Author: Luisa Perkins
•8:24 AM
A visit from across-the-ponder Carmen, a.k.a. La Fabulous, would be a highlight of my entire year under any circumstances. Carmen has been an amazing friend to me, Patrick, and the kids for going on ten years (the photo above is of Patrick and her when we first met).

She is the ideal world-traveling companion (we've done Paris and a bit of London and Rome--next stop: Antarctica). She's a knitting dervish. She's a great audience for my cooking. She's another close friend who reads The New Yorker from cover to cover each week so that I don't have to. She relates to the kids as individuals; for years, Christian tried to get me to back off when she came over, since he knew she was really there to see him.

We have a whole lexicon of phrases that are shorthand for various memorable moments in our shared history:

"You said pie!"
"What are you saying? What do you mean?"
"Je voudrais une Crèpe Nutella et un Fanta, s'il vous plaît."
"Santa, you're scaring me."
"Those birds are stuffing themselves!"

...and so many more...

When Tess was in the NICU and I was in delivery recovery, I wished for Carmen with all my heart. She is the most gifted storyteller I've ever known personally; we never get tired of her hilarious anecdotes. I wanted her by my side to distract me from my worries and woes. She was in Cambodia on vacation then, but when she got back, she was a tremendous help.

Carmen moved to London from NYC five years ago. At the time, we thought it would be a three-year adventure, and while I didn't love the idea of her being away from us for so long, I braced myself. I'm glad I didn't know then that her trip would extend indefinitely, or I would have been tempted to throw myself into the Pit of Despair.

Unfortunately, I'm terrible at long-distance relationships. Present cares and obsessions tend to drive absent friends, however dear, from my thoughts for weeks at a time. But I haven't given up on trying to mend my ways. Having people like Carmen in my life make my efforts at improvement worthwhile.

We sat up late last night, riveted as she gave us every detail of her recent trip to Japan. Then the kids went to bed, and she and I talked knitting, politics, books, and life for a good long while--infinitely satisfying.

Carmen's presence is a gift. But to ice the figurative cake, she brought me gorgeous buttons from La Droguerie and five Green & Black's Butterscotch bars. I've been obsessed with the idea of these candy bars ever since I read Jane Brocket's ode to them, then found out they are not available in the States. Oh, the yearning. I waited all of a few minutes before breaking one open last night.

Jane's rhapsodies were in no way hyperbolic. The Butterscotch bar is a perfect realization of the ideal chocolate bar. I won't wax poetic, since most of you don't have regular access to these, either; it would be just plain mean if I did. But next time you find yourself in Merrie Olde, do yourself a favor and bring back a duffel bag full.

I wonder if you can get them in Canada; it's only a seven-hour drive....

This morning, we made the Breakfast Bars from yesterday's post, substituting raspberries for blueberries--a sublime treat for sublime company.

Patrick just left to take Carmen to the airport. I hate goodbyes. Here's hoping the time will fly until our next reunion. Ciao, Cah!
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On 14/7/07 , Jenna said...

You know, over the years I've heard so many glowing things about Carmen, that I love her too! I feel like I know her, and any friend of yours would be a welcome friend of mine. Sorry she had to go so soon!

On 14/7/07 , Radioactive Jam said...

Okay, so - Target and others supposedly carry the product line. Are the Butterscotch bars excluded?

On 14/7/07 , NH Knitting Mama said...

Friends like that are wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

On 14/7/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

RaJ--Yes, the Butterscotch is excluded. Even my local grocery store carries the rest of the line (which is excellent). I contacted the US distributor months ago; they offered no explanation as to why no Butterscotch here. Friends, write your Congresspeople; it's a cause worth your time.

On 15/7/07 , Brillig said...

Ohhhh, Green and Black's... divine. Wow.

And Carmen sounds amazing! What a wonderful friend!!!

And, oddly enough, that's one of the few phrases I know in French. It's a vital phrase, after all.

On 15/7/07 , dawn said...

The wonderful thing about friends like Carmen (as you describe her) is that when you get together, it is like your were never apart, except there are way too many things to catch up on. I have some dear friends like that too and it truly makes the world go round.

I don't know if we have those bars in Canada, I haven't looked for them, but will keep my eyes peeled for them now.

On 15/7/07 , Sirdar said...

It is so wonderful to see old friends and review old experiences with them. Makes for some great times and greater laughs. Sorry to hear she had to leave you again but that just gives you cause to go see her.

On 18/7/07 , Anne Bradshaw said...

Hey, Luisa--go to London Market's website at and give them a call. London Market is in Salt Lake City. The owners are friends of ours--Robin and Elizabeth. They may be in Florida at the moment. But anyway, they are always on the lookout for items people over here like. They might be able to get some of that butterscotch in for you. They sell online as well as at the store.

On 23/7/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, how I love my bloggy pals. Thanks for the solutions to the butterscotch problem!

On 23/7/07 , Luisa Perkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.