Monthly Archives: October 2012

Simply Images…

Just a batch of photos from our last trip to Narragansett, RI. All these pics were taken earlier this month, a far cry from what is happening on Narragansett Beach in late October. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a storm pummeling the east coast right about now. Batten down the hatches!

sea, ocean, narragansett, ri

Healing Vista

Guarded Dunes

Guarded Dunes

 

Shining Seas...

Ocean Brilliance

cormorants, ocean, narragansett, ri,

Taking A Break…

The Channel, Narragansett, RI

We wonder if the beach will still be there for such soothing sojourns after Sandy  finally departs. I hope that you enjoyed the images, and that they bring back your own fond memories of the sea.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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A Trifling Affair…

Since I remain unemployed, I spend some time engaged in a myriad of house duties, such as making the rounds to the local shops.

I deposited a piddling check and wended my way to Stop & Shop, to return a jar of almond butter and a bag of almonds. I found the same two items at Ocean State Job Lot, and they were both infinitely cheaper.

In the parking lot, I texted my Beloved, locked the car, and only after shutting the door did I realize I had left the keys inside. The single word ‘Darn!’ came to mind.

I went inside, exchanged the two items for cash and as I was walking to my car, I heard my name called. It was my mum.

“Oh, I saw you and I just wanted to give you a hug!” she said. Which was certainly nice. She then told me she was doing her neighbor a favor, taking her to the store since her car had unexpectedly died. Since my mum was visibly harried and windblown, I elected to not apprise her of my predicament. I was in a quandary, certainly, as I had to get home in time for my son to get off the bus. But since mum was in disarray and perturbed, I didn’t want to put her out further and ask for a ride home.

We hugged again. I watched her hobble to her car, where her neighbor waited. I then ran home.

It was only two miles away and I managed to make it within 300 yards before I saw the bus pull up to our driveway. My son got off, the bus departed, and I made a sprint to the finish line.

Winded, I told my son of my dilemma. I fetched him some chocolate milk and a blue Tootsie Pop, hopped on my bike, and pedaled back to the shopping plaza.

Along my journey I thought about mum, of how frazzled she would have been if I had asked her for a ride home. Just watching her limp to her car had convinced me.

That was a good call, Paulie’, I thought to myself. I didn’t want to put her out but more importantly, I did not want my situation to become fodder for future conversations with family members.

I got to the store in one piece, plopped my bike in the trunk, and returned home. At the very least, I got in some good exercise. It was a nice fall day and out of the blue I got a hug from mum.

And sometimes that in itself can make things better.

Deluge…x Three

This morning, after the obligatory check of emails, I thought this post would be apropos. Allow me to retrieve my fifth cup of joe and I’ll be right back.

Deluge #1 : After said missives were perused, I waded through a bevy of excellent blogs and sites, all concerned with the craft of writing. Here are the links to several, and all of them provide good reads as well as excellent insights:

writerunboxed

kmweiland

writersdigest

thewritepractice

storyfix

(There are plenty more, and I’ll keep you posted about them.)

Me, overwhelmed…

When my coffee turned tepid, I realized that I was so engrossed in some of the articles that I needed a break, to shake the weight of words consumed. I was so inundated with numerous tips and tricks and suggestions about writing, that I had to go for a run. Whew!

Deluge #2: Here on the east coast we are scheduled for a deluge later on today, 2” of rain expected. But after reading many pages, I scanned the skies and only a few drops were falling. So out the door I went. Near where I live, there is a quiet country road I frequent when I need to break free from the clutches of the keyboard.

As I began my run, I allowed all my senses to experience the outdoors: the fresh scent of rain and October decay; the gray and gravid clouds that threatened downpours; the dousing of dime-sized droplets from the treetops; the splash of footfalls on wet pavement and trampled leaves; and the soft wind as it swept through this sylvan scene.  Half-way through my slog, a torrent of oak and maple leaves showered me, a flitting caress from nature.

Deluge #3: Back home, I returned to the keyboard, knowing now was the time to compose. Not only my own manuscript, but to get ready for the coming deluge, known as NANOWRIMO. Have you heard of it? Here’s the link. It’s simple, really; write 50,000 words in 30 days. How hard can

The Beginning…

it be? Yeah, right. And with much trepidation, I signed up for it. And it’s free! So along with my regular (or irregular) writing schedule, I’m jotting a few notes on what exactly I will write come November. Will you, too, take on the challenge? Let me know if you’ll take the plunge.

Also, feel free to comment on ways you have been deluged in your life.

 

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 20212, All Rights Reserved*

*except photo of coffee cup

Keeping me company

Writer Workout, continued…

I just started reading Natalie Goldberg’s excellent book, ‘Writing Down the Bones’. The third chapter deals with running and writing, so I thought it was quite the coincidence, that I had just posted a blog about exercise and writing. Her words made me think of when I ran the marathon, back in 1997, when I was 37. (Stay with me; this does have relevance.)

I always ran, but usually only 3-4 miles. Anything longer, I was bored out of my mind. So when I told my roommate that I was going to run it, she thought I was nuts. (Just one of the many naysayers you continually meet in life.)

My training consisted of nothing more than small daily increments; 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, and finally 15 miles. I figured if I could run 15 miles, what’s another 11 or so? I have to admit, though, that that 15-miler was brutal.

But I was determined.

The day of the marathon arrived, and my roommate drove me to Hopkinton, where the race started. She dropped me off, and she returned to Brookline, to await my arrival in Coolidge Corner. I did not have a number, so I was one of the thousands of runners called ‘bandits’, those who didn’t qualify but could run at the end.

The race began and, twenty minutes later, I crossed the starting line. It took that long for all the numbered runners to start. The first 20 miles were relatively easy, and it certainly helped hearing the crowds cheer you on. Even the frat boys who, instead of handing out water, held out Coors cans to the runners, cheered us onward. I smiled at that, and looked forward to having a beer at the end. Ok, three.

At the aptly named Heartbreak Hill, I thought my heart was going to explode. Cresting one of the slight hills, I slowed down and walked instead. Big mistake. It was extremely difficult to get going after that, and I thought my thighs were the next body parts to erupt.

Cleveland Circle came into view, and I could not believe I still had another 3.5 miles…just to Kenmore Square! And from there it was another mile to the finish line.

I continued along Commonwealth Avenue, turned right onto Hereford, and then left onto Boylston Street. I could see the finish line ahead. My head and heart were pounding, and I forced myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I did not hear the crowd at all. I just concentrated on the act of running.

And there I was, crossing the finish line, near the Boston Public Library. I did it! I ran my first marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes. I was elated. And what does all this have to do with Ms. Goldberg’s superb book? As she writes in her book, writing is exactly like running. You do not stop. You keep putting the pen to paper. You do not give up.

Just starting in with her chapter called ‘Writing as a Practice’ (page 11) has me excited to follow her poignant words. If I can run—and finish—a marathon, if I possess the spirit and determination to pursue that desire, then surely I can tackle a blank page and churn out a plethora of words on a daily basis.

For all those out there who struggle to compose something every day (I raised my hand, too), that first paragraph of that chapter will help you tremendously. And as she states, so simply yet accurately, ‘You just do it.’

Writing Workout…

I find it amazing how many people I know that don’t have the time to work out. “I’m too tired.” “There’s just no time. I’m too busy!” “I have too many errands.” They have a lot of excuses. But it really doesn’t take that long to get in a good work out.

I know, because I work out every day. Sometimes it can be for 45 minutes, with cardio. Other times it will be a super-set session, where I combine a few exercises into one extended set. But no matter what, I get my work out in. One can get a good work out done in 15 minutes.

I thought about this, wondering if this principle applies to my writing. I was startled to realize that it did not. It should, though. If a writer asks me if I write, or do a ‘work out’ with words every day, I would reply no. And that person would be (like me about exercise) flummoxed. How is that possible? The writer may ask, “Don’t you have 15 minutes a day to put pen to paper?” “Well, um…yes, as a matter of fact, I do.”

It doesn’t even have to be for 15 minutes. Give yourself five minutes of writing time. Five minutes. That’s not asking a lot. And yet some days I go without writing a word. Zip. But that’s no different than the person who says he has no time to work out. I’ve been exercising every day for my entire life. I have not, though, been writing every day of my life.

I guess that is the difference—and the key. If I exercise my writing muscles every day, it will eventually become natural. And just like a workout has to change over time, so does my writing. It’s good to mix it up, to try something new, delve into something challenging. Or maybe just jot down a little gibberish. As long as I’m writing.

I can look in a magazine and make a mental note of a new exercise for my abs. Likewise, I can read about a certain technique that can propel my writing into different areas. Just as it’s important to maintain a healthy body, so is it necessary to maintain a healthy mind towards writing. Even if it’s only for five minutes.

So, on that note, “How much time do you spend writing?”

Feline Perturbed…

Why the hell do cats puke on the rug when the linoleum or hardwood floors beckon for their fur balls? Do you have pets that do that? Vomit here and there, but never on a surface that can be easily cleaned.

We have three cats. Boo, our resident black panther, who weighs in at 17 pounds; Maggie, the only girl in the house, besides my lovely bride, weighing in at nine pounds. (My bride weighs slightly more than that.) And then there’s Miles, our 2 ounce cat, who proceeds to puke copious amounts of food all over our carpets and rugs. Two ounces! Well, not quite that light, but sometimes it seems as though he wretches up more than he weighs.

Our former cat, Fenway, used to pee on anything that remained on the floor. Plastic bags, clothes, an errant newspaper, anything was fair game.  And why does Miles prefer plush to laminate? I tell you, there’s nothing comparable to tearing a few squares of paper towel and cupping the still warm, still steaming chunks of cat puke in your hands, feeling the warmth seep into your fingers. It’s especially delightful when you wake during the night to go pee and step barefoot onto these piles of upchuck. It’s the way I like to start my day.

Last week we came back from a few days down in Rhode Island, and as I descended the cellar stairs to check on the cat food level, I narrowly avoided stepping on the hindquarters of a mouse. Only the legs and tail remained. I almost bent down to pick it up, thinking it was one of the 32 toy mice we have littering the house.

Speaking of litter, we have three litter boxes for the felines. (I know; the experts say to have one more than the amount of cats you have, but I pooh-pooh that notion.) Can I just tell you how much poo these cats produce? Jesus, it’s as though we’ve been feeding them the remains of a wildebeest! I, of course, get to do the dirty work, and thank Buddha we use the clumping kind of litter. But still, as I valiantly attempt to excavate the huge clods of crap with my puny, useless plastic shovel, I’m always amazed at how much I exhume.

This should be a daily exercise, but sometimes I’ll skip it for three or four days. Then it becomes quite burdensome. After my strenuous efforts, I must have at least 50 pounds of kitty crap in my plastic bag. And where to put all these excavations of excrement is a valid question.

Usually, if I keep up with it, I’ll toss it into a garbage bag and whisk it away to the dump. But sometimes, after a few weeks of accumulation, I’ll have 10 or 12 shopping bags filled with kitty excretions. The solution? Empty them all into a giant bin, lug it out to my car as twilight settles into dusk, and drive along some deserted back road. With the car idling, I’ll haul out the odorous container and dump the doo-doo into the woods.

Mind you, I do this at a rapid clip. I certainly do not want anyone driving by, to witness my disposal of cat crap into the wild. One time I was in such a hurry that my glasses fell into the mound of litter. It was too dark to see so I drove back home, retrieved a flashlight and went back to comb through Turd Hill to get them. That was a pleasant ordeal, I must say. (Yeah, I heard you; I deserved it.)

Kitties are great companions, but sometimes they can raise your hackles, especially when it’s time to sift the sands for scat.

Something tells me I should stop purchasing those flanks of gnu for them.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.