Last Week’s Good Things

Image1.  Paul Thorn at Knuckleheads – Paul Thorn is from Tupelo, Mississippi. He plays guitar and sings songs about the good, bad, ugly, sad and funny. He once fought Roberto Duran. When he comes to Kansas City, a one night show isn’t enough. He stays and plays three. Friday night was our third time going to hear Paul at Knuckleheads. The first time we saw him we were there to see the opening act. It was good, but we then got the gift of being introduced to a story-telling, charismatic, southern drawling, song master. Once again, I fell under his spell. I will spending my coming weeks with his songs in my ears and a smile on my face.

2. Rain in the Morning – A couple of mornings this week, I woke up to the sound of rain and an occasional rumbling of thunder. That is the best! It makes the morning darker. It makes the bed cozier. I still had to get up and get myself ready for work this week, but there was that pleasure of lingering in bed a few more minutes listening to the rain hit the window.

3. Grits – I like washing dishes. We don’t have a dishwasher and I really don’t mind (other than I would like a place to hide dirty dishes until they do get washed). I like washing dishes because it is a quiet and calming. The same pleasure that I get from washing dishes I get from other activities that require little thought or activity, but a fair amount of time. I love cooking risotto and making ricotta cheese. Both of them take patience as you bring them to the right consistency or the right temperature. This week, grits fell into this category. I had always heard that good grits take a long time to make. Following a recipe I had saved, I pursued the low and slow method of grits making. The process had that same magic of risotto. There was lots of stirring. There was adding liquid a little at a time. There was reaching the point where the product was rich and creamy. For the grits, that was supplemented with some heavy cream, bacon and cheese.

4. Jonathan Franzen talking about birds – Science Friday on NPR is really a wonderful program. I usually don’t get to listen to it on the radio, but I have been trying to listen to the podcasts of the program more. This week I listened to an episode with Jonathan Franzen. Franzen is the author of a couple of favorite books of mine: The Corrections and Freedom. I think that he is a terrific writer. Franzen recently wrote an article for National Geographic about migrating birds being hunted for sport. Franzen has been an avid birder for years and his love for his hobby charmed me completely. The host, at one point in the interview, asked Franzen which bird is his favorite. His answer was so cute, I needed to go to the transcript to get it exactly as he spoke it. His favorite is the California Towhee. “It’s not an uncommon bird. It’s very plain, but it’s just the loveliest thing.”

California_Towhee_b13-45-039_l_15. George Saunders graduation speech – I have come a little late to this piece, and now I understand that it is being made into a book. Author, George Saunders addressed the graduates of Syracuse University. His message is simple – be kind. In the speech he relates that a life regret occurred when he was a boy he did nothing when a classmate was teased. He called it a “failure of kindness.”  Saunders proposes that one of the effects of aging is that we become kinder and it is a factor of our becoming less selfish as we get older.  What he tells the graduating class is that they might be able to speed the speed of kindness growth by being aware of it and “err in the direction of kindness.”

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