Sunday, January 30, 2022

A Chicken in the Pan

Carnival Blue “Hen-on-Nest” Dish
by Indiana Glass Company

You can find a couple of poems by Barbara Crooker on my blogs: most recently "Monopoly 1955" on the Fortnightly (see "Literary Board Games") and "Ordinary Life" on a Quotidian post from way back in 2011 (see "The Moon"). I wanted to re-post them here together, because both poems feature the mouth-watering imagery of chicken cooking on the stove, the homiest of meals.

As food writer / novelist Laurie Colwin (1944 - 1992) once described her own "legendary roasted chicken":
"Roast Chicken . . . is almost everyone's favoirte dish. I have never seen a menu outside of a vegetarian restaurant that does not list some variety or other of it. In the old days I used to slip herbs and savory things like porcini mushrooms under the skin and baste the chicken constantly, but I have gradually come to know that none of these things is necessary. . . . There is nothing like roast chicken. It is helpful and agreeable, the perfect dish no matter what the circumstances. Elegant or homey, a dish for a dinner party or a family supper, it will not let you down" (72, 167).

from her cookbook / memoir More Home Cooking See also "Feasts and Seasons" and "Homebody Somebody"]
Colwin lets you know how to prepare the chicken, focusing more on TLC than on technique; and Barbara Crooker's poems capture the same tender loving care and deliciousness. It's all there -- taste, touch, sight, smell; perhaps even the sound of that "roiling" bubble. Crooker describes simmering chicken dinners that could be based on Colwin's recipes: humble yet elegant; affordable yet pricelessly bonding the family at dinnertime:
Ordinary Life
This was a day when nothing happened,
the children went off to school
without a murmur, remembering
their books, lunches, gloves.
All morning, the baby and I built block stacks
in the squares of light on the floor.
And lunch blended into naptime,
I cleaned out kitchen cupboards,
one of those jobs that never gets done,
then sat in a circle of sunlight
and drank ginger tea,
watched the birds at the feeder
jostle over lunch's little scraps.
A pheasant strutted from the hedgerow,
preened and flashed his jeweled head.
Now a chicken roasts in the pan,
and the children return,
the murmur of their stories dappling the air.
I peel carrots and potatoes without paring my thumb.
We listen together for your wheels on the drive.
Grace before bread.
And at the table, actual conversation,
no bickering or pokes.
And then, the drift into homework.
The baby goes to his cars, drives them
along the sofa's ridges and hills.
Leaning by the counter, we steal a long slow kiss,
tasting of coffee and cream.
The chicken's diminished to skin & skeleton,
the moon to a comma, a sliver of white,
but this has been a day of grace
in the dead of winter,
the hard cold knuckle of the year,
a day that unwrapped itself
like an unexpected gift,
and the stars turn on,
order themselves
into the winter night.

[emphasis added]

Monopoly 1955
We start by fanning out the money, colored
like Necco wafers: pink, yellow, mint, gold.
From the first roll of the dice, differences widen:
the royal blues of Boardwalk and Park Place
look down their noses at the grapey immigrants
from Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues.
My grandparents coming from Italy in steerage
measured their gold in olive oil, not bank notes
and deeds. The man in the top hat and tuxedo
always holds the good cards. The rest of us
hope we can pay the Electric Company.
We know there is no such thing as Free Parking,
and Bank Errors are never in our favor.
In the background, Johnny Mathis croons
Chances Are from the cracked vinyl radio.
We played for hours, in those years
before television, on the Formica table,
while my mother coaxed a chicken,
cooking all day on the back burner, to multiply
itself into many meals. The fat rose to the surface,
a roiling ocean of molten gold.

[emphasis added]

both poems by Barbara Crooker (b 1945)
Supper at Emmaus ~ Caravaggio ~ 1601

See: A Chicken in Every Pot
"I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor
that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday
~ Henry IV of France ~

Friday, January 28, 2022

Fun & Board Games

I've been saving this magazine ad
since it first caught my eye about 20 years ago.
Literary Christmasy Candyland -- fun for all ages!

For more fun & games, see my recent post

Literary Board Games

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

Monday, January 24, 2022

Krazy Ikes

Someone else has already captured the essence of this nostalgic toy (read more); and there are lots of photos and purchase options on ebay; but really I just wanted to take the opportunity to say "Krazy Ikes." Even as a child, I think my favorite thing about our Krazy Ikes building set -- even more than creating crazy humans and animals -- was saying the name.

I've never forgotten about Krazy Ikes, though I can't say they cross my mind all that often. Recently, however, they entered the conversation when my older son Ben (b 1990) was tyring to recall "some plastic animal toys with removable heads, and legs of different lengths."

Through the miracle of google (key words are your friends!), we finally remembered these animal toys from Tupperware":


Another Old Favorite!
Cooties: FN & QK
And don't forget
the Board Games!

Friday, January 21, 2022

Slowly the West Reaches

Cold January Sunset


Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs--

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

Another post & another poem
in honor of my mother's 91st birthday
January 21, 1931 ~ June 15, 2020

Again, Again!

Again, again, even if we know the country side of love,
and the tiny churchyard with it's names mourning,
and the chasm, more and more silent, terrifying, into which
the others

dropped: we walk out together anyway
beneath the ancient trees, we lie down again,
again among the flowers [or the snow!], and face the sky.

Both poems by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
Translated by Robert Bly (1926 – 2021)

See also:
"Staying Alive" ~ FN & QK
"Fenceposts" ~ FN & QK

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Great Prize: Liquid Gold

Indiana Sunrise ~  January 18, 2022
The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price,* the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R. S. Thomas (1913 - 2000)
Welsh poet and Anglican priest
It happens every year around this time!

See also
Look, a New Day has Begun
& My Own Little Stonehenge

*Poet, philosopher, and scholar John O'Donohue (1956 - 2008) analyzes "The Bright Field" with great sensitivity and insight. Interestingly, though, O'Donohue quotes the fifth line as "pearl of great prize." It could be merely typesetting error, but it adds depth to the traditional parable, for indeed the pearl of great price is also a great prize.

Typo or not, O'Donohue writes:
"Sometimes difficulty is the greatest friend of the soul. . . . looking back on life feeling, maybe, that you missed something or that you regret something that you did not do. . . .

"At the heart of R. S. Thomas's beautiful poem is a Celtic idea of time. Your time is not just past or future. Your time here always inhabits the circle of your soul. All your time i s gathered, and even your future time is waiting here for you. In a certain sense your past is not gone bu rather hidden in your memory. Your time is the deeper seed of the eternity that is waiting to welcome you.

From Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, (186 - 87)

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Wise Ones Everywhere

For the Season of Epiphany:
"All Hail Cat Jesus!" ~ by Louis Wain (1860 – 1939)

After the conclusion of the Twelve Days of Christmas
(December 25 - January 5),
comes the Day of Epiphany (January 6)
and the arrival of the three wisemen with their gifts.

As soon as the day came, earlier this month,
I started seeing Wise Ones everywhere, in sets of three
-- such as the kittens above, and the travelers below!


Recent Post - Christmas Posts

Epiphany: All Have Made a Journey

Christmas for Cowgirls

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


Christmas Gifts From the Sea

@Kitti's List


Storypeople ~ "Heading South"
by Brian Andreas (b. 1956)

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

May It Go Swimmingly

Calendar for 2022

Swimming Pools of a Lifetime

Big Spring Park ~ Neosho, Missouri

Astana, Kazakhstan

Swim Team!

Best Hour of the Day

Happy Hollow Pool ~ West Lafayette

Tropicanoe Cove ~ Water Walking

Kimberling City, Missouri

Bloomington, Indiana

Mandalay Bay ~ Las Vegas

Mills House Hotel ~ Charleston, SC

Hotel Valley Ho ~ Scottsdale, Arizona

NewTone Fitness ~ Lafayette, Indiana

Richard A. Wachs Aquatics Center

Another Favorite
Hilton Rosemont ~ Chicago O'Hare


Everyday Custom & Ceremony ~ 2012
Mona's Clothes ~ 2012
Moons of Wintertime and Beyond ~ 2013
Never Quite the Same ~ 2014
Homes That We Love ~ 2014
814 ~ Where It Was Almost Always Christmas ~ 2015
Time for a Moondance ~ 2015
Love Me, Love My Cats! ~ 2015
A Day in the Garden ~ 2016
Team McCartney ~ 2017
Full Moon Night ~ Full Moon Year ~ 2017
Wishing You Were Here ~ 2018
Time to Travel ~ 2019
Panama Bag ~ 2020
Swimming Pools ~ 2022

Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Need for Elegance

Interior, The Orange Blind
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883 – 1937)
" . . . perhaps the most elegant of the Colourists."

"Elegance tends to be confused with
superficiality, fashion, lack of depth.
This is a serious mistake:
human beings need to have elegance
in their actions and in their posture
because this word is synonymous with
good taste, amiability, equilibrium & harmony."

~ Paul Coelho ~

Interior with Opera Cloak
As an artist, Cadell was known for:
"Taking great pains over the decoration and
fashionable furnishing
of his home and studios . . ."

Elegance is achieved
when all that is superfluous
has been discarded and the human being
discovers simplicity and concentration:
the simpler and more sober the posture,
the more beautiful it will be.

~ Paul Coelho ~
from ~ Manuscript Found in Accra

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Exactly Enough Time

Guardian Angels for the New Year

Advice for the New Year

from Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
American poet, essayist, lecturer, philosopher,
abolitionist and transcendentalist:

""Dearest scholar,
Stick to thy foolish task,
add a line every hour,
and between whiles add a line.


from M├írio de Andrade (1893 – 1945)
Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist,
art historian and critic, and photographer:
I counted my years and realized that I have less time to live ahead of me, than I have lived so far.

I feel like the children who won a pack of candies: at first, they ate them with pleasure, but when they realized that there was little left, they began to taste them even more intensely.

I have no time for endless meetings where the statutes, rules, procedures and internal regulations are discussed, knowing that nothing will be done.

I no longer have the patience to endure absurd people who, despite their chronological age, have not grown up.

My time is too short: I want the essence; my spirit is in a hurry. I do not have much candy in the package anymore.

I want to live next to humane, realistic people who know how to laugh at their mistakes, who are not inflated by their own triumphs, and who take responsibility for their actions. In this way, human dignity is defended and we live in truth and honesty, the essentials that make life worth living.

I want to surround myself with people who know how to touch hearts, people who have learned the gentle touch of the soul.

Yes, I'm in a hurry. I'm rushing to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.

I do not intend to waste any of the remaining sweets. I am sure they will be delicious, much more than those eaten so far.

My goal is to reach the end satisfied and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience.

We have two lives; the second begins when you realize you only have one

from StoryPeople
by Brian Andreas (b 1956)
American writer, artist, publisher and speaker

Monday, January 3, 2022

Not So Sure

My brother's New Year Joke:
"After 2020 and 2021,
I'm not so sure a New Year is such a good idea.
Couldn't we just get a Certified Pre-Owned Year from the 90's?


I was reminded of how this beautiful sentiment
used to be my favorite quote for New Year's Day:

"And now let us welcome the new year,
full of things that have never been
" --Rilke

But now -- after 2020 & 2021 --
it sounds like a threat. So, no thanks!