Tag Archives: postaweek2011

NaNoWriMo progress update + more pumpkin poetry

NaNo update!

I’m at my usual pace around this time of year. In need-to-get-the-lead-out mode. Trying to pass 10k within the next 24 hours or so.
I’m amused at all of the writers in my G+ NaNoWriMo circle who are stressed out about being a couple thousand words behind. Try being about 10-13k behind! It’s really not the end of the world. Having done this event a few times I have the perspective of it being okay if I get to 50k and it being okay if I don’t, though I plan to finish this challenge. I can probably edit a decent story out of this year’s effort.

Because I want to post this poem before the end of the month, I’ll not hinge it on being current on the linear word count guidelines. Instead I’ll set a goal to make my minimum count needed to not fall behind any further today (about 700 more words for the night) and post the rest of Picking Pumpkins including the first stanza again. Enjoy!

Picking Pumpkins

For rows and rows they stretch
Round in shape, some tall and lean
All shades of orange hues
Anticipating Halloween
Wedged between husks of corn
Listing from side to side
A chilly breeze whips ’round
A truck bed fit for a hay ride

The lanes go around a small cluster
Of dried-up scarecrows
With straw hands and shiny buttons
Guarding the patch and its rows
With benevolent eyes and crafty smiles
They make a fine bunch of bumpkins
Pointing to and lighting the way
To the surrounding pumpkins

Visitors kick hay as they walk
Marking the aisles with their forays
A sign at the entrance reads “Which way?”
Mere steps from a giant corn maze
In a lot corner two people are deciding
Between the big one or the small
“Which to choose? Which to choose?
We cannot take them all.”

They determine the medium-sized ones
Don’t deserve much of their attention
They pass them by with no second thought
Growing hungrier for selection
The first person watches the second
The second one paces around
The best one for their journey home
Is one just right and just round.

The second one passes by
The right one and then it’s time
To hold it up to the light
And free the orange skin of its grime
It is a bigger pumpkin
With a slightly lighter hue
Of orange, enough to be reflective
She says, “Oh, this one will do!”

She pulls a device from her pocket
and opens the camera app
Aims it at the large round orb
And carefully takes a snap
She glances at the other
And shows her still-frame catch
They look at the photo feeling quite pleased
Grabbing hands, they leave the patch

What they both know is
A secret you can’t deny
For the real pumpkin is
The one you choose to let lie
Whatever you take away,
One may surmise
Could become a jack o’lantern or
A couple of spiced, warm pies.

Or it could become a forgotten gift
That may be left to rot
On the doorstep, in a front yard
The one that time forgot
Back to the earth, the squashy flesh
Will fade into rows of pine
And the crowds will come back to seize
A tree from a fake-flocked line.

Next time you find yourself in a patch
Take a photo, take a few
To capture the true essence of autumn
Any hue will do
Be sure to wander to the corners
And around all the bends
Once you decide, leave all as they lie
Now, you’re picking pumpkins.


Writing progress update + mini-book review: Canadian Culinary Road Trip

This week in my spare time I read a book, made progress in a couple others, wrote a story synopsis and a poem, and got caught up on some video lectures for a class. More videos were just posted so I have to catch up all over again which negates my sense of accomplishment on that. Oh well.

In NaNo news I should be writing a lot more; throwing content toward my word count instead of here. The good news is that I am at least writing something. Hopefully the action will get the creativity flowing. With Daylight Saving Time ending tonight I’ll have one more hour in my day to make up the writing debt. Whether I remember to turn my clock back before I sleep is another issue. All those gentle reminders from several punctual and caring social media friends are helping that effort. Thanks, my friends.

As a “reward” for myself, I’ll post my full poem once I catch up on my word count.
LA Local wrimos
How’s your Nano novel coming along? There’s a write-in at the South Bay Pavilion’s Panera Breads on Sunday, Nov. 6, from 4:00PM – 7:00PM.

Here’s the first stanza as a teaser:

Picking Pumpkins

For rows and rows they stretch
Round in shape, some tall and lean
All shades of orange hues
Anticipating Halloween
Wedged between husks of corn
Listing from side to side
A chilly breeze whips ’round
A truck bed fit for a hay ride…

More to come next time.

Mini-book review: Canadian Culinary Road Trip

Canadian Culinary Road TripCanadian Culinary Road Trip by Isabel Fonte

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book a few years ago at a book fair and finally got around to re-reading this as I was looking for some new recipe ideas. This book is a virtual road trip with some wonderful photos of the Canadian landscape along with places of interest with regional recipes from across the country. I’ve tried a couple of the recipes and highly recommend the “cream of carrot soup” and the “rappie pie”- (a sort of Shepherd’s pie) dishes.

View all my reviews


Pumpkins and prose

Happy Halloweenies. Pumpkin season is here.

Just like every year, I’ve been a bit removed from any sort of pumpkin patch photo fun, and I’m guessing the pumpkin patch season’s basically over now. What can I say? I didn’t come from a pumpkin-loving family. Due to a loved one’s allergy to the squash/carving toy pumpkins never found a welcome place in my house while growing up with the exception of those plastic buckets used to hold candy. I’ve gone about my October days normally and when out and about I saw them just about everywhere. However, their presence barely registered in my brain not unlike a vegetarian just passing by the butcher area in the grocery store on the way to the healthful carby aisles.

On the flip-side I do remember having a ball at other people’s houses while attempting to carve one into some artsy candleholder-esque state. Haven’t done that in a few years, but maybe I will again.

My favorite carving I’ve seen this year: pumpkin Fail Whale (click for full size)

pumpkin carving of the Twitter fail whale
Image courtesy Joseph Lee on G+

Geeky Twitter carving, ftw.

Soon the time will arrive for gingerbread and the associated spices and aromas will take over the visual and olfactory landscape, likely at the stroke of midnight tonight. Know what that means? The onset of getting up one glorious hour later– Good riddance, DST! Sunny mornings except for those November rainy days.  Spending more time in places with the AC off and perhaps instead a little heat emanating across the room. Lattes every day (of the non-expensive variety). Lots of scarf wearing, cranberry flavors, and piping-hot stuffing spilling out of more than a few turkey dishes.

In other news, NaNoWriMo starts in about 2 hours. I have a lofty goal to not have to write over Thanksgiving. Again, that is lofty but I am still looking forward to the challenge. My story genre this year is youth fiction with a bit of humor, some kind of throw down to be had, some other cool stuff, plus a little craziness all mixed together. It’s not too late to sign up if you have ever wanted to write a novel in a month. What do you mean you haven’t ever wanted to do that? Does not compute! Please try (again).

Best efforts to my fellow wrimos! Writing 50,000 words in a month is no easy feat, but remember, though you may be writing your novel alone you are among thousands of writers doing this at the same exact time over the next month.


Time to try try NaNoWriMo again

Failing is not trying something and not succeeding. Failing is trying something and not succeeding and then ceasing to try again.

I mentioned on my NaNo profile page that this is year #8 for me. I’ve taken a needed break for a couple of years but I’ve decided to dip into the digital inkwell once again and pen another novel this year. I just typed the mash up of National Novel Writing Month– NaNoWriMo– into the search field on Google+ to find some motivation. What I found instead is a case of the sleepies.

I definitely remember that feeling from Novembers past. I know that feeling will pass once I get into the habit of writing through that feeling of wanting to turn off the computer and go to sleep earlier and earlier each night, though my word count for the day might be laughably low. I have to find a way to channel that energy that often shows up the last couple of weekends and instead use it to front load the story’s word count early in the month lest I plunge me into a writing debt that I’ll have to make up all through Thanksgiving– which is no fun– and leave my wrists as sore as if I’d partaken in a bowling marathon challenge.

I’m looking forward to checking out the kick-off in Pasadena next weekend as well as going to some mid-morning write-ins on the weekends.

This year I’m going to focus on finishing the story I start and writing the story I’d want to finish. Now, if I only had a plot. And maybe some of that motivation… Just like the Great Pumpkin, I know it’s out there somewhere and it will show itself eventually.

It’s still early.

Doing NaNo too? Connect with me on Google+!


Memories and scone-making

This weekend has been a pleasant one. I was able create some new memories with my family at my local themepark and consume more homemade scones than anyone probably should in a day. The chocolate I picked up from the LA Chocolate Salon a couple of weeks ago is now a distant memory.

Speaking of memories, in college I really wanted to study robotics but I ended up on a different academic path and subsequently a career path quite different from that.  I’m excited to note that today I’ll be starting my first AI course. There are 145,000 students enrolled in this course and I’ve added over 150 classmates on Google+. If you’re taking that course too and wish to connect for class discussions, add me on Google+, drop me a line saying we’re classmates and I’ll put you in my AI class circle.

I hope things don’t get too crazy in November due to that and NaNoWriMo. I took last year off, but I am planning to dive in headfirst to write a novel with no plot planned out beforehand. Historically this has been no problem but it has never coincided with a class that suggests I brush up on my linear algebra(?!) and programming ability(?!). I’ve taken both of those subjects in my past student life but that was a long time ago. I’ve since filled my head with many other things, some of them even practical in everyday life.

Next month I’m realistically predicting that my Goodreads Challenge progress will come to a dead halt. I still have my goal to read 36 books by the end of 2011. I am behind in terms of evenly-paced reading, but with a few books in my queue ready to crack open I should be caught up by the end of the month and ahead of pace by November.

To connect for NaNoWriMo, sign in at the site and add my author profile to your buddy list. Happy writing, reading, studying, or whatever you have planned for Fall!


Born to Run: A not so ultra review

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story idea was interesting so I gave it a thorough read. As far as execution of the idea the pacing got very slow in the middle up until the one event the whole book lead up to occurred. If the author had cut the filler of what they all ate for breakfast and dinner and how much pinole and beer they’d consumed it would have been more compelling to non-ultrarunners who don’t find the runners’ expository of a subpar diet rambling on for dozens of pages very fascinating. Also, I kept getting confused about whether the author actually ran the ultrarace he’d described or if it was simply a retelling from an omniscient narrator POV.

Being a triathlete, this book came highly recommended for me, however I don’t feel that my athletic ambitions alone places me in the target demo of the author’s desired readership– middle-aged men who are a little wary of an impending mid-life crisis. If you are not a middle aged man in that position and you don’t mind the feeling of reading a 280-page feature story in Men’s Health, then who knows? You may also find this story riveting.
View all my reviews


Fall starts with a true tri finish

After a small blogging hiatus I’m back. I’m now done with tri season– or am I? To keep from falling into triathlon world withdrawal like I did last year around this time, I’m ready to incorporate some non-tri exercise fun and other activities into my life. But before I wander down that new road, here’s my experience of completing the Nautica Malibu Tri Classic. I finished just under my goal time of 2:15 at 2:14:17.

Overall it was a great experience for me. The best part is remembering that SEVEN years ago I woke up at an unspeakable hour to voluntEAR at this very event. I helped corral the triathletes and as a bonus I got to gawk at a certain celebrity all I wanted– Let’s just call him… Mulder.  I also remember looking at all of the racers running into the Pacific Ocean like loonies on a crazy mission and watching in bemused amazement bemazement, thinking I’d never do something like that. I couldn’t observe the bike portion from where I was volunteering but I saw runners finish the third leg, crossing the finish line in triumph.

This year I got to be on the other side of that finish line. I left my house at 3:30 AM. Just after 5:00 AM I arrived at Zuma Beach after receiving multiple phone calls warning me of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) early morning shut down— from people awake at that hour and so thoughtful about checking on my whereabouts to make sure I would arrive okay.

I arrived and made the nearly 1 mile trek to the transition area with my gear and bike where I met up with my teammates and supporters. The beach was eventually packed with people and we paused for the national anthem sung by Sheena Easton. I saw other celebrities but didn’t know who most were as I don’t watch much tv, but I did recognize Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) from NBC’s The Office. Who knew they did triathlons?

The start of the race went swimmingly thanks to the tri team practices held most weekends this summer. Wish I had a more decent swim visual to share, but the official photo I have as proof of a great post swim to transition came out with me photo-bombed out of my only swim photo by a guy’s arm. Lovely. Well, at least it was a great swim! My best official one yet at 22 minutes 37 seconds. Perfect water temperature, perfect wave conditions, and no water unexpectedly inhaled. The majority of my other photos are from my bike leg.

The photos are no longer showing up, but my favorite bike photo was likely taken near the entrance of the parking lot 1.3 miles into my 1 hour and 04 minute spin up and down the rolling hills of PCH. I may look relatively comfy here, but last year when I tried clipless pedals for the first time, just sitting on a bike with a seat higher than the handlebars was scary. My feet can’t reach the ground from the seated position. And my shoes are clipped into the bike pedals. I’m used to riding this way now so it’s more fun than scary.

Know what else is fun? A photo of me levitating across the finish line. My run was slower than normal but not unexpected as I used most of my legs’ energy reserves to power up the hills on the bike. I did the tired leg shuffle for at least the first mile, knowing I could run it faster had I slowed down on my bike, but I still finished right on my base pace of 10 min/ mile for a 4 mile run so I’m happy about my overall time.

Again, a huge thanks to all the good people who supported me this summer in this endeavor, financially, personally, and virtually. You all rock!


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