Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Against all odds, it bloomed.

Sort of.

Readers may remember the experimental sunflower I planted in October. With a milestone birthday looming two days after Thanksgiving, I wanted a living reminder that new growth can sprout and beauty can blossom in all seasons. So I planted the seed with a view toward a flower that would become an eye-catching focal point on my Thanksgiving table as a kind of late-bloomer’s success story.

Despite several episodes of early frost, drear weather, and--I must confess-- resulting neglect, I was encouraged by the little speck of yellow cheer I spotted from my sunroom window a week or two ago. Since then, I’ve focused on the little flower as a backyard sun burst in the midst of an unexpected patch of cloudy conditions, even as I anticipated it’s burst into full-on Thanksgiving bloom.

Closer inspection, however, revealed that this garden specimen did not emerge unscathed from the harsh conditions of it’s off-season development. It became apparent that perhaps this isn't a flower of centerpiece quality. At first brush, this fact might seem to validate the notion that growth is a springtime proposition—that color, strength and vitality are the domain of the early months.

I choose to remain encouraged by the little spark of life my experiment produced. In a sea of withering decay, my little flower stands--a rugged beauty capable of weathering the elements and blooming anyway, alone and alive.

I’m thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Strictly by choice, I’ve been spending nine minutes every day in complete misery, and I’m absolutely loving the results.

About three weeks ago, I adopted the “Speedy Waist Whittler,” a treadmill-based exercise routine I discovered in a random magazine that showed up in my mailbox. I was skeptical of the ability of this 20-minute regimen to deliver on its claim to carve a full inch of belly flab from my figure in a mere month. After all, I’ve invested over twice that time into efforts which have yielded nothing more than negligible results.

The Whittler rests upon the theory that the kind of measurable success I’m seeking can only come from short spurts of intense effort sandwiched between stretches of moderate momentum. Accordingly, The Whittler doesn’t get uncomfortable until around Minute Five, and by Minute 14, we’re closing in on the cool down. But those roughly nine minutes in between? Let’s just say, I feel lucky every time I make it to the quarter hour mark without paramedic involvement.

My narrowing midsection tells me that the time I’m spending in the upper register of my endurance range is critical—that what happens in those nine interminable minutes is the difference between where I am and where I want to be. It seems that even a small amount of time spent just beyond what I think possible delivers a far greater payoff than an extended effort in a mid-range zone.

What’s more, the standard changes as I go. The workout I’m calling challenging this week isn’t the same one I barely wheezed through last week. My definition of difficult is changing; expanding; evolving as I become stronger.

This all makes me wonder where else should I be stretching my endurance. What other extraneous flab could I excise from my life by upping my game for a moment or two every day? I’m inspired, really.

At least I was, before Thanksgiving week hit and my sister showed up at my door with our traditional pumpkin cheesecake. Now the only whittling in which I seem to be able to sustain interest involves altering the circumference of said dessert.

At the moment, I’m in the throes of decision. I’m completely committed to whittling—I just don’t know which soft circle to target--the one that I can reduce in about three minutes of sheer bliss, or the one requiring nine minutes of utter misery.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Seasonal Tale

There's a lot of seasonal action underway these days, and I'm not just referring to the hasty pounce retailers have made on the Christmas season.

Stray jack-o'-lanterns and the occasional roadside dum-dum serve as daily reminders that Halloween hasn't even fully exited the social arena--and with Thanksgiving waiting a mere two weeks in the wings, one can stand on virtually any street corner in America and witness pilgrims cavorting recklessly with elves and reindeer under the watchful gaze of a tardy grim reaper.

It's unsettling, really, this wanton intermingling of frivolity. Personally, I'm for strict regulation of inter-holiday commerce. Costumes and candies should enjoy a grace period into early November, handing the show over to the pilgrims and Indians around mid-month. As suggested by the format of the traditional Macy's parade, the North Pole should be ushered in on Tom Turkey's tail feathers.

This brings me to a dilemma. I've got a little something for my readers that it just doesn't seem right to withhold. Sort of like the Santa socks you receive on New Year's Eve, or the ornament you open on January 1st, this is the kind of thing you should be enjoying all season long. And I want you to share it, too, and I know that it can take awhile sometimes for things to circulate around cyberspace.

So I offer the following link to a short story I wrote as a Christmas gift to my readers. Set in the world of my two Young Adult novels, it also works as a little stand alone story that should get your thoughts moving in the right direction this holiday season--no matter which one you're currently celebrating.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Crunch Time

It's crunch time, and I'm not talking chips and salsa.

I haven't really had too much to complain about this semester--my weekends have been pretty much my own, and I haven't logged too many hours with my nose in a text book. In fact, most of what I have to look forward to in my masters program is my internship--ten weeks in a 7th grade classroom. Sounds like heaven, compared to sitting through three hour lectures.

But merging my syllabi with my calendar over the past few days, I've come to the realization that I'm actually going to have to engage in some authentic collegiate activity over the next two weeks.

I'll be in and out here, between now and Thanksgiving. Posts will likely be short--maybe even pictorial--but don't count me absent. I've got some good stories that I'll share in spurts over chips and salsa snack breaks. In the meantime, stock up on some tortillas and I'll meet you back here in a few days.


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