Friday, 30 March 2012

NaPoWriMo - 2012

Last year I joined an interesting poetry writing movement, called NaPoWriMo, where the goal was to write a poem a day during the month of April. It seemed like a good way to get back in touch with writing. Creative writing was the easiest thing for me, back at school. And I started by writing poetry. Mostly stuff that rhymed. Things that, on retrospect, seem rather self conscious about rhyming. Then completely out of the blue, I wrote one that did not rhyme and had no conscious pattern. For some reason it had to be the way I wrote it. Since then, I mostly only write free verse whenever I write poetry. Here are the poems I wrote last year, for NaPoWriMo. Here are some of the other bits of creative writing that I have done over the years: Humour/Humor, Fiction and just random stuff. I must say I am better with prose than poetry.

This year, I have signed up again at the NaPoWriMo site here.
Not sure how much I can do this year, because I will be busy dealing with some of life's toughies for the month of April. But who knows, may be poem-ing will be just what the doctor ordered to de-stress. Or may be not.

So here goes nothing....

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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Workout of the Day -- 28th March 2012

Finally hit the gym after a gap of 20 days, yesterday. 
Worked out the right arm after 4 months. 
Humbling experience! 

Some general warm up,
reverse squats; 

95lbs squats; 
20 lbs Bulgarian squats; 

27.5lbs (per arm) seated low rows; 
10 lbs(per arm) bicep curl on a bosu ball; 

7lbs straight arm pull downs; 
tried the reverse rows, right elbow screamed -- so quit after 3 tries. 

Seated Flyes 
seated chest presses (20lbs per arm). 

Some other stability work.

a little mad "running" on the elliptical. 
I am glad I went!

Was hoping to go back to the gym tonight to soak in their hot tub-- chlorine smelling, but ohhhh soooo good to the muscles. But, I don't think there is going to be time for that... Oh well....

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Friday, 23 March 2012

Garden Updates

What seems like an early start to spring just means that things that are not normally blooming at this time of the year have already started to bloom.

The magnolia is already beginning to shed its flowers
But I did manage to snap up a few pics before its all gone
Not bad for a phone camera huh?
The hyacinths have been in bloom for a bit now. In fact they were the first ones to make an appearance. Nothing like these happy white faces to cheer you up. 
I even had one planted right by the front door and I remember being so surprised when I saw it bloom.

I like this for its clean simplicity
I brought more of the other guys in as well and added some pebbles in the vase so the petals wont touch the water

Not quite as pristine as the first one, but the fragrance more than makes up for it

I think aesthetically, some black and white pebbles and those white flowers only would have looked a lot more striking.

Meanwhile on the seedling front, the methis (fenugreeks) were all ready for a transplant. 

9 green methis, happy in a pot! One green methi accidentally flops!
The thyme surprised me with the speed with which they have germinated. No real leaves yet, though

The little army of thymes!
The basil is making larger and larger cotyledonous leaves but no true leaves yet.
Basil in the plastic egg carton
Samiyaar and his pet (yes, he has a pet) watch all this action from the comfort of their favorite ring side seat!

And the over wintering elephant ears are begging to join the party!
Can we please, please go out too?
But I am not sure that there wont be a surprise winter storm, so I am not letting them out yet!

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Paatti (Grandmother)

"Look at me!" I cry impatiently, turning her face towards me.
"No! Look at me!", cries my sister, pulling her face towards herself, instead.
"Aiyyo! I am not looking at anyone. Please just let me look at the ceiling!", cries my grandmother wrenching her face from the two warring siblings lying on either side of her on the bed and staring straight up.
"Paatti tell us a story" say I.
"Yes, Paatti, tell us Ramayanam", says my sister knowing fully well how much I hate Ramayanam because Sita always gets abducted, and Rama always sends her back to the forest when she is pregnant,  no matter how many times you hear it!
"No Paatti! Tell us Krishnan kadai (stories of Krishna)", because he is more fun and he does silly things and is never too snooty and pious.
"No Paatti, Raman kadai"
"No Paatti Krishan kadai!"
"Kokkolam ponnundo kolagathey? (Does the King's palace have as much gold as the crane)?" sings Patti, taking off on a complete tangent in Malayalam!
"PAAATTI! Don't sing", scream the sisters in unison, for once in accord with each other!
Paatti dissolves in a paroxysm of giggles, expecting exactly this reaction from her two annoying granddaughters. Completely ignoring our pleas, she continues singing until, despite ourselves, we are taken in by the song  of the taunting crane and the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses King. One thing leads to another and before we know it we are lulled into sleep by a whole compendium of story-songs that are cunningly woven around important morals including don't fight with your sister!

Everything was an adventure and a curiosity to her. Even the squeaky white rubber elephant toy my mother bought for me. She affectionately named it Ayiravadham (Indra's steed) and told us a story about him. Then she promptly eviscerated him to see how it was that he managed to squeak every time he was squeezed! She was only mildly disappointed when she realized that she could not put him back together again. It was impossible for her to be put out for too long about anything.

She found humour in the most impossible of situations. She giggled uncontrollably even when she related how my grandfather, her husband, was imprisoned by the British colonialist for making free salt under the leadership of Gandhi. She found it so funny that the British could not put any of the women behind bars because they simply ran out of room in the jails. Listening to her you would think that the salt satyagraha was a big mela like the Ganesh Chaturthi and that the British were just some bumbling local policemen, ineffectively charging against an over zealous crowd of drunken revelers.

The only thing she liked more than smiling was singing and relating stories. Once when we were in Delhi, I caught her intently conversing with another woman her age. They were laughing, chatting, singing and vigorously agreeing with each other. Moving closer to them I discovered that while she was talking about Krishna, the other lady was talking about Durga. More importantly, one was talking in Tamil, the other was holding forth in Bengali and neither of them understood the others' language. It didn't matter much either, because they were both a bit hard of hearing! They each picked a word from the other's narrative and built their own from it! Truly. It was possible to be entertained without Facebook and the Internet, back then!

Oh yes, and flowers. She loved flowers. She was up at the crack of dawn plucking the five different jasmines or the mandarai or the arali (oleander) to make yards and yards of garlands that were used to garland all the pictures in the home, sported on every woman's head, donated to everyone in the block and then distributed in the temple!

In the final year of her life, even when she had lost her language completely, somewhere in her mind remained her love for flowers. She still managed to go out at the crack of dawn to gather her beloved flowers and bring them home. It was heart breaking to watch the person who could not be paid to stop talking become overcome with frustration at not being able to even articulate a single word to convey what she was thinking. By the time she departed, even her incoherent verbalizing had stopped and it was not clear if she understood anything at all. But she wove the fabric that is my childhood, there is almost no memory of my childhood that does not involve her in some way.

I had been meaning to write about her for a long time, but Kissan's Real Blogger Contest reminded me of it!

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The First Seedlings of Spring are Here!

Or in other words: Yay!!!

Even before a week was fully over, my kitchen garden (see here for how I started it not even a week ago) was off to a good start. The methi (fenugreek, vendhayam) seeds seem to be only too eager to poke its head out. More so than even me, whooda thunk that!

And this one is so hyped up, it's even got a hat on, for the party!

Where are the coriander (cilantro, kothamalli)?

The basil seeds just look bluish and plump and rather cute-ish in that time. Blogger for some reason wasn't "seeing" my photos from the phone. Now, there are teeny little white thingies from the basil seeds, so I am guessing they are a success too.

Of course, this means, one has to sow more seeds. So, in went the lupines and the thyme. I hope my thyme blooms, because that is the main reason I am buying them. The lupines typically don't flower in the first year, however, they have the cutest set of leaves and are not eaten by the groundhog!

This year I also bought black-eyed susan, cat mint and blue fescue. When I went to store these seeds until I get the chance to plant them, I discovered identical packets of seeds from 2009. And a lot of other seeds that I apparently never had the chance to plant!! Oh well! Turns out that although black-eyed susans are deer resistant they are groundhog candy!! Sigh!!

Can't wait until I clear out the "feet" of the birch and till that soil a bit. If I get around to doing that I plan on direct sowing the blue fescue..

Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!!

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Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Kitty Serenade

I have, over several posts, introduced the rest of the circus that is my family (hereherehere and here). What I never had a chance to elaborate on, was how one of the cats, who has been called several things including Saamiyaar (saint) and Poli Samiyaar (fake saint, I know that's a topic for a whole other post) has been trying his luck at getting the dogs to fall in love with him from the day they arrived.

The poor thing turned out to be a bit unlucky in love because while Diva decided outright that she will never cuddle up with no cat, Dufus was incurably nervous of Saamiyaar. Most of Samiyaar's attempts at winning Dufus's affections resulted in a comic and oft repeated Cat-chase-Dog routine around the house, which went something like this. Dufus would lie snoozing on his bed watching whatever dreams he tends to watch and WHAM! the little critter would go head-butt him right smack on the head. This invariably caused the utterly confused Dufus to jump up and run for his life, with the cat in hot pursuit, meowing all the way.

This would go on until the slightly slow-on-the-uptake Samiyaar would realize that all this meowing was probably depriving him of the all important advantage of stealth. As is his wont upon the sudden influx of thoughts into his head, Saamiyaar would plop down on his voluminous behind and ruminate on his options.

Meanwhile, the equally slow-on-the-uptake Dufus, would conclude that he had shaken off his persistent feline predator and settle down to nap. Just as if by some cosmic telepathy, Samiyaar's brain would reset at precisely the same moment and his quest for Dufus will begin anew. As if his memory was completely washed clean, the cat would start his chase again, meowing all the way to where his unerring sense of smell would take him.

This cat-chase-dog cycle would start all over again, taking the pair all over the house like some love struck couple serenading in a good old, late 60's, Bollywood movie. And just like in those song sequences, only the heroine (in this case Dufus) would not be able to guess the direction from which the hero can spring up next!  This song and dance sequence would continue until Samiyaar just gave up in sheer exhaustion or completely forgot that he was in pursuit of his soulmate and landed up cuddling with one of the lowly humans! (Hmm.. like the vamps in those movies?!!)

Again, just like in those movies, everyone but the lead couple knew that these two made-for-each-others would eventually get together.

Tonight it happend. The heroine relented. Like the 60's heroine throwing off her head scarf or duppattah and running up to the waiting hero's arms, our Dufus threw all caution to the winds and plonked right on top of a dozing Saamiyaar! I was too slow with the trigger to capture the priceless expression on Saamiyaar's face. But here's what he did as soon as he realized who he had just managed to conquer!
Coming soon to a theatre near you, in full Eastman Color: Kitty gets Doggie!
And the happy couple snoozed off into sunset, holding hands! Awwwww!
If this isn't an awww moment, I don't know what is!

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Saturday, 3 March 2012

I Can't Believe it's Not Spring, Winter

There is a saying in Tamizh that gets abbreviated to the phrase "pregnancy resolution" which is meant to be any resolution that is broken almost as soon as it is made. The story behind this goes something like this. Every pregnant woman (apparently in my mother's generation and/or earlier) would exclaim, in the throes of labour, that she would never again get pregnant. Given that it was common in my mother's mother's generation for couples to have 10 kids, obviously the resolution was not honored. Similarly at the end of every back breaking effort of starting plants from seeds, I promise myself "never again". And every now and then I break that promise.
Egg Carton Green Houses to the right

So, I broke the promise once more today. But for the first time in my life I am trying to start a herb garden. Don't blame me, the "I can't believe it's not spring, winter" made me do it!! Old egg cartons have been turned into miniature green houses, along with teeny bio-degradable pots, which can directly go in the soil once the seedling are strong enough to transplant. The only room with a south facing window has been turned into a plant nursery. Again!

Each of these guys contain an indeterminate number of coriander,  fenugreek or basil seeds!
If all goes well, I will have a forest of organic basil from which to make pesto whenever I choose and whole bunch of fenugreek leaves for my omelettes!
Larger "green house" made out of two $0.99 pot dishes

Let's hope these guys survive me and the circus that I call my family and the eternal groundhogs under the deck!

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