"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lammas ~ Lughnasa

THE CROSS - QUARTER DAYS,
WHEN ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS

August 1st is the cross-quarter holiday halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox, called Lughnasa (from the ancient Irish god Lugh) or Lammas Day (from the Anglo-Saxon term hlaf [meaning loaf] - mas. Sometimes called The Feast of the First Corn, it is the first harvest festival of the year -- the cutting of the first corn, the first wheat, the "first fruits." One time - honored custom was to celebrate Lughnasa not necessarily on the 1st day of August, but on the evening of the nearest full moon. Another was to extend the celebration from August 1st through September 1st, giving us not merely Lammas but Lammastide, and making this Fortnightly post the perfect occasion for observing the midway point of the season.

Although some Americans may be familiar with -- fans even -- of the Meryl Streep movie: Dancing at Lughnasa, for the most part this holiday goes unobserved in the United States. It simply doesn't draw the kind of attention to itself that the other cross - quarter days do: Groundhog Day (halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox); May Day (halfway between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice); Halloween / All Saints Day / Dia de los Muertos (halfway between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice).

In England, back in 1981 anyway,
Lammastide retained enough currency
to feature on a postage stamp,
along with several other folk celebrations:

Thanks to my friend Steven for reminding me that Shakespeare's tragic heroine Juliet (like Harry Potter and his creator J. K. Rowling) was born on July 31st -- Lammas - Eve. We learn this fun fact from Juliet's devoted Nurse, as she recollects Juliet's toddler - hood:

"On Lammas - Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
That shall she. Marry, I remember it well. . . ."
Romeo & Juliet
, I, iii, 23 - 24

Color illustration of Juliet and Her Nurse
by British artist ~ Gertrude Demain Hammond (1862 - 1952)
for an 1878 illustrated edition of Charles and Mary Lamb's
Tales from Shakspeare

I like to think that Carole King had Lughnasa in mind when she wrote these lovely lyrics about the seamless transition from July to August, along with the subtlest hint that before long, Summer will soon give way to Fall:
The First Day in August

On the first day in August
I want to wake up by your side
After sleeping with you
On the last night in July
In the morning
We'll catch the sun rising
And we'll chase it from the mountains
To the bottom of the sea

When the day is over
And the night air comes to chill us
You'll build a fire
And we'll watch the flames dancing

You'll fall asleep
With your arm around my shoulder
And nothing will come between us
On the first night in August
The first day in August
Noon, Rest from Work (1890)
Vincent Van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
~ after Millet ~

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS ON MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, August 28th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Advancing & Receding

VIBRANT HORIZON, ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
Red Sky ~ or ~ Red Sea?
Advancing ~ or ~ Receding?

Painting by Leonard Orr

An literary exploration of the intriguing concept
of a perpetual redistribution of human emotion:


"We seem to have learned of the horizon
the art of perpetual retreating and reference."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~
from "Experience" ~ 1844


"The tears of the world are a constant quantity.
For each one who begins to weep
somewhere else another stops.
The same is true of the laugh."

~ Samuel Beckett ~
from Waiting for Godot ~ 1953


"Every moment of one's existence
one is growing into more or retreating into less.
One is always living a little more or dying a little bit."

~ Norman Mailer ~
from Advertisements for Myself ~ 1959

"As in the fusion with Mercer, everyone ascended together or, when the cycle had come to an end, fell together into the trough of the tomb world. Oddly, it resembled a sort of biological insurance, but double-edged. As long as some creature experienced joy, then the condition for all other creatures included a fragment of joy. However, if any living being suffered, then for all the rest the shadow could not be entirely cast off. A herd animal such as man would acquire a higher survival factor through this..."
~ Philip K. Dick ~
from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? ~ 1968

"So how do we seize the past? As it recedes, does it come into focus? Some think so. We know more, we discover extra documents, we use infra - red light to pierce erasures in the correspondence, and we are free of contemporary prejudice; so we understand better. Is that it? I wonder. . . .

“The past is a distant, receding coastline, and we are all in the same boat. Along the stern rail there is a line of telescopes; each brings the shore into focus at a given distance. If the boat is becalmed, one of the telescopes will be in continual use; it will seem to tell the whole, the unchanging truth. But this is an illusion; and as the boat sets off again, we return to our normal activity: scurrying from one telescope to another, seeing the sharpness fade in one, waiting for the blur to clear in another. And when the blur does clear, we imagine that we have made it do so all by ourselves.

"Does the world progress? Or does it merely shuttle back and forth like a ferry?"
(100, 101, 105)
~ Julian Barnes ~
Flaubert's Parrot ~ 1984


"Their happiness is not her unhappiness. Unless it is.
What if there is only an equal ratio of happiness to
unhappiness in the world at any given time?"

~ Gabrielle Zevin ~
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry ~ 2014


"One fire burns out another's burning.
One pain is lessened by another's anguish.
Tut man, one fire burns out another’s burning.
One pain is lessened by another’s anguish.
Turn giddy, and be helped by backward turning.
One desperate grief cures with another’s languish.
Take thou some new infection to thy eye,
And the rank poison of the old will die."

~ Shakespeare ~
Romeo & Juliet ~ 1597
Quoted by Peter Abernathy in Westworld ~ 2016

Green Bird ~ and / or ~ Green Fish?
Sky ~ and / or ~ Sea?

Painting by Leonard Orr

*******************

Thanks Len for multiple appearances on my blogs!
Previously Posted Paintings & Poetry:

Fortnightly
Capturing the Ginkgo Light
Like An Ant
I Will Show You Modernism In A Handful of Dust
The Ides of Whatever
Advancing & Receding

Quotidian
End of Summer Sounds
Golden Paintings by Leonard Orr
Excellent Images
Happy Birthday Dylan Thomas
The same war continues . . .
The Magpie Waiting for his Beautiful Partner
An Ant and a Grain of Sand
Bursting Into Light
Sun ~ Flower ~ Moon
Days of Optimism
Life Without Poetry
What To Do
Star - Spanlged But Unsingable
That Lost Time & Place

Book List
Lovely As A Tree
Evening ~ Timing ~ Floating: Poetry by Leonard Orr

Poems: "Past Tense, Future Tense" ~ "Yiddish for Travellers"
"The Loop" ~ "Desperate Times" ~ "Optimist" ~
"Sun and Wheatfields" & "Russian Olives" ~ "Monet's The Magpie"

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS ON MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, August 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Rough Places Plain

MOUNTAINS & VALLEYS, ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
~ Photo by Sam McCartney ~ Colorado ~ July 2018 ~

"Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low:
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough places plain . . . "


Isaiah 40:4

****************

"For God has decreed the flattening
of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills,
the filling of the valleys to make the ground level
so that Israel can walk in safety . . . "


Baruch 5: 7

****************

". . . settle your mean heights down
a little to short heights . . . "
~ Adorable Tiana's Heartfelt Advice ~ with subtitles ~

How did this tiny little girl get to be so wise? She hardly looks old enough to have listened to a performance of the Messiah, yet she is able to understand the message of the prophets. She seems to have no trouble grasping the concept of a middle ground, of bringing the high low and the low high. Truly, "a little child shall lead them":
Mom, are you ready to be his friend?

~ Yes.

Try not to be that high up to be friends.
I want everything to be low. Okay?

~ Okay.

Just try your best.
I don't want you and my dad to be replaced and meanies again.
I want you and my dad to be placed as settled and be friends.

I'm not trying to be mean.
I just want everyone to be friends.
And if I can be nice, I think all of us can be nice too.

I'm not trying to be mean, but
I'm trying to do my best in my heart.
Nothing else than that.

I want you Mom, my dad, everyone to be friends.
I want everyone to be smiling,
Not like being mad. I want everything smile.
Especially when I see someone, I want them to smile.

Especially Nana, everyone. I want everyone to smile.
And if that's for my dad and you Mom,
I think you can do it.

I think you can settle your mean heights down
a little to short heights.

Then it's both. Okay?

I'm not trying to be mean.
I'm not trying to be a bully.

I'm trying to be steady, on the floor.
Not way down. On straight.
On the middle where my heart is.


My heart is something.
Everyone else's heart is something too.
And if we live in a world where everyone is being mean,
everyone is going to be a monster in the future.

What if there is a little bit of persons
and we will eat them?
Then no one will ever be here,
Only the monsters in our place.

We need everyone to be a person. Everyone.
Including me and my mom, everyone,

I just want everything to be settled down.
Nothing else.
I want everything to be good as possible.
Nothing else.

~ Thank you Tiana. I love you.

I love you too.
****************

"Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill made low,
the crooked straight and the rough places plain."


~ Handel's Messiah ~

~ Photo by Steven A. J. Kordenat ~ Mount St Helens ~ July 2012 ~

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS ON MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, July 28th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 28, 2018

I Shall But Love Thee Better

A HOUSE WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
The Woman's Club of Portsmouth, where
my son Ben and his bride Cathleen were married last week
~ right there on the front porch!

A few months ago, in preparation for the ceremony, Ben asked me to suggest some poems -- no tired old conventions and nothing ridiculously outdated, please! -- to read at the wedding. Naturally, I was honored to comply with this request and share my treasure trove of ideas, starting with the readings that Gerry and chose for our wedding, twenty - nine years ago.

I also recommended this combination, which Gerry and I didn't use, but almost did:
From Psalm 46: "Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed, and
though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea
;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make us glad . . . "


************************

From Stand By Me by Ben E. King

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No, I won't be afraid
Oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me . . .

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountain should crumble to the sea

I won't cry, I won't cry
No, I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me
Though, in the end, these lyrics didn't make it into either wedding, they were a close runner - up both times, and the song remains a favorite with everyone.

My next suggestion was Sonnet #43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Even though it may seem like a total cliche, I love this poem, written to her husband Robert Browning (excepting the morbid conclusion and most of lines 3 - 4, which I have never really understood, in brackets below):
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach,
[when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.]
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life;
[and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.]


Ben shared my admiration for this one and made a couple more enlightened edits, trusting that Elizabeth Barrett Browning would concur:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach . . .
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as we strive for right.
I love thee purely, as we turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life . . .
Best Wishes to the Newlyweds Cathleen & Ben!

Ever since Sam's undergrad days as Purdue Boilermaker #43,
this particular number seems to follow our family around,
compounding its significance and bringing good fortune.
My reading of "Sonnet #43" on Ben & Cathleen's wedding day
proved to be yet another case in point!
See also: Boiler Up! ~ DYFJ ~ Waiting For Football

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS ON MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, July 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 14, 2018

So Many Synchronicities!

ART & DESIGN ~ ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
Christmas, 1930 - 1940
by Florine Stettheimer, 1871 – 1944

Post - Holiday Chat With a Friend

K: Here is a copy of the card I mailed you, featuring a painting of New York City by one of my new favorite artists, Florine Stettheimer. I love all the pinks & yellows, don't you?

N: Ooh! I love Florine’s artwork! I’d never heard of her so thanks for introducing her to me. I look forward to receiving your card. Her style kind of reminds me of Maira Kalman’s. Are you familiar with her? I fell in love with her when I read her Principles of Uncertainty column in the NYT years ago. It’s now published in a lovely book form (and more recently, an hour - long choreographic collaboration). By the way, I learned while listening to an interview with her that her name is pronounced “Myra” (not “Mayra," as I had been saying in my head).

K:
Thanks for telling me about Maira Kalman. I looked her up on amazon and already ordered the book you suggested -- Principles of Uncertainty, plus another one -- And the Pursuit of Happiness. When I googled her name, I immediately recognized one of the New Yorker covers, a woman wearing an Easter Bunny Bonnet (filled with tiny Chagall - like figures), that I had years ago in a box of note cards featuring several different artists -- but I didn't really pay any attention at the time, just used up the cards without thinking or remembering. So, thanks to your tip, now I know!


N:
I hope you enjoy Maira Kalman as much as I do. She has also done illustrations for a new publication of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style that you might enjoy (required reading in my 9th grade English class). She’s actually done many books since that first one. She just might be a new favorite for you, too!

K: Here's another Florine, from the Chicago Art Institute:



N: I thought that painting looked familiar! I, too, took a picture of it when visiting that museum in 2014! I just didn’t make note of the artist because I’d never heard of her. See my close - ups:



K: How serendiptious that we were both so drawn to this painting, in the same location but at different times!

N: By the way, I was just looking through some photos from a brief weekend in NYC years ago, and came across these ones I took at the Met! Can you believe it? Apparently, I’ve been admiring Florine’s work for years without even realizing it!







N: So many synchronicities! Florine seems an unusual name and yet a little girl in our neighborhood has this name! Also, I had just been reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali translated by Swami Vivekananda and the same day, when leaving the museum, I looked up and saw this road sign! I thought it unusual enough to photograph it:


K: Amazing! I love these three Stettheimer paintings that I have never seen before! And how amazing that you saw "Swami Vivekananda Way" on the same day that you were in Chicago, and that you know another "Florine"! I like the way you express it: "So many synchronicities!" That's what I love writing about on my blogposts -- all the daily connections and coincidences!

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS ON MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Thursday, June 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts ~ Kalman & Stettheimer
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

Monday, May 28, 2018

Don't Ruin My Birthday!

BIRTHDAY CAKE ~ ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
A Chocolate Cheesecake for Ben ~ June 2, 2005

********************

Because my happiness was based on external measures —
on tasks being completed, plans running accordingly,
goals being met, hairs being in place —
I was continually disappointed
— upset — impatient — and stressed.
"
Rachel Macy Stafford
from her article
"The Day My Child Lost Her Joy —
And What I Did to Revive It
"

********************

Thanks to my friend Laura Thudium Zieglowsky for posting Rachel Macy Stafford's article, which is well worth reading no matter what the age of your loved ones. Whether or not you are surrounded by impressionable children, Stafford's points are well taken. I appreciate her observation that, yes, our moods and actions do indeed have an impact on others around us; and if we care about their feelings, we will modify our behavior accordingly. Easier said than done, however, when, rightly or wrongly, little things seem to matter so much: "I’m talking trivial, insignificant, minor inconveniences here, but that was the state of a distracted [or in my case at the time, pre-menopausal and strangely sad] woman who could no longer see the blessings, only the inconveniences, of her life."

Stafford's quest to revive her joy reminded me of my son Ben's 15th birthday (13 years ago!), when I went to pick the boys up from summer band and burst into tears because another mom had given me a mean scowl on the parking lot for being a bad driver. No one was hurt, no one's car was damaged, yet still I felt so shamed and stressed and worried that I could not stop crying to save my life (maybe because I took the scowl personally, and started hearing the tapes in my head: "you're so stupid, you don't belong here"). Why couldn't I just say, "Oh, well"?

I tried to proceed with my normal activities that afternoon, going home and making a cake, but crying all the while. Even an hour or so later, while Ben and Sam were in the study doing their homework and I was in the kitchen assembling Ben's favorite -- chocolate cheesecake -- I simply could not get a grip. Finally, Ben called in from the other room, "Mom, stop crying! You're ruining my birthday!" Now THAT was a wake-up call!

It was bad enough that Sam was constantly reminding me "to chill." But looking crazy in the eyes of my children or ruining their birthdays? That was the last thing I wanted. Quick! Send in the emergency perception checkers!

Around the same time, one of my most introspective friends wrote to say:
"Hope all is well with you. By which I guess I mean two things: I hope for pleasant circumstances to surround you, but also I hope you feel well deep within, where no circumstance can touch you. Lately I think of myself as a tree, and those two realms of life are the branches and the root system, respectively."

Similarly, Susan Jeffers, in The Little Book of Peace of Mind (which may sound trite but is not), draws a distinction between Higher Self (the source inner peace, peace of mind, etc.) and the Lower Self (who insists on struggling with circumstances). She says "that true joy comes not from something out there, but from something wondrous within our being . . . something . . . present and always accessible."
What a perfectly timed reminder that circumstances are merely superficial and not the barometer of happiness -- and most importantly, that they needn't touch me. Why give every little detail or misstep the power to determine my mood and the way I feel about and act toward others? Instead of being so reactive to all the inconsequential little bothers -- or even the larger hurtful ones -- I had only to shift my focus from circumstances to state of mind. It's partly a question of maturity and, perhaps, learning to live with our natures; and partly resisting the tendency to take every perceived slight personally -- even when there was no need at all -- particularly things over which we have little or no control.

Could I train myself to privilege to peace of mind over circumstances? As Kafka reminds us, we can be so good at intellectualizing these precepts yet so inept at applying them to our daily struggles and living them out, all the time, in all areas of life. Rachel Macy Stafford explains the "positive mantras" that she finds helpful:
"Only Love Today to silence my inner bully. Whenever a critical thought would come to my mind or my mouth, I’d cut it off with Only Love Today. I used See Flowers Not Weeds as a pathway to gratitude, to see what was good in situations and people."
I too have a few of these mantras. Whenever I start fighting the circumstances too hard, I rely on one of my long - time favorites from Margaret Atwood: "You have nothing to live against." Whenever I start feeling frustrated and critical, I take the advice that Hugh Prather shares in How To Live in the World and Still Be Happy: Try going through the day saying to yourself, "Today I will be gently amused by everything" or "Today I will not make any judgments."

Ben displayed some "gentle amusement" (again this was years ago) when we were stuck up on campus at a boring meeting, and afterward I told him about my new Hugh Prather approach. He said, "Good luck with that, Mom. As for me, I judged the meeting to be boring and was not amused." Well, regardless of his assessment, clearly he retained his sense of humor; always a plus!

Another funny talk with Ben from those days occurred one night when we burned a batch of cookies. Rather than my usual fretting or blaming, I said, "Well, you know what the doctor says . . . ." Ben looked at me quizzically, and I told him that the best medical advice I'd received lately was to say, "Oh, well!" Furthermore, do whatever it might take (positive mantras, talk therapy, SSRIs, emotional tools) to keep your "Oh, well!" function in good working order, never forgetting the connection between emotional outlook and physical well-being. Whenever you might be otherwise tempted to "cry over spilled milk" -- or whatever it is that I might have just spilled or burned or broken or lost -- instead, just say "Oh, well!" or another useful variation: "That happens sometimes!"

So far, this post has not been very literary, but I am happy to share these lyrics, at times mysterious, about the lifelong quest for peace of mind:
One of These Days

Well I won't have to chop no wood
I can be bad or I can be good
I can be any way that I feel
One of these days

Might be a woman that's dressed in black
Be a hobo by the railroad track
I'll be gone like the wayward wind
one of these days

One of these days it will soon
be all over cut and dry
And I won't have this urge
to go all bottled up inside
One of these days I'll look back
and I'll say I left in time
'Cause somewhere for me
I know there's peace of mind

I might someday walk across this land
Carrying the Lord's book in my hand
Goin' cross the country singin' loud as I can
One of these days

But I won't have trouble on my back
Cuttin' like the devil with a choppin' axe,
Got to shake it off my back
one of these days

One of these days it will soon
be all over cut and dry
And I won't have this urge
to go all bottled up inside
One of these days I'll look back
and I'll say I left in time
'Cause somewhere for me
I know there's peace of mind
There's gonna be peace of mind for me
one of these days


Music & lyrics by Earl Montgomery / Sung by Emmylou Harris

On a slightly lighter note, but still introspectively,
the narrator of this little song urges the lovelorn to say,
"Oh, well!"

Why So Pale and Wan?

Why so pale and wan fond lover?
Prithee why so pale?
Will, when looking well can’t move her,
Looking ill prevail?
Prithee why so pale?

Why so dull and mute young sinner?
Prithee why so mute?
Will, when speaking well can’t win her,
Saying nothing do’t?
Prithee why so mute?

Quit, quit for shame, this will not move,
This cannot take her;
If of herself she will not love,
Nothing can make her;
The devil take her.


By Cavalier Poet, Sir John Suckling (1609 - 1641)

Interesting to note that both of these songs include a reference to the devil (as in "Get thee behind me Satan!") -- there's a connection for you! And here's a coincidence: just this morning, I ran across this inspiring short sermon about the devil by cutting edge priest Nadia Bolz-Weber:

The Devil = Your Inner Critic = The Accuser

Maybe you've seen her work before. I only discovered her website this week, and every video I've watched so far has been great:

Forgive Assholes / Longer Version

How Much BS Can You Call on Yourself?

More About Nadia

Being a Lutheran Pastor

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS ON MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Thursday, June 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com