Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Hair

At Wimbledon, 4 July 2006

Royal Box: Duke of Kent & Princess Michael
(Back before my zoom lens, so you'll just have to trust me on this.)

A few years ago, when I decided to try growing my hair out from very short to medium, my British mother - in - law made the mistake of telling me that my transitional hairstyle reminded her of Camilla Parker Bowles (now Duchess of Cornwall, or whatever the heck she's called). Can you believe it?

I told her that in America that would be considered a big insult and that she'd better take it back immediately. Haha! I had to laugh -- but I also had to stare at myself in the mirror for awhile -- just to be sure! Maybe the Brits don't realize that over here, we're all still in love with Princess Diana (RIP) and always will be and have no intention of switching our loyalty over to Camilla. Humph!

At the time, I shared this anecdote with my friend Victoria, and a short while later emailed her the above photographs of my visit to Wimbledon. Her response was priceless:

"Did Princess Mike mistake you for Camilla?
LOVE the leopard glasses!"

That still makes me laugh . . . Mike and Cam!

Now that my hair is longer (and somewhat messier, especially during swim season), Gerry likes to point out that my fifteen or so years of very short hair -- so perfect for swimming -- was not a very feminine looking style. And his mother agrees, telling me that it was "practicable" for a young mother but not as nice as my current cut. Practicable? Is that even a word?

I beg to differ with them! I look back on those photos and can't help thinking of the women in Educating Rita (Michael Caine, Julie Walters, 1983) who come into the hair salon and ask Rita to make them look like Princess Diana. Maybe I didn't end up looking like Diana, but I recognize the hairstyle! Those were good, girlish haircuts!

Okay, there was that one time when I came home with the worst haircut that I have ever seen on my head. Surprisingly, Gerry assured me that it definitely was not the worst haircut I'd ever had, not by a long shot. Oh, no kidding? I asked him to try and recall which haircut had been worse, but he drew a blank. All he could come up with was a generalized sense of year after year in the past when my hair looked less than stylish. Oh, gee thanks!

Well, no matter. I loved my very short - hair years (as I did the very long - hair years that preceded them), and who knows -- I may go back to very short yet again if I start getting restless for a change, not to mention tired of drying & straightening, tired of the frizzies, and -- most importantly -- tired of my earrings not showing up very well!

Mirror, Mirror on the wall . . .

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Arbor Day

Hoyt Arboretum ~ Portland, Oregon ~ July 2008
"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself."
John Muir, 1838 - 1914
Scottish - American Naturalist, Explorer, Writer

Central Park ~ NYC ~ June 2007
"I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree."
Czeslaw Milosz, 1911 -2004
Polish - American Poet, Essayist, Nobel Recipient

Amazing Tree at West Philly Trolley Stop
Here is Sam (Summer 1999) standing at the 48th & Baltimore trolley stop, just a block down from the house we lived in (1993 - 2001). We were always fascinated by the way those two main branches have grown into a circle, entirely fused together at the top. I think this is one of the most amazing trees in Philadelphia!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

See Sam Kick!

Sam & Ger, watching the Boilermakers
beat Ball State, 24-13
September 18, 2010

This coming Fall, it's going to be Sam
down there on the field!
Take a look at his practice kicks on youtube



West Lafayette kicker Sam McCartney has accepted a preferred walk-on invitation to join the Boilermakers. He plans to enroll in summer school.

McCartney attended a one-day camp last year and remained in contact with special teams coordinator J.B. Gibboney. He averaged 53.5 yards on 66 kickoffs last year with 28 touchbacks. He made 3 of 6 field goals, including a long of 34 yards and converted 45 of 33 PATs.

McCartney plans to major in business and decided to join the Boilermakers after considering Illinois State, DePauw, Wabash and the University of Indianapolis.

"The situation at Purdue is great for me," McCartney said. "Not only is coach Gibboney a great special teams coordinator but also the situation with Carson Wiggs and Cody Webster -- two of the best specialists in the nation -- I know I'll be learning and being around one of the best special teams units in the nation."

When McCartney's family moved back to West Lafayette, his goal was to play college football. His brother, Ben, was also a kicker for the Red Devils.

"He taught me what it takes to get what you want done," he said. "I'm doing something everyday -- whether it's kicking or lifting. Kicking 200 footballs a day was what I was doing to make sure this would become an opportunity for me."

excerpt from the article:
"Purdue receiver [Keith Smith] waiting, hoping"
in the Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana)
by Mike Carmin (
on January 24, 2011


Taking G'Poppa to see the Boilers
beat Minnesota, 28 - 17
October 16, 2010


FALL 2009

FALL 2010

Monday, April 25, 2011

Do Not Stand Bereft

A Somber Feline Visitor at the
Gravesite of English Poet John Keats
at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome

Do not stand at my grave and weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,

I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left.

by Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1905 - 2004

This is one of those poems like the "Desiderata" whose format and authorship have apparently been unclear for some time (click on title above). According to wikipedia, it was finally confirmed, in 1998, that the definitive version was written by Frye in 1932.

You must also listen to this absolutely beautiful version
as sung by Libera on their CD free:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.

Official Libera website:

This post would not be complete without the inclusion of Oscar Wilde's beautiful tribute to the "Young English Poet" whose "Name was writ in Water":

The Grave of Keats
Rid of the world’s injustice, and his pain,
He rests at last beneath God’s veil of blue:
Taken from life when life and love were new
The youngest of the martyrs here is lain,

Fair as Sebastian, and as early slain.
No cypress shades his grave, no funeral yew,
But gentle violets weeping with the dew
Weave on his bones an ever-blossoming chain.

O proudest heart that broke for misery!
O sweetest lips since those of Mitylene!
O poet-painter of our English Land!
Thy name was writ in water——it shall stand:

And tears like mine will keep thy memory green,
As Isabella did her Basil-tree.*

written in 1881
by Oscar Wilde, 1854–1900
Prolific, witty Irish poet and playwright

Oscar Wilde's Tomb in Paris ~ in Père Lachaise Cemetery
Wikipedia photograph by Jacob Epstein

*On the topic of Isabella, please check out
my earlier blog post:
"Sweet Basil Evermore"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Amelioration: Earth Day

Hail Thee, Festival Day!

Amelioration [to make better, to improve upon]
is one of the earth's words,
The earth neither lags nor hastens . . .

The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough,
The truths of the earth continually wait,
they are not so conceal'd either,
They are calm, subtle . . .
conveying themselves willingly . . .

The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out . . .

~ from A Song of the Rolling Earth ~
~ by Walt Whitman ~

Elaine and Gene Carriker

Two years ago ~ on Earth Day 2009 ~ my Uncle Gene sent the following announcement about the dedication of a new building at the neighborhood school in Wichita, Kansas, where he worked for 16 years.

As he is a most engaging guest blogger, I will let him speak for himself:

"In recognition of Earth Day . . . listen up, Earthling!

Tonight at 6:30 Elaine & I are going to the dedication of the new $8,000,000.00 Amelia Earhart Environmental Magnet Elementary School in Wichita. Just so happens yours truly was the principal of this school back in the 1960’s when my faculty and I received a $250,000.00 grant from the Feds to start an environmental school. The building was located on an 11 acre tract which gave us ample room to lay out an exemplary environmental school that used environmental issues in all phases of curriculum where it was feasible to do so.

We planned the site as 4 distinct and different entities. One was the experimental area, one the “back to nature” area where we never had it mowed, one was the formal & ornamental area where there was a pond, benches and tables to have lunch for classes using the site. The 4th site was the wooded area where we planted trees of all kind.

I was principal there from 1960 to 1973 when I was asked to open a different school for kids with special talents, abilities and interests and in the upper quartile in “smarts.”

I spent 9 years at that program and then returned to Earhart in 1984 and spent the last 3 years of my career polishing up the Environmental Complex, retiring in June, 1987.

When the citizens of Wichita passed a bond issue a couple of years ago the above amount was spent on a new building for Earhart. It is built as totally “green” as it was architecturally possible working with the contractor. I’m anxious to see what they were able to do with it. I’ve seen the outside and now will get to see the inside.

Several years ago they named and dedicated a pond out in the complex the Bill Carriker Pond. How’s that for an ego trip. Not many people get a slimy pond full of cattails and bulrushes in it named after them. There’s even a large rock by the pond with my name on it. Looks like my tombstone.

PS. I’ve asked my son to take some of my ashes and throw them up into the wind so they will blow over the complex.

Is that enough “green” for you, Earthling???"

~ Bill (aka Gene) ~

Uncle Gene has also appeared here as a guest blogger
on the Third Sunday of Advent, 2010
and on My Father's Birthday, 2010

Gene's memoirs available on amazon:
Tiger Creek Tales: Memories of an Oil Patch Kid
by Billy Gene Carriker

Uncle Gene and Aunt Elaine
With their new great - grandson ~ May 2010

Unforgettable Uncle Gene

Loos'd of Limits

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

Harbinger of Spring and Easter:
Almond Hot Cross Bun
from 4 & 20 Blackbird's Bakeshop
(in Connecticut)
Photographed by my friend Liz Morison Dickinson

Seasonal confection, old nursery rhyme, delicious photograph. Wow! Yum! Does that look scrumptious or what?! I haven't tried one yet this year, but what a perfect seasonal breakfast treat! Plus, this old nursery rhyme has always been one of my favorites.

Not to be sexist, but I have always applauded the way in which the time - honored sing - song -- in a refreshing stylistic departure -- puts girls first:

Hot Cross Buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny
Hot cross buns!

Okay, maybe it's just because "buns" rhymes with "sons," but even inadvertent feminism provides a welcome change of pace!

Cute Little British Bakery
Spring Break in England, March 2009Ohhh! I think I see Hot Cross Buns in the window!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ladies in Our Land

Coming up this weekend, to coincide with Easter Saturday and Shakespeare's 447th birthday (23 April):

my family's celebration of my mother's 80th birthday
This picture of her the piano is everyone's favorite; and next to it is the only one that any of us can find that includes both parents and all six kids (plus little Jerrod, my older sister Peg's firstborn, being held by my younger sister Di). Underneath is our Easter picture from 1965, with Di and me in our little sailor dresses, and next to that a shot from 2009 in which we tried to re-create the same pose from 1965. [Click on picture to enlarge for a better view.]

In fact, my mother actually turned 80 on 21 January, but she didn't want us all out traveling in the blizzards, so we postponed until a more travel-friendly time of year. Easter weekend, already a celebratory festival seems perfect for the occasion! And here's the perfect poem (just wish I knew the identity of "L. R-M" ~ can anybody help me out or hazard a guess?):

There are certain ladies in our land
Still living and still unafraid
Whose hearts have known a lot of pain,
Whose eyes have shed so many tears,
Who welcomed pity with disdain
And view the fast encroaching years
Humorously and undismayed.

There are certain ladies in our land,
Whose courage is too deeply bred
To merit unreflecting praise.
For them no easy, glib escape;
No mystic hopes confuse their days;
They can identify the shape
Of what's to come, devoid of dread.

There are certain ladies in our land
Who bring to Life the gift of gay
Uncompromising sanity.
The past, for them, is safe and sure.
Perhaps their only vanity
Is that they know they can endure
The rigours of another day.

by Noel Coward, 1899 - 1973
Witty, flamboyant British playwright, composer, actor, singer

Don't look too closely at this one or else you will see my typo:
2010 -- should be 2011!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Or Not

Sam, Rabbit - Sitting ~ Spring Break 2004

. . . Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by a
cream filled egg.
It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, god
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of a nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chickens
and the first snowdrop
of spring. . . .

from the poem "Christmas is Really for the Children"
by Steve Turner (b. 1949)
British music journalist, biographer, and poet
[to read entire poem, see my post "Keep Christmas With You"]

Robin Eggs
from the photographs
of Maggie Mesneak Wick

Photos elsewhere on this blog
by my cousin Maggie:
Empty Nest
The Still Small Voice of Heaven

Sunday, April 17, 2011

For Gods to Menace Fools

Full Moon on Palm Sunday: 3am

If there is a witness to my little life,
To my tiny throes and struggles,
He sees a fool;
And it is not fine for gods to menace fools.

~ Stephen Crane, 1871 - 1900 ~
American poet, journalist, novelist, short story writer

(on youtube)

Cain slew Abel
Seth knew not why
For if the children of Israel were to multiply
Why must any of the children die?
So he asked the Lord
And the Lord said:

"Man means nothing he means less to me
than the lowliest cactus flower
or the humblest yucca tree
he chases round this desert
cause he thinks that's where i'll be
that's why i love mankind

I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
from the squalor and the filth and the misery
How we laugh up here in heaven
at the prayers you offer me
That's why i love mankind"

The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV
They picked their four greatest priests
And they began to speak

They said "Lord the plague is on the world
Lord no man is free
The temples that we built to you
Have tumbled into the sea
Lord, if you won't take care of us
Won't you please please let us be?"

And the Lord said
And the Lord said

"I burn down your cities--how blind you must be
I take from you your children
and you say how blessed are we
You must all be crazy to put your faith in me
That's why i love mankind
You really need me
That's why i love mankind"

Randy Newman, b. 1943
American singer / songwriter, pianist, satirist

Another favorite from Stephen Crane:


God fashioned the ship of the world carefully.
With the infinite skill of an all-master
Made He the hull and the the sails,
Held He the rudder
Ready for adjustment.
Erect stood He, scanning His work proudly.

Squall Off Cape Horn, 19th C
Currier and Ives

Then - at a fateful time - a wrong called,
And God turned, heeding.
Lo, the ship, at this opportunity, slipped slyly,
Making cunning noiseless travel down the ways.
So that, forever rudderless, it went upon the seas
Going ridiculous voyages,
Making quaint progress,
Turning as with serious purpose
Before stupid winds.
And there were many in the sky
Who laughed at this thing.

from The Black Rider and Other Lines
in War is Kind and Other Poems

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chagall Four Seasons Mosaic

Dagmar, Kitti, and Cathy in February 2009
at the Chagall Four Seasons Mosaic
First National Plaza
Corner South Dearborn & West Monroe Streets

"The stars were my best friends.
The air was full of legends and phantoms,
full of mythical and fair-tale creatures,
which suddenly flew away over the roof,
so that one was at one with the firmament."

Marc Chagall

Read more:
Dagmar's Birthday
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Previous Four Seasons post: "Life and Good"

Ben's Chagall Mural Photo, Summer 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lunch Friends

Lunch Friends: Dagmar, Kitti, Katy, Cathy
(My Birthday Last Year)

Dinner Dance Friends: Dagmar, Katy, Cathy, Kitti
(Keith, Peter, Jack, Gerry)

Dinner Theatre Friends: Dagmar, Kitti, Katy, Cathy, Leta
(2 husbands visible; 3 others taking photographs)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dagmar's Birthday

Lunch Friends: Dagmar, Kitti, Katy, Cathy
(My Birthday Last Year)

I dedicate this post to the memory of my friend Dagmar Murray, who was born on April 13th, 1959.

Another friend ~ ~ also born in April and often mentioned on my blogs, sent a link to the following poem the other day on facebook. Jan wasn't sending the poem, which she describes as "short and so, so beautiful," just to me. Nor did she send it in connection with Dagmar, who died last month, sadly and suddenly. However, as so often happens, Jan's message seemed to come at precisely the right time, thus I share Rilke's poem here today in honor of Dagmar's 52nd birthday:

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

by Rainer Maria Rilke
from his Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29
translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
recited on public radio
by Joanna Macy

Read more for
Dagmar's Birthday
On The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Lunchtime Concert

Ben McCartney
Church Music Intern

Announcement From Michael Bennett,
Director of Music

This Wednesday, April 13, is the final lunchtime concert for the year at St. John’s. Purdue student and St. John’s choir member / music intern Ben McCartney will be performing two masterworks on the organ. The first is a transcription of the Sinfonia from Bach’s cantata #29. The second is Mendelssohn’s first organ sonata and is very exciting. You won’t want to miss these performances!

Plan to join us Wednesday, April 13.
The concert runs from 12:10 - 12:30 pm,
with lunch following.

St. John's Episcopal Church
600 Ferry Street / Corner of 6th & Ferry
Lafayette, Indiana 47901-1142

Interim Rector: The Reverend Larry Minter
Director of Music: Michael Bennett

[To hear this year's concert]

[To read about last year's concert]

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Van Gogh Home

House and Figure, c. 1890"Spring was moving in the air above him
and in the earth below and around him,
penetrating even his dark and lowly little house
with its spirit of divine discontent and longing."


Bedroom in Arles, 1888
"He saw clearly how plain and simple -- how narrow, even -- it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one's existence. . . . it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome."


Passages by Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932
from The Wind in the Willows (5, 87)

Paintings by Vincent Van Gogh,1853 - 1890

Click for "Vincent: Starry Starry Night" Slideshow
with music by Don McLean, b. 1945

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Little Golden Books

New post today on
Kitti's Book List

Who remembers these books? The stories of sad little Puff who learns the hard way what it means to be a good friend and wise little Bobbie who chooses to spend his money not on things, but on a memorable experience!

These were a couple of unforgettables from my Pre-K Reading List.

Remember the old rhyme?

Make new friends but keep the old,
one is silver, the other gold.

These old friends are Golden!

For more, read my entire post: Little Golden Books

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Little Crazier

"If you enjoy seeing things from a different angle, then this is the book for you -- or the perfect gift for a friend who likes to discuss life's larger questions: living and dying, love, work and play, religion, science, health and manners..."


A few months ago, I came across the following quotation, on A Word A Day, and thought it was so good that I just had to post it on facebook:

"Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self,
is nuts."

~ Leo Rosten ~

My facebook friend, artist and author of distilled wisdom,
Michael Lipsey
wrote back:

"Crazy people are only a little crazier."
see I Thought So (shown above, p 24)

This, in turn, brought to mind a couple of memorable passages from my previous reading:

1. The description given by David Sedaris of his job as one of Santa's Elves in a big department store. He deals with many visitors -- crying babies, excited and / or disappointed children, prejudiced parents, exhausted shoppers, and one day:

"At noon a huge crowd of retarded people came to visit Santa and passed me on my little island. These people were profoundly retarded. They were rolling their eyes and wagging their tongues and staggering toward Santa. It was a large group of retarded people and after watching them for a few minutes I could not begin to guess where the retarded people ended and the regular New Yorkers began.

"Everyone looks retarded once you set your mind to it."

from Holidays on Ice (p 15)
by David Sedaris


2. The description Margaret Drabble gives of her character Shirley's visit to a "Welcome Break" rest stop somewhere near London on the ring road. I had the good fortune to hear Drabble read aloud this very passage when she visited Purdue in 1991:

"The room is full of waifs, witches, grotesques. Shirley has never seen such a miserable of collection of people, such a gallery of unfortunates. What has gone wrong? Is this some outing for the disadvantaged, the disabled? No, it is Britain, round about Budget Day, March 1987. Shirley is appalled. An immensely obese woman . . . Two thin tall lanky youths . . . A young couple with a baby, pale like convicts . . . an old man on crutches . . . A young red-haired scruffy Irish girl with a back-pack . . . A grim - faced middle - aged couple . . . A four - foot dwarf . . . Is this the prosperous south, the land of the microchip? Everybody looks half dead, ill from the ill wind. Their faces are white, pink, grey, chapped, washed - out, ill nourished, unhealthy, sickly, sickening. . . . Shirley does not know whether she feels sorry for these tramps, these refugees, these motorway wanderers, or whether she feels she has nothing to do with them at all. Is she still part of the human race? Is this the human race, or are these shadows, ghosts, lingering afterthoughts? This cannot be what is meant.

"I am delirious, thinks Shirley. This is a dream, and these are apparitions. Perhaps, thinks Shirley, I died back there on the motorway. . . .

from A Natural Curiosity (p 128 - 29)
by Margaret Drabble

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Do You Think It Is?

Speaking of Ersatz (scroll down to previous post), back in 1995 or so, my kids became fans of the movie Home Alone. It was one of those videos that I could put in for them to watch while I caught up on various errands around the house. I had seen the show myself back in 1990 when it first came out, but had never given it a second thought after that ~ aside from the great delight that I took in Anna Quindlen' parody, "Mom Alone" (click to read).

As Ben and Sam enjoyed the antics of bold little Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), I could throw in some laundry, get some grading done, and maybe start dinner. I took little interest in the plot, but every so often I just had to peek into the family room and linger in the doorway, drawn by the most beautiful song on the soundtrack: "Star of Bethlehem" (another lovely one is "Somewhere in my Memory"; music for both by composer John Williams; lyrics by Leslie Bricusse).

Before long, I had viewed the entire movie in bits and pieces, and finally just had to sit down with the boys and watch the whole thing from start to finish. It was better than I had remembered! For one thing, I couldn't take my eyes off of that gorgeous suburban home (likewise the impressive New York townhouse that's being renovated in Home Alone 2); and it was just too cute, the way that Ben and Sam referred to the main character not as "Kevin," but as "Home Alone" (as in, "then Home Alone ordered the cheese pizza" or "look at Home Alone's awesome plan for scaring the bad guys").

Nowadays, the Home Alone movies are included among those that the whole family simply must watch at least once every holiday season, and at various other times throughout the year, as deemed appropriate. My favorite line of all has to be in the first movie, when Home Alone's mother, Kate (played by Catherine O'Hara), attempts to negotiate a ticket swap at the Paris-Orly Airport (actually filmed at O'Hare). To go along with her seat in first class, she also offers up her gold watch and earrings. When an interested passenger asks if the Rolex is real, Kate responds quizzically, "Do you think it is?"

This existential question has become a stock phrase in our family over the past fifteen years, and I doubt that we'll ever stop saying / asking it. I guess our conclusion is that if you have to ask, maybe it doesn't matter.

I love my ersatz diamond ring because it was a Christmas present from Sam in his earliest years of shopping, when he was 7 or 8. That year, in addition to the items he was hoping to receive from Mom, Dad, & / or Santa, he also added to his Christmas List the things he planned to buy for his brother and his dad and, last but not least, "a jewel for Mom." See why I will always treasure this ring?! And even more precious to me than the ring itself is the priceless sentiment that went into writing those words . . .

"a jewel for Mom."
Truly, a couple of other moms at Sam's school
really did ask me if the stones in the ring were real!

"Do you think they are?"


Friday, April 1, 2011

An Ersatz for Happiness

Fake Nails, Fake "Jewels"
(Real Plants)

"Here was happiness; not my drum, to be sure, just an ersatz,
but there is also such a thing as ersatz happiness,
perhaps happiness exists only as an ersatz,
perhaps all happiness is an ersatz for happiness"
~ from The Tin Drum, by Gunter Grass ~

Back in 2003 when Nicole Kidman portrayed Virginia Woolf in The Hours, I read a magazine interview in which she pointed out that her hands were perfect for the role because no matter what she did (moisturizers, manicures, and so forth) she always has scrawny, inelegant hands -- just as Woolf was supposed to have had. Kidman said that for her it is a family trait; her sister suffers from the same beauty flaw.

And so do I! My hands are notoriously dry and worn looking no matter what beauty treatments I try, and they always have been, ever since I was a child and my mother slathered them in glycerin and made me wear little white gloves to bed. From here on out, instead of fighting it, I will just feel honored to share this troublesome trait with the stunning, famous Nicole (and her sister).

Now, if only my agent could find a part for my dry hands to play in a movie!

One of my manicure buddies confided to me that her one misgiving about our fake nails is that it seems, perhaps, a declasse kind of indulgence. I assured her otherwise but was reminded of something that I read years ago in Norah Ephron's old book Crazy Salad (which I keep in the kitchen with my cookbooks, along with her novel Heartburn, which contains actual recipes, including the one I use for Bread Pudding -- remember the movie with Meryl Streep & Jack Nicholson?).

Here's what Ephron writes in Crazy Salad, not about nail care, but about the market success of feminine hygiene products, which she considered to be a big advertising scam: "Secretaries and stewardesses. It figures. Scratch any trend no one you know is into and you will always find secretaries and stewardesses. They are also behind Dr. David Reuben, contemporary cards, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, water beds, Cold Duck, Rod McKuen, and Minute Rice" (81).

I laughed and laughed when I first read that back in 1986; and I'm still laughing now! You know why? -- because I've always been a big fan of Minute Rice, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and even the poetry of Rod McKuen. Maybe Ephron would include fake nails in her list as well; but, hey, I think it's okay to pick and choose!

My ersatz nails (above / below) could hardly be called flashy or trashy. In fact, they are actually rather understated, if you ask me, not like those extra - longs with decals of the American Flag worn by postal workers or the obviously fake, two - toned, sequin - studded tips worn by the receptionists at the mammography center.

On the other hand (no pun intended ~ haha!) if they like that style and it adds a little joy ~ ersatz though it may be ~ to their day, then why not?

Two New Figs & New Nail Color: Electric Eel

See also A Title Like a Book & RED