Saturday, November 28, 2020

Thanksgiving Turkey

Happy ~ Thanksgiving ~ Turkey!
Grade School Art & Poetry
by my twin brother Bruce ~ 1965 (or so)

Valleys lay in sunny vapor,
And a radiance mild was shed
From each tree that like a taper
   At a feast stood. Then we said,
   "Our feast, too, shall soon be spread,
          Of good Thanksgiving turkey."

And already still November
   Drapes her snowy table here.
Fetch a log, then; coax the ember;
   Fill your hearts with old-time cheer;
   Heaven be thanked for one more year,
          And our Thanksgiving turkey!

Welcome, brothers—all our party
   Gathered in the homestead old!
Shake the snow off and with hearty
   Hand-shakes drive away the cold;
   Else your plate you'll hardly hold
          Of good Thanksgiving turkey.

When the skies are sad and murky,
   'Tis a cheerful thing to meet
Round this homely roast of turkey—
   Pilgrims, pausing just to greet,
   Then, with earnest grace, to eat
          A new Thanksgiving turkey.

And the merry feast is freighted
   With its meanings true and deep.
Those we've loved and those we've hated,
   All, to-day, the rite will keep,
   All, to-day, their dishes heap
          With plump Thanksgiving turkey.

But how many hearts must tingle
   Now with mournful memories!
In the festal wine shall mingle
   Unseen tears, perhaps from eyes
   That look beyond the board where lies
          Our plain Thanksgiving turkey.

See around us, drawing nearer,
   Those faint yearning shapes of air—
Friends than whom earth holds none dearer
   No—alas! they are not there:
   Have they, then, forgot to share
          Our good Thanksgiving turkey?

Some have gone away and tarried
   Strangely long by some strange wave;
Some have turned to foes; we carried
   Some unto the pine-girt grave:
   They'll come no more so joyous-brave
          To take Thanksgiving turkey.

Nay, repine not. Let our laughter
   Leap like firelight up again.
Soon we touch the wide Hereafter,
   Snow-field yet untrod of men:
   Shall we meet once more—and when?—
          To eat Thanksgiving turkey.

~ by George Parsons Lathrop (1851-1898)

For another glimpse of Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music

Feast Day of St. Cecilia ~ November 22
Saint Cecilia and an Angel
Painting by Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639)
and Giovanni Lanfranco (1582 - 1647)

A Hymn for Saint Cecilia

Sing for the morning’s joy, Cecilia, sing,
in words of youth and praises of the Spring,
walk the bright colonnades by fountains’ spray,
and sing as sunlight fills the waking day;
till angels, voyaging in upper air,
pause on a wing and gather the clear sound
into celestial joy, wound and unwound,
a silver chain, or golden as your hair.

Sing for your loves of heaven and of earth,
in words of music, and each word a truth;
marriage of heart and longings that aspire,
a bond of roses, and a ring of fire.
Your summertime grows short and fades away,
terror must gather to a martyr’s death;
but never tremble, the last indrawn breath
remembers music as an echo may.

Through the cold aftermath of centuries,
Cecilia’s music dances in the skies;
lend us a fragment of the immortal air,
that with your choiring angels we may share,
a word to light us thro’ time-fettered night,
water of life, or rose of paradise,
so from the earth another song shall rise
to meet your own in heaven’s long delight.

by Ursula Vaughan Williams
Set to music in 1960,
by English composer Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

Some background on the writer Ursula Vaughan Williams and
her husband, composer Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Joan Ursula Penton (1911 - 2007)

married first, in 1933, to Michael Forrester Wood (b? - d 1942)

married second, in 1953, to Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958)

who had been married first, in 1897, to Adeline Fisher (1870 - 1951)
Ursula met Ralph in 1938, and became the caregiver for his wife Adeline, who was suffering from severe arthritis. Ursula and Ralph began an affair at this time, while married to their respective spouses.

They eventually married in February 1953, when Ralph was 81 and Ursula 42. She encouraged him to resume his music, assisted in his composition, and wrote his definitive biography; she also wrote her own autobiography, several novels, and numerous poems, including the above "Hymn for St. Cecilia."

Ursula and Ralph were on my mind when I read Alex Clark's article in the Guardian: "Never date a poet. They’ll always do the dirty on you " - about T.S. Eliot.
Eliot (1888 – 1965) dated Emily Hale (1891 - 1969) from 1912 - 1914.

He was married to Vivienne Haigh-Wood (1888 - 1947) from 1915 - 1933)

He maintained a correspondence with Emily Hale between 1932 and 1947.

He married Esmé Valerie Fletcher (1926 - 2012) in 1957, when he was 68 years old and she was 30. She "devoted her life to the remainder of his and the subsequent management of his legacy."

Thursday, November 19, 2020


Spinning the Web ~ Taken September 3, 2020

The Jeweled Books ~ Taken October 17, 2020

Eating Poetry ~ Farmers Market

You Will Be the Light
July 16, 2019 & July 3, 2020

Ephemera ~ Taken August 5, 2020

Petunias ~ July 2019

Fourth of July ~ Las Vegas ~ 2019
See Penn & Teller?

Gerry ~ Vaca! ~ July 2019

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Safe Home

Don't you love it that this birdhouse
has it's own birdhouse?

As Susan Stewart says of the miniature: 
"...what we look for is the dollhouse within the dollhouse
and its promise of an infinitely profound interiority." (61)

"Safe house. Saying the words to myself in secret.
For safe house made me smile.
Safe house made me feel warm.
Safe house was something small you could hide in, I thought.
Like a dollhouse where if you were small enough to fit inside
you would be so small nobody would come looking for you.
" (61)

Black Girl / White Girl (2006)
Joyce Carol Oates

These touching lines from Oates' novel
reminded me to re-read some previous favorites,
written by my friend Jan Donley and posted a few years back:

"Washington Street"
"But something about that house on Washington Street calls you,
reminds you of something you just cannot name.
You see it in her eyes when you look at the photo.
You want someone to tell you the story of that house and her in it.
You were there, yet you need someone to tell the story."

@ Picture of Home


"You hold the house in the palm of your hand—a triangle roof
and a square base. No windows. No doors. Just the shape. Simple.
The house a child would draw if you said, 'Draw a house.'"

@ Whatnots

@ The House You're Standing In . . .
or Holding in the Palm of Your Hand

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Quotidian Life
Is Not Always Easy

Depression Glass novelty pieces from my grandmother’s house.
See how the little amber bowl is a cauldron?!
My grandma always kept toothpicks in the yellow one.
And I always begged to drink milk or water from the green one
 — there were 2 of them, with matching saucers.

One-of-a-kind handmade Halloween card
from my talented sister-in-law Tina McF.
"I would hope that my readers feel a sense of awe at the quality of human endurance, at the endurance of love in the face of a variety of difficulties; that the quotidian life is not always easy, and is something worthy of respect. I would also hope that readers receive a larger understanding, or a different undertanding, of what it means to be human, than they might have had before. We suffer from being quick to judge, quick to make excuses for ourselves and others, and I would like the reader to feel that we are all, more or less, in a similar state as we love and disappoint one another, and that we try, most of us, as best we can, and that to fail and succeed is what we do." (281 - 82)

Elizabeth Strout (b 1956)
comments on her novel Olive Kitteridge


For more about the quotidian in Olive Kitteridge
and several other novels,*

see my current post:

"Spinning the Web"

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

*Things Invisible to See ~ Nancy Willard
The Guest Book ~ Sarah Blake
Eleanor Oliphant ~ Gail Honeyman
Olive Kitteridge ~ Elizabeth Strout
Black Girl / White Girl ~ Joyce Carol Oates
Ordinary Grace ~ William Kent Krueger

Sedem Stems from Gerry's Garden
Not ready to give up Halloween just yet!

And looking ahead to Spring . . .

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Form of Madness

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


Family Favorites:
Robert Service ~ "A Hero"

~~ Previous Veterans Day Posts ~~
& Google Doodle

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

My Shadow and Me

Happy 125th Birthday to my maternal grandfather Paul Jones Lindsey, born on this day in 1895 -- in a covered wagon in northeast Oklahoma. I like this picture of him and his shadow, taken about 100 years ago by an anonymous creative friend who noticed the light at just the right moment and seized the opportunity to capture it in time for future generations.

My friend Beata shared this striking pre - Thanksgiving
photo and a few possible titles, such as
With Two of My Shadows, Talking with my Shadows
or Shifted Me.

Monday, November 2, 2020

A Bonfire for All Souls

All Souls Night

Bonfires dot the rolling hills
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the pagan sound

Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes
Of fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires
And dancing till the next sunrise

I can see lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night

Figures of cornstalks bend in the shadows
Held up tall as the flames leap high
The green knight holds the holly bush
To mark where the old year passes by

I can see the lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night

Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
And moving to the pagan sound

Standing on the bridge that crosses
The river that goes out to the sea
The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me

I can see the lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night

Music & lyrics by Loreena Mckennitt (b 1957)
Canadian singer - songwriter
It was completely dark when I took these pictures,
but somehow I unintentionally captured
more light than expected.
Happy Blue Halloween Moon!
All Saints Moonrise

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Mourning After

Halloween ~ Just Before Midnight
Downtown Chicago 
Photo by Sam McCartney

Last night, a happy haunted Halloween; this morning, a blustery All Saints Day. We awake in mourning -- for Halloween, for October, for Daylight Saving Time. As of today, it's all over, and the bleak mid - autumn is upon us. In fact, we are precisely in the middle of autumn, at the magical half - way point between the Autumnal Equinox (Mabon) and the Winter Solstice (Yule), which is what all the Samhain and Dia de los Muertos celebrations are all about.

As a special bonus, the hour that we sacrificed back at the beginning of Daylight Time is restored to us, but still, despite that extra slice of light on the sundial, it seems to have have grown darker out and I cringe to "always hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near." Why is that?

Thoughts from friends and poets:

"Time has come today! Time!"
Thanks Rita Burrell

"Do not let yourself be deluded by anyone;
this is all I teach
Thanks Michael Lipsey

"Take pity on time ." ~Edward Lucie - Smith

" . . . our pitiful share of time . . ." ~X.J. Kennedy

"Do not pity the dead, Harry.
Pity the living
. . . "
~ J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (722)


And, finally, this poem, which you might remember
was recited in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral
-- that's how I first learned about it.
In connection with the above passages, I think it explains why
the custom of mourning for an entire year makes a lot of sense:

Funeral Blues
(Song IX / from Two Songs for Hedli Anderson)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973)


Need something to fill that extra hour?
In addition to contemplating our mortality
and that of our loved ones, past and present,
check out my book blog & get some reading done!
Current post: "The Jeweled Books in the Shelves"