My Style at This Point in Time

Turns out, I enjoy clothing and fashion. I make use of a couple distinguishing accessories – a bow tie and cuff links.

The bow tie is as much functional as it is an identifier. It does not dangle in my work the way ties did for my first year of practice and most anyone that sees me wearing it is somewhat amused. I’m happy to amuse the masses and also to be able to go to sleep at night and not worry that my tie did or ever will dip in my bowl of soup – at least not until the day I die face down on my desk!

The cuff links and requisite French cuffs are borderline not worth the hassle and extra time they require throughout my day – flipping the cuffs back, finagling the prong of the link through four shifting holes of fabric, my habitual pressing down of the link against my arm, and their snagging on the edge of my laptop computer. They don’t have the practical appeal that the bow tie does, and for that they may be retired or phased out at some point. I haven’t yet decided, as they make for a good gift and I enjoy wearing the variety of cuff links I’ve acquired to this point.

Going forward, I’d like to develop more of a uniform and I’d like it to be a well-fitted navy suit and white shirt. As it stands, I have four or five very different suits, which I have to switch between burgundy and black belt and shoe combinations. I don’t appreciate having to have both colors and would rather eliminate the black belt and shoes.

And finally, what initially got me onto this subject was the following sock selection advice that I read this morning in Valet Magazine: “As a rule, match your socks to the clothes, not the shoes. Meaning you should wear socks just a shade darker than your pants, but not as dark as your shoes.”

# 3 – Apricot Chicken

Success! This dish was divine.

Ingredients – chicken, 12 oz jar of apricot preserves, 1 onion chopped up, little bit of crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp soy sauce, and a little squeeze of dijon mustard. It was wonderful, flavorful and a little spicy.

Super easy to make and we heated it up the next day and it tasted just as amazing.

Chris’ Rating – 9

Lindsey’s Rating – 8

Title Without a Story

“The summer during which the new homeowner surveyed his lot with a Bushnell golf range finder and a free iPhone application called iSurveyLite, built a chicken coop near his newly marked property line, and was promptly sued by the neighbor for trespass.”

# 2 – Cranberry Roast

One Word. Yuck.

Ingredients – 2 lbs stew meat, 1 can whole cranberries, 1 onion chopped, 2 table spoons soy sauce.

I think I overcooked the crap out of this…10 hours on low in the crockpot. The flavor was great but the meat was chewy. It was so disappointing because the house smelled out of this world when we got home from work.

In the future I would use less soy sauce, another can of cranberries and maybe some chopped up celery.

Lindsey’s Rating – 4

Chris’ Rating – 6 (I think he was being generous).

#1 – Applesauce Delight

Today marks WEEK ONE! of my latest and greatest idea (and endeavor too a. cook more, b. become a better cook, and c. eat at home more!) 52 WEEKS, 52 CROCKPOT RECIPES!

Today I made Applesauce Delight!

Ease of making – 9.5….basically the only thing I had to do other than get the ingredients out of the fridge and toss them in the crockpot was chop up the onions and garlic.

Ingredients – 1 and 1/2 cup applesauce, cinnamon (I just poured some in), red pepper flake (same as cinnamon), pepper (same), 1 yellow onion chopped, and 3 garlic cloves chopped up, 3 frozen chicken breasts. Put it all in the crock pot – I was kind of behind after a long hike with yogi, so instead of 8 hours on low, I cranked my baby up to HIGH! 4 hours later, the house smelled amazing, kind of sweet and I was pleasantly surprised. In all fairness, I borrowed some ingredients from last night’s meal at Terry and Robbi’s (Mashed Potatoes and Corn Bread) and served it all up on a plate.

I LOVED IT! Chris liked it until he found a little piece of paper from the frozen chicken that I had forgotten to remove, but he ate seconds. It was a little spicy and really sweet at the same time and the chicken was divine and tender…yum yum yum.

Lindsey’s Rating – 9

Chris’ Rating – 8

Lemon Tree Love

His eyes focused, for a moment, on the contrast of her otherwise pale skin with the flush of her cheeks as she walked towards the spot where he was leaning on a fire hydrant.

“Hello, handsome,” she said.

“Hello, gorgeous,” he said as he extended his hand, palm up, and revealed a bright yellow lemon. “I snuck this from the corner tree for you.” She looked over her shoulder, checking to see if the lonesome housewife that planted the tree last spring had seen, or was seeing, their exchange, and then she took the lemon from him and clutched it in her small hand. It was firm and cooler than the muggy Foggy Bottom air that choked the city this time of year.

“Thank you,” she said. Then she kissed him, and kept kissing him until it felt, again, like the lonely housewife was watching. There was more love in her lips than he could hold in his heart. He broke away and smiled at her – at the old row houses – at the poorly parked cars and the cracked cement sidewalks.

Written from 1:10 pm to 1:32 pm on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 in my office in Traverse City, Michigan.

William Safire’s Rules for Writers

Remember to never split an infinitive.
The passive voice should never be used.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
Always pick on the correct idiom.
The adverb always follows the verb.
Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

Closing Doors

“We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.” ~ David Lynch

I am not convinced that I will ever understand all of the rules by which I live. Although, it is important to remember that “understand” is not the same as “agree with” or “acknowledge.” Depending on the situation, not acknowledging the rules leads to imprisonment. Stabbing. Shooting. Driving drunk. While in many other endeavors, choosing not to acknowledge the rules is rewarded. Scientific discovery! New methods of communication! Less wrinkles! Longer drive!

Let’s look at the definitions of “imagination”:

  1. the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality
  2. creative ability
  3. ability to confront and deal with a problem
  4. the thinking or active mind
  5. a creation of the mind; especially, an idealized or poetic creation
  6. fanciful or empty assumption

The tension in the quote results from two false assumptions made by adults:

  1. That they understand the rules; and
  2. That increased imagination is unnecessary to better understand those same rules which they falsely assume they understand.

It is a necessary chore of life to force myself to question nearly everything, which is another way of saying that I (and you!) should always live life the way I want to live it while acknowledging the rules that need to be acknowledged, deciding for myself which rules are are worth agreeing with and following based on the consequences of not following those rules and my personal beliefs, which rules deserve further study for me to better understand them, and, in turn, lead a fuller and more purposeful life. And while slogging through the life’s muddy pool of rules, I must always actively remember to use my imagination to imagine the possibilities that fall outside life’s staid prescriptions.

Cool as a Kid; Cool Again Now

I was reminded, just now, of a childhood phenomenon involving Silly Putty and Sunday comics. The trick, as I’m guessing you know by now, was to press the Silly Putty onto the Peanuts’ strip (or your strip of choosing!) and then slowly peel it away. The newspaper ink transferred to the Silly Putty. That alone was entertaining, but even more so was contorting the transposed comic by stretching the Silly Putty.

The Silly Putty Phenomenon just reoccurred when I removed the transparent Post-It note “flag” from my Michigan Court Rules of 1985 book and the ink was transposed from page 134 and onto my Post-It note.

My memory is that those mornings spent perusing, but not earnestly consuming, the news of the day on the living room floor were always bright and sunny, but with the possibility of Sunday School looming.

The Fine Horizon Underfoot

“Look,” he said as he pointed at the distant lake shore where the early-morning mist lingered, depressing the plump tangerine lines of sunlight on the placid surface water. She turned and looked as they walked through the dew-covered bluegrass. “Indistinguishable,” she said. “Which would you choose?” He stopped them from going further and placed his arm on her shoulder so that his finger tips could caress her collarbone. And he pulled her slight frame closer to his, and leaned his head against hers. “I will always choose you, and then, while both will remain indistinguishable, it will not be from one another, but from life without you.” His eyes welled with tears because his eyes often welled with tears when he let his mind wander to the future – to what he would or would not receive from her – to dreams of dreams coming true – to the moments he’d never choose to miss, but sometimes would because that’s what happens when life is folded in two or multiplied by half. “We are, and forever will be, standing on a fine horizon underfoot.”

Written from 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 in my office in Traverse City, Michigan.

OneWord: Adopt, Maze, Clue, Flirt

Adopt: We learn to adopt at a young age. Oh, wait, scratch that. I was thinking that you said, “adapt.” Well let’s adopt a new direction to this post and think about it for a little bit before we get ourselves in more trouble.

Maze: The fog set in and our pace quickened. “We’re going the wrong way,” John said. “The moss on the tree indicates we’re going south. Camp is north.” We’d been hiking for three hours and none of us knew where north was, let alone camp. I kept thinking that I could smell Lindsey’s cooking – camp roast, mashed potatoes, and caramelized carrots – but my mind was playing tricks. Edna tripped on a root, and screamed. My head whipped around to see the commotion. As the maze of hysteria set in midst the evergreens, taller now than their fading shadows, a discord . . .

Clue: “I have no clue what she wants for Valentine’s day!”
“Really? You have NO clue? I barely hang out with you two, and, man, I can tell you she’s been dropping hints like they’re the sun setting in December.”
“Well.”
“Well, nothing. Get your ass to the flower store, make a reservation at Amical and think of something interesting to talk about for an hour other than golf clubs. And get the bracelet at the jewelry store downtown – the one in the window.”

Flirt: She flirted with me like it was her middle name. Like it was the sun. Like there was a bookshelf full of books and a fresh pot of coffee. Like a dog barks at cars. Like when a President of the United States of America dies and there’s a special report on TV. Like she is something beautiful captured in something cold – like a ripe red cherry in an icicle. Like she was being graded by God. Like her parents weren’t watching.

Techie Lawyers

From You Can’t Make Lawyers into Techies: 3 Lessons About LPM:

Certainly, lawyers are not Luddites, determined to resist progress and deny any change. It’s that they are lawyers, not IT types. So that’s Lesson One: You can’t make lawyers talk IT; IT has to learn to talk lawyer.

Lesson Two is that lawyers insist on immediate gratification. They will happily sacrifice technological sophistication with its attendant steep learning curve for instant utility.

Lesson Three is the need for patience when introducing any sweeping change that seriously impacts traditional behaviors.  Lawyers don’t welcome transformative changes, but they will accept sequential phase shifts if only because their competitors do.

Summer Shandy

He was sitting on the porch near the shadow of the gazebo, rocking on the coiled-wire hinge of his deck chair. The August sun was waning as evening – and with it dinner – approached. He allowed himself to let his focus blur as he took a long pull that finished the bottle of Summer Shandy he’d been nursing for the past half-hour. The waves of Lake Michigan and the sandy shores had called it a truce for the day, and were in the process of retreating to their front lines. And then the baritone grate of the sliding door jostled him upright in his chair, and as he slowed the pulse of his rocker she said, “dinner’s ready.”

Written from 6:40 am to 7:00 am on Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at home in Traverse City, Michigan.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

From the UK Guardian, a nurse polled dying patients for their regrets. The top five results were:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This reminds me of a country song I used to listen to on the bus ride to North Campus at the University of Michigan for piano class. The song was, “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack. Its message is one of those cliches that encourages you to seize the day, live without regrets, etc. that is in horrible conflict with the fact that 99% of us have to work very hard for a living. Yet that song, along with dozens of quotes that I come upon each month while browsing the internet and the above informal poll, all work to remind us to be conscious of our mortality and that of those around us.

I’ve found that No. 1 is difficult and always will be difficult because I care about those around me, and because of that love I am committed to living, at least in part, for them – as a husband, as a son, as a brother, as a friend. Inevitably, that pulls at my own selfish desires. That’s okay! No. 2 is a life-long challenge, but pursuing a profession that I find rewarding helps balance the reality of sitting inside on sunny days. I’m a man, so No. 3 doesn’t exist. Juuuuust kidding. I am better at expressing my feelings through writing than vebally, but that’s a start. No. 4 will always be difficult because it’s like trying to hit a moving target. Who’s married, single, in town, not too busy, I still have contact information for, etc. There’s a multitude of variables, and not enough time. Most important is to remember to keep putting myself out there, and ask friends out instead of waiting for an invitation.

Life Revisited – My Crepe Stand Plan

Back in 2002 when I was a sophomore at the University of Michigan, and probably for some time before that, I had plans or dreams to open a crepe stand. While chatting with the bartender, Dan, at the TCG&CC last night the topic came up again as I ordered the chicken and mushroom crepes for dinner. My plans from 2002 are below. Fun to think about – maybe even a good business model during busy festivals.