Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Last Glimpse of Summer…

Julie and I are so enamored by the ocean that we couldn’t resist going down to Narragansett again, to indulge our spirits in the sea.

It was the first day of fall, yet the vestiges of summer lingered still, a last tenuous grasp before a graceful bow to autumn.

We arrived late, at least, late for us. Usually, we are there in the early morn’, to run along the wavelets before the onslaught of humanity fractures the ethereal symmetry of sand, sea, and sky.

A few hardy souls still ventured into the surf, but we elected to set up shop near the pitifully fragile picket fence, a feeble defense for the wind-scoured dunes.

Here, a semblance of calm was attained, free from the full frontal foamy throttle of a frothy and turbulent sea.

It was perfect.

Even though we were sixty yards from the roiling ocean, our view remained unobstructed.

Julie slept while I read. The blanket was spread, our bags were about, we were barefoot and cozy, and what better way to usher in the first day of fall than to plunge your toes into the warm, inviting sands of a beach?

It was lovely.

In late afternoon the sun valiantly clung to the horizon but proved feeble and soon yielded to an autumnal chill. Wrapped in sweatshirts and blankets, we sat in silence and marveled at the vista before us; quiet, serene, and soothing.

Narragansett, even in the initial throes of fall, still offered two souls comfort and calm.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Dad’s Place…

I visited my Dad’s spot, a welcome refuge from the bustle of a typical day, and I stayed long enough to witness a heron, one of my Dad’s favorite birds.

The area is located in Wells State Park, accessed by taking Route 49, and Dad’s particular spot was along a walk he frequented, a narrow path carved out of the ever-encroaching flora. My jaunt today bypassed his path. Instead, I opted for a rock-strewn dirt path that paralleled the power lines, the constant hum of the wires accompanying me as I trudged along the meandering trail.

In past postings, I have mentioned this spot. It is where I paid homage to my father, for he died just over two years ago and here I built a little secular shrine in his honor. A plaque blends seamlessly into the bark of an oak tree, and below I built a little garden. Near the tree is an old stone wall, and just to the end of it sits a massive rock, a perfect perch to watch the lagoon where herons roost.

Over the summer Julie and I ventured there, to sit quietly and gaze out into the spires of dead trees, where the herons had built sturdy twig nests. The squawks and cries of the heron chicks reverberated across the swamp. If we sat completely still, we were treated to the magnificent sight of a heron in full flight, its primordial presence  flapping in slow motion as it circled and landed on a twisted branch. The chick eagerly strained its neck, beckoning for sustenance.

Today started off cool, with mid-morning temperatures in the 40’s. I quietly walked along the trail, with camera in hand, and arrived at the memorial. I enveloped all my senses; the rustling of the crisp, oak leaves above; the soft, diffused wispy Hopper-esque clouds; the distinct aroma of early fall decay, and the cool, rough surface of the stone.

It was…magical.

I said hi to Dad, and sat in silence. A lone hawk swirled effortlessly in the brilliant cerulean sky. Another heron flew into view and perched upon a limb. A frog suddenly appeared, peered up at me and, with a squeal, submerged. The swamp grass sensuously waved in the cool, September breeze, and I became one with the sheer ethereal beauty of nature.

So long, Pops. It was nice coming here to see you. I hope that all is well in your world. I miss you very much.’

I got up, took one more look around, and left. Along the way I took a few photos, of the foliage and of the deep, eerily dark woods, and another pond, where lily pads bathed in sunlight. Two turtles were sunning on hummocks, and everything was just perfect.

Every now and then, it is nice to witness nature in solitude, especially this personal patch. And even though I was alone, I know my Dad was with me in spirit.

Goodbye, Dad. I love you.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

The Writer’s Lie…addendum

My past post of a writer’s life and all that it entails resonated with a few folk, and I thought I’d tack on a few more things that perhaps other writers do that removes them from the keyboard or pad and pen. Like composing a post.

Take this morning, for example. My wife got ready  for work, and I got her lunch and my son’s lunch all set. Then I tended to the dishes, got gas for her car, drove to Dunkin Donuts for her fix of caffeine on the road, came back and made sure my Beloved was all set for her arduous day. Meanwhile my son, who is eleven, s-l-o-w-l-y got ready for school. I checked on him 10 minutes later, and he was still slumbering.

At 7:40am, the computer is on, I’ve checked my emails, and I have a few Word documents up and running, all rarin’ for words to populate the page.

One more sip of joe, and I took my boy out the bus stop. Another 10 minutes passed, and finally the bus arrived. Back inside, I made another cup of coffee. I then remembered that my Love wanted me to post a few letters and pick up some items from the store. Dutifully, after staring at my screen for another five minutes or so I got up, made sure  that our three cats were fed, and left the house for the appointed chores.

I came back and now it is 10:15am. I put away the groceries, glanced at my white screen sitting on the kitchen table, and I then managed to find something else to do before settling down to write. Because that is what I do. I write.

When I’m not engaged in any self-sabotage devices.

I got up and made the beds, and returned to my tepid cup of coffee. I sat down at my computer, scrolled through the various documents up and running. and instead decided to add this to my past post.

But within this post I just wanted to add a great resource for other writers out there. I just got the latest ‘The Writer‘ magazine, and it is LOADED with great advice as to how to get your sorry ass (there’s a self-sabotage comment if I’ve ever heard one…) in gear. Great stuff within its pages, but now….now it’s time to send along this post and get back to writing.

Because that is what I do. That is what we all do. I bid you all many filled pages of your manuscript today.

Take care, and be kind to yourself.

Paul

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Family Dynamics…

Don’t you find it strange how things work out between family members? Do you come from a large family, or are you an only child? I wonder how that would have been, to be an only child. I wouldn’t know, as I come from a family of seven kids. Seven. And I am the middle child.

Yesterday I visited one of my five brothers who lives in Shrewsbury, and it was a pleasure to see him. I have not seen nor heard from him in months. As for my other siblings, I rarely hear from them as well. One sister, I suppose, more so than the others. But it’s odd how this has come about, the silence over the years.

Growing up, we were so tight, all of us. Sure, there were the usual sibling rivalry stuff, but overall we got along ok. We all sat down to the kitchen table for meals, and we all went on vacations together. But once we got older, and began moving out of the nest, communication dissipated greatly.

Now, in my fifties, it’s rare to make contact with all of them. And rare for them to make contact with others. My Dad died just a little over two years ago, and I thought that that would bring us all back together, make us closer, become a family once again. Instead, the opposite happened.

Family dynamics; they can be surreal, and you never know how things will turn out. My Dad, wherever he resides in the Great Gig in the Sky, must wonder, shake his head, and mutter “What a bunch of knuckleheads.”

Perhaps things will change. Perhaps we will all communicate at some point. It just seems a shame to have once realized such closeness, such oneness, only to have it slip away, like an ephemeral wisp of smoke from a candle.

Joe, it was great to see you at your new pad, and even though the visit was curtailed, it was good to see you. Thanks for the invite.

To my other siblings, I wish you all well.

with love,

your brother Paul

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

 

Narragansett Dreams…

Last night while my Beloved was getting ready for bed, I sat on the couch and thought about our most recent vacation, a wonderful stay down in Rhode Island. Random thoughts from those days coursed through my mind as I sat and ruminated and took long pulls from my 24oz can of questionable beer. (Natty Daddy, in case you were wondering. I told you it was questionable.) I certainly don’t recommend this cervesa, but being a pauper it’s the best I can do to scrounge up a $1.09 for the can. And it’s the equivalent of two beers! After the initial swallow and subsequent shudder, it’s not that bad. Really. (OK, it is.)

I recalled one day in particular, when our son’s friend came down to stay with us. We stayed at the beach from 8-3pm, and the boys had a grand time, free from the clutches of an iPod and such. After our return home we ate an early supper and returned to the beach, to welcome the sunset. One can never tire of that ancient orb as it slowly disappears below the horizon, like nature’s own free fireworks display.

Darkness descended and we returned, and played Monopoly for a few hours. It was just me and the boys, as Julie was just too tired. I checked on her during the game, and she was fast asleep with a book in her lap. Even in sleep she appeared radiant. She is such a love.

At 10pm, the boys retired to their rooms, but I lingered behind, and kicked back with a nice cold Blue Moon Ale, a beer that is actually a pleasure to drink. All was quiet and peaceful, save for the constant hum of the dryer. And the night sounds outside in the pitch black.

There is quite a contrast to the sounds you here around this house in Saunderstown, a small cottage tucked into a quiet neighborhood near the Narrow River. At night, one hears through the screened window all kinds of strange clicks and screeches, twigs snapping and leaves rustling, invisible things scuttling through the brush, and the cacophony of katydids. It was quite eerie. During the day, though, when we have our first cup of coffee, brilliant birdsong punctuates the still crisp morning air and, later on, the incessant and deafening thrum of cicadas.

I drank my beer and listened, and marveled at the creatures that inhabit the nocturne. Tomorrow, we’d do it all over again, although Julie and I would be up at 5am once again, even though sleep teasingly beckoned. Oh, how splendid that would be! And don’t people usually do that on vacation, sleep a little bit late? But no, we’ll be up, make our joe, don our sneakers and be out the door, to drive to Narragansett Beach and run along its length, always scanning the skies for sunrise.

So that was just one of many fond memories I have of that healing respite near the sea, something to relish as we start yet another work day tomorrow. Well, for Julie. I will sit here and contemplate my next post and get back to my writing. Perhaps more such pleasant thoughts of the sea will fuel my muse.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

 

The Charles River in Boston…

For those not familiar with this lovely body of water, the Charles River splits the difference between Boston and Cambridge in Massachusetts. Its 80 mile length begins in Hopkington (where the Boston Marathon also happens to begin) and empties into the Boston Harbor. The river was named by Charles I, who was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland, from 1625 until his execution in 1649. Poor chap, having his head chopped off. ‘Untidy’, as Rumsfeld was fond of saying about war.

Now that you know a smidge of history of this meandering river, the reason I even mention it at all is because my Beloved and I ventured there yesterday, to indulge our spirits along its inviting paths, and we were treated to spectacular visions of this beautiful parcel of both water and land.

The river is populated by many bridges, and we parked near the recently renovated B. U. bridge, where engineers did a remarkable job of transforming the bridge’s previously derelict and rusted hulk into a gleaming gray crossing of simple elegance. We crossed over the bridge and managed to avoid the mass of Boston University students as they streamed to their various classes. We ascended one of the myriad of pedestrian bridges, and engaged in a healing run along the river’s banks.

The Charles River, or The Charles, or The River Charles, provides an abundance of activities for those inclined to improve their health. You can learn how to sail at the the nation’s oldest and largest community sailing center at www.community-boating.org. It’s located near the Hatch Shell, where every 4th of July hundreds of thousands of people descend to watch the Boston Pops perform, as well as to witness the spectacular fireworks display that illuminates the Boston skyline. You can also run or walk or ride your bike here, or plop your kayak into the waters and marvel at the magnificence of Beantown’s architecture from water’s edge.

We jogged along the Charles, passing the Harvard Bridge, better known as the Mass Ave Bridge (which just happens to be 364.4 smoots in length, plus or minus one ear. A ‘smoot’ was the height of one Oliver Smoot, who was 5’ 7”. For more info on this MIT prank, go here.) We then ran past the Hatch Shell, and arrived at the Longfellow Bridge, where the MBTA Red Line connects Beantown with Cambridge and beyond.

Julie and I then finished the loop by running along the river on the Memorial Drive side, and from there one has a stunning panorama of Boston and its varied trademark buildings, from the Hancock to the Prudential to the gargantuan Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, the latter right near Fenway Park.

We wanted to venture to the Museum of Fine Arts, but traffic was hideous, and we ended up driving around fruitlessly searching for a parking space. It certainly didn’t help that the Red Sox were playing at home.

Julie and I then headed home and, three hours later after our run along the Charles, we pulled into our driveway to our anxious and awaiting cats. Three hours. But still, the visions and memories of our jaunt around the Charles was healing in itself, and we both enthusiastically suggest to everyone to make the journey there.

The fall is soon upon us, and what better way to rejuvenate your soul (if the sea is not feasible), then to run or walk or simply sit and indulge your senses along this stretch of sumptuous scenery.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved. *

*except for photos.

The Writer’s Lie…Life

Yeah, we all suffer from it. There’s always something else to do but write. Right? Am I wrong? No.

There’s always a chore at hand. Dishes to be done, shopping, vacuuming, making the beds, pet the kitties, mow the lawn, stare at the clouds (well, maybe that’s not a chore), and a myriad of other things to check on.

Like email. Or the latest news. Jesus, just a welter of things just itching to take you away from your keyboard. I guess it’s that simple, really; other things that are tangible, as opposed to that oppressive white page.

My wife works her tail off. She works two different jobs and, while our youngest is at school,  I have ample time to sit and compose ‘stuff’ at my leisure. But when do I get around to it? Is it straight away? No, there’s that 4th cup of coffee to make and, oh look, the clothes haven’t been put away, and geez, would you look at those shrubs? Christ, do they need a trim!

A ton of stupid #$@%&! excuses can wreak havoc with your writing time, and some days they get the better of me. Sure, I’m writing this blog, but that doesn’t really count now, does it? Just another lame excuse to take me away from the memoir I’m writing, or the outline to a steamy romance novella, not to mention a novel about a character who contemplates suicide, or the…. you get the picture.

All excuses are just that. They remain inexcusable. What was it that Stephen King wrote in his excellent book, ‘On Writing’? I think he churns out 10,000 words a day. A day! And other sources mention 2,000 words a day. And yet others say 600.

On top of all the excuses, there are the books and magazines on writing that take you away from writing. I have a mountain of books and papers sitting by my sofa, just waiting their turn to be read. Books, magazines, web sites, all about writing, and how much time you should take to write every day, not to mention to get your platform in tip-top shape, and what’s that? You haven’t written a query letter yet? Y…you haven’t found an agent? What the hell’s wrong with you? Get to it, man!

So. Here I sit, typing away this little blog to the universe. I suppose it is one way to write something for the day. My wife works her ass off, and I sit at home and contemplate the keys in front of me. Some days just plain suck. Some days you just remain stuck. I’m sure that a few of you out there agree with me. I just wanted to let other people out there know that you are not alone. Not everyone can be prolific, but by golly, tomorrow I am going to get up and attack that goddamn blank page on the monitor. You just wait and see.

And I’ll pay no attention to those few specks of crumbs on the floor. Maybe…maybe right after I sweep……

No. I will not succumb. I will write today. I can feel it!

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.
*except images, courtesy of Tumblr, laptopsgadgets.com, and fromoldbooks.org, respectively.