Monday, November 24, 2008

Cold Pond Wondering

It's been getting colder outside. Saturday I got chilled to the bone working outside and am only now warming up, many sweaters and cups of hot tea and even a hot tub later. You would laugh if I said just how cold it has been, because frankly it hasn't been cold by any scale but a Texan's.

But today was warmer. I saw a bee buzzing the last few blossoms of the Cowpen Daisies and a couple butterflies fluttering in the backyard.

I wonder if we'll have Damsel Flies by the pond next spring. Or dragon flies. I can't wait for the days to begin to lengthen and the temperatures begin to climb. For now, we're headed the other direction, and I wonder what will happen to the pond in February.

I also wonder what that boy is doing out there in the living room. He says from time to time that he's working on another essay for another college application, but it's impossible to get any positive sense of whether he's making progress and how long he thinks it will take to reach closure on all of this.

On the other hand, he's well ahead of where he could be if he had procrastinated as his father surely would have done. So I'll just wonder in silence.

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 Thursday, November 20, 2008


1. Music in the kitchen

Earlier tonite he erupted in song in the kitchen.

"Benny! Benny!" he sang. "Do you guys have that? ... B-B-B-Benny and the jetsss."

Trudy and I look at each other in amaze. My head flashes back to ... well a long time ago, and I heard piano chords.

2. Music in the living room

Now, he's in the living room.

"Maria! I just met a girl named Maria!" Ok, he's using different words, because he's singing to the dog. And the dog is singing (howling) back.

My head flashes back to ... well a longer time ago. And I'm running across the stage with Sharks in hot pursuit.

3. Music to my ears

"It's time!" he shouts. "It's time to hit the Submit button!"

And in an instant, another college application has been completed.

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 Tuesday, November 18, 2008

These Four Years

The football game is over. And with this loss, so is the season. The sun is setting behind the stadium. The spectators are mostly gone. The players and cheer leaders stand on the field holding hands while the band plays Loyal Forever one last time.

So this is it.

Four years of Texas high school football. Four years of marching band. Four years of hot rehearsals in the parking lot. Four years of late Friday nights and performances far away and competitions at obscene times of day. Four years of silly cheers and cadences and pep songs from the stands. Four years of golden brass flashing in the lights and kids in maroon uniforms marching on the field. Four years that passed in the blink of an eye.

They were good years. There won't be another four like them.

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 Monday, November 17, 2008

Diagram This

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Sarah Palin had this to say.

Sitting here in these chairs that I'm going to be proposing but in working with these governors who again on the front lines are forced to and it's our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day being held accountable, not being just one of many just casting votes or voting present every once in a while, we don't get away with that.

Um, ok. Could you diagram that for me? I'm having a little trouble finding a subject and a verb.

Why on earth are they still putting her on TV?

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 Thursday, November 13, 2008

Smell the Roses

There's a certain time in the evening when the dog comes in and looks at us. It's not like dinner time, when he gets agitated and vocal and paws your leg to remind you. No, at this time in the evening, he comes into the room and sits directly in front of you and stares you down: ears back, eyes wide open, absolutely silent. The loudest silence you've ever heard.

We all know what it means, and it's really quite effective: time for his walk across the soccer fields to the woodsy area and the pond beside the school.

"Let's make this a family affair, shall we?" I said as Trudy, the dog and I stopped at the door.

"Come with us, Ben," I said. "Stop and smell the roses." Although this kid doesn't need that advice. His eyes are pretty wide open most of the time.

He looked up from his computer and turned his head in our direction. "I've smelled enough roses."

He was sitting in the green comfy chair with his laptop on his lap working on an essay. The document was marked up where I had given him my feedback — awkward phrases, missing commas, excessively harsh words, overly flowery language, the need for a better closing paragraph. There was yellow all over the page.

He was right. He had work to do. We walked out the door without him. There aren't any roses where we were going, anyway.

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 Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't Wait

Can we talk?


I know it's late. You've got a lot to do. And an old man like me should be in bed.

It's ok.

The old man paused. The boy waited.

What I want to say is this. Don't wait for pieces to come together. It might seem easy. It might seem right. But go out and find the pieces now. Don't wait for your world to unfold. Unfold it yourself. Starting now.

I'm telling you. This is it. It's time to run.

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 Monday, November 10, 2008

Something Funny

The boys were standing outside in the dark in the driveway behind the car talking about what they were going to do. They had just decided to see a movie when I walked up.

"What movie?" I asked.

The didn't say.

"I've got a suggestion," I said.

The four of them looked up. I took that as an invitation to continue.

"You should see Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum. Have you ever seen Zero Mostel?"

They didn't say a thing. They just stood there looking at me. I went inside and left them alone.

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 Sunday, November 9, 2008


"Where have you been?" they asked.

"I don't know," he said in that tone that doesn't mean what it says but instead just fills space.

"What do you mean, you don't know? What have you been doing?"

"Nothing," he said filling the space again.

But it wasn't true. He had been doing many things.

There were the butterflies he sat and watched (yellow, orange, white and black) as they fluttered from flower to flower, butterflies that he had always longed for and finally came. There was the perfume of the Purple Trailing Lantana that made him close his eyes. There were the Wrens complaining from the branches and the Goldfinches singing from distant trees and from closer ones as they tried to get up the nerve to come down for a drink.

There were monarchs circling around him and hanging from orange and yellow blossoms. There was a Swallowtail caterpillar on the Milkweed. And there were Cowpen Daisy seedheads full of seeds for next year. And there was the Russian Sage that finally bloomed. And volunteer Bluebonnets that came from nowhere. And there was the squirrel that would come down for a drink barely a shoe's flick away from where he sat.

There were football games with marching bands and a haunted house at Halloween. There were warm days and mercifully cool nights under bright stars and a crescent moon. There were greens growing in the garden and a small pond glistening in the sun.

There was Scott Simon inviting an auditorium full of people to sing Happy Birthday to his two-year old daughter as tears streamed down his cheeks. There were long lines of people voting early. And there was that Tuesday night when everyone was able to go to bed well before midnight, because the monsters got chased out of town by a different kind of mob with different kinds of torches and pitchforks.

It wasn't true. He hadn't been doing nothing. He just hadn't felt like talking much.

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