Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Archive for the tag “food”

What I learned at the fair, III

As I’ve mentioned on Facebook and Twitter, I’m the live announcer for the Hopkinton (New Hampshire) State Fair. For the past four days, I have wandered from end to end and corner to corner, chatting with folks about everything from giant pumpkins and cattle pulls to fried dough and magic shows.

Over our public address system, I let the attendees know where the bathrooms are, when the next goat show is going to be, and how to get their tickets to the demolition derbies.

And I learn a lot!

That said, I’ve developed a tradition of sharing some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from the fair here in my blog. Last year I wrote of giant robot dinosaurs and the most despised candies in the universe. The year before that, I mourned the loss of patriotism.

This year, I’ve learned all sorts of new things…

  1. The best time to smell the fair is the first few hours of the very first day. Having been the announcer for about 5 or 6 years now, I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed this before. During those first hours of the fair, each aroma is its own: the donuts, with their yeasty, sugary delicateness; the charbroil grills firing up; the fresh hay and manure. (Yes, fresh manure counts as a ‘good’ smell for me. For those of us who grew up in the country, it’s a very earthy, honest smell). Once the fair gets going all those aromas blend into one – and although you might be able to pick out individual smells, they are much more delightful and independent when you first arrive.
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  2. If your job can be done by someone else, make sure it can’t. Friday morning we had our stock farm tractor pull, where big, powerful machines attempt to pull heavy weights along a dirt path. The one that eventually goes the farthest, wins. Well, our usual announcer was unable to do it this year, so we had someone else fill in (you can see her hard at work in the photo).
    Fair - truck pullShe did a surprisingly good job; however, I’m pretty sure we’ll see Andy Mack, the regular announcer, back next year.
    .
    Consider this, though…if you’re doing a task that someone else can do, too, you’d better provide some added value to that task and show why you are capable of doing it better. Do you go above and beyond? Are you friendlier, smarter, more positive? Whatever the superlative, make it your own! Once they discover you’re not special, you’re toast.
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  3. There’s a new maple syrup grading system being put into place. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s a huge deal for maple syrup-producing states like New Hampshire and Vermont. For years, customers have been confused by the names of the types of maple syrup, which have varied state to state. What might be called “Grade A Fancy” in one state (such as Vermont), is referred to as “Grade A Light Amber” in another – and what Vermont calls “Light Amber” is different somewhere else. (And don’t even get me started on “Grade B” syrup, which is darker and more robust in flavor, but is just as high a quality as “Grade A”)
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    It’s taken about 10 years of wrangling, but it appears that a new grading system has been agreed upon between the states, and we’ll start seeing the new names in the upcoming spring 2015 sugaring season.
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  4. The less clothing you wear, the more trouble it is. This is one of those issues women seem to have to deal with more so than men. As I spent my four fair days walking from dairy barn to music tent, from horse show ring to funnel cake booth, I noticed something. Those who wore t-shirts, button-down shirts, or dresses appeared completely unconcerned with their wardrobe. On the other hand, those who wore tight-fitting, spaghetti-strapped, midriff-baring, cleavage-inducing tank tops were constantly pulling at themselves, pinching, pulling, adjusting.
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    I just don’t get it. If being sexy is that uncomfortable, suggest to your boyfriend that he try wearing that sort of thing sometime and see how he likes it.
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  5. Loaded baked stuffed potatoes are still the best thing about the fair. I wrote about this last year and it remains the truth. Pure heaven.Fair - potato
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  6. Patriotism still isn’t what it used to be. I’ve also written about this before. When the national anthem plays each day at noon, many folks stop and face the flag(s) on the fairgrounds; others will stand around, wondering what’s going on while others simply pay no heed and continue about their day. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but things like this really annoy me.
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  7. Souped-up pickup trucks with tractor tires are deafeningly loud. OK, so I already knew that. This was just a reason to post a picture of the mud race:

Fair - mud race

Do any of these things come as a surprise to you? Am I alone in my enlightenment here? Anything you’ve ever learned while enjoying the local fair that you’d  care to share?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

You Can Learn a Lot From a Boysenberry

This post was originally published nearly two years ago, on Sept. 18, 2012. With summer here and berry-picking in full-swing (well, blueberries and strawberries, anyway), I thought it would be a good time to dust this off and share again, especially for those of you who have recently started following my blog and may not have had a chance to read it the first time.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer!

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Several weeks ago, I was picking berries around my property when it occurred to me that what I was doing could actually be applied to writing and producing – as well as to life in general.  (What can I say – as a writer of poetry, I’ve developed a sort of radar for metaphor!)

Seriously, though, I started thinking about it and came up with five life lessons I’ve learned from berry picking. Consider these:

Patience

Just because a boysenberry looks ripe, doesn’t mean it is.  The pericarp, or outer wall of the seed, may be nice and indigo-black, but leave it on the branch for another couple of days, and it’ll be practically bursting – plus, there will almost no seed left.  If you can’t wait, go ahead and pick ‘em when they’re ready…you’ll definitely enjoy them.  However, in berry-picking, as in life, those of us with a little patience will be rewarded greatly!

Group Effort

Speaking of seeds, have you ever tasted one boysenberry or raspberry seed by itself?  Even if you did, you’d barely be able to tell, because they’re so tiny.  Individually, the flavour is difficult to discern – but when you have en entire berry of bulbous seeds, that’s when you can really taste their true deliciousness.  Although each one might be ripe, full, and perfectly developed, by themselves they would barely be noticed.  But put them all together, and you’re talkin’ some good eating!  A boysenberry truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

Tenacity

Don’t judge a bush by its branches.  The berries you see hanging are likely not the only berries on the bush.  Lift a few leaves, and SURPRISE!  There may very well be a plethora of sweetness waiting for you underneath.

Then again, you might have to just keep looking.  I love the bushes that have big, juicy berries dangling from every branch, but sometimes there just aren’t any.  Sometimes you need to not only lift the leaves and poke around, but go in search of other bushes you may not even know exist.  I’ve discovered plenty of good, healthy boysenberry bushes because I had to.  When what you want can’t be found, it doesn’t mean it’s not there…it just means it hasn’t been found.  Keep looking.

Diversity

When you think of ‘berries,’ what comes to mind?  Raspberries? Blueberries?  Strawberries?  Even if you’re into the more exotic varieties like wolfberries (also known as goji berries) or acai berries, we all tend to think of berries as having a particular ‘look.’  Most people don’t realize how diverse the berry family actually is.

Case in point:  which of the following is, botanically speaking, a berry?

- grape
– persimmon
– tomato
– banana
– pumpkin
– pineapple
– avocado
– watermelon

If you guessed “all of them,” well, congratulations – you obviously studied hard on your Botany 301 exam while your drunk college roomates were having that wet t-shirt contest the night before finals.  Yes, every single one of these is, indeed, a true berry.  I’ll save you the details on why; suffice it to say that it has to do with how they grow and develop.  And you know what?  Boysenberries, raspberries, and strawberries aren’t true berries.

Ain’t that a kick in the head?

Rebirth/Renewal

This final point is not as metaphysical as it sounds; it’s actually a fact of nature.  Boysenberry bushes grow on a two-year cycle – one year, they will produce tons of berries, the next year, hardly anything.  Then the following year, the berries are back!  So in order to try to guarantee berries every year, the bushes need to get cut down to only about a foot high at the end of the season.  Pruning puts the bushes in ‘regrowth’ mode, so to speak, so that the following year will be berry-ful.

Likewise, in writing, audio production, or even life, sometimes it helps to just stop what we’re doing and start over from where we started having problems, if not from the beginning.  Is there a friend or family member who is constantly causing you grief?  If they are a drain on your emotions, perhaps it’s time to simpy end the relationship and move on.  Are you having trouble reconciling a plot point or fleshing out a character?  Perhaps you need to consider revising your plot – or eliminating or significantly changing the character.  Can’t get the right sound you’re looking for in your audio production?  Yes, you might just need to keep working on it…or it could be that you need to rethink your entire approach.  Quitting and starting over can often be a wonderful thing, if you’re willing to try it.

Love and other metaphors…

Did you know that boysenberries, rasperries, and strawberries are part of the rose family?  For someone like me, who loves berries (even if they’re not true berries!), it makes perfect sense.  Roses have, for centuries, symbolized love or friendship, and being a guy, I’m not much into receiving flowers as a gift; but give me a slice of warm blueberry pie, a chocolate-covered strawberry, or even quart of fresh black raspberries, and I’m in Heaven.

Ah, yes…love is, indeed, a many-splendoured thing, and comes in a variety of shapes, colours, and flavours. And usually pint- and quart-sized containers.

Think I’ll go out to the garden and see how the tomatoes are doing.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Ballad of a Lost Ice Cream Cone”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAs you may know, I’m spending each day this week at the beach with my wife and kids while she’s on vacation. So in keeping with that theme, I present this summertime story! For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and info, visit my fellow Poet’s Garage member, Buffy Silverman, at Buffy’s Blog!

The Ballad of a Lost Ice Cream Cone

Ice cream cone, ice cream cone,
once in my hand –
what are you doing down there in the sand?
Moments ago, such a fine, tasty treat…
now you’re covered in sprinkles that no one would eat.

Ice cream cone, ice cream cone,
sweet on my tongue –
one lick too many, and suddenly flung
out of my grip and without any sound
landed softly right there, upside-down on the ground.

Ice cream cone, ice cream cone,
I’m on my knees –
let me try rinsing you off, if you please.
Wait, what is this?  Oh, I’ve caused a disaster!
The water is making you melt even faster!

Ice cream cone, ice cream cone,
once in my clutch,
why did you leave me?  I miss you so much!
Into the ocean, so swiftly you slip…
I just hope the fish all like chocolate chip.

- © 2011, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Cat Breath”

I was going through some of my old(er) poetry and stumbled upon a short poem I wrote almost exactly 13 years ago, in late Feb. 2001.

At the time, we had a cat my daughter had named Dozey – a black kitty poetryfridaybutton-fulllwho always looked like he was napping, even when he was awake! Anyway, he had come over to me and started rubbing his face in mine, as cats often do, and it was at that moment I was struck by how horrendously putrid his breath was – we’re talking eye-tearing, nose-numbing, knock-a-buzzard-off-a-manure-wagon bad.

When I finally regained consciousness, I set about writing my experience down in verse. This is what I came up with. And for more fun, Anasatasia Suen has the complete poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Poet!

Cat Breath (for Dozey)

A cross between some tuna fish
and salmon three days old;
perhaps some stinky cheddar cheese
that’s growing fuzzy mold.
A whiff of bird, a hint of mouse,
the sour milk he had…
what is that one ingredient
that makes cat breath so bad??

© 2001, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: The Mortimer Minute – with apples!

poetryfridaybutton-fulll

You may have seen a furry little critter bouncing around various kid lit blogs lately…well today, he’s visiting mine!  He’s Mortimer, a buck-toothed troubadour for children’s poetry, and he’s the mascot for a Poetry Blog Hop started by fellow writer/poet April Halprin Wayland.

Here’s how it works:
1) Answer one of the previous questions asked by the blogger who tagged you, and answer two other questions you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview about children’s poetry;
2) Invite one, two or three other bloggers who write children’s poetry to answer three questions that they make up on their own blogs (again, using one of the pervious questions);
3) In the post, let readers know who your invitees are and when they’re are going to be posting their Mortimer Minute questions and answers.

Well, that sounds simple enough!

mortimer-final

1) What project(s) are you working on now?

Upon completing the manuscript for my winter-themed children’s poetry collection last year, I began working on an autumn-themed collection. (I figure, if an editor likes the first one, they’ll know there’s more where that came from!) I still need another 8 or so poems to complete that, but I also wrote and co-wrote two picture book manuscripts this  year and I have two other picture book ideas I’m trying to work on, too!  Is there any way to cram more than 24 hours into a standard ‘day?’

2) How do you come up with the ideas for your poetry?

Ideas are where you find them. I don’t have to look hard to come up with subject matter, but figuring out a unique angle in which to present it or twist it does require a fair amount of brain work. As I mentioned on this blog earlier this week, I try to find the angle that is least expected. For instance, at the Highlights poetry workshop I’ve been telling you about, one of the exercises David Harrison had us do was brainstorm words that had anything to do with a word he would give us. When he said the word was “jar,” everyone in the room was offering up words like “jelly,” “pickles,” and that sort of thing. One person said “sudden stopping movement,” as in the verb, “jar.”

Me? My first thought was Jar Jar Binks, that annoying character from Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I didn’t say anything, though. Even I thought it was a pretty far stretch. But my point is, dare to be different!

3) What poem do you wish you had written? 

None. There is not a single poem anywhere that I wish I’d written. There are some terrific ones out there, like Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” Silverstein’s “The Little Boy and the Old Man,” Thomas Gray’s “Ode on the death of a favorite cat,” Poe’s “To My Mother,” and just about anything Robert Frost ever wrote. But I write my own poetry, and am perfectly content with that – whether it’s any good or not.

I’ve invited two people to join the blog hop:

Violet mug-2Violet Nesdoly is a poet and regular contributor to Poetry Friday.  She’ll post her Mortimer Minute next Friday, Oct. 25.
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papa j funk logoPapa-J Funk, meanwhile, never claimed to be a poet – although he is quite adept at creating fun and unusual rhymes in his picture book manuscripts. He’ll have his ‘Minute’ Friday, Oct. 25, as well!

Speaking of poetry…

Highlights - tree

…here’s another poem I wrote while at that Highlights poetry workshop.  Ironically, even though the workshop was geared to children’s poetry, this is definitely not a children’s poem! I was inspired to write it the first day I was there because a) it was situated in the field right across from all of our cabins and could not be missed, and b) fellow children’s writer/blogger Joy Acey prompted me to write a ‘nature’-themed poem, which is something I’ve had plenty of practice doing before!

“The Apple Tree”

An old tree
in the field across the road
stood in solitude amidst the sawgrass
and goldenrod
and a few errant wildflowers,
so full of precious fruit
I surmised it must be
in wont of a visitor
with whom to share
its treasures.

Desirous of the beauty
I beheld, I journeyed
through green-amber weeds
high to my waist, urgent
soft steps growing
quicker, quicker
and more deliberate.

The tree beckoned, lifting each coy leaf
to expose
sweet bounty beneath.
Soon, I saw boughs heavy
as the Milky Way, bearing
stars upon stars
that outnumbered
and outshone the very leaves
that held them
in the sky.

Faster and faster I trod, consumed
by a fervent lust
for sustenance;
such succulence I’d never seen!
Closer, closer, I came,
heart and eyes wide and longing
until
breaths away…

I stopped.

Under shade of canopy,
I saw clearly only now
blessed fruit blushed
with blight.

Mold-speckled faces frowned
through borers’ brown holes
while wind-wrinkled skin hung
criss-crossed with blemishes
of age and neglect.
I stared
for only a moment,
then sat close to its trunk,
where low-hanging corpses
mocked my desire…

yet,
I would not leave this spot,
for I knew my hunger
was insatiable, and my thirst
unquenched. Here
I would remain
yearning, never satisfied,
but content
with what could have been.

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and info, be sure to visit Cathy at Merely Day By Day!

Highlights - tree close-up

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “First Day in the Cafeteria”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllOK, ok…so I’m a bit late. I know, school has already started and here I am without my late pass.

Students have been back to their classes for one or two weeks now and although I had wanted to post this earlier, I kept forgetting!  Between my wife’s and my lack of sleep with the arrival of our new daughter, Phoebe, 4 weeks ago and that 5-day-long weekend announcing gig at the local fair, my time – and my mind – have both taken some serious hits.

But, hey, today’s Friday the 13th! What better day to write about school?!?

And remember…there’s plenty more poetry out there. For the complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts!

“First Day in the Cafeteria”        

They could have served us burgers.
They could have served us fries.
They could have served us mac ‘n cheese
or deep-fried chicken thighs.

They could have served cold pizza
or greasy beef pot pies,
so why oh why – our first day back -
do we get “Chef’s Surprise??”

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Revelations from the fair

HS Fair DSCF1491As you may have heard, I spent this past weekend as the announcer for the local state fair. While it may sound like an easy job – and compared to digging ditches or harvesting shark eggs, it is – it’s actually quite exhausting.

It requires five, 12-hour days of walking the fairgrounds telling attendees what events are happening and when (“The cattle pull is coming up in 15 minutes!” “The Indoor Ring is located right next to the Hood Arena!”), checking in with organizers of various events to make sure they’re on time, and acting as a walking information booth for folks who have questions.

I love the gig; yet, even though I’ve been doing it for a few years now, it’s still a learning experience. Take, for instance, the following 8 things I learned at this year’s fair:

Even birds appreciate irony.  After we dedicated a flagpole to a former fair director who had recently passed away, three doves were released as part of the memorial service. After circling overhead for a couple of minutes, one decided to perch on a giant “Chicken Tenders” sign.

If only I could’ve gotten a picture of that; it was a Facebook meme waiting to happen.

Hershey bars and Whoppers are the most despised candies in the universe.
OK, ‘despised’ is a bit harsh. Let’s go with ‘reviled.’  And I’m not going on personal opinion here. We’re talking about real, cold, hard science. You see, early Thursday morning there was a big basket of assorted candy in the conference room.  It was filled with Snickers, Milky Ways, 3 Musketeers, Twix bars, and a myriad other chocolaty delights. By day two, here’s what it looked like:

candy

Not a Kit Kat or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to be found. Consider this case, rested.

There are still not enough people standing when our national anthem plays.
This is something I’ve written about at length before.  Everyday at noon, we play the “Star-Spangled Banner” over the PA system. And everyday, only about a third of the people I see (at best) stop what they’re doing, find a flag to face, and place their hands over their hearts. One third stop what they’re doing and look like they’re wondering what’s going on. And another third carry on like nothing’s out of the ordinary at all.

If this is any indication of the level of respect Americans have for their own country, we’re doomed.

Delicious apparently doesn’t always mean what you think it means. When I came across this sign, I had to stop and consider the ramifications of its use of punctuation.:

Delicious

It’s one thing for food to be delicious. But when it’s…”delicious” (go ahead and imagine me making air quotes)…that’s something else entirely.  Think I’ll move on to the guy selling deep-fried pork belly on a stick.

Egyptians like country music.  Well, at least the ones at this fair do.  Every time I walked past their food truck serving falafel, lamb, and other Middle Eastern goodies, I heard the local country music station blasting. Nothing wrong with it, of course – it’s just nice to know that in this world there are some things like Miranda Lambert’s awesomeness that we can all agree on.

Loaded Potato

Go ahead and ‘click’ to enlarge me…you know you want to…

A loaded baked potato always tastes just like the first time.  Each year, I make sure I get one, and it’s never a disappointment. When you sit down and get comfortable with a massive, fluffy baked potato topped with chili, bacon, cheese, broccoli, sour cream, chives, salsa, and jalapenos…it’s a beautiful thing.

It’s almost like that “other” first time, but without the awkwardness and rug burns.

You’re never too old to learn new tricks – or technology. I was chatting with an old, grizzled Yankee farmer about the famous Concord Coach, and he was telling me about a coach that had been lost in storage at Dartmouth College for decades. He said he heard from a friend that the college wanted to get rid of it, and his friend suggested that he get in touch with them. When the farmer then told me he immediately sent off an email to the college, I nearly fell over.

The other lesson, of course, is to never judge books by– well, you know.

Watching a giant, fire-breathing robot dinosaur eat a car never gets old.

MegaSaurus 1

MegaSaurus 2

MegaSaurus 3

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At least if you’re a guy.  Hey, we’re simple creatures.

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “…Although, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

It’s hard for me to believe, but it has been 13 months since I began this blog! Where does the time go?? I’m currently busy working at the 98th annual Hopkinton (NH) State Fair, where I have been the announcer for about 5 years; I remind people what events are taking place, inform them as to where facilities are, and also announce the demolition derbies Sat. and Sun nights. It’s a long, 60-65 hour weekend of talking, walking, and smiling…but I love it. So, since I don’t have the time to post something new today, I’m reposting this fair-themed poem from last year; this was originally published Sept. 7, 2012.

For all the Poetry Friday links, be sure to head on over to A Teaching Life with Tara!

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllYes, that’s the title of the poem.  I know, it’s a bit odd, but so is the person who wrote it.  Actually, there’s a reason why I titled it this way…you’ll understand once you read the poem.

This was written last summer, as I was preparing for my duties as the official live announcer for the annual Hopkinton State Fair here in New Hampshire.  It’s one of the largest fairs in the state and takes place during Labor Day Weekend.

I was the announcer for this year’s fair as well, and I’m still recuperating.  It’s not the nearly 65-hours-on-my-feet-for-5-days schedule that gets me; it’s the food!  Between deep-fried pickles, Pop-Tarts and Oreos, barbecued bison burgers, and roast turkey legs that would give Fred Flintstone a hernia, it’s a fair-foodie’s dream-come-true.  My annual favourite?  A loaded baked potato with chili, bacon, cheese, broccoli, sour cream, chives, salsa, and jalapenos.

I tell them to hold the butter because I really don’t need the fat.

“…Although, maybe I should go back for some pizza”

I love the fair, but most of all, the food is hard to beat –
It’s barely 2pm, and yet I’ve had so much to eat!
I started with a burger, had a corn dog and some fries,
And then hot buttered popcorn in a box of massive size.

I feasted on the fried dough, ate a funnel cake or three,
And downed as many deep-fried foods as there could ever be.
Of course I needed ice cream, so I stopped to have a scoop;
I even scarfed a giant, cheesy bread bowl full of soup!

Had cotton candy, caramel apples, schnitzel on a stick,
And polished off a pulled pork sub entirely too quick.
I’ve eaten all the sausage my poor stomach will allow;
So really…all I want…
is just a garden salad now.

- © 2011, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Slowing down and catching up

This past weekend, my wife, my son, and I attended my wife’s family’s annual 4th of July cookout.  It’s amazing the things you learn and discover when you’re not constantly up each other’s arses on Facebook and Twitter.

ID-10016558 (BBQ)Before I go any further, I should explain something. This is a BIG shindig. Family, extended family, and friends all get together to hang out, have fun, and eat tons of food. I’ve been to more than a few family functions in the past, but this has got to be the biggest one each year.

How big?

There aren’t just hot dogs and hamburgers. There’s also barbecued chicken, pulled pork, hot & sweet sausages, steak tips, chicken wings, and smoked ribs. And those are just the meats.  There’s a pool, a horseshoe pit, a bounce house for the kids, and requisite beer-pong tournament.

This year, they even rented a Porta-potty!

Like I said…it’s a big party. Which is why I found it so surprising – and refreshing, really – to be able to learn so much from my own family members.

Social media ≠ real socializing

While many of the folks in attendance keep up with each other via social media, several don’t. And the ones who do – Yours Truly, included – are not living every moment of our lives to find out what everyone else is doing everyday.

Now and then I’ll see a Facebook post from someone, and perhaps I’ll comment, perhaps not. Often I miss a good deal of what’s going on because, to be honest, I’ve got a lot going on in my own life.

facebookNot to sound selfish or anything, but I’m so preoccupied with my voiceover business, my writing, taking care of my 3-year-old son, taking care of the house/gardening/firewood/landscaping/etc., and trying to be a good husband to my pregnant, ready-to-pop-any-day-now wife…I honestly twitterdon’t have the time to notice that my step-cousin Susie has posted another duck-lip selfpic or that Uncle Fred finally had his bunions removed.

So being able to enjoy true socializing was like a gift. I was able to relax Pinterestand chat with one or two people, snack on some food, and have a drink, then start another conversation with someone else and have some more food.  (Food figures prominently at this soirée – and in my life, for that matter)

soundcloudAnd by engaging in real, old-fashioned human interaction, without the distractions that come with socializing online, I was not only more focused on what people were talking about, I was also able to enjoy it much more. I wasn’t being interrupted by pop-up ads, I wasn’t checking emails and bank accounts while trying to skim through my Facebook news feed, and I wasn’t finding intriguing news stories that pulled my attention away from my work.

I discovered quite a bit, too.

“You did what?  When?  Where?  Wow!”

I learned that my uncle-in-law (not sure if that’s a real designation, but we’ll go with it) purchased and rebuilt a classic motorcycle which he turned into a trike. However, he left the rear wheel of the motorcycle on – meaning the trike actually has three wheels in the back. Which, I suppose, makes it a quad. Kinda, sort of.

I had a chance to catch up with a second cousin who recently graduated college, who told me a 7-year-old boy she was babysitting tried to hit on her. Not hit her…hit on her.  At 7 years old, all I wanted was a new Tonka truck. Apparently they start young, these days.

I also learned that another relative has started a new job that has tremendous perks; that the rules of horseshoes need to be altered slightly if you want the game to end before sunrise; and that Jello shots pack significantly more punch when they’re made entirely with vodka and no water whatsoever.

Oh, and all that cutting, splitting, and stacking cordwood I’ve been doing is paying off, it seems. While standing in my swimming trunks chatting with my wife and her sisters, one of them asked if I had lost weight. I said I didn’t know; it was possible, with all the outdoor work I’ve been doing.

I thanked her, of course – then immediately began to wonder what type of home improvement project is best for one’s abs.

ID-100177455 (floating ring)

Somewhere…an inner tube is calling you.

Relax, recharge, refocus

Could I have learned these things via Facebook or Twitter? Sure – at least some of them. Although my uncle isn’t online, Jello shots are hard to do on Google+, and since I don’t post shirtless photos of myself on Facebook, I doubt anyone would have ever noticed my muscular, chiseled, near-godlike physique.

But having the opportunity to slow down and leave the electronic distractions behind was not only enjoyable, it was necessary. Hopefully you can find the time to slow down and catch up with the people close to you this summer.

Just like the batteries in our devices need to get turned off and recharged now and then, we need that, as well. That’s why, although I’ll be working through this week doing my voiceover work and writing my children’s poetry, I’ll be on a semi-hiatus, so to speak.

I’ll be spending more time readying the nursery for baby #2’s arrival in August and spending more time with my wife over the weekend – just the two of us, with no distractions. I also will not be posting a new blog entry next Monday.

I do have the urge to go out and cut down more trees, though.

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Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  Feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

Maturity: It’s like barbecue, but without the smoke rings

I have my wife to thank for this blog post.

For my birthday yesterday, she took me out to a southern barbecue joint – where slow-smoked ribs, chicken, and pulled pork fall from the bones and the aroma of a spicy, smoky dry rub lingers on your fingers all the way home. Where brisket isn’t done until it’s been in the smoker for at least 14 hours, and the anticipation of seeing it browned and sliced is almost too much to bear.

This is where slow, southern-style smoked barbecue is almost a religion. No, come to think of it, it is a religion.

And this is where my wife, the vegetarian, brought me for dinner.

She’s a keeper, that one.

ID-100155010 (B-day candle)45 was a problem; 46 is a bigger one

We were back in the car, driving home, when I told her I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about for today’s post. I had some ideas – about commercials or poetry or whatnot – but the fact that I’m now 46 kept weighing on my mind. I had just posted my thoughts on life and graduation here last week, as well, so ‘maturity’ has been a recurring theme for me lately.

Let’s face it – 45 is smack-dab in the middle 40’s, so even though you’re only 5 years away from the half-century mark, you can say you’re in your “40’s” and still pretend you’re only 41. But 46 is on the other side of 45, which means when you turn 46 you are officially in your upper 40’s. I wasn’t sure I liked that.

I wasn’t in my free-wheeling 20’s anymore, when I was first learning about the world and my career and life. I wasn’t in my 30’s either, when I could put some of the experience and wisdom I had gleaned in my 20’s to use – but still feel young enough to hang around 20-year-olds.

Then, 40 rolled around. I couldn’t even say I was in my 30’s at that point…and working in radio with an entire on-air staff that was younger than me was a bit of a shock.

But 46?  When did this happen??

The vegetarian waxes philosophic

So having explained all this to my wife, I breathed a sigh and continued driving. Ever the positive-minded gal she is, my wife smiled and began comparing my life to barbecue.

She said that, just like brisket and ribs need to spend a long time in the smoker, my past 46 years have been my personal time in the ‘smoker.’ I wasn’t ready for life in my 20’s, and I still wasn’t ready in my 30’s. It was only when I met her – in my early 40’s – that my current life situation began to take form.

I had my two daughters when I was younger – but like most parents, it was trial by fire.  I had no idea what I was doing, so I just winged it and hoped for the best. I worked in radio, in a restaurant, as a wedding DJ,as a dance instructor, and as an advertising sales rep…but all these were learning experiences, too. My wife told me these were the ‘dry rubs,’ preparing me for what was to come.

2979557490_969898059c_b (smoke ring)Last year, I left steady, full-time employment to work on building my own voiceover business (it’s a slow build, but growing). I have more time to audition for gigs. I’m writing more children’s poetry – and better children’s poetry – as well as other manuscripts. I even have the time to write this blog, fercryinoutloud.

I also now have a 3-year-old son and another baby on the way…and I feel like I almost know what I’m doing, having gone through it before. I’m able to experience child development in a whole new light, my wife reminded me, because I’m a stay-at-home dad. I’m not sure how I would have done as a stay-at-home dad 20 years ago, but I’m doing ok so far.

Life is good.

Everything I’ve experienced, everything I’ve done or seen, everything that came before – has been part of the smoking process, my wife explained.  I’ve been slow-cooking this whole time…and now, I was ready to be taken out of the smoker and plated.

Life was ahead of me, and I was now ‘prepared.’

You know, for a health care professional, she’s pretty good at metaphors. I love that woman.

Although the idea of ‘being plated’ unnerves me just a bit.

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Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links over here on the right! (I usually only post twice a week – on Tue. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  You can also follow me via Twitter or on Facebook.

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