Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Book Blog Backlog

Our favorite local book store Von’s!
Thanks to my friend Nancy for sharing this
charming photo from her miniature light - up village.

It has been awhile since my last reading update.
Here are my latest suggestions.

Six Month Review of Posts
@ Kitti's Book List

~ 2020 ~

March: In Time of Plague & Pestilence

February: Advising Alma

January: Tolstoy Imagined You

~ 2019 ~

December: Life or Death Matter

November: Books That Affect Us Like a Disaster

October: Literature Only!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Timely Insights from Richard Rohr

See my recent posts
@The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony

#1 ~ Pi Day
March 14, 2020

. . . mature societies were meant to be led by elders, seniors, saints, and ‘the initiated.’ They alone are in a position to be true leaders in a society, or certainly in any spiritual organization. Without them 'the blind lead the blind,' . . . Those who are not true leaders or elders will just affirm people at their own immature level, and of course immature people will love them and elect them for being equally immature. You can fill in the names here with your own political disaster story. But just remember, there is a symbiosis between immature groups and immature leaders, I am afraid, which is why both Plato and Jefferson said democracy was not really the best form of government." (9)

#2 ~ Re - Ligio, Re - Connect
March 28, 2020

"Creation itself, the natural world, already believes the Gospel, and lives the pattern of death and resurrection, even if unknowingly. /the natural world believes in necessary suffering as the very cycle of life: just observe the daily dying of the sun so all things on this planet can live, the total change of the seasons, the plants and trees along with it, the violent world of animal predators and prey....Only the human species absents itself from the agreed - on pattern and the general dance of life and death." (77)


Both passages written in 2011,
yet particularly pertinent to the present:

from Falling Upward:
A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Richard Rohr, OFM
Author, Spiritual Writer, Franciscan Friar

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Our Plans Died

Coronavirus ~ Franklin Institute

The highly contagious coronavirus is killing not only our fellow - citizens but also our plans: travel plans, family reunions, Spring Break, Passover, Easter, weddings -- even those scheduled months from now. Going back to late February, a few towns (Venice but not New Orleans) cancelled Mardi Gras; nearly a month later, St. Patrick's Day celebrations were cancelled the world over. Even just hanging out has been cancelled. With cancellation comes loss, and with loss comes grief. As Scott Berinato explains,
"The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air."
I am also thinking of one of my long - time, tried and true poetic standbys, "The Nose Poem," in which poet Lee Perron highlights the significance of plans:
"your mate dies, or parents
or one of your other friends
there is nothing fearful in the death
the deadman is not the problem
his letters perhaps
some phrase he spoke that rings every after
the way he died, what the surgeons did to his brain, or kidneys,
or heart
what you & he would have been doing now
next week, all summer long as you always did
the deadman did not die
your plans died
and this is what is so upsetting
this makes us so sick we cannot even think . . . "

[emphasis added]
Plans, glorious plans! Remember Adela Quested (from E. M. Forster's A Passage to India)? "She loved plans." It's funny how just a couple of weeks ago, we thought our plans were up to us -- whether we went out for lunch or maybe dinner. But no! Turns out we don't get to decide after all.

During this season of social distancing, Perron's final stanza seems more pertinent than ever. We may shake one another's hands, or not:
". . . in this beauty the car stops
the arm reaches for the doorhandle
and there is nothing left to it but the pulling up on the handle...
and one of you looks back through the car window
you may touch one another's lips, or not
it hardly makes any difference, so beautiful is desire"

Passages from "Desire a Sequence" by Lee Perron
Published in The Chariton Review, Fall 1977
Editor, Jim Barnes
Continued thanks to Jim Barnes for teaching me this poem back in 1977; and to Lee Perron for befriending my family back in 2003 after receipt of our fan letter.


So group hugs are temporarily
cancelled, but all is not lost.
We can all adopt this gracious custom:
Understanding The ‘Wai’ Thai Greeting

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Quarantine Quiz Shows

Historic Sunset Drive - In Theater
San Luis Obispo, California

This one from my friend Steven

Something people hate to find on their windshield?
A wet leaf (when I'm inside the car & can't whisk it off)

Something a man might buy before going on a date?
Movie ticket

Something you cook in the microwave?

An item found in an old man’s wallet?
Library card

Something always stocked in the refrigerator?

An item found in grandma’s purse?
A clean hankie

A fruit that isn’t round?

Favorite number?

Something you put on a Christmas tree?
Twinkle lights

Something you find in car glove box?
The instruction manual

This one from my brother Bruce & my friend Brigit:

Favorite pie?
Chocolate Pecan

Steak or Seafood?
Salmon, Scallops

Italian or Chinese?

Pepsi or Coke?
Diet Dr. Pepper (or Diet Coke)

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate & Peanut Butter

How many tattoos?

Ever hit a deer?
No -- once a possum, once a chipmunk.
Very Sad.

Rode in a ambulance?

Netflix or Hulu?

Favorite season?

Broken Bones?
None so far

Favorite color?

Sunrise or Sunset?

Ocean or Mountain?

Dogs or cats?

This one from my niece Anna:
(X = Yes)

Shot a gun?
X (long ago, BBs as a child)

Gone on a blind date?
X (with Uncle Ron's brother!)

Skipped school
X (only in order to do homework)

Watched someone die?
X (pets, not humans)

Visited Canada?
Not yet.

Visited Hawaii?
Not yet.

Visited Europe?

Visited South America?
X Colombia

Visited Las Vegas?

Visited Central America?
Not yet.

Visited Florida?

Seen the Grand Canyon in person?
Not yet.

Flown in a plane?

Served on a jury?

Been lost?

Traveled to the opposite side of the country?

Visited Washington, DC?

Swam in the Ocean?
X (waded)

Cried yourself to sleep?

Played cops and robbers?

Played cowboys and Indians?
X (and pioneers!)

Recently colored with crayons?
X (colored pencils)

Sang karaoke, a solo or duet in church?
X (I believe my mom forced me to play the clarinet a few times -- ugh!)

Paid for a meal with coins only?
X (One time when I took Sam & his friend through the McDonald's drive-thru for milkshakes & then realized that I had only brought my keys & drivers license, no purse or billfold -- so we had to use our emergency toll coins, plus the McD's window cashier gave us size large but only charged us for size small, when she realized that we had barely enough $. Wasn't that the sweetest?!)

Made prank phone calls?
X (maybe once or twice in junior high)

Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose?
Not my style.

Caught a snowflake on your tongue?

Had children?

Had a pet?

Been skinny-dipping?

Been fishing?

Been boating?

Been downhill skiing?
Not for me.

Been water skiing?
Not for me.

Been camping in a trailer / RV?
X (not for me but did it anyway)

Been camping in a tent?
X (not for me but did it anyway)

Driven a motorcycle?
Probably never.

Been bungee-jumping (ripcord jumping)?
Definitely never!

Gone to a drive-in movie?
X (the good old days! ~ see above!)

I would like to go back in time
and tell this young woman to wise up!

Done something that could have killed you?
X (Pre cell - phone era, I accepted help from a very creepy guy to fix my car when I was stalled on the side of the road in Indiana. I look back and cannot believe that I said "okay" when he said, "Now we need to take your car for a test drive." In the end, he patched my radiator hose and handed me a Christian pamphlet, and I drove off untouched & unharmed. So maybe he was just a good Samaritan. But still, poor judgment on my part, and gives me tremors in my stomach to think that I could have never been seen again.)

Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life?

Rode an elephant?
Not yet.

Rode a camel?
Not yet.

Eaten just cookies, ice cream or cake for dinner X
Been on TV?
Not my dream.

Stolen any traffic signs?
Just a plastic milk crate from the grocery store

Been in a car accident?

Been in the Hospital in past 24 months?
Not as a patient.

Donated blood?
X (used to be a regular)

Gotten a speeding -or any type of ticket- in the past 12 mo.
I am a very slow driver.

Gotten a piercing?
X (just the standard one per ear; Auntie Marion took me to the jeweler in Neu Ulm, Germany, for my 27th birthday)

Driven a four door vehicle?
X (not only 4 - door, but also standard shift!)

Ever owned your dream car?

Been Married

Paid for a stranger's meal?
Now's the time!

Driven over 100 mph?
I wouldn't dare!

Written a published book / poem?

Eaten snails?

Been scuba diving?
Too scary for me!

Earlier in the month, in honor of James Lipton
(September 19, 1926 – March 2, 2020)
Steven asked us all to answer the sacred ten questions:

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
The poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay & Walt Whitman

What turns you off?
Litter, cigarettes (esp. when the 2 are combined in the form
of litterers dropping their used filter tips -- oh so gross)

What is your favorite curse word?
Oh for f--k's sake!
Other favorites are "Gosh darn it"! "Dag nab it!" & "Golly dang!" -- all
the innocent things that I wasn't allowed to say as a kid, not even "Gee"!

What sound or noise do you love?
Anne Murray, Alan Parsons, any guitar solo by John Denver

What sound or noise do you hate?
A sad barking neighbor dog

What profession other than your own would you like to have tried?
Accounting (Go figure!)

What profession would you not like to do?
Anything dental

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Now shall you know even as also you are known." (I assume they all speak King James' English in Heaven, right?)

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"

From my brother Bruce & his daughter Anna

Friday, March 20, 2020

Last Sunset of Winter

The Last Sunset of Winter . . .
after a day of pouring rain.
We have three of these octagonal windows in our house.
I love the way they seem like picture frames of nature!

Praise the Rain

Praise the rain; the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk—
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity—
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep—
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap—
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food—
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down—
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all—

Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we're led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.

Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.

by Joy Harjo (b. 1951)
Poet Laureate of the United States


The Vernal Equinox occurred last night just before midnight.
The sky does not look like this today, but
hope springs eternal & spring hopes eternal!
Young Hall ~ Purdue University
Photo taken February 27, 2020

Waiting for another sunset:
few and far between!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Happy St. Pat's Cake & Tree

Getting Ready for St. Patrick's Day

Easy Recipe: Any chocolate cake mix
Follow directions except . . .
substitute 1/2 cup melted butter for 1 /2 cup vegetable oil
substitute 1 1/4 cup milk for 1 1/4 cup water
optional: add 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt

Mix by hand or with small hand mixer
Bake in tube / Bundt pan 40 - 45 minutes
use non - stick baking spray

cool in pan for 10 minutes
cool on plate for 30 more minutes
pour / spread frosting over the top &
sprinkle with whatever colored sugars match the season / occasion

Slice the butter & cream cheese into the food processor
to soften at room temp while the cake is baking;
then while the cake is cooling, add powdered sugar & vanilla,
and process for a minute or so, until creamy.

Frosting -- easy to make in food processor:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 8oz pkg cream cheese (can use lower cal, but regular is best)
3 cups of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Previous Posts

Friday, March 13, 2020

Beware the 13th & the 15th

Brightness Falls
The Full Worm Moon has come and gone.
Coronavirus is apparently here to stay.
Today is Friday the 13th.
And in 48 hours -- "Beware the Ides of March"
Uneasy times. Proceed with caution . . .
A Litany in Time of Plague
alternately entitled:
In Time of Pestilence, 1593

Adieu, farewell, earth's bliss;
This world uncertain is;
Fond are life's lustful joys;
Death proves them all but toys;
None from his darts can fly;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health;
Physic himself must fade.
All things to end are made,
The plague full swift goes by;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty is but a flower
Which wrinkles will devour;
Brightness falls from the air;
Queens have died young and fair;
Dust hath closed Helen's eye.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us! [emphasis added]

Strength stoops unto the grave,
Worms feed on Hector brave;
Swords may not fight with fate,
Earth still holds open her gate.
"Come, come!" the bells do cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Wit with his wantonness
Tasteth death's bitterness;
Hell's executioner
Hath no ears for to hear
What vain art can reply.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Haste, therefore, each degree,
To welcome destiny;
Heaven is our heritage,
Earth but a player's stage;
Mount we unto the sky.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Thomas Nashe (1567–1601)
from his play Summer's Last Will and Testament

Nighthawks ~ in time of Plague!
based on the 1942 original by Edward Hopper (1882 - 1967)
Thanks Charlotte & Larry!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

They Want to Get to Philadelphia

Getting to Philly

As even the youngest students of literature learn upon picking up their earliest texts -- The Call of Wild, Little Women -- narrative requires conflict.

Whether the main character is in conflict with self, other, society, or some larger - than - life force such as Fate, Nature, God and Death, the struggle is always there, and the reader joins in.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has often referred to this crucial struggle as "wanting to get to Philadelphia":
"[T]he trick is to follow the rules of classic storytelling. Drama is basically about one thing: Somebody wants something, and something or someone is standing in the way of him getting it. What he wants — the money, the girl, the ticket to Philadelphia — doesn't really matter. But whatever it is, the audience has to want it for him."
Asked recently by David Marchese, Sorkin re-emphasized:
Marchese: "Your characters often struggle to try to understand people and ideas with which they disagree. What have you learned about how best to dramatize that struggle?"

Sorkin: "I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I’ve mastered anything, but there are a couple of things I know now that maybe I didn’t know when I was starting. To begin with, I worship at the altar of intention and obstacle. Somebody wants something, and something is standing in their way of getting it. They want the money; they want the girl; they want to get to Philadelphia. Then the obstacle to that has to be formidable, and the tactics they use to overcome that obstacle are what shows us the character."
A similar sense of conflict is embedded in music as well. The composer presents intention and obstacle; the listener shares in the struggle as the composition itself yearns for resolution.
Listen, for example, to
Flower Duet & Pachelbel's Canon.
You'll see / hear what I mean!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Yum Yums

Speaking of fourth grade, does anyone remember
these delicious cookies from the 1960s - 70s?
Back in the day, before Girl Scout Cookie flavors included Coconut Samoas and Peanut Butter Tagalongs, there were

1. Yums Yums,
2. Heyday (Carmel Peanut Logs)
[very similar to Yum Yums)] &
3. Ideal (Chocolate Peanut Bars)
[practically a candy bar]!

The Full Range!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Recalling Fourth Grade

Children Picking Tulips In Holland
By an anonymous English Artist
. . . but when mrs matheson
would read to us
about holland
i'd think about holland and
be real happy
and fourth grade sure went fast

~ Kevin Bales ~

What You Missed That Day You
Were Absent from Fourth Grade

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person

add up to something.

~ by Brad Aaron Modlin
~ in his book Everyone at This Party Has Two Names


Mike Carrell Always Wore

his pants almost to his neck
and one time virgil phillips sucked
all the ink out of a pen
into his mouth

mrs beavers wouldn't let me
carve in wax in art
cause i told her i could do it real good
i was fibbing at the time
but she said "if you already know how,
we'll let you work in clay"
boy did i ever hate clay

and phil mcdaniels fell down at recess
and cut his bottom
but he was embarrassed to have mrs rogers
look at it or fix it but he was really bleeding
so she let a 6th grader fix it
he was red all day and I don't mean his bottom either

miss crawford told us every day how
smart she was and
how her oboe would fit in her underarm
but we all liked singing better

mrs harod who really road a wagon in the land run
would drink cough syrup right out of the bottle
and by last period
she would sure act silly
once she asked us to learn limericks
for the next day
and ole virgil phillips
learned the dirtiest one
i'd every heard and
mrs harod got choked and nearly
passed on right then

mean old miss habor hit bucky one time
so hard he fell outa his chair
and it was scotty who was talking

mike morris told dirty jokes at recess
ole mike was really popular
i'd laugh and laugh
but i didn't really understand
i wanted to ask somebody but i was afraid

one time there was this word on the sidewalk
and bucky pretended he didn't know it
so i sounded it out
and it was nasty
and everybody laughed

but when mrs matheson
would read to us
about holland
i'd think about holland and
be real happy
and fourth grade sure went fast

~ by Kevin Bales (b. 1952)
~ in the collection Mad, Sad & Glad
~ edited by Stephen Dunning
The Legend of the Boy and the Dike

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Once and Future Guenever

"Just a dream . . ."
Photo & caption by Jay Beets

Guenever was doing some petit point in the gloomy room, which she hated doing. It was for a shield - cover for Arthur, and had the dragon rampant gules. Elaine was only eighteen and it is fairly easy to explain the feelings of a child -- but Guenever was thwenty - two. She had grown to have some of the nature of an individual, stamped on the simple feelings of the child - queen . . .

There is a thing called knowledge of the world, which people do not have until they are middle-aged. It is something which cannot be taught to younger people, because it is not logical and does not obey laws which are constant. It has no rules. Only, in the long years which bring women to the middle of life, a sense of balance develops. You can't teach a baby to walk by explaining the matter to her logically -- she has to learn the strange poise of walking by experience. In some way like that, you cannot teach a young woman to have knowledge of the world. She has to be left to the experience of the years. And then, when she is beginning to hate her used body, she suddenly finds that she can do it. She can go on living -- not by principle, not by deduction, not by knowledge of good and evil, but simply by a peculiar and shifting sense of balance which defies each of these things often. She no longer hopes to live by seeking the truth -- if women ever do hope this -- but continues henceforth under the guidance of a seventh sense. Balance was the sixth sense, which she won when she first learned to walk, and now she has the seventh one -- knowledge of the world.

The slow discovery of the seventh sense, by which both men and women contrive to ride the waves of a world in which there is war, adultery, compromise, fear, stultification and hypocrisy -- this discovery is not a matter for triumph. The baby, perhaps, cries out triumphantly: I have balance! But the seventh sense is recognized without a cry. We only carry on with our famous knowledge of the world, riding the queer waves in a habitual, petrifying way, because we have reached a stage of deadlock in which we can think of nothing else to do.

And at this stage we begin to forget that there ever was a time when we lacked the seventh sense. We begin to forget, as we go stolidly balancing along, that there could have been a time when we were young bodies flaming with the impetus of life. It is hardly consoling to remember such a feeling, and so it deadens in our minds.

But there was a time when each of us stood naked before the world, confronting life as a serious problem with which we were intimately and passionately concerned. There was a time when it was of vital interest to us to find out whether there was a God or not. Obviously the existence or otherwise of a future life must be of the very first importance to somebody who is going to live her present one, because her manner of living it must hinge on the problem. There was a time when Free Love versus Catholic Morality was a question of as much importance to our hot bodies as if a pistol had been clapped to our heads.

Further back, there were times when we wondered with all our souls what the world was, what love was, what we were ourselves.

All these problems and feelings fade away when we get the seventh sense. Middle-aged people can balance between believing in God and breaking all the commandments, without difficulty. The seventh sense, indeed, slowly kills all the other ones, so that at last there is no trouble about the commandments. We cannot see any more, or feel, or hear about them. The bodies which we loved, the truths which we sought, the Gods whom we questioned: we are deaf and blind to them now, safely and automatically balancing along toward the inevitable grave, under the protection of our last sense. "Thank God for the aged", sings the poet:

Thank God for the aged
And for age itself, and illness and the grave.
When we are old and ill, and particularly in the coffin,
It is no trouble to behave.
Guenever was twenty-two as she sat at her petit point and thought of Lancelot. She was not half-way to her coffin, not ill even, and she had only six senses. It is difficult to imagine her.

A chaos of the mind and body -- a time for weeping at sunsets and at the glamour of moonlight -- a confusion and profusion of beliefs and hopes, in God, in Truth, in Love and in Eternity -- an ability to be transported by the beauty of physical objects -- a heart to ache or swell -- a joy so joyful and a sorrow so sorrowful that oceans could lie between them: then, as a counterpoise to these attractive features, outcrops of selfishness indecently exposed -- restlessness or inability to settle down and stop bothering the middle-aged -- pert argument on abstract subjects like Beauty, as if they were of any interest to the middle-aged -- lack of experience as to when truth should be suppressed in deference to the middle-aged -- general effervescence and nuisance and unfittingness to the set patterns of the seventh sense -- these must have been some of Guenever's characteristics at twenty-two, because they are everybody's. But on top of them there were the broad and yet uncertain lines of her personal character -- lines which made her different from the innocent Elaine, lines of less pathos perhaps but more reality, lines of power which made her into the individual Jenny that Lancelot loved.

"Oh, Lancelot," she sang as she stitched at the shield - crown. "Oh, Lance, come back soon. Come back with your crooked smile, or with your own way of walking which shows whether you are angry or puzzled -- come back to tell me that it does not matter whether love is a sin or not. Come back to say that it is enough that I should be Jenny and you should be Lance, whatever may happen to anybody."

The startling thing was that he came. . . .
from Chapter 13
of The Once and Future King
by T. H. White, 1906 - 64


See Also:

The Sweetheart Tree

Take Me To The Fair! ~ Guenever

Safe Home ~ T. H. White

More About Excalibur

Some conflicting info here to sort out later:
Clarent (aka Caliburn) = the Sword in the Stone
used in ceremony
designated Arthur as rightful heir of Uthur
Sword of Fire

Excalibur (aka Caliburn) = given by the Lady of the Lake
used in battle
signified Arthur's divine right to rule England
Sword of Ice

Not clear if "Caliburn"
is a second name for Clarent
or a second name for Excalibur
or a third sword altogether.