"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

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Story About a Snowman

"I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snow that I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long, and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence. The whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day, and it was on that day I made the snowman."

Opening narration from The Snowman ~ animated movie*
based on the book by Raymond Briggs ~ music by Howard Blake

The building of this snowman by Ben and Sam in early December 2002 began with one of the best things that can happen when you're in 4th grade (Sam) or 7th grade (Ben) -- an unexpected snow day! First of all came the cocoa and marshmallows, calling friends and making plans. Next thing you know, the doorbell rang to announce the timely arrival of a package from my sister Peg. I emailed her right away to let her know that her present to the boys had been safely delivered and placed under the tree. She emailed right back to say, "No, don't wait 'til Christmas; let them open it now."

What an excellent coincidence! Inside the gift box was a Lands' End snowman building kit, including all the accessories that you can see here in the picture: eyes, nose, pipe, scarf, buttons. As soon as our snowy gentleman was built and properly outfitted, it was time for a photo session. These were the early days of digital photography for our family; and how fun it was to be able to email Auntie Peg a picture of the completed snowman so she could see how her gift had been put to immediate use!

Such a charming sequence of events: the day off from school, the UPS man, the emails back and forth to Peg, the boys running outside right away, and within the hour a photo of their completed creation to send as an electronic thank - you, closing the circle that had begun only a few days earlier with my sister picking out clever winter presents and placing orders. After all these years, that happy morning still plays like a little movie in my head, a memory to re-visit once a year, hoping for a snow day.

Photographs by Ben McCartney, 2002
In our tiny, walled back garden,
downtown Philadelphia

Next Fortnightly Post
Thursday, January 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT ~ Christmas Shomily
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST ~ "Would you like anything to read?"
my running list of recent reading

*If you like the book / movie, you'll love the puffy "Snowman"

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Story About a Tree

Twenty - second Incarnation of the Kmart Tree
Still Going Strong After 20 Years!

2014 ~ Treetop Detail
Bertie Bassett ~ The Liquorice Allsorts Man

A Couple of Connections:

First, thanks to my friend Nikki for sharing with me this fabulous book from her family's collection:

Flair Annual 1953

And more thanks to Nikki for her kind comments after reading my previous post "Be As Brave As Sharon Olds." I appreciated her observation that "the connections are always good, but what's better is when you tell a story! Tell more stories!"

2. Second, speaking of stories, I read Christmas on Jane Street right after Thanksgiving and was summarizing it over the phone for my son Sam. When I suggested that we could pay a visit to the corner of 8th Avenue and Jane Street to see this famous New York City Christmas Tree Stand, Sam, ever the skeptic, and master of the literary allusion, replied: "Mom, sounds like you've been reading a story about a tree." Haha, Sam!

So, at the risk of being a Buzz Killington, I'm going to take Nikki's advice and tell you a story -- a story about a tree.

The first Christmas that we lived in Philadelphia (1993), it didn't occur to me that we wouldn't do what we had done the year before back in Indiana: go to the nearest grocery store on the day after Thanksgiving and buy a tree right out front, chosen from a large selection of live cut evergreens leaning against the plate glass windows. Surprisingly, it was not to be. We drove out to Pathmark bright and early, but where were the trees? "What trees?" the grocery clerk replied. "We don't sell Christmas trees."

Where then? We tried a nearby produce market; no luck. We returned home to ask some neighbors on the street. Of course, many were out of town for Thanksgiving weekend, yet we gleaned what information we could: one family would be driving to Vermont, or something like that, later in the month to chop down their own tree (over - achievers). Another family claimed they never put up a Christmas tree (Bah, humbug!). I was growing despondent. My sister Peg and her family were driving up from Maryland to visit us in Philadelphia for the first time, and my planned Black Friday activity was tree - decorating. But still no tree.

My husband Gerry had an idea. He remembered seeing a small tree nursery across the street from Kmart, a few miles away, outside the city limits. When Peg and her husband Ron arrived, Gerry and Ron would drive down and see what they could find. They did so; and, what to their wondering eyes should appear but a huge truckload of Christmas trees, stacked and netted, "bound into tight versions of themselves for easy travel," (Romp, 10). Success at last you might think; that was not so hard after all! There was, however, a catch. The nursery personnel did not know the going rate for trees that year. The truck had to be unloaded and each tree receive its price tag before sales to customers could officially begin.

"Are you sure?" Gerry asked. "Just name a price, any price, and we will pay that for the tree." This labor of love had become a full - fledged quest, and he did not want to return home empty - handed. But, no, said the clerk, that would be against the rules. Could they return in a few hours? Okay, it was only a fifteen - minute drive, five miles or so. They would make another trip, later in the day.

The hours passed quickly enough, and off went the woodchoppers on foray number two -- only to find that the manager had not come in that afternoon, the trees had not been tagged, and all purchases must be put on hold until the following day. The trees, plainly visible on the bed of the truck, were not to be had at any price. But these men of action were not to be deterred. Daylight had faded, and the neon lights of Kmart beckoned from across the Baltimore Pike.

Maybe it wasn't like a scene from Norman Rockwell or When Harry Met Sally,

but no tree could have been more anticipated or appreciated than the seven - foot storage box that Gerry and Ron carried through our front door that evening, some assembly required. But never mind, we were proud to place it our front entry and it went up quickly. The following year, we put it on the sleeping porch adjoining Sam (in photo, age 15 months) and Ben's bedrooms because that's where we spent many hours and they could enjoy it most:

1993 ~~~ 1994

When I decided a few years later (1998) that I needed a second tree, my dear husband was ready once again to undertake the mission. This time, no need to try the produce stands or tree nurseries, for I had become a true believer in the decorative attributes of an artificial tree, primarily because they provide so much more strength and versatility when it comes to hanging heavy ornaments and reshaping branches to suit a particular arrangement of baubles. Instead of driving randomly around the Delaware Valley, Gerry did the ground - work by phone and located a Sears at a Mall north of town that claimed to have 9 foot trees in stock. Many of the stores seemed to be topping out at 7 feet, but I already had one of those and was keen to extend the reach of my tree collection. Malls were not typically our scene, but Gerry was game, so away he went in our one - horse open sleigh (i.e., 1995 Oldsmobile Station Wagon) for a jolly expedition of tree procurement.

Was the tree at Sears as promised? Yes, but there was only one and it was already assembled, standing in undecorated glory on the showroom floor; and the packing boxes no longer existed. But if Gerry was willing to go out to the loading dock and scrounge around in the recycling for some large boxes and personally remove and repack each branch, then he was welcome to purchase the tree. Naturally, Clark Griswold style, Gerry was equal to the task. We need a tree? He'll get us a tree! "Fixed the newel post!"

Our usual parking spot was on the side street, but for easier access through the front door with several large boxes, Gerry parked right at the corner. As luck would have it, in the few moments in between multiple trips from car to house, we received a parking ticket! Happy Holidays from the City of Philadelphia! Could the officer not see that this vehicle is stuffed with Christmas decorations that are being removed as quickly as possible? Had he no patience or mercy or humor or Christmas Spirit? No, Virginia, he had not. Bah, humbug!

Not to worry! No one could rain on our parade that day. We put the new nine - footer in the second floor turret window (below left) and the seven - footer in the third floor turret window (below right), covered them both with ornaments -- including this handmade series from our multi - talented neighbors Doris & Denis --

and were very happy with the results:
[Look closely on the right to see Ben (L) and Sam (R)
peeking out from behind the tree!]

I know all about the sentimental premium attached to a live tree, and even better if that live tree has been picked out personally from a tree farm, local or distant, and chopped down with an ax. For me, though, nothing can beat the affection that went into acquiring our two artificial trees. Those memories are with me every year as we drag the boxes out and erect our enduring symbols of light and life and hope and fun.

But wait . . . there's more! At the beginning of Ben's third year of college (2010), he and his friends had a successful day of curbside trash - picking: a bookshelf, a chair, a couple of suitcases, and -- "For you, Mom!" -- a Christmas tree. Ben pulled it into the sunroom, and we put it together right away to make sure that all the pieces were intact. It didn't seem to be a recent student discard but rather a vintage 1987 Fake Douglas Fir, complete with its own original brochure -- like ours, over twenty years old, but still in fine shape, discarded, perhaps, by a family who was reverting to the wild or replacing with a twenty - first century pre - lit model. Once we had it up, it seemed a shame to take it back down, what with the holiday season only three months away, so we decorated it for fall with harvest miniatures and Halloween cookie cutters. At Thanksgiving we changed it over to Christmas and finally put it away sometime shortly after the Valentine Dance:

February 2011

Continued thanks to Ben, Gerry, and Ron for bringing these trees into my life and giving me a story to tell -- a story about trees! O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, whether you be regally real or proudly pretend, your green shall ever teach me!

The Big Tree ~~ in 2014 ~~ The Sunroom Tree

Next Fortnightly Post
Monday, December 28th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT ~ Fake Trees & Gift Books
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST ~ "Would you like anything to read?"
my running list of recent reading

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Genuine religion is not about speculating about God or the soul
or about what happened in the past or will happen in the future;
it cares only about one thing — finding out
exactly what should or should not be done in this lifetime.


It is terrible when people do not know God,
but it is worse when people identify as God what is not God.

Leo Tolstoy
Path of Life or
Calendar of Wisdom, 1909
as translated by M. Cote, 2002

Stretching from All Saints' Day on the 1st to St. Andrew's Day on the 30th, November is a month for honoring all deserving Saints and Souls. It begins and ends with a Holy Day, including some good ones in between, such as Martinmas. It's a month for showing respect to the Living and the Dead, which brings me to the ever - popular topic of taking the name of the Lord in vain, as in The Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7 KJV).

It's true that the endless chorus of "oh my god" that passes for expression and dialogue in daily conversation grows tiresome very quickly, not so much because it's disrespectful but because it indicates such a limited vocabulary and lack of imagination -- similar to adults who chew gum visibly in public -- ewww, puh - lease, gag me! "OMG" is no better, yet somehow I find it less annoying -- sort of the way that changing "Kentucky Fried Chicken" to "KFC" made the meal seem a little less greasy.

Is the third commandment merely a rule against saying,"Oh my God" or does it suggest something more substantial than that? In answer to this question, it is helpful to consider that the Bible also says "strive not about words to no profit" 2 Timothy 2:14 (NRSV). So you don't care for your neighbor's choice of slang? Well, here's a simple solution: just turn the other ear.

I've long been inspired by Frederick's comment in the Woody Allen film Hannah and her Sisters:

"If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name,
he'd never stop throwing up."

I appreciate this understanding of not taking God's name in vain. I never did believe -- as I was taught in childhood -- that it meant not saying "Gee whiz" or "Goddamnitbullshittohell." What it really means is not ascribing your beliefs to God and doing your own will in God's name.

Contemporary American song writer Ben Folds suggests the same idea in his his song Jesusland:
"Town to town
broadcast to each house, they drop your name
but no one knows your face
Billboards quoting things you'd never say
you hang your head and pray
for Jesusland . . .
crosses flying high above the malls . . .

Additional thoughts
from a couple of thoughtful Episcopalians:

Ambassador / Senator John Danforth (who, believe it or not, was the speaker at my college graduation): "Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.

"But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.

"When, on television, we see a person in a persistent vegetative state, one who will never recover, we believe that allowing the natural and merciful end to her ordeal is more loving than imposing government power to keep her hooked up to a feeding tube.

"When we see an opportunity to save our neighbors' lives through stem cell research, we believe that it is our duty to pursue that research, and to oppose legislation that would impede us from doing so.

"We think that efforts to haul references of God into the public square, into schools and courthouses, are far more apt to divide Americans than to advance faith.

"Following a Lord who reached out in compassion to all human beings, we oppose amending the Constitution in a way that would humiliate homosexuals.

"For us, living the Love Commandment may be at odds with efforts to encapsulate Christianity in a political agenda. We strongly support the separation of church and state, both because that principle is essential to holding together a diverse country, and because the policies of the state always fall short of the demands of faith. Aware that even our most passionate ventures into politics are efforts to carry the treasure of religion in the earthen vessel of government, we proceed in a spirit of humility . . ."

~ from the essay Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers ~
The New York Times, 17 June 2005


Bishop John Shelby Spong: “God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don't think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.”


And from an English bishop
within the Eastern Orthodox Church

Kallistos Ware: “We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.”

~ from his book The Orthodox Way ~

Next Fortnightly Post
Monday, December 14th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Longly, Longingly

Lady Lavery Banknote

James Joyce Banknote

Why can't the United States of America ever have writers
on our paper money like Ireland and England?

In a novel of so many unforgettable lines and phrases, one passage more than any other stood out for me when I first read Joyce's Ulysses as an undergraduate. It was this:
"A warm shock of air heat of mustard hanched on Mr Bloom's heart. He raised his eyes and met the stare of a bilious clock. Two. Pub clock five minutes fast. Time going on. Hands moving. Two. Not yet.

His midriff yearned then upward, sank within him, yearned more longly longingly.

~ James Joyce, Ulysses, 172 - 73

The ache in Bloom's midriff brought to mind a few lines from a poem that I had loved back in highschool:
"I felt a soft caving in my stomach
As at the top of the highest slide
When I had been a child, but was not afraid . . ."
~ John Logan, "The Picnic"

So unexpected to encounter in fiction, poetry, or otherwise, such a visceral sensation described so accurately -- and the word longly -- had I ever heard it before? I don't think so. Though I've never fancied myself a poet, Joyce's strong, sad imagery inspired me to attempt my own rendition of heartache in the gut:

The Ache You Wear

You fall into her arms like crying,
feel her lips in your hair,
soothing like a parent
and something else.

Wooden and broken,
you lean rigidly.
Your forehead rests against breasts
which must be like your own.

With each soft motion,
the ache you wear like a brace
begins to melt, drips
slowly down your back.

Like congestion, it seeps inside,
fills the space between every rib,
then tatters into loose bits
that choke upward and sink within you.

Yearning for a familiarity,
you move toward this woman
and this one comfort
after taking leave of him.

For this time you fall away
from any pain.
Thick rags are floating
now in your stomach.

As connection and coincidence would have it, I recently came across the following within just a few months of each other:

1." . . . The feeling
resembles lumps of raw dough

weighing down a child’s stomach on baking day.
Or Rilke said it, ‘My heart. . .
Could I say of it, it overflows
with bitterness . . . but no, as though

its contents were simply balled into
formless lumps, thus
do I carry it about.’ . . . "

~ Denise Levertov, "Life At War"

2. "The pain he had felt in his chest after breakfast was gone: in its place he now had in his middle a curious, dry, empty, swollen feeling. As if he carried something inside him, hollow, but beyond his size and growing bigger."

~ Jessamyn West, Friendly Persuasion, 73

3. "For weeks, thinking of that made me feel like a chute had opened in my stomach and my heart was descending through it."

~ Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife, 20

4. "This is what I liked about my friends: just sitting around and telling stories. . . . I couldn't help but think about school and everything else ending. I liked standing just outside the couches and watching them -- it was kind of sad I didn't mind, and so I just listened, letting all the happiness and the sadness of this ending swirl around in mine, each sharpening the other. For the longest time, it felt kind of like my chest was cracking open, but not precisely in an unpleasant way."

~ John Green, Paper Towns, 215

5. "They were nowhere near butterflies in the stomach. They were electric bricks. They sunk. They zapped. They made me want to keel over."

~ Heather Kirn Lanier, Teaching in the Terrordome, 37


Not unlike the sunset:
" . . . all the happiness and the sadness of this ending swirl . . . "

Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, November 28th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stopping For Death

" . . . there are some of whom there is no memory,
who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not existed,
as though they had not been born . . . " ~ Ecclesiasticus 44:9
20th Century Potter's Field
Sunnyside Cemetery ~ Caney, Kansas

This little person is unknown to me,
but I wanted to learn more about the inscription,
"usdi a da wehi" or "Little Whirlwind."


All Hallows Eve, All Saints, All Souls. With the Halloween Season in full swing, it seems timely that we stop and think of death for a few moments. But, as Jesse Bering so accurately observes, how can we, really? Perhaps the best way has always been in allegory, parable, or metaphor.
Why so many of us think our minds continue on after we die: Consider the rather startling fact that you will never know you have died. You may feel yourself slipping away, but it isn’t as though there will be a “you” around who is capable of ascertaining that, once all is said and done, it has actually happened. Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died—and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce. In a 2007 article published in the journal Synthese, University of Arizona philosopher Shaun Nichols puts it this way: “When I try to imagine my own non-existence I have to imagine that I perceive or know about my non-existence. No wonder there’s an obstacle!”

from "Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death"
by Jesse Bering
in Scientific American, October 2008

The following poets have all settled on a transportation motif.

1. First, of course, is Emily Dickinson. For Dickinson, Death is a gentleman, driving a carriage, which holds just the two of them - and Immortality, though it's not clear what form Immortality takes:

Because I could not stop for Death -
He kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just Ourselves -
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

A little joke at the poet's expense:
Cartoon by Trashlands

2. Next is Harold Witt, who has composed a contemporary sonnet, echoing Dickinson's poem, but with a few shifts in the narrative. For Witt, Death is a an aging woman, a fading movie star with a "ghoulish grin," yet she seems every bit as polite -- "Darling . . . I've always felt that someday we would meet" -- as Dickinson's driver.

In Witt's poem, Death does not do her own driving but has a "skeletal driver," and her Rolls Royce keeps a faster pace than Dickinson's "Carriage" driver. When they turn up a cypress - lined driveway toward Death's mansion, we sense Eternity in the distance, as does Dickinsons's narrator, when she sees the "House" -- with "Roof" and "Cornice."

Sunset Boulevard
I wonder if death will come like a faded star
wrapped in fur and heavily made up,
her skeletal driver silent by the car.
"Darling, get in, we just thought we'd stop -- "
she'll say as he is opening the door
and with a ghoulish grin she pats the seat --
Even though we haven't met before
I've always felt that someday we would meet."
And then I'll hear the Rolls Royce softly purr,
whizzing past off ramps, and watch her bony hand
rolling with rings, a cigarette in a holder,
as she whispers of the films that she's been in,
and up the cypress driveway toward her mansion
I'll go cold against her colder shoulder.

Halloween Hearse

3. X.J. Kennedy puts Time behind the wheel, rather than Death and renders the reader powerless to halt the vehicle. The direction of the journey seems similar -- eternity, straight ahead -- but the destination, instead of a mansion, is an unceremonious abandonment along the roadside. Even Everyman is allowed to take Good Deeds to the grave with him, but Witt suggests otherwise:

For when time takes you out for a spin in his car
You'll be hard-pressed to stop him from going too far
And be left by the roadside, for all your good deeds . . .

from "In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus One Day"
[see Comments Section below for full poem]

Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, November 14th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Galaxy Will Manage

The September (Sunday night, 9 - 27 / 28 - 2015) Supermoon
aka Perigee Moon -- when the day of the Full Moon coincides with
the day when the Moon is nearest to Earth in its orbit.
Last month's Harvest Moon was the nearest, largest, brightest
Supermoon of the entire year

The various lunar events -- supermoons, eclipses, waxing, waning -- like so many things, are not ours to initiate or control. They belong to themselves, to the galaxy, to the universe. We can bear witness, record, describe. We can seek wisdom and gain understanding, not forgetting our role in the scheme of things (as aptly described in the Nature is Speaking videos by "Conservation International").

In his book Sabbath, community advocate Wayne Muller invites us to consider our world and our work in a larger perspective:
"Sabbath requires surrender . . . The old, wise Sabbath says: Stop now. . . . We stop because there are forces larger than we that take care of the universe, and while our efforts are important, necessary, and useful, they are not (nor are we) indispensable. The galaxy will somehow manage without us for this hour, this day, and so we are invited -- nay, commanded -- to relax, and enjoy our relative unimportance, our humble place at the table in a very large world. . . . [emphasis added]

We feel how large the universe is, and how small our labors. Our work is simply one offering among countless others that have come before and will come again, when all we have planted has been grown, harvested, eaten, and forgotten.

When we stop, we see that the world continues without us . . .

The world seduces us with an artificial urgency . . .

But Sabbath says, Be still. Stop. There is no rush to get to the end, because we are never finished. . . .

You are not going anywhere. Millions have done this before you, and millions will do it after you are gone."
Muller also quotes from the Holocaust Diary of Esther Hillesum:
"Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world."
See "Let It Be," 82 - 85 & "The Book of Hours," 88 - 90
in Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives
by Wayne Muller (b 1953)
Contemporary American author, speaker, and therapist

A humorous rendition of a very similar sentiment appears in the musical My Fair Lady, when Eliza Doolittle reminds Henry Higgins of his insignificance to the workings of the universe:

"Without You"
. . . No, my reverberating friend
You are not a beginning and the end

There'll be spring every year without you
England still will be here without you
There'll be fruit on the tree
And a shore by the sea
There'll be crumpets and tea without you

Art and music will thrive without you
Somehow Keats will survive without you
And there still will be rain on that plain down in Spain
Even that will remain without you, I can do without you

You, dear friend, who talk so well
You can go to Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire

They can still rule the land without you
Windsor Castle will stand without you
And without much ado we can
All muddle through without you

Without your pulling it the tide comes in
Without your twirling it, the Earth can spin
Without your pushing them, the clouds roll by
If they can do without you, ducky so can I
. . .

Lerner & Loewe

And yet again the point is made in the movie Birdman, which features an impassioned speech from a troubled, insightful daughter (portrayed by Emma Stone) to her confused, striving father (Michael Keaton) about the value (or not) of his life's endeavor:
"Means something to who? You had a career before the third comic book movie, before people began to forget who was inside the bird costume. You’re doing a play based on a book that was written 60 years ago, for a thousand rich old white people whose only real concern is gonna be where they go to have their cake and coffee when it’s over. And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because you want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it."
Gerry often tells the parable of sticking your hand into a bucket of water and taking it out again, in order to gauge how much you might be missed when moving on from one workplace to another. I googled for background information only to discover pages of entries, all pointing to this poem:
The Indispensable Man
by Saxon N. White Kessinger

Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego's in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You're the best qualified in the room,

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you'll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable [woman or] man.
Well, now we know!

Indispensable? Perhaps not: "If you lie down, no one will die." Still, it would be nice to make a small dent of some kind, if nothing else, to leave this world a slightly better place than we found it, a modest goal.

~ September 27 / 28, 2015 ~
~ Night of the Total Eclipse ~ Super Blood Moon ~

Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, October 28th

Between now and then, read Daniel's In Memoriam on
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Monday, September 28, 2015

We Had Fun, Didn't We?

Ronald Ben Rosenbluth ~ 31 March 1951 - 20 June 2015
I love everything about this photo -- one glove on, one glove off, the camera, the package from amazon (and some bills, but don't worry about them), the Santa on the porch, the porch light, the falling / blowing snow in front of Ron. It truly captures the spirit of the season, and the Ron - ness of Ron!

My sister Peggy with her husband Ron
and their sons Jerrod and Daniel ~ May 2012
Last month, Jerrod wrote: "Well, we have a date for my dad's service finally. He's going to be buried in Arlington on September 22nd . . . . It'll be 3 months when he's finally placed. 3 months and 2 days. Sometimes it doesn't seem real, like if I call he'll still be there to answer my questions or to give some form of advice on this or that. I have no regrets with him passing, nothing that wasn't said to each other before he passed, no lingering doubts about how we felt about each other. We both knew we loved each other, and that we both did the best we could by each other when he was still around. But. But, I still wish I could tell him one last time, just to make sure."

Eulogy by Bruce Carriker

I would like to read this morning, a passage from the Holy Scriptures of both the Jewish and Christian faiths, or, if you prefer, some lyrics from The Byrds Greatest Hits:

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die. For Ron, and for all of us who loved him, that time has come far too quickly. And so we find ourselves gathered here this morning, to say our earthly goodbyes; to close this chapter of our lives.

A few days ago, Jerrod wrote: "Sometimes it doesn't seem real, like if I call he'll still be there to answer my questions or to give some form of advice on this or that." Jerrod's remark provides a perfect segue into something that I really wanted to share this morning:

Landscape of the Heart ~ by Brian Andreas
"It is still so new and all we see is the empty space, but that is not how it is in the landscape of the heart. There, there is no empty space and he still laughs and grapples with ideas and plans and nods wisely with each of us in turn. We are proud to have known him. We are proud to have called him friend."

I asked those who knew him best to share with me some of their favorite memories of Ron, in hopes of finding something that would capture Ron's spirit for us this morning. I think the one who did that best is Ron's granddaughter, Brittany, and I want to share with you what she wrote:

"I remember when Grandpa and I went to an Orioles' game and we sat right in middle of the bottom half of the stadium and we took a selfie:
Later on we where leaving to head home and the Orioles were losing and I kept saying I was sorry that they lost and that I felt bad and he asked, 'Why are you sorry; you had fun didn't you?' I said I did, and then he went on to say 'that's all that matters then.' "

For as long as I knew Ron, he was a humble, selfless man, who always cared deeply about those around him. Brittany's story captures that so well.

We are here today, and we are sad. We are sorry to say goodbye to our husband, our father, our grandfather, our brother, our uncle, our friend. But, knowing how much Ron cared about everyone else, I am sure he would not want us to be sad. I think he would say something like this:

Sing Well! ~ by Joyce Grenfell
If I should die before the rest of you,
Break not a flower, nor inscribe a stone,
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known,
Weep if you must:
Parting is hell,
But life goes on
So . . . sing as well!

In the middle of our sorrow, I can almost hear Ron's voice, speaking to us as he did to Brittany that day: "We had fun, didn't we? Then remember that . . . that's what matters."
Weep if you must:
Parting is hell,
But life goes on
So . . . sing as well!

Later in the day, Bruce concluded, "In a world where everything is "awesome" and hyperbole rules our vocabulary, we forget that perhaps the highest compliment we can pay a man is this: "He was a good man.' Ron Rosenbluth was a good man, and he will be greatly missed."

Ron, Peg, Bruce, Anna ~ Fall 2011
Bruce's daughter Anna offered this tribute: "Today, we said our 'earthly goodbye' (that was a wonderful way of putting it, Dad) to my Uncle Ron. It was a sad day, but the memories that were shared made it so very clear that even though he isn't physically with us, Uncle Ron is still very much here. If I grow up to have half the compassion, authenticity, and capacity to love that he had, I'll have done a pretty good job. Until we meet again, I can only thank God that I had the blessing of knowing somebody like you."

Another Favorite ~ Summer 2010
Ron is looking straight at the camera with an "I know the secrets of the universe" smile; and Peggy & Diane look very happy to be at my house for a Sisters Reunion! (Click for comments.)

For those who didn't know, Ron struggled with Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Frederick County – Kline House, P.O. Box 1799, Frederick, MD 21702, and please note on the memo line "Cardiac Chair."

Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, October 14th

Between now and then, read Daniel's In Memoriam on
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Monday, September 14, 2015

Chariton Connections

A View of the River, for which the Review was Named
Photo by Jay Beets

My personal 40 - year old copy of first issue!
Cover photo by Bob Zeni

Forty years ago,in the Fall of 1975, one of my first assignments as a college freshman was to read the first issue of The Chariton Review from cover to cover -- so many unforgettable stories and poems -- by Quinton Duval, John Haines, Jim Thomas, Glen Tracy, Winston Weathers.

And this one by James Tate:

Discovery & Recovery
we jump over their graves
frightening a red bird
we jump over their graves
hovering to applaud
we jump over their graves
who's afraid to love
we jump over their graves
spitting over our shoulders
we jump over their graves
taking flight like pheasants
beside a highway
we jump over their graves
whistling in the ozone
we jump over their graves
whistling in the ozone
we jump over their graves
the thousand million acres
we jump over their graves
like balloons skidding in the wind
we jump over their graves
leapfrog into the empty ones
the graves jump over the graves

I am hung by the toe from a star
with a blacksnake of dentalfloss
with a machete of dentalfloss
the hibiscus of dentalfloss
the cable - car of dentalfloss
the bikini of dentalfloss
the national anthem of dentalfloss
some $5's worth of used dentalfloss
12 miles of used dentalfloss
3 tons of used dentalfloss
the dentalfloss that rebelled in the night
and strangled the crest
the dentalfloss on which you strangled
your first tooth
the dentalfloss with which I bet
my tongue for nosing - in
the dentalfloss with which we lassooed
our first housefly
(a potential power source?)
the common housefly is an open book
(a potential power source?)
the hornet is a power source
for screams
which make the world go around
solving all my problems in the end
hung as I am by a toe from the star.

Another favorite for students of poetry in the midwest, in the 70s was Tate's cliche - defying "It's Not the Heat So Much as the Humidity". Suddenly the dog days of summer were filled with hometown nostalgia, witty connections and provocative contradictions:

It’s Not the Heat So Much as the Humidity
Only a dish of blueberries could pull me
out of this lingering funk.
I’m tired of taking the kids down
to the riot, no longer impressed
with the fancy electrical nets, sick
of supersonic nightsticks.

Buy myself a hot dog and a glass of beer—
That helps. It’s hard to say
who’s winning. Nobody is winning.

Boy, Kansas City! Big Zoo! Oriental art!
Starlight Theater: Annie Get Your Gun
going into its seventeenth year.
Once I met Tab Hunter there, four o’clock
in the morning, standing in line

at the Coke machine, so tall and blond,
though not much of a conversationalist.

It’s good to be home, trying to soften
the blow for young girls who are inclined
to fall off their porches.

Some of my best friends are . . .
Curse on those who do and do not take dope.

When Autumn comes, O when Fall arrives,
in her chemise of zillion colors,
I will sigh noisily, as if an old and
disgusting leg had finally dropped off.

No more drinking beer, no more
The perpetual search for an air-
conditioned friend, no more friends.

I’ll take piano lessons, French lessons,
speed-reading lessons, and if there is
still time to kill, gawk at a bluejay
tumbling out of the maple tree.

Cars slide by with their windows up,
whispering of a Mexican Restaurant
“with really good Chili Verde.”

The gutters billow with mauve death;
A mother’s sad voice sends out
a tugboat whistle through the purple mist:
she worries about her children.

And the dangerous fishhook of melancholy
dangles from every dog’s ear.
The dog that saved my life,
that keeps on saving each long, humid night.
The dead dog. And so:

a shiny baseball hovers over the city.
No one asks why. And so: it passes on.
And so: a telephone starts to ring
in a widow’s cake-filled kitchen . . .

A rollerskate collides with a lunchpail.

~ by James Tate (8 December 1943 – 8 July 2015)

In the wake of Tate's death this summer, numerous tributes -- by Dave Eisenstadter, Rich Smith, and Ned Stuckey - French, to name a few -- honored Tate's vision and recalled exemplary poems. Jeffery Gleaves of The Paris Review, included these irresistible references:
"Tate’s poems were 'always concerned to tell us that beneath the busyness and loneliness of our daily lives, there remains in us the possibility for peace, happiness and real human connection,' wrote Adam Kirsch in the New York Times."

"But John Ashbery once opined that Tate is a 'poet of possibilities, of morph, of surprising consequences, lovely or disastrous, and these phenomena exist everywhere.' ”
"Surprising consequences" and "real human connections" -- these comments from Ashbery and Kirsch pretty much explain why it's no surprise that I've turned to Tate's work previously, in both a Fortnightly essay ("I sat at home and began to cheer up. What if none of this happened? I thought. What if there was nothing to be sad about?") and a Quotidian post ("What I thought was infinite will turn out to be just a couple / of odds and ends, a tiny miscellany, miniature stuff, fragments / . . . But it will also be enough, / maybe even more than enough . . . ").

My professor and friend, and long - time editor of The Chariton Review Jim Barnesreminisced, "Yes, sad to hear of Tate's death. The old Blue Booby is gone. Funny how I associate him with that one bird in his great little comic poem":

The Blue Booby
The blue booby lives
on the bare rocks
of Galápagos
and fears nothing.
It is a simple life:
they live on fish,
and there are few predators.
Also, the males do not
make fools of themselves
chasing after the young
ladies. Rather,
they gather the blue
objects of the world
and construct from them

a nest—an occasional
Gaulois package,
a string of beads,
a piece of cloth from
a sailor’s suit. This
replaces the need for
dazzling plumage;
in fact, in the past
fifty million years
the male has grown
considerably duller,
nor can he sing well.
The female, though,

asks little of him—
the blue satisfies her
completely, has
a magical effect
on her. When she returns
from her day of
gossip and shopping,
she sees he has found her
a new shred of blue foil:
for this she rewards him
with her dark body,
the stars turn slowly
in the blue foil beside them
like the eyes of a mild savior.

Time and again, Tate's poems open their arms to a poetry - starved world, embracing all the nonsense, affirming the quest for meaning, and giving the reader a little something to smile or smirk or laugh right out loud about, as well as plenty to worry about. Like this one, for example:

Dream On
Some people go their whole lives
without ever writing a single poem.
Extraordinary people who don't hesitate
to cut somebody's heart or skull open.
They go to baseball games with the greatest of ease.
and play a few rounds of golf as if it were nothing.
These same people stroll into a church
as if that were a natural part of life.
Investing money is second nature to them.
They contribute to political campaigns
that have absolutely no poetry in them
and promise none for the future.
They sit around the dinner table at night
and pretend as though nothing is missing.
Their children get caught shoplifting at the mall
and no one admits that it is poetry they are missing.
The family dog howls all night,
lonely and starving for more poetry in his life.
Why is it so difficult for them to see
that, without poetry, their lives are effluvial.
Sure, they have their banquets, their celebrations,
croquet, fox hunts, their sea shores and sunsets,
their cocktails on the balcony, dog races,
and all that kissing and hugging, and don't
forget the good deeds, the charity work,
nursing the baby squirrels all through the night,
filling the birdfeeders all winter,
helping the stranger change her tire.
Still, there's that disagreeable exhalation
from decaying matter, subtle but everpresent.
They walk around erect like champions.
They are smooth-spoken and witty.
When alone, rare occasion, they stare
into the mirror for hours, bewildered.
There was something they meant to say, but didn't:
"And if we put the statue of the rhinoceros
next to the tweezers, and walk around the room three times,
learn to yodel, shave our heads, call
our ancestors back from the dead--"
poetrywise it's still a bust, bankrupt.
You haven't scribbled a syllable of it.
You're a nowhere man misfiring
the very essence of your life, flustering
nothing from nothing and back again.
The hereafter may not last all that long.
Radiant childhood sweetheart,
secret code of everlasting joy and sorrow,
fanciful pen strokes beneath the eyelids:
all day, all night meditation, knot of hope,
kernel of desire, pure ordinariness of life
seeking, through poetry, a benediction
or a bed to lie down on, to connect, reveal,
explore, to imbue meaning on the day's extravagant labor.
And yet it's cruel to expect too much.
It's a rare species of bird
that refuses to be categorized.
Its song is barely audible.
It is like a dragonfly in a dream--
here, then there, then here again,
low-flying amber-wing darting upward
then out of sight.
And the dream has a pain in its heart
the wonders of which are manifold,
or so the story is told.

And this one, from The Paris Review (Summer 2006, #177):

The Old Soldiers
When I came out of my study, Ginny was standing there with
wet hair. “Are you going to town today?” she asked me. “I wasn’t
planning on it,” I said. “Oh, never mind,” she said. “What is it?”
I said. “I need some stuff for my allergies, but I can get it
tomorrow,” she said. “No, I can go. It’s no big deal. Just make
me a list,” I said. Ginny had to be at a planning session for the
League of Women Voters. I went back to my study to line up
several dozen lead soldiers on my desk. They were expensive antique
specimens I had saved since childhood. When I had them all lined up
the way I wanted them, I knocked them all down. Ginny shouted, “Are
you alright?” “It’s nothing, just a small accident,” I shouted back.
She said goodbye and left me the list on the counter. I made myself
a bologna sandwich and sat staring at the list. It all sounded like
stuff that could kill you. But if it could also stop your nose from
dripping and your eyes from running, then good. I walked back and
stood at the door to my study: all dead. Then I put on my jacket
and drove into town, which was crowded and bustling for some reason.
I found my secret parking space at back of the deli. In the drugstore
I roamed the aisles until I found the section devoted to allergies.
There seemed to be hundreds of products making great claims, all with
dire warnings: dizziness, fainting, nausea, etcetera. I felt myself
getting sick just standing there. Finally I found everything Ginny
needed. It was really quite expensive. It wiped out all the cash
I had. When I stepped outside, I saw a mob had gathered in the park.
I asked a woman standing next to me, “What’s going on?” “They’re
protesting,” she said. “Protesting what?” I said. “Just protesting.
You don’t need to have a special cause anymore. In fact that’s now
thought to be kind of quaint and old-fashioned. I do think it’s an
improvement, don’t you?” she said. “I always miss the old ways, until
they come back to haunt you,” I said. She moved away from me, as if
from a bad aroma. The police were moving in on the mob, nightsticks
at the ready. I heard one of them say, “What is this about?” The other
one answered, “Spoiled brats don’t know what to do with their Saturdays.”
Finally I made it to my car behind the deli, and it had a ticket on
it. This made me sad. There had been a flaw in my otherwise perfect
mission. I drove home and lined up the medicines on the counter.
I hoped Ginny wouldn’t faint and throw up, fall down the steps, and
crack her head open. I walked into my study and the first thing
I noticed was that all the soldiers were standing up. I was
certain I had knocked them down. Ginny had left the house. No
one was here but me. I didn’t like thinking of the possibilities.
Nonetheless, I walked from room to room, slowly, quietly, glancing
at every item carefully. Everything seemed to be normal, undisturbed,
leaving only the uprighted soldiers unexplained. I could just be
losing my mind. That was a simple explanation. Yes, that was it.
Unless the soldiers righted themselves. They are old and have experienced
thousands of battles. Maybe they’ve learned a thing or two. I
entered my study and sat down at my desk. With a sweeping gesture
I knocked them all against the wall, breaking several bayonets
and a leg or two. I sat there solemnly contemplating my deed.
Ginny wouldn’t be home for three hours. That seemed like a very
long time. I went into the living room and waited for them to regroup.
I had a feeling this was going to be a fight to the death, but still
I was surprisingly calm.

In closing, a little irreverence never hurts; in fact, it often helps:

Goodtime Jesus
Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dream-
ing so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it?
A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled
back, skin falling off. But he wasn't afraid of that. It was a beau-
tiful day. How 'bout some coffee? Don't mind if I do. Take a little
ride on my donkey, I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody.

~~ Rest in Peace James Tate ~~


~ More Chariton Photos from Jay Beets ~
Looking North, August 2015

Shadows on the Chariton, August 2015

A Rocky Patch, May 2015

A Somewhat Bleaker Chariton, March 2015

Next Fortnightly Post
Monday, September 28th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Friday, August 28, 2015

Luna Moth Summer

July 17th on the Garage Door

Our elegant summer visitor stayed all day, from early morning until around 11pm, somehow holding on to the garage door, even through hours of really stormy weather and strong winds. Halfway through the day, it occurred to me that both my car and my bike were in that garage, so in deference to the resplendent luna, I sought out other transportation for my errands!

I loved my sister Di's comment: "That is so awesome, such a rare thing to see. Lyla [8 1/2 year - old grand-daughter] is setting here with me and said, 'Oh! A Luna Moth.' She knows!"

Maybe Lyla already is, or soon will be, a fan of the Melendy Kids:
"Floating out of the dark, knocking against the overhang, came something so beautiful, so fairylike that Oliver hardly dared to breathe. The thing was a moth, but like no other moth that he had seen. Its wings were as wide as his two hands opened out, as frail as a pair of petals, and colored a pale, pale green: a moonlit silvery green.

" 'Gee,' whispered Oliver. He sat there staring. 'A luna! I never thought I'd see a real luna!'

"It came close, hovered against the screen, and paused there. He could see the long curved tails on its wings, the delicate white fur on its body and legs. Oliver thought he had never seen anything so perfect. He and the moth watched each other for a long moment; neither moved. . . .

"For a long time after that whenever he thought about the luna moth he felt happy. He was careful not to think about it too often. Just once in a while he would look into his own mind and let himself see it again: his discovery, his beautiful guest, his secret. Seeming more than a moth, it paused there at his window: rarest green fragile, perfect, living. The though of it made Oliver happy all over again"
(87 - 89).

from Then There Were Five
by Elizabeth Enright
July 27th at the Swimming Pool

We spotted a number of lunas at swimming pool over the summer. We rescued three in one day from the surface of the swimming pool and re - located them to the hibiscus hedge. Two of them flew away, but this one remained long enough for a photo op. Thanks to my friend Beata for sharing this informative link & amazing poem:

Egg to wings: 51 weeks;
Wings to dead: 1 week.

We grieve for the Luna moth,
Its spectacular short life,
Beauty, beauty, beauty, beauty, beauty.
Living only a week
to seek, mate, die.

Perhaps we project too much,
Perhaps there is no intelligence to mourn,
Perhaps there is only a bundle of instincts,
Atop that fuzzy white body,
between those green wings.

The leaf-consuming caterpillar
(also greenly beautiful),
Has five months to eat, wander, eat, ponder,
To taste the beauty of a sumac leaf,
To feel sun, dark, rain, wind.

Then seven long contemplative months as a pupa,
Softly moving inside, always thinking.
Knowing the tides of seasons' slow change,
Until it is time
To surrender all conscious thought,
To become a pale night flyer.

~ David Mark

Thanks to my friend Debra
for sharing her photo from last summer:

Next Fortnightly Post
Monday, September 14th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

Friday, August 14, 2015

The RedBear Connection

Welcome RedBear!

Back in early June, my older sister Peggy sent this "picture of a kitty who has decided we are his family. I think I'll keep him and see if I can convert him to an indoor kitty. When I saw him outside the front door this morning I just had to take his picture because it reminded me so much of your quote, 'a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious.' Doesn't he look like he just belongs here? If I keep him I'll call him RedBear because he's a ginger boy and built like a little bear."

In addition to the E. M. Forster quotation, the words of Mark Twain came to mind when I saw RedBear waiting so proudly and patiently on Peg's front porch: "A house without a cat, and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat, may be a perfect house, perhaps, but how can it prove its title?" Clearly, my sister has a perfect house, and this cat knew it! As a discerning feline, he could sense that this dwelling proved its title and chose it for his new home!

Coincidentally, my older brother Dave once had a similar cat with a similar name, and shared his story: "This cat looks a lot like the cat we had in Crailsheim that we named Bear. He was a big old woolly street cat that learned the joys of being a kept cat indoors. When he died of kidney failure I spent the last night with him laying on the laundry room floor. He woke me up to say goodbye and then passed right before my eyes. Needless to say, it was a long weekend. Good luck hanging on to this boy. He really looks like a keeper!"

At the end of the month, I asked Peg if RedBear was still hanging around, and she sent the good news: "RedBear is now an inside boy. Very sweet and fits in like he was always here. . . . learning the joys of being an indoor boy after living outdoors . . . getting along fine with his 'brother from a different mother.' His biggest problem is that we have to control his food or he gets sick. He's so used to fighting for his food that he wolfs down any food put in front of him. He's a wonderful addition to my home."

Thanks to Peg
for sharing these pictures of RedBear & Squiggles
and for thinking of my Fortnightly Blog!

Thanks to other readers as well, who have entered so gratifyingly into the spirit of my various blogposts:

Tracy: "I love that you save these things, it reminds me I have a kindred spirit out there who takes joy in the little things of our past and, with that, those little things become bigger."

Brigit: "Kitti Carriker, you're a cultural force of nature!"

Evelet: "Kit o' my heart! . . . May you always err on the side of audacity."

Jan: You understand "the power of story and poetry to transform and transcend. I am forever in awe of you and so so grateful to know you."

Jim: Kitti, you are the Keeper of Memories. Thanks for sharing them with so many . . . you are an essential connection.

Milly: "Today we were discussing diary and journal genres. Then we talked about blogs. I told the students that one of my friends has a blog. They wanted to see it, and I showed them. They thought it was cool and so literary, but the boys were more impressed that Sam played football for Purdue!"

Kitti: That is so sweet! Thanks for doing that! I wish all my friends who teach would show their students my blog, or maybe give them an extra credit assignment to read one of my posts! I always LOVED the concept of extra credit (both as student and teacher)! Sam has now graduated from Purdue and moved on to New York City, but I'll be sure to tell him that his legend has traveled to Northeast Missouri!

Why Connection & Coincidence?
Because as Henry James says:
"The whole of anything is never told;
you can only take what groups together."

In closing, I share the words of the ageless, timeless Hafiz:
"Still, though think about this, this great pull in us to connect."

and this excellent song about
Coincidence & Connection:
Come and See
Look up here,
Most people can't make out the difference
But it could be a small change
In the light

And sometimes
We watch our lives align
But the questions remain:
Did you will it? Is Sight benign?

Is it coincidence or connection?
Come and See
Fall to your knees
and hear the call
Are you still lovesick for it all?

Is it you that
Brighthens the same sea that
Curves my path and life-lines
Is your shine like mine?

And the difference between
Betting your life or dying
Could reveal itself in a small change
In the light

Is this coincidence or connection?
come and see
fall to your knees
and hear the call
Are you still lovesick for it all?
[emphasis added]

Sung by Young Galaxy
In one of our favorite summer movies:
The Way Way Back

Just Look at RedBear . . .
Such a Foxy Gentleman!

Next Fortnightly Post
Friday, August 28th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading