Monday, April 29, 2013

Impulse

My impulse comes with iPad, espresso, and old-fashioned pen-and-paper
Writing is a romantic pursuit - at least, according to the literature and the biographies of the great authors. The idea of a bolt of lightning striking someone with the ability to produce volumes of prose that captures the secrets of the human experience - it's a wonderful dream (and brings to mind Xanadu, which was an aside in work emails last week). Sometimes, that dream comes true, when the impulse to write manifests in a feeling or motivation to capture story ideas, characters, plots, or quotable passages that are worthy of preservation.

Most of the time, however, writing is work. So much so that the work, drudgery really, is the the majority of what constitutes writer's journals, notes, and manuscripts. Buried in the pile of hard drives, papers, and words can be the next great American novel - but is mostly proverbial chain-yanks to start the motor of creativity.

On a rainy morning, I start the week with an impulse to generate story ideas which will unfortunately go unstoked - my work is beckoning and showering my day like the light rain falling outside. But I take a small break to capture the moment and remind myself that there is much drudgery left to do for the next story to emerge.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Trieste

Nespresso Trieste - worthy companion to morning emails
Another rainy morning makes me happy - it means more sleep and no need to water the new landscaping. I celebrated by trying the other new Nespresso pods that showed up on the doorstep - the Trieste.

After a late night, I wanted something that would be a delightful bounce-back to get going for the day. The tasting notes of this beauty included a "round texture" with "fragrant chocolate" and "fresh hazelnut notes". I'm not sure if that full explosion blew up my taste buds, but it was very good and lingered nicely on the palate.  Who knew that a morning break could taste so good?

The Napoli

Nespresso Napoli - it goes to 11
The cup looks innocent enough. On a quintessential Spring afternoon, I fired up the Nespresso machine to try out a new pod that arrived at my doorstep this morning - the Napoli.  Limited edition cru, it is a Marketing event in a pocket-sized cylinder that screams buy me and try me now.

So I did.  I popped the pod into the machine and let the commercial-grade pump do its work to force a bolt of steaming hot water through the tiny pierced opening poked in the pod by the machine; as usual, it created that just-right crema-topped single shot of espresso.

Lingering over the cup on an afternoon that would be better spent outside, I reflected on that tiny moment, waiting for transportation to another place. I remembered the Nespresso commercials with Penelope Cruz, which embodied the branding and experience for which Nestle was aiming.  Then I thought of Spinal Tap, and the classic 11 scene. Since this espresso registered 11 on the 10-point intensity scale.

Perhaps I was tired and not quite in the moment - too many work presentations under tight deadlines can do that to you - but I was not fully transported.  Halfway. I'm hoping Friday will get me the other half of the way there. By then, I will be ready for my next Napoli, which was fantastic after all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Elvis

The classic Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich
I've never tried it until yesterday's lunch. It's called the Elvis, a fully American concoction consisting of peanut butter, in a sandwich, with bananas. Recently, I read this was a great comfort food, which seemed appropriate since I am trying to finish my recovery from from a cold.

So I tried out the sandwich. Turned out it was a creamy sensation more bland than my taste buds appreciated (there is a variation that includes bacon, which I believe would produce better results). I followed up the Elvis with another American classic, peanut butter & jelly - that turned out more satisfying, what with the smooth savory cream of the peanut butter mixing more successfully with the tart sweetness of preserves.  It was a fun study in American comfort food, and I can now cross this particular sandwich, the Elvis, off my bucket list. Not bad, though, for finding another way to get rid of those bananas which somehow always end up in the pantry (bananas have been a top-selling produce item in groceries for years!) but often go uneaten.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Blossoming

Blossoms in full bloom

It's a great time of year to be in the DC area. Ruby's walk this morning was divine.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blossoming

Finally, Spring has arrived. The glorious blue sky and explosion of flowers and buds has painted the landscape. Too bad that my parents missed this sight in their time here last weekend - more for me to enjoy, I suppose.

Here's to hoping that the blossoming we have finally experienced means that cold days are finally behind us for the season.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Little Bit of Masters

My personal Masters news room, courtesy of Masters.com
Bobby Jones is one of my heroes.  Arguably, he is the greatest golfer of all time and the only golfer to win the "grand slam" of major golf tournaments in a single year back in 1930 (you can read about it in a well-written book by Mark Frost and in an intriguing account from this curious gentleman).

But that's not why he is a hero. He was known as a Southern gentleman, whose grace and humility belied the greatness that he achieved. Later in life, he maintained the same characteristics when he faced a neurological disease that crippled and later paralyzed him after 22 agonizing years. Herbert Warren Wind wrote about Bobby Jones, "as a young man, he was able to stand up to just about the best that life can offer, which is not easy, and later he stood up with equal grace to just about the worst."

When Spring rolls around, it is signaled by the playing of the the Masters, the perennial tournament in Augusta, Georgia that marks the first major tournament of the professional golf season; it was also started on a golf course that Bobby Jones built with Alistair McKenzie in 1933. I remember Mr. Jones every time I tune in and think about what it takes to achieve great things and do it in the right way.

Learning more about Bobby Jones has been a pleasure; here's a few of the better resources:
Bobby Jones on Golf
Down the Fairway
The Bobby Jones Story: The Authorized Biography
Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius
Bobby Jones, How I Play Golf

Thursday, April 11, 2013

In a Middle Seat

How and where these words originated

I am no longer a privileged flier. Call it premier, advantage, select, platinum, elite - I am none of those, these days more of a standard flier. Which leads to more middle seats when flying and the feeling of resignation that accompanies the struggle for elbow room - window and aisle seats have access to the extra space their positions can afford.

I can think of the symbolism of this middle seat, seat 21B to be exact. Sure, it's an exit row, which means more leg room. But it does not accord privileges that spend, flight segments, and miles do - likely what led my row companions to capture the window and aisle seats flanking my position. The work and sacrifice to accumulate what becomes currency is worth it in the end for that seat over, right? Maybe even moving up a class to Business or First? To gain a different level apart from others, even though we are all ultimately heading to the same place on this flight.

That's OK, it's alright - a nice reflection as we taxi to take off. After all, I'm in the middle seat, and this entry forces my elbows close for writing.