Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quirkingly Is Not A Word and Belly Chains Never Go Out of Style

My best friends are my best friends, in part, because they inspire me (the fact that they are all genuine, and compassionate, and beautiful, and ridiculously witty is beside the point; remember, blog = narcissism). While I have mentioned Caroline in passing on numerous occasions in the past, I really think an entire post needs to be devoted to this well-traveled, precise handwriting, liberal arts educated, on-the-spot pun creating, book recommending, tap dancing and soon-to-be mandolin playing, underground hip hop connoisseur. Oh yeah, did I mention that she has lived in Boston (for graduate school), now lives in an inviting, yet cosmopolitan, downtown Chicago condo, has worked in the publishing industry and is currently at the University of Chicago, and is one of the most well-read and most thoughtful people I know?

Most importantly, however, this is the same Caroline who enjoys sitting on my parents' front porch swing, drinking coffee with Mom, me, and the medley of dogs - all with sophisticated names like Rowdy, Waffle, Lucy, Willie, and Tucker - that happen to be enjoying a reprieve from the hard farm labor they all do; the same Caroline who wore a belly chain to sociology class sophomore year because it made us laugh (I, obviously, would never consider such foolishness); the same Caroline who would never, purposely or in passing, mention her accomplishments; the same Caroline who would drop everything to help her absolutely delightful parents (she is a "product of her raising"), me and my family, or probably any of her other friends. I hope you are all fortunate enough to have your own "Caroline"s.

I want to include an email that she sent to me a few days ago both because I think you'll enjoy the poem that she attached and because, even in the brevity of the message that precedes the poem, you get a sense of why she is so neat. Forget the "Hi there. What's going on?" or "Just a quick note to say hey" stuff that we all selfishly send far too often. Caroline rises above this (well, most of the time; I do occasionally get the "guess what I just saw on facebook?!" type message:)). She makes me feel inspired. She reminds me that little things and personal touches matter. She makes me want to be better.

"I think I’ve told you how much I love this poet, and how I so clearly remember his reading of The Lanyard in Cambridge . But I had almost forgotten how good it is.

And it makes me think of the 2000 VP Debate at Centre:)

My walk this a.m. smelled so good and warm – made me miss college…

The Lanyard - Billy Collins
The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even."

So, in the spirit of both The Lanyard and my "to-do" list, I decided to write a little something.
I miss your ugly brown coat.
Not sure I made it pretty, but it made me happy.
In retrospect, it was likely the coat that caught Bob's attention.
Adornments are superfluous, but quirkingly welcomed.
It has been paired with a Jason Mraz hat and snugly fit baseball caps,
cowboy boots and Chuck Taylor’s have both been accessories.
It is vintage in the same way you are.
I like the way it looks on you and the way it feels draped around me.
And the appeal must be something beyond surface level,
for the various shades of what can only be called brown,
not caramel, or mocha, or even tan, are quite boring,
just as the mish mash of textures & "puff" is rather tacky.
Forget innoculous CD titles. Home is where this ugly brown coat resides.

Recipe Suggestion:
Last week I mentioned a recipe for a Watercress Salad found in the May edition of Real Simple. I worked with ingredients I could find at the local grocery store and threw together this modified light spring salad...

-Salad greens (I used kale instead of watercress, but Mom just brought me some spinach from their garden. I'm sure I'll use that next time)
-15 oz. can beets (sliced or whole)
-Feta (amount to your own liking, just remember that it is fairly potent - crumble a small handful and then add more if needed)
-Homemade salad dressing (I used EVOO, balsamic, and fresh squeezed lemon juice; put in mason jar and shake well)
-Salt and pepper to taste

I must say, however, if ever given the option, definitely choose Jackie's hushpuppies that she made not too long ago instead:

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