mermoud

As in "From dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return!"

As in "Ashes to ashes; dust to dust."

As in "We are but dust and shadow."

See also:
"Modernism In A Handful of Dust"

& Yesterday: "Gaudy Night"

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Gaudy Night

Court Jester ~ by Norman Rockwell
The Saturday Evening Post
Cover for February 11, 1939

Let’s have one other gaudy night. Call to me
All my sad captains. Fill our bowls once more.
Let’s mock the midnight bell.
~ Act 3, Scene 13

Shakespeare ~ from Antony and Cleopatra

"But the glittery balls and the rustic down-home meet-ups had one thing in common . . . they came to an abrupt halt at midnight [on Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras]. It was even said that the devil was lurking somewhere in the shadows making a list of those who kept on partying after the stroke of 12. The following day was. . . Ash Wednesday, which would usher in a 40-day period of severe fasting and penance and zero amusement."

Today: Happy Mardi Gras!

Tomorrow: Ash Wednesday

Belated: Happy Birthday Norman Rockwell!
February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Waiting for the Big Snow

A note from my Aunt Sue:
"I got this card today and told my husband,
'That looks like my niece's house in Indiana!'
He said, 'It might be!'
Just had to send you a picture of it!"


And this card from my friend Steven,
"because it sort of resembles your house!"

Here it is, the middle of February and all the snowfalls so far this season have been merely small or medium. To fill the gap, here's a poem to read while waiting for the big snow . . .

The Snow Arrives After Long Silence

The snow arrives after long silence
from its high home where nothing leaves
tracks or stains or keeps time.
The sky it fell from, pale as oatmeal,
bears up like sheep before shearing.

The cat at my window watches
amazed. So many feathers and no bird!
All day the snow sets its table
with clean linen, putting its house
in order. The hungry deer walk

on the risen loaves of snow.
You can follow the broken hearts
their hooves punch in its crust.
Night after night the big plows rumble
and bale it like dirty laundry

and haul it to the Hudson.
Now I scan the sky for snow,
and the cool cheek it offers me,
and its body, thinned into petals,
and the still caves where it sleeps.

by Nancy Willard

For more dreamy snowy imagery
see my current post:
"Dreaming of Snow"

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

See also: "Snow Was General"
~ My House: December 22, 2009 ~

Friday, February 14, 2020

Double Double Valentine

Double ~ Double Value!
Not only did Sam renew for a second year, but Ben
came along and snuck his name onto Sam's handiwork!

My Valentine to Sam back in 2011 was two copies of the children's story Ferdinand the Bull (one in English and an extra one in Spanish just for fun, because he was studying Spanish in high school). He was nearly grown already, but I chose Ferdinand because it was mentioned in the movie The Blind Side that we had seen shortly before Valentine's Day, plus Sam had read and liked the book on which the movie is based.

The main character in the movie never knew about Ferdinand in his deprived childhood, and didn't learn about it till he was a teenager. Somehow or other, I too missed out on Ferdinand in my own childhood and neglected to read it aloud to Ben and Sam during their younger years. So here was my chance to make up for that omission. As an added bonous, this book even looks like a Valentine! Just embellish with a heart - shaped paper doily, and you're good to go!

2012 was the I year that I had to cheer up a cynical friend, well perhaps not all that cynical if she was taking delight in the wee mice and rabbits of
Holly Pond Hill
: "That cute little mouse card was the best so far! Except for small animals, I have now reached that mental part of my life that says, 'Valentine's Day sucks.' It's exclusionist, a message from the world around me that as an unmarried person I'm not the norm. Is this how other discriminated groups feel, caught in this bigger cultural picture? Okay, that was deep, or not, but that's how I see it."

True, there are "bigger cultural pictures" of exclusivity, but Valentine's Day? No! She was right the first time: it is a holiday for small animals (as is Groundhog Day!); also, children, friends and relatives of all kinds, sisters, aunties, and girlfriends! I tried to reassure her: forget about the world of advertising! who cares if the gentlemen of one's acquaintance are unforthcoming with candy and flowers? Gerry and I rarely do those things -- just the cards! Valentine's Day is a celebration of arts and crafts, baking, and best friends.

Valentine Mice by Susan Wheeler
As I've said before:
2012 ~ Valen - Time
2017 ~ Grade School Valentines

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Rooms Come and Go

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
" ~ T. S. Eliot
Architectural Ceiling Detail
Fowler House Mansion ~ Lafayette, Indiana

"I suppose a room is the summation
of all that has happened inside it."
"Yes, I think it is," agreed the Count. "And though I'm not exactly sure what has come of all the intermingling in this particular room, I am fairly certain that the world has been a better place because of it." (331)

by Amor Towles
from A Gentleman in Moscow

I was so excited to receive this marvelous, mysterious old - time postcard a few months ago from my friend Victoria, who lived right here in town back in the 1970s. It's not often that a pen pal from far away sends you a postcard from your own city! [Vickie, have you been saving this card for me in your archives all these years?]
This one, as you can see, features
the "Wetherill Memorial Room
Tippecanoe County Historical Museum."

I had a feeling that the featured room must be a part of what is commonly referred to as the Fowler House, even though that name does not appear on the postcard caption. Hoping to verify the picture, I googled "Wetherill Room" to see if it came up as a room in Fowler House or maybe as a room in some other local historical mansion. No luck, but guess what did come up -- a copy of this vintage (1930s) postcard for sale on eBay for $10. So it looks like I owe Vickie some money!

Last month, when Gerry and I went for Sunday Brunch at the Fowler House, I took along the postcard in hopes of matching it to one of the rooms. An easy quest indeed, since it turns out we were sitting in the very room!

Same Fireplace

Same Chandelier

The only significant difference is the lace - curtain now hanging over the window, rather than the heavy wooden shutters seen in the post card; partially obscured behind an oriental screen, they nearly resemble a door.

It was a successful day of exploration at the Fowler House, checking out the upper rooms for friendly ghosts, enjoying a post - Christmas buffet with neighbors, and comparing the contemporary Wetherill Room to my archival postcard. Thanks Victoria!
"Gathering up his things, the Count paid one last visit to his study. So many years before, he had bid adieu to a whole household. Then a few years later he had bid adieu to a suite. Now, he was to bid adieu to a room that was one hundred feet square. It was, without question, the smallest room that he had occupied in his life; yet somehow, within those four walls the world had come and gone." (438)

by Amor Towles
from A Gentleman in Moscow


Brunch at Fowler House ~ Autumn 2018

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Review of the Miniature

Miniature tree & cardinal from Katie
Miniature french horn, jug, and fan from Nancy

My dear friends and colleagues Heather and Nancy asked me to share what I had discerned after years of studying "little things," as Nancy so lovingly refers to them. Most immediately, I would say that humans seek out the miniature in search of the secrets of the universe. It is often an inward quest toward the heart of the doll or the center of the dollhouse, whereas the outward manifestation is a tiny perfect world, such as the Christmas Village, or even a single item — a diminutive lamp, house, or globe — fashioned in quaint imitation of its larger counterpart.

We are drawn to those qualities so elusive in real life: perfection, wholeness, and — yes, in all honesty we have to admit — control. The miniature represents a seamless universe and a seamless body where nothing leaks or slips away. Completion without loss.

the miniature vs the gigantic
small vs large
inside vs outside
inanimate vs animate
seamless and contained vs messy and unpredictable

"You can think of the universe as a set of wooden Russian matryoshka dolls, with each doll having a smaller one inside of it. The entire visible universe is the outermost doll, and nested inside it are galaxies, solar systems, stars, planets -- right down to the smallest doll, which is you. But inside of you is an even smaller doll that somehow has the biggest doll inside of it. When you figure out this riddle, you will have discovered the key to your ascension!"

by Elizabeth Clare Prophet
Reincarnation: The Missing Link In Christianity


"The Infinity of Your Interiority. The human person is a threshold where many infinities meet. There is the infinity of space that reaches out into the depths of the cosmos; the infinity of time reaching back over billions of years. There is the infinity of the microcosm: one little speck on the top of your thumb contains a whole inner cosmos, but it is so tiny that it is not visible to the human eye. The infinity in the microscopic is as dazzling as that of the cosmos. However, the infinity which haunts everyone and which no-one can finally quell, is the infinity of their own interiority. A world lies hidden behind each human face. . . .

"Another infinity, as yet unborn, is dimly present. . . . It is such a privilege to be embodied. You have a relationship to place through the body, it is no wonder that humans have always been fascinated by place. Place offers us a home here; without place we would literally have no where. Landscape is the ultimate where; and in landscape the house that we call home is our intimate place. The home is decorated and personalized; it takes on the soul of the person who lives there and becomes the mirror of the spirit"
(41 - 44).

" . . . the desire to bring subject and object together . . ." (60).

by John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom


" . . . It is the week before Christmas. In the apartment across the way, a man works on a dollhouse. So what if we are doomed? He will die rubbing a small chair smooth" (199).

by Carole Maso
from AVA



The dollhouse: " . . . the most consummate of miniatures . . . A house within a house . . . the dollhouse's aptest analogy is the locket or the secret recesses of the heart: center within center, within within within. The dollhouse is a materialized secret; what we look for is the dollhouse within the dollhouse and its promise of an infinitely profound interiority. . . . even the most basic use of the toy object -- to be 'played with' -- is not often found in the world of the dollhouse. The dollhouse is consumed by the eye" (61, 62).

" . . . a monument against instability, randomness, and vulgarity. . . . Worlds of inversion, of contamination and crudeness, are controlled within the dollhouse by an absolute manipulation and control of the boundaries of time and space" (62, 63).

" . . . the seamless body of the doll. . . . The diminutive is a term of manipulation and control as much as it is a term of endearment" (124).

" . . . the miniature typifies the structure of memory, of childhood . . . from its petite sincerity arises an 'authentic' subject . . . . (171 - 72).

by Susan Stewart
from On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic,
the Souvenir, the Collection


Yule Log
: Interestingly enough, these miniature cakes are now better known than either the gigantic originals that they represent or the historical tradition of Bringing in the Yule Log. In her fascinating study of the miniature and the gigantic, folklore scholar Susan Stewart has written of the human impulse to transform nature and quaint rural customs into art. The resulting souvenirs and miniatures become the objects of our desire for "an elusive and purer, yet diminished, past."

I can't help thinking of the old - time Yule Logs (meant for burning on the hearth) and the contemporary Yule Log Cake or Buche de Noel (intended for eating) when Stewart says that the antiquarian's "search is primarily an aesthetic one, an attempt to erase the actual past in order to create an imagined past which is available for consumption" (Susan Stewart, On Longing, 143).

In this case, not just metaphorical consumption! But actual consumption, as in "Hey, who's ready for a piece of cake?"


Gingerbread House: Even Martha Stewart (no relation!) weighs in on the topic: "What is more tantalizing -- at a child's eye level -- than a gingerbread replica of the house you're standing in?" Reading Martha's insight gave me goosebumps! Why? Because she is talking about the secrets of interiority! Within within within. Likewise, the most basic use of gingerbread -- to be eaten -- is not the case with a gingerbread house, which is to be consumed by the eye, not the taste buds, edible though it may be. The transcendent vision offered by the gingerbread house or the dollhouse, "the most consummate of miniatures," can be known through visual apprehension alone.

Martha goes on the describe "The whimsy and . . . the thrill of . . . playing with scale and expectations: What's big is rendered small (the house) but with such an eye to detail that it uses three shades and flavors of cookie, and the roof and chimney have the realistic look of shingles and bricks. Meanwhile, what's small (the teddy bear) is presented as life - size . . ." (Martha Stewart Living, December 2012, 130 - 31).

Some Days

Some days I put the people in their places at the table,
bend their legs at the knees,
if they come with that feature,
and fix them into the tiny wooden chairs.

All afternoon they face one another,
the man in the brown suit,
the woman in the blue dress,
perfectly motionless, perfectly behaved.

But other days, I am the one
who is lifted up by the ribs,
then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouse
to sit with the others at the long table.

Very funny,
but how would you like it
if you never knew from one day to the next
if you were going to spend it

striding around like a vivid god,
your shoulders in the clouds,
or sitting down there amidst the wallpaper,
staring straight ahead with your little plastic face

Billy Collins (b. 1941)
Poet Laureate of the United States, 2001 - 2003
New York State Poet, 2004-2006

I love the way it looks as if the
princess is holding the bronze fan!

More Small Chairs

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Guardian Madonnas

"Creativity" ~ from the "Guardians" Series
Arts & Crafts Madonna / Angel
Handmade in California
Purchased at the Bellevue Arts Fair
Bellevue, Washington

Madonna at St. Mary-of-the-Woods
Terre Haute, Indiana

Madonna at Church of Our Lady Victorious
Prague, Czech Republic

The Donkey's Dream ~ by Barbara Helen Berger
A sweet little donkey dreams of carrying a city, a ship, a rose,
a fountain, and all the heavens upon his back -- and so he does!
Perfect for reading aloud!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

An Irish Lament

One day, when Gerry and I decide to buy a castle . . .
Maynooth Castle in 1885


In honor and memory of James Augustine Aloysius Joyce
born this day 138 years ago in Rathgar, Ireland
~ 2 February 1882 ~

Not forgetting
Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhog Day, St. Brigid's Day,
and the birth of my oldest brother Dave in 1947!

Beautiful recipes for all feasts & seasons


A dramatic recitation of this poem, is included in The Dead,
a movie based on the final story in Joyce's Dubliners:

Donal Og [Young Donald]

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith’s forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

Translated from an anonymous 8th Century Irish poem
by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (March 1852 – May 1932)

Sung in Irish
See also: ArcPoetryMagazine