Thursday, September 8, 2016

THOMAS - At Seventy-Five, The Story is Still Happening

      This young guy walks into, 1978 (running, even walking too brusquely may have caused suspicion, detention, delay) and with a resolved sense of determination to become 'more involved in mankind' precipitated by a hastily-made New Year's resolution, he excitedly embarks on the execution of the answer to his fervent prayer - "God, show me what I am to make of this world.".
       Many, too many of his years had been wasted in pursuit of 'finding himself', ferreting out his personal karma.  Now, certain he had arrived and was comfortable with 'his way of being in the world', it was time to negate immersion in 'Self' for the higher, nobler purpose of helping others out of darkness into the bright light of comfort and confidence, trampling on pain and despair en route.  Thomas would embrace psychiatry , dedicate his being to the daunting clinical treatment of that suffering population of 'hapless losers' whom others avoided as a waste of their talents and time.
       I have been true friends with him for over forty years.  Mostly, we agree.  On one dominating opinion, however, we follow different drummers.  Thomas is a star in Dr. Freud's 'marching band'.  I have more of a 'Ringo-style' Dr. Carl G. Jung beat.  Over time, Thomas specialized in the treatment of adolescence.  (Of course, the standing joke, if you will, is my assertion that his choice was dominated by his personal development.)
       The admirable book he wrote on parenting, I feel, has an overall prescriptive nuance that is all too carelessly squandered elementally.  This because the reader has little or no exposure to his frame of reference.  However, it is very well-received.  What follows, then, is a tribute to Thomas' life work, writings and teachings while practicing as the finest, most-honored clinician I know.
       As is his want, (and in keeping with his astrological sign), Imam able to NEATLY divide his career/life into three areas: Adventure, Gratitude and Completion.  In his young years,I think, as John O'Donahue said, "I would love to live a lifelike a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.". Thomas' inquisitiveness and enthusiasm for 'doing', lived a life in full play, one of relished experience.  I would imagine he misses walking barefoot, toting posters decorated with bright colors, oil finger-painted 'things', gree shoes running in wheat fields, getting his baseball signed by his favorite St. Louis pitcher when that team played his hometown Giants and building shelters with treasures from his chest.
       But in 1978, aware of the closure of the Adventure part of his life, hehe concluded that one must let one's heart reveal you; you must let love uncover you.  This realization led to the conclusion that with collaboration and friendship, comes connection.  (I'm sure his relationship with his beautiful, loving wife reinforced this phenomenon.)
       His clinical methodology seems to be a simple 'show and tell'. For Thomas, beauty (healthy self-awareness and living in the present sans past negative baggage or future hopes) was too good to pass up.He also felt that good gets better - much the way as when one's tears roll down one's face during a poorly-executed aria one's performance is in effect an ensemble, and one's co-performers will carry the day or note - as good team members tend to do. In that he knew he did not exist in isolation, he was able to climb the rubbled, ruined walls like those of Rome t oday.
       Of course the Gratutude phase was born.  As he handed his sung song to those for and about whom he cared, he told them to play THEIR music.  The resulting, though at first halting, results were immensely gratifying. Of couse this process is far more complicated and precarious than it sounds.  For example, Thomas had constantly to be certain that imagery was separated from reality experience (a concept, I believe is called 'duality' in psychiatry.  For me, knowing that I am NOT the two soft-cooked eggs upon which I gaze is sufficient and find Thomas' emphasis on rhis element a tad tedious.).
       Nevertheless, I think, dear reaser, that you now know that Thomas was approaching Completion (Please stop that ebullience - out of respect for him).  But indeed, he was finally able to bring the LIVED,FOUND treasured and not forgotten knowledge to HIS life and the chapters on the pages of tho se of his patients. The response has been a thing of beauty to observe.  Thomas exudes LIFE and the fact that HE is still growing, has learned and known very extraordinary people during this time, continues to build - and with a healthier crew,has slowed down ONLY to let the entire Gestalt breathe and is ever anxious to DIVE into the new, to open, to reveal, connect and explore.
       Make what you need and find truly beautiful. This has been one - Thomas' story  It is time for yours.  
Happy B-Day, ole' man!
Later, Lorane. . . .
       

Saturday, September 3, 2016

May I Ask Who's Speaking?

          That this question was asked by me of me is - if nothing else - a justification for the title of this Blog.  I was in Barnes and Noble the other day on a specific mission - buy a basic but extensive book on sewing.  I'm not doing much with my mind lately, so I had decided to revive a craftamused myself with as a newlywed.
       Money being at a minimum, I'd decided to start by taking down drapes and using the material to recover our "House-Anything-But-Beautiful" black vinyl dining room chair seats.  I learned that all chair seats are 17 inches deep, had enough material, discovered the wonders of a staple gun and the chairs looked 'WOW'.
       At the time, the Navy had assigned us to Norfolk.  Hubby had been 'star-gaze' happy because after finishing Officers' Training School, the brand new Lt. Doctor had visions of using his surgical training on the floating hospital, The Hope.  (1969)  The Navy thought otherwise, pulled The Hope and gave 'glum-chum' Lt. Doctor and his Mrs. and baby son orders to report to Norfolk prior to embarking in 3 weeks to the Indian Ocean for 11 months with a fleet of destroyers going on a 'peace-keeping' mission.
       He was assigned to the flagship, the Harold J. Ellison under the command of a Commodore. (I thought the last one was Perry).  He'd be bunking with the ship's pastor.
       The enmity between the two began on day one as the fleet was being laded with 'good will' goodies for all ports of call.  Lt. Doc laded the English complete encyclopedia into his car (destined for a non-English-speaking nation) along with a pair of slolums earmarked for non-motor boat possessed Madagascar but less wasteful for building bookshelves for new sets of encyclopedia.
       Said enmity progressed on a steady course sparked by the numerous bartered purchases from carvings to carpets accumulated by the good Lt. Doctor. 
       Back at the 'ranch' oftownhouses reserved for officers, having wanly waived a wet fairwell to her spouse, the Mrs. and 9 month-old son set about writing to Lt. Daddy every day (Philip's missives often on the wall), and redecorating - at times to mask his messages -.
       With my staple gun fast becoming my new best friend, I took advantage of a White Sale at Sears, rushing home with my heavily-discounted two sets of lime green and yellow plaid single bedspreads and matching shams, using one for his 'big boy' bed transition and stapling the other on one of the walls.  
       I planned to use the extra sham - glued to a cheap white shade - but in the interim, cut a long, blue and white gingham robe in half and 'styled' it over a rod.  Perfect length to the sill.   I didn't notice the pocket facing the street side of the window.   Three other new Navy wives did, though, and took several weeks to decide which of them would play 'point-out-the-pocket'.  By then, my respectable, co-ordinating shade was hung and I was ahead 2 to 1 in the enmity department.
            Fast-forward to 2016, Barnes and Noble, new sewing book and while hunting for a sewing magazine in the 'self-improvement' section, I was distracted (terrible ADHD.  You've noticed.) by a magazine I'd never seen  and was certain it was an ill-fated blunder.   There was "Artful Blogging" and I had to have it to be certain I haven't been writing 'white-pockets-facing-the-street' metaphorically for lo these many years.
       I found my answer on page 19.   A successful, known blogger, discussing her various ploys to avoid dry cycles when creativity eludes her (like writers block when the people in your head stop talking to each other), "takes time off from social media" because ". . .it's too easy to look at other people's work in search of that elusive spark that can re-kindle creativity".
       Whew! My literary window treatments are winners by that standard.   I can't even find my page on Facebook much less an "elusive literary spark".  
       And as for successful bloggers, I say, "Whatever Floats Your Boat".  In 1971, when the fleet returned,  the Commodore was set with every test performed by Drs. Jellyfingers, the Lt. Doctor was now First Lt. Doctor having been high-lined to another destroyer to perform a life-saving appendectomy on a seaman (apparently the Commodore wasn't so lucky and got dunked), and in 2016 I may not be a successful, well-known blogger but I'm never lackingbat least three simultaneous conversations going on in my head.
Later, Lorane. . . . .
       

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Demonstrate - It's Your Right and Everyone's Watching

       The past month seems to have fast-forwarded itself, propelled by the very energy of its events.  The world stage was brimming with combustible and powerful sparks of conflicts, high emotions, tragedy, confusion - the stuff of an action-packed inferno.  Our nation's performance, a real page-turner, was dominated by the antics at two major political party conventions.  A gripping narrative, it was enhanced by the desultory alteration of genre.  Fiction and non, its cast of characters and their roles vied for audience acclamation with events and plot.
       Adding to this olio was the orchestration of riveting - though not always cogent - demonstrations and their demonstrators (ranging from pith to pit) ever integral to the calliope.  At times passionate; at others impassive; their constant could be noted as "show-stopping".  But the price of lingering was too often the missing of an important beat, so the show and its observers had to slog on.       One wonders, with idle curiosity (as the interest of energy conservation precludes the use of any more rigorous modifier), what compels these outbursts?
       Well, the wronged clearly need and are entitled to justice.  And righting a weong to selfis either innate or mastered as an art form at a very early stage of development.  Its beginnings are instinctual.  Show me a baby cub who won't reflexively claw and snarl at his perceived aggressor as he smugly culls the last of the honey from his sticky fur follicles from the remains of little cubby's smoothly retrieved sweet delicacy jar, carelessly tossed by some sated slob and I'll show you a Momma bear who has some serious street-talkin' to do with her 'taken' little urchin.  (This is the Mamma who used to run with The Porridge Boys so our little cub has to honor his Mamma's moniker.)
       The 'Conspiracy Crowds', who've been harboring - sub rosa suspicion and grudges now strongly sense a stimulus - a word, expression of opinion, an innocent reply which could have menacing overtones, a deviation from formerly-held ideas regarding problem-solving, issue priorities, tie color, hem length - and fertilize and cultivate it to full fruition. They turn what may have been just a hint of sub rosa doubts into a full-cast, symphonically performed production of The Little Shop of Horrors.  In that 'Faustian' classic about a flower shop owner trying to make ends meet in New York's Skid Row (in our scenario, to win a presidential election, if you will - or not) into: "The real focus, here, folks, is Audrey." 
       (In Little Shop, Seymour, an employee who craves fame, buys a plant, names her Audrey, and gathers the duped hordes into the shop to watch Audrey perform tricks NO plant could ever do.  Seymour, at whose command she seems to perform, becomes famous and the shop thrives.  Not so the townfolk as, in truth, Audrey does Seymour's bidding ONLY IF FED HUMAN BLOOD.  We needn't go into the workings of the 'donor program', but you've most likely imagined it wasn't pretty.)
       Suffice it to say regarding 'demonstrators', there does exist a small (it is hoped) type of warped people who will stop at nothing to ensure that the main, largest follow-spot is always attached to their cause - anti- everybody, everything associated with the 'other' candidate.  Like so many demonstrators, they don't really have a cause - beyond demonstration.
     lieved in, bought Audrey.  Obviously, the downside to all of this is a willingness to follow the best enticer - with passion.  Capitalizing on this, "Evil" lures the 'Don't-know-what-it-is-but-I'm-for-it' crowd into chaos and destruction.  Seymour's 'cause' wrought havoc.  He believed in, bought Audrey.  Faust bought damnation from Mephistopheles when he sold his soul to him.
       Moral: Even if the rewards sound endless AND are on sale, they are NEVER  worth the true cost.  I was lucky.  I just got grounded.  But I was 17 and had a brother 5 years older than I, so my folks had been through the drill.
       I was a senior in High School, had been accepted to Georgetown, my grades were sterling so I risked the tarnish and joined a merry little band of afternoon class-cutters who spent afternoons in the Village - often at the Cafe Wha? where we saw and heard Carly Simon, Woody Allen and even Joan Baez (You can Google her).  And one Sunday, Joan was staging a protest under the Village Arch.  WOW!  My best friend and I, having told our parents we were going up to the Cloisters to listen to Gregorian Chant music, hot- footed it to the Village where a crowd had gathered on this beaytiful, sunny day.
       AND THERE SHE WAS.  JOAN BAEZ PLUS GUITAR and several hundred young people, arms locked, Chiclet smiles glinting.  We lucked out and edged  into the throng - arms entwined with JOAN'S as we gleefully chanted:
(Think "Glory, glory, Halleluiah!)  "If the cops get in our way, we're gonna roll right over them, roll right over. . . .")  And it was.  Over, that is when the Six o'Clock News came on and I sat next to my parents as they watched this bawdy DEMONSTRATION and there's never a blackout when you need one.
And no, I still don't know what I was demonstrating - save ignorance.
Later, Lorane. . . . .
      

Friday, July 29, 2016

Did You Say Something?

       It seems so easy to fall 'out of the loop' these days.  Either you can't find it or you're not endowed with the appropriate 'social media' to play.  In fact, the very words 'social media' have taken on a life heretofore not de rigueur. (At least, not in MY generation's lexicon.)
       My husband and I spent this past weekend in our 45 year-old cottage on the Outer Banks of NC.  Our son and his three children - aged 14, 8, and 12 plus the eldest's best friend were thrilled to be along, surf fishing, surfing and shell-collecting.  One evening, our son and I took two of the sated, heated crew with us in the same car a walkable distance to fetch ice cream creations for the whole crew.
       I listened as the 8 and 12 year olds updated my son 3 times regarding changes and sizes of the crew's selections requested by the stay-behinds. In that I'd only heard two of the fetchers' voices, I turned to look at them to determine the source of  these telepathic communiques.
       Tbey sat quietly, heads bowed - as though having suddenly come upon royalty - staring at their cell phones while their fingers did the talking.  (Being from an distant, older era where progress was telephonically applauded when we arrived at a point that announced we now could "let your fingers do the walking", their smooth and accommodating transmissions indeed gave me pause.
      This because 1) I was so impressed with their ease and accuracy - to say nothing of speed.  Didn't have time.
 And 2) I was stunned into a panicked silence  - most out of character - because of my personal, quiet, demoralizing panic over the knowledge that that the question, "Grams, you're sticking with pistachio, right?" was imminent.  Truth be told, I was developing a shrewd strategy, soon to be VOICED of simply 'nodding' and mumbling -"Uh, Huh".
       Therein lies the rub.  It was but a few short decades ago, in my case anyway, that a seemingly 7 foot tall, black-garbed nun stared down her hooked nose, pointing with a long wood 'dart' at my visage, as she spat, "Did you say something?"  She would invariably receive "No, Sissst!" through clenched teeth, pigtails wildly snapping back and forth to punctuate my saintly negative.  
       I suppose one could surmise that, decade-hopping notwithstanding, SILENCE STILL RULES.  (But if your powers of observation remain intact, you'll note the stealth with which the inability to express oneself in simple, yet complete and parseable sentences, is creeping past us, unnoticed.)
Later, Lorane. . . .

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Turning Leaf

          It's a Wednesday - standing couch time appointment.  I'm planning on making it - on time - and won't he be surprised.  Yup.  Another 'new leaf' abornin'.  Truth be told, I've sworn off those 'new leaves'.  One never honors them;  they even tend to create an unpleasant, subtle kind of pressure.  (What if I regress?  Go back to being an 'old leaf'?  What then?  Would it be a symptom of the dreaded "empty promise syndrome"?  Will I be justly shunned - even by me?)
       Perish the thought.  Rather, as I plagiarize with impunity - and a stemless glass - from a wine bottle label, I (drum roll, or egg roll - your call) introduce you to my new 'MO', "Turning Leaf".  I'm excited and a bit relieved.  I mean, all those abandoned 'new leaves' - as a recent TV commercial notes - aren't going to rake themselves.  Consequently, I'll have far more energy and be infinitely more tidy emotionally if I simply use one 'turning leaf' whenever I'm moved to change or improve this business of living.
       By way of example, today, my leaf turns on punctuality.  It feels like it was only yesterday that I was chronically late.  Indeed it was yesterday that tardiness was embedded in my moniker - "The Late Lorane Leavy" the naysayers would spout.  Well, they'll have to find a new tree on which to lift their leg.  Mine, sprouting turning leaves at all stages of gestation, will no longer provide a 'hit-able' target.
       Having split a personality or two at the appointed time - and basking in my mind-mender's approval, "Here, here" - I shall proceed with efficiency to execute my list of chores/errands smugly aware of the lack of any interruption of planned activity that can thwart the effervescence I'll be enjoying after my first successful leaf-turning.
       Why, you may be asking, does she persistently impose this tripe on us?  I would submit, "I love writing."  And apparently you must love reading.  In that writing of necessity is largely autobiographical, I share, give what I know, what I've learned, what I've felt and why.
       (I must digress.  And it's relevant.  My husband and I saw the film "Genius" this past weekend.  It beautifully and accurately presents a long chapter in the life of noted Scribner's editor, Max Perkins.   The selected part of his brilliant career deals with his discovery and nurturing of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and - largely - Thomas Wolfe, contemporaries all.
       Having read and studied the literature and authors of the late twenties and early thirties throughout my life, I was no stranger to the characterization of Mr. Perkins' effect on these artists and their work.  I was moved, therefore, to purchase the book from which the screenplay emerged after my appointment.  It didn't emerge after my appointment.  Rather, I went to Barnes and Noble after my appointment where the establishment's manager and I spent a delightful part of the afternoon discussing - and locating a copy of - the book.
       My only criticism of the film - which I highly recommend - was the absence of stress on the physical size of Thomas Wolfe.  I had read in several sources that it was his habit to use the refrigerator as a 'desk', scribbling a word or eighty on a page which he'd then send floating to the floor.  It was given to dear, dogged Max to climb four or five flights of dark, musty, steel-tipped stairwells to reach Wolfe's apartment, collect the uncollated mountain of strewn, cluttered paper, cart it back to Scribner's and spend an uncanny amount of time - motivated by a deep admiration for the writer's talent - so that, ultimately, we could have "Look Homeward, Angel".
       I lived in a five story walk-up in Brooklyn from birth to ten and have vivid - actually happy - memories of riding, knees crouched up to chin, in the "dumbwaiter" which was just outside our door and had cable-sized ropes with which you  could lower yourself - although it was intended for lowering trash - to the basement.  Quite fun, actually.  Unfortunately, Mr. Wolfe's digs lacked this "extra" and dear Max had to use the shoe leather express to reach his treasure.
       In the movie Genius, there are two scenes showing Wolfe hard at work, writing atop the fridge.  Unfortunately, both the appliance and the actor are of average height, leaving the viewer to surmise the choice of 'desk' was just another quirk in the artist's personality.  I'll read the book and let you know whether the lack of emphasis on Wolfe's height was a casting accommodation.)
       We were talking about writing and reading, I believe.  So, from soul through quill to heart and mind, your being is free to take and keep what it needs.  When you do, and it is a positive experience, we are connected.  My cathartic outpouring has joined us, rendered us members of this enormous and complicated but loving and supporting family.
       Perhaps, you, too, were thinking of turning a leaf but thought the notion odd.  Well, you needn't because you just found out that at some point everyone in the family does.
       Or maybe you were feeling the need for a good listener, someone who really hears your worries, shares your triumphs, understands and wants to allay your fears.  Seeking help is a good thing.  'Therapy' doesn't label you negatively.  Taken as directed, it makes you do your 'happy dance'.  Alternatively (and finally), you may have just wanted a glass of wine.  No harm.  No foul.  Good for the circulation, actually.  May I touch your bottom?
       But then I must be on my way.  Wouldn't want to be tardy.
Later, Lorane. . . .
      
      

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What I Know. . . .

       I know.  I know. Said, publicly on Facebook, that I was going to write more and haven't.  Well, I've been reprimanded - by phone even - and the truth of the matter comes down to material. People who followed this blog did so because they got a laugh here and there.  Or perhaps a stinging bit of insight jumped off the page that was just what they were looking for.  (Sorry about that preposition at the end of that sentence but "grammatically correct" as well as Emily Post are dead.  Today at least.  Although you can probably take Emily's demise to the bank.)
       Believe I was going on about 'insight'.  Surely it couldn't have been about 'jumping' as it's noon and I'm still in bed. Long day, late night thing.  But insight.
       Last week, at the end of my weekly couch-time session, after filling this incredibly caring clinician with sagas of failure, negativity and depression for 50 minutes, he asked whether I'd found any good 'Summer reads'.
       By way of response, I reminded him of the sorely-missed, supremely gifted singer/song-writer Jim Croce and his brilliant (To this warped mind) "Car Wash Blues".  To wit:
     Well I had just got out
     of the county prison
     Doin' 90 day for non-support.
     Tryin' ta fin me an 'xe cutive position
     But no madda how smoove I talked
     They wouldn' listen
     to da fac that I was geenius
     Da man say "We got all that we can use"
     So I got dem steadily depressin'
     low-down, mind-messin'
     Woikin' at da car wash blues.

       My point in regaling him with Croce's masterpiece verbatim was to convey my utter frustration when trying to read today's New York Times "Best Seller List" recommendations.  There aren't two paragraphs to be found (by me) that can serve as a lowly apprenticepiece to Croce's work.
       He then urged me to write (and I knew this was coming as he seems to think I could hold my own with F. Scott and his bride, Hemmingway and Dorothy Parker - (dysfunctionals all) so again I give him Croce's
     So don' spec to see me
     Wid no double martini
     In a 'high price society' news
     Cuz I got dem
     steadily depressin', lo-down, mind-messin'
     woikin' at da car wash blues.

       Surely the subtext of this exchange is the unspoken but secretly held belief that like Jim, I, too, am "Geenius"  ( I promise not to call you Shirley).  And since we know this subtext to be false, we understand the need for these weekly sessions.
       On the other hand, this 71 year-old lady was walking her in-extremus-but-under-treatment beagle the other day in her newly moved-into neighborhood in "surprising Suffolk", VA when, noticing some menacing cloud development, she took a new turn - intending to make a hasty return home, only to become flummoxed and quite directionally challenged.
       Seeing a moving van being guided into a driveway peopled by a young couple and their dog and hoping the driver would be familiar with the streets, she asked the guider to point her in the direction of her address.  He felt fortunate in finding his delivery address  and couldn't help.  She then asked the mover-IN and he predictably admitted no area knowledge.  But.
       He takes out what turns out (I believe ALL tenses should be used lest they get lonely) to be his VERY smart phone and in a nanosecond he is enlarging a map depicting the very corner on which we stand with his index finger (we weren't standing with his index finger, he was tracing with it) and, by then reducing the image size, finding my address and instructing me as to the route I should take.
       As if on cue, what turned out to be HIS bride, walked briskly toward us inquiring as to my beagle - Bridie's - temperament toward new dog friends as it was time to walk theirs and she would be happy to walk with me.  In that Bridie is hardly in what could be perceived as "aggressive mode", walking and talking commenced and upon arrival at our driveway we were Lisa and Lorane, the latter explaining "DO Tell", our now GARDEN-Guard-Pet. 
       Do Tell - an iron frog wielding a red metal coffee mug, is now parked, cross-legged, on a marble stone - our official greeter/mascot.  For a long time, I explained to Lisa, he was my writing confidante.  A great listener, Do Tell, especially when I suffered from writers block (when the people in my head aren't talking to each other).  We exchanged phone numbers and Lisa told me I 'should write' because I told such good stories  (Do Tell is hardly a story.)
       (When I observe my own grown children - married and raising families - reaching out to their elders or ANYONE they know is in need, to lend a hand, I'm proud and heartened and know it was worth the effort over the years to instill this value system.  The kindness that was effortlessly extended to me by Mike and Lisa , having just uprooted from their Colorado home and his Air Force career, on the day they were moving into their new home - not a day one usually does a 'happy dance' - tells me 'THEIR MAMMA RAISED THEM RIGHT'.
       I know we'll become friends - even though he IS a die-hard New York Yankees fan.  You see, as a child, I spent countless days at Ebett's Field, wolfing down hot dogs laden with sauerkraut and mustard and pulling hard for the entire then Brooklyn Dodgers organization.  Indeed when we played the Yankees, I really thought their team HAD to wear white uniforms with black stripes because they were felons out on a pass.  I was very young.)
       I guess, if physicians, followers and new friends say I should write (Do Tell was ALWAYS A BELIEVER), I should.  I'll write about the things I know.  (Heaven knows, I've lived long enough, it should sound like 'breaking news' to most.)  My next foray backward (it's comfy back there) will probably be the old hood, the ubiquitous 'railroad apartments', life in the 'hallways', dumb waiters (A gent I dated at Georgetown thought I was referring to the uneducated "help" many years later), Jewel Street, Diamond Street, hanging Casey Stengel in effigy, the "Incubators", $ to be fished with a string and gum from over the metal vents leading to the subway entrances, our resident, beautiful, retarded block buddy, Ray-Ray. . . .
       Yeah.  The 'things I know'.  And, boy, so many days I wish, "Everything Old Is New Again".
Later, Lorane. . . .
        
    





Sunday, April 3, 2016

What Ever Happened to What'sername?

       By way of introduction to this evening's quill work, A REALLY BIG SHOUT OUT TO MY SON ROSS (DON'T USE PHRASE "IN-LAW") BECAUSE IT'S HIS BIRTHDAY!  HE'S A WONDERFUL, FUN GUY, MARRIED OUR YOUNGEST DAUGHTER AND WAITED AT THE CHURCH FOR OVER AN HOUR BECAUSE THE QUAINT, VINTAGE TROLLEY WE'D RENTED TO TAKE BRIDE, MAIDS AND FAM TO NEIGHBORING CITY CAUGHT FIRE ON THE HIGHWAY, NECESSITATING ASAP  EVACUATION. (PLEASE SEE, "THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS")
       A hardworking family man, he's the guy who's sit straight-faced, tolerating a guest speaker on Dream Interpretation when she says, "Consider your dream world as the true reality, and your ordinary waking life as a dream.", all the while thinking, And then see how popular you are in the corporate structure at board meetings when you admit to a cash flow problem but want to discuss instead a place in the Executive lot for your unicorn. This young man can 'work a situation'.  And at home - King of the BBQ and a rabid Bears fan. Fortunately, already beautiful wife, son and two daughters look great in navy and orange.  Blow it out, today, Ross!
       On to other, lesser matters at hand.  The eldest of our eight grandchildren has reached that 'world-is-my-oyster' age of fourteen.  Lately, family chats turn to issues of sustainess, stability a future success.  His goals are challenging - bloodless orthopedic surgery among them.  His younger sister by two years is set on oceanography.  My husband is a doc, I was a nurse then studied and practiced law and now want only to write (indeed, first love)
       When they see me struggling at the keys, they ask - in a kind way - why I remain one of the 'lesser literary lights'.  Indeed, indeed.  Time to launch into the relationship between talent and industry as they relate to success topped off with examples of some of the 'swells' who 'made it' and the 'could-have-beens' and why.  (This topic often comes up at class reunions and the discussion can get rather feisty.  "Did Whatshername, you know our valedictorian at Georgetown, do OK when she came back from 'camp'?  "Dunno."; "What's it matter?"  "Just saying."  Some sequiturs are perfectly logical and some are non.  Obviously, ole "Whatshername" really had a shot, also had a problem, sought help and got it and there is a classmate present who knows the outcome and isn't giving it up.   I say, "Pass the salt, puleez, and the tripe.)
       We are but sixteen years into this century; change abounds; these kids will have career opportunities in areas not yet discovered.  It is imperative that families and school systems not add stress by exacting a career preference prematurely.  Clearly competing/enjoying sports and the Arts in a coordinating outfit with clear, blushed skin and just the right color, waterproof eyeliner are primo now.  When the time comes to make life choices, success bubbles out of admixture of talent and INDUSTRY.
       While dating, my husband and I were fortunate to see a unique, rare, visiting Rodin exhibit at the Smithsonian.  The artist's industry could provide heat and light to the entire Midwest. A combination of his wife, Zelda and his addictions, contained F. Scott Fitzgerald to half the literary masterpieces within him.  During the same time period, Scribner's editor Sam Perkins handled Thomas Wolfe - a physical giant of a man whose habit, when on a writing streak, was to use a legal pad and the top of the refrigerator as a desk, tearing off pages in a desultory fashion, casting them to the floor.  Sam would diligently climb several flights of steps to Wolfe's unkempt apartment, collect the non-collated pile of yellow paper and return to his neat office so that we could have, Look Homeward, Angel.  A non-fail recipe - that, talent + industry.
       By definition, an introvert takes what the world impresses upon him and makes something of it.  An extrovert, contrastingly imposes his will upon a world situation/issue and makes something of it.  Nothing happened to Whatshername.  She did neither, apparently - either because she didn't have the ability, when opportunity knocked or she did but was lazy.  In a scene from the movie, The Turning Point, Shirley Maclaine, former prima ballerina, says to Anne Bancroft, reigning prima ballerina, of her character Didi's losing the part of Anna Karenina to Bancroft's character, Emma, "You got nineteen curtain calls.".  Emma replies, "You had a baby." Equally talented when the part (and their subsequent lives) were cast, this exchange revealed the point at which each of them knew who they were and what they wanted to be.  Successful.  Twenty years of daily, sweating, grueling work achieved that success for each.  You'll know the moment.
       Don't ask. I'm still working.  Flapper? Bohemian?  Writer?
Later, Lorane. . . .
Glad you waited Birthday Ross

Kindness of Strangers

      

Friday, March 25, 2016

This is Serious. . . and I'm Ready

       It's been rather WET around this 'burg' the past few days.  We're still in 'find-things-and-find-a-home-for-them' mode. One excursion down THAT bleak alley was rewarded by discovering three huge, black lawn'n'leaf bags - thought to contain the pillows to our wicker outdoor chairs but, "surprise!" they contained all of the linens for the two trundle beds we have for overnight visits by the grand peeps. (Of course when our best friends visited very soon after we moved in and my husband had unexpected open-heart surgery, en route to visit one of their kids in Florida, the bed linens were MIA.)(They were en route to Florida.  He had his surgery in Virginia.  I pictured you forming an image of 'drive-through' surgery. NOT!)
       So be it.  I daintily hauled the 'finds' out of the garage and through the house for a 'christening' visit to the laundry room.  (Had the washer and dryer been unionized, there would most assuredly been at least a demonstration.)  In the face of this seemingly endless 'moving in' activity, my husband decided to surprise me by getting the attachment necessary to fill and operate the hot tub we'd installed in the master bath for therapeutic back 'issues'.
       That exciting evening, as we watched all the fun goings on in the world news, I would dash to the master bathroom and  Check on the filling progress of my new best friend every ten minutes.  Things seemed to be progressing nicely until the fourth such check.  Where there had been eight or so inches of hot water occupying the base of the tub, said base was rapidly becoming empty having dispersed its contents to the tub's surrounding area (recently dry, new hard wood flooring) as if by a demonic variety of sorcery.  BRAIN: "Stop inflow of water." RIGHT HAND: "I'm ON IT."
       The remainder of the evening was spent playing mop, swear, take photos, speak-through-clenched-teeth 'calmly' so as not to sound alarmed/upset to the recovering cardiac patient.  I'm sure you know the drill.  And, once tolerance and energy were depleted, the new 'washer-dryer-with-an-attitude' was finally discharged of its duties for the night.  The next morning, once all involved were alerted and blamed, we took the logical course of action and returned to the store that had delivered the tub to discuss resolution and recovery.  (I tried to explain - while hubby was napping - how this was an extremely unusual course of events to the washer and dryer but they were serving 'frozen' shoulder and would have nothing of it. BRAIN: "What is it you are always telling your grandchildren about arguing/reasoning with inanimate objects?")
       Now, tomorrow happens to be the dreaded b-day, the cruel reminder of the passage of time and missed opportunities, iced off with the requirements of seeming to be merry and grateful and just itching to chuckle at every snappy little amusing remark.  It's a game I usually play with a semblance of pleasure but, and even "Do Tell" will back me up on this one, I'm tired and - ready? - wet, AGAIN!  Having just demonstrated to (a very tolerant) husband how staying on top of things and following the rules re: the 'care and feeding' of the new washer and dryer, I finished chores, got a shower and did what was to be today's last imposition on the laundry room inhabitants, only to discover in passing that water was freely flowing from the washing machine onto the just-cleaned tile floor.  And my phone was ringing.
       Taking the opportunity to answer it (after stopping the machine) to give myself time to calm down, hope it wasn't a neighbor wondering why there was water oozing out of all of our windows, I thought ANYone but my dear Mother - ensconced in heaven since '81 or my best friend Kathy (of the no linens when visiting)  is going to get a very unpleasant earful.  Well, it was yet another missed opportunity.  Apparently these limbs aren't traveling at a brusque enough speed these days because as I retrieved the cell phone it spitefully went silent.  And you know I missed Kathy's early b-day call.
       Haven't even listened to her message (Mopping, you know) but I am blissfully transformed.  I can't wait to call her back and just laugh at all of this nonsense.  The incredibly able mother of seven will, I know, see some bizarre humor in this drippy tale.  And I shall be grateful - for Kathy, the ability TO LAUGH AND THE ABILITY TO MOP.  INDEED.  I BELIEVE IT IS MY FOURTH ANNIVERSARY FROM THE GOOD FRIDAY ON WHICH THE WONDERFUL DR. DAVID OKONKWA PERFORMED 12 HOURS OF SURGERY ON MY BACK - THE RISKS WERE HIGH BUT THE RESULTS 'DIVINE'.
        So, a shout of gratitude and good will to Dr. David.  I can mop!  The alternative to the risky surgery - by now I'd be wheelchair-bound, on a morphine drip, a real death sentence - would have been no more mopping but lots of 'resting' in peace.  Sooo glad we opted for "Door Number Two" - hope you are, too.  Serious can be scary.  But 'ready' is good.  I try to balance them.  And I'll let you know what Kathy had to say.  You'll laugh.
Later, Lorane. . . .
 






















Sunday, March 20, 2016

LADIES, DON'T LISTEN UP

       There are days when you just have to bite the ole bullet of responsibility and really clean the frying pan in which you burned the grilled cheese sandwich that has been dutifully soaking for nine days, vacuum the Melba toast crumbs efficiently swept under the kitchen runner the last time your fourteen month-old granddaughter visited and actually put soap in the washing machine and start doing the filled tub of laundry.  I find that these overdo but necessities in life can be made less tedious if I have the TV on (volume very low) while making the beds and my life a tad more orderly.
       You may recall (and , to be sure you are a happier individual if you do not) that we recently moved.  We now live in a far more rural, pastoral even, area where driving along the side roads, you can 'take in' one bucolic scene after another, punctuated by haystacks, toothpick-in-your-mouth farmers and lazy grazers abounding.  (I could just kick myself because my parents weren't Holsteins!)
       Today, booming out between politically analytical commentaries, I was subjected to (Out here in the 'country', our servers broadcast mostly local advertising - matters and places presumably of interest to those of us who live in this prosaic zip code) a whining little young married's attempt at providing useful (to me) advice in the form of, "Ladies, are you tired of just not being able to find the perfect recliner for your man?"  (Pu-leez! Can we just get back to mundane but magical music?)  There were no options but to consider the query rhetorical or beyond un-believable.  This travesty was soon hooked and soon replaced by a pert but serious 'journalista', lip gloss teasingly nearing the head of her hand-held mike as she gave us the latest on Hulk Hogan's lawsuit
against Hawker Magazine` where the editor gave a green light to a two inch piece on the videotaping of the former wrestler's tryst with his best friend's wife - in said wifey's own bedroom. The Hulk was nattily attired in a long-sleeved, black shirt, open-collared and matching his black 'doo-rag' knotted at the nape as he tried for a semblance of indignance in the witness stand. 
       He staunchly put forth the irrefutable non-truism of Gawker's shocking breach of taste which had head-locked our First Amendment rights en route to flagrantly and irrefutably decimating the Hulkster's heretofor gleaming reputation in matters connubial.

[Uncharacteristically stepping out of character for a brief technical 'non-explanation', dear readers, I must confess my shared frustration over this unintentional, distracting and non-professional foray into the inane Land of Annoyingly Frequent Point Size Variation. Having given a directive for the insertion of an amusing and apt visual - which may yet appear at a cloyingly inappropriate juncture - I was rewarded instead with the visual of the computer's choosing.Mea Culpa.  But it would be far too costly to Carpe Computer.]

       On a similarly tasteless programming note, but wearing a more 'BMOC' look, William De Vane insists on knowing "What's in YOUR safe?", coveting ALL neighbors' goods.  Well, not ALL. Doubtless, he has NO interest in the 'goods' of that dear young lady, seen alternately popping up from her center theater seat, slouched and whispering embarrassed "excuse me"s on her trek to the aisle.  She seems to live at the bidding of the demanding grip of an animated, bloated and determined little bladder.  After enduring these frequent, untimely, follow-spotted exits in similarly crowded venues, she takes a stand (or presumably a seat) with, "That's it. We're going to the doctor.!"  (The specialty is never elaborated upon)  My guess is that however HER story ends, DeVane does not want ANY of her anatomy in HIS safe.  Her endurance is admirable, but, let's face it, in the end (no pun intended), she, like so MANY others is a 'settler'.  I'm sure by now you're familiar with THAT crusty, poorly presented species of humanity so we shan't go there.
       Of course, "Restroom Lady" is not alone in her choice of resolution.  The asthmatics, the overweight, the blood clotters, the forgetful, the joint achers, the joint takers, (did I mention the forgetful?), the complexion-pocked, the heartbeat-blocked, the sleep-understocked - all malingerers NOT - to the malady jocks flock - your friendly pharmacist. He's got the stuff that gels your feet so you can jump, that tells your heart how fast, slow or strong it should pump.  The MAN.
       The medication, information, cost for this remediation, whence you came (DNA) and where you're going, he slides so smoothly (you never see it coming)  he's done with the cheering, the 'good news' he's been auctioneering.  "Paper or plastic, Ma'am?"  He's sure the spoils of your fixed income will fit in your van.
       Yup.  His tongue came to the fork in the road and he took it - and us.  That 'yellow brick road was fun but don't kid yourself into thinking you came out ahead - or at all.  That road morphs to quick (very quick) sand and you are swallowed up almost wholly into the dire, overwhelming, fatal even, things that can - indeed already have - befallen the 'miracle-cure takers'. Buyers beware.  You can lose more than your hair.  Just as brevity is the soul of lingerie, long-windedness has taken our breath away.  To bite the bullet of responsibility, I wound up catching too many glimpses of insanity
       Soooo, I'll watch my step (never know what it's going to do).  Time to begin.  As long as I'm walking with Pop's dog - cute little pup -Assassin.  Ladies, men can pick out their own recliners.  You just try to be sure your 'workout tights' match your eyeliner.
  • Later, Lorane. . . .

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

DANCE WITH THE DIVINE

      Soon it will be time to celebrate (or acknowledge) the passing of another year in the relentless passage of time in this saga of living.  I boldly requested a present for the occasion.  Dance is a life-long passion of mine.  Not so for my husband.  It came to my attention that our city will be hosting the 2016 performance of the richly inspiring and unique Shen Yun, the Chinese choreographic phenomenon which has its audience "enter the gates of a lost civilization where ancient legends come to life (certainly a goal of mine) and music connects heaven and earth."  (the birthday gift of perfection for one who is unable to stop her new , modern computer from drawing red lines through and under her limping verbiage, giving new and painful meaning to 'connect=the=dots'.
       I went to the limits of brashness in asking (no harm) this remarkable machine to share a sampling of this performance masterpiece with you, dear reader, potential listener, via linkage with a "You Tube" excerpt, "Dance with the Divine". (And I profer a premature apology should you hear, if anything, 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of company 'B'".)
       Apropos of nothing (why break my streak?), there is a TV commercial currently running which has a tag line of "Optometry humor.", thrown out snidely by an actress aptly-garbed in a white lab coat. Somehow, this little (VERY, thankfully) literary outing appears to stumble into that category.
       But I digress.  (surprised?) My birthday inching ever closer. THAT was our topic, it is hoped accompanied live or through the miracle of what is sure to be a 'Helen Keller' effort on your part (It is on MINE,  and I'm writing it. I would happily trade every jar of wrinkle cream this evening to have my hunter green, portable Underwood of college days for just one hour!) Birthdays - as a rule, in the Pythagorian, not twelve-inch sense - can be an occasion of 'stock-taking', an 'epiphany of significant or 'passing' largesse, a gathering/celebratory excuse or, perhaps, at some point, just another day - 'same-old, same-old', laundry, meal preps check the obits and, not finding your name, check the horoscopes.
       Given the insurmountable shortcomings of simply discussing the issue, I can only hope (fingers AND toes crossed) that the "big day" will come and go with more grace/less aggravation and desultorily throw out a 'postcard':
Later, Lorane. . . . .

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bear-Biting in 2015

       {Just an Aside.  Sometimes writing is automatic, I guess.}

Sandy's Life Song

Thrust from the fluid, undulating, warm liquid ambiance of his mother's womb,
Already feeling hammered and teleported into the OB's slippery, gloved hands by some act of sorcery,
This same kak's beefy hand delivered a remora-powered blow to Chandler's dolphin-smooth deriere,
grinning at the expectant wail reaction.
Mom's grin flatlined at the sound of her cherub's response-in-protest.
Medicine of the mundane exited.
And "Sandy-Pete-McGaw", the concerto - maestroed by Mother Marty by which her son's life would be known - bellowed, then mellowed into its rhythmic, tidal performance.
Ruled by the Moon Goddess, the sirens of the sea would softly, yet urgently, beckon to him lifelong.
His art was lived rather than created.
In many ways, life was an interloper between Sandy and his artistic muse.
We are formed by what we desire and Sandy's aquatic desire,
His penchant to be of the waters, vascillated between glass-smooth and blurred stormy.
But ever did it flow freely, soothing and at peace with itself.
He lived a life of generosity and praise to those who clung to that "Last Hurrah" mentality, the genre of HOPE.

******************************************

       "Some days you bite the bear and some days the bear bites you."  In my Freshman year at Georgetown, I dated (briefly) a midshipman whose cloying habit it was to drawl out this non-hallowed maxim as punctuation, summation, commentary to whatever event or experience we'd just endured.  I thought Annapolis was lovely, the parties and outings always a great time but what price sailing, cobblestoned historical surroundings, or asparagus, for that matter.  With little remorse, I soon forfeited the entire gestalt, electing instead to lead the Hoya Life with unabashed gusto - making the revered "Tombs" hangout my second home, learning every word of every "Chimes" song and keeping ONLY the wisdom of his far-too-oft-repeated maxim as a lifelong memento.

       You may recall, back in the paragraphs before you were applying for your Medicaire card, that I had come to a screeching halt upon arriving at the month of February in what would become that dastardly year of 2015.  I do believe the attitude

expressed on the little one's face
captures the overall mood of our family on that soggy Saturday that ensconced itself indoors as well as out.

       Daddy doc had been blissfully purchasing 'stock' in amounts abundant to supply ALL Habitats for Humanity from his buddy, 'Sam'.  I was doing indoor chores -  some of which brought me in very close proximity to the 'house side' of the garage door. (Did I mention the fact that on the ever-growing list of losses associated with the ageing process, auditory acuity has been a tough little tiger of resistance on mine.  Thus far.)

       Upon his mud-tracked return, laden with unnecessaries, there was an aura of urgency about his countenance which required investigating. 
"I'll start putting things away while you make your second . . .", I began.  (Affect and tone casual.)
"WE are heading for the garage - if it's still standing!"  (Affect and tone not UNlike 'Code Blue!')  Maintaining silence as we trundled down the steps to the 'Mother-in-Law-Suite', crossed the hardwood flooring, followed by the lush carpeting of his study, he yanked the garage door open to the now sloshy five steps leading to the car-less, storage filled double garage, water rising quickly and spiraling dervishly from the still standing golf bag - clubs with animal booties intact - such that its reach missed nary a millimeter of garage, the ceiling, floor and contents.

       The jetted stream of water had its origin above, beginning from a frozen, broken, exterior spigot that had at one time been the connection for the garden hose, the diameter of which was the causation of the force and 'dead-on' direction of the rapidly destructing, impossibly curtailing with any speed or efficiency, power-driven, structure eradicating flood - with obvious plans of following the path of least resistance - and most irreversible, possibly 'demolition status' outcome.

       Springing into action, he made the necessary calls and I salvaged as many critically important documents and irreplaceable items that I could carry up what was now the path of greatest (and most dangerous) resistance to dry/safe pastures.  USAA provided rapid, accurate and complete guidance.  Family, friends, neighbors and GOD got us through the remainder of the longest of OUR February days in forty-eight years of marriage.
(Unfortunately, there will be 12 more months to be continued.  Or we could call it a day and chat about pruning the calceolarias.  For now, I'm calling it a day  (and a more engaging olio of characters you'll never meet.  Honest.)
He couldn't wait to see how it ended. . .



Later, Lorane. . . . .              

      

      
 






Saturday, January 30, 2016

Wow. You Really Can't Make Some 'Reality' Up

       You know, if you've been 'following' (that's computer-speak for me) this blog, these past 16 months or so have been somewhat sketchy.  (ABSOLUTELY no pun intended.)  Now you know I've NEVER been described as punctual, regular or any other of those 'grown-up' words that are associated with reliability, predictability or good housekeeping even.  That said, you ALSO KNOW that these have been times that would try the staunchest of souls - to say nothing of how they could toy with any woman's complexion, full-bodied, shiny hair and at least NEATLY manicured nails.

       As I'm forced to borrow my husband's computer, the visual that screams "perfection!" at this juncture is unavailable for sharing..  (A dear and glorious Emergency Medicine physician he may be, but his collection of  'unusual' pierce and slashing wounds barely whispers the angst that a pic from MY assortment of  'Frenzy - Unabashed' would bellow your tidy existence into painful disorientation.  And 'alas', alack' and ALL appropriate 'et als', we must endure deprivation of sightly punctuation.

       Rather, we'll (with the frequency and abandon utilized in changing actors) run amuck with 'just the facts, Ma'am'.  Heaven knows it was enough to bring any semblance of my mental equilibrium to near wipe-out. 

       The decision had been made to downsize and move closer to six of our eight grandchildren.  That was January, 2015.  Realtor retained, signage spiked into the patchy lawn (visible from the road and the Linkhorn Bay in Virginia Beach, being a waterfront lot.)  In February, hubby doc trundled off to the highlight of his week (NOT golf), Sams, to stock up on grillables for our free-standing extra freezer for the merrily-anticipated Spring and Summer of cook-outs with the fam whilst we chattered excitedly about what we ALL wanted in the downsized new domicile that only Grams and Poppy would be purchasing.  (Having failed retirement with flourish - after several huge, heart-warming parties given by several staffs - I insisted he stand up, dress and interview because the hole in the sofa created by his read-a-thon was looking like a costly repair.)

       Glumly for him, he returned within days with a stash of repetitive, often ungrammatical queries to be answered ASAP and returned to the Hampton VA Hospital in anticipation of his starting his second - financially saving and skill-maintaining - medical career.  In two weeks.  Seems our veterans' hospitals are constantly in need of qualified, hungry, willing personnel who "hadn't heard" or "didn't believe" the rumors.  Fitting nicely into both categories, our boy was dressed out in his white chaps, stethoscope at the ready and set to :"Never is heard a discouraging word."

       Determined, equipped and enveloped by my new best friend, silence - save the occasional inspirational lyrics and melodies of "The Commitments" and "All that Jazz", I embarked on the recapture of Tuscany and Bari in my house-planning dreams, my jumbo box of colored pencils and my newly-printed (on transparency paper) scaled enlargements of the architect's blueprints.  What would be left behind, what came and the 'transformations' of treasures accumulated over 47 years became the focus of every waking moment NOT spent frolicking with one of our precious offspring - and theirs.

       Then came February.  The day of the rains coming (02/26/15), of 'Motherhood NOT smiling'.  A bit premature, I do believe 'prefaces' remain acceptable.  The foregoing, then, shall be so named.

        Till we meet again. 
Later, Lorane. . . .

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Contagion of Comfort

       Although the motivation for my writing of the previous post was stunned grief, the responses - from Sandy's family, friends and people who know and read my blog - has been a force in my life that I know, feel will birth exultant change.  As life in the absence of change is mere existence, I admit to my enormous gratitude stemming from an enormous loss - to SO many.

         There are experiences in which we revel.  Those, too that we would rather have missed.   
Sandy was more than a loving friend for me.  Rather Sandy is an experience in which "revel" was ever the 'direction'.  The responses I received to my shared experience, abundant and caring, were 'directed' by an uncanny candor, a pouring out of feelings and memories that, perhaps, had been held captive in the dark corners of reverie for FAR too long.
 
       We all experience life's 'little gems', and pause to cherish them.  Sandy Gems are REALLY BIG and I hope we will ALL pause, reflect and LAUGH convulsively, as he did, as we re-live our "BIG SANDIES".  Take the time to enjoy the smiles, chuckles, smirks even (you've done it. C'mon.) because without the balm of humor, we can close the tomes, the "PDR's", the Farmers' Almanacs, and go home.  Once there, you'll not find therapy, just the couch, the trappings, as it were (Don't you just HATE overused tripe?  Sorry.) and silence.  You can find an empty, hollow stairwell and listen to its echoes or get very comfortable - feet up, lots of pillows - and relish in the knowledge that you are human and have LOTS of  'like kinds' just lounging around waiting to share the good, bad, happy, sad SANDIES!
       Abyssynnia,
Later, Lorane. . . .

Monday, January 18, 2016

Chandler (Sandy) McGaw - the art of living well. . . .

       A long time ago - or maybe it was yesterday - I was living in Norfolk, Virginia, raising kids, married to a busy doctor and maintaining a semblance of sanity by my commitment to and involvement in Community Theater.  Theater folks are a tight-knit, busy, competitive and, often very talented people.  As a former coronary care nurse and teacher from 'the North', mine was a daunting endeavor when it came to 'fitting in' with this crowd. It's always good to 'know someone' and I was fortunate via a casting decision to get to know Ms. Marty McGaw and then hubby, G.F. Rowe - sterling directors AND performers on the local boards.

       When not at the theater, theirs was the home to which we all gravitated to eat, drink, talk, LIVE theater.  A huge, old Georgian manse, encircled by a rambling wood porch, peopled by guests, family - and their friends - workmates/playmates all, seemed to always be a-buzz with activities, often unrelated but always in sync.  From this throbbing organ, one could see/follow branches leading to the rambling grounds, the pool, commanded by its house on which brightly-painted caricatures, trompes du l'oieus and witty commentary pleasantly assaulted the viewers senses.

       Beyond the pool surround, the property dropped off and ultimately landed at the base of its steep, brush-overgrown hillside - a ragged-edged rock and sand shoreline over which a long, tired-but-proudly-splintered, tar splashed dock where watercraft of all species, man or motor-powered, were tethered.  Here, too, one would usually find Chandler (Sandy) McGaw and friends planning or re-living a just enjoyed aquatic adventure. (A rangier, louder, more fun-loving band of 'Tom Sawyers' never to be found!)  Accomplished swimmers and boaters all, the gang was always at the ready to take the little people - visitors and family alike - on aquatic nature outings along the shores of the Lafayette River.  Lunches packed and skin slathered with protection, the merriment didn't stop until whatever 'vessel' returned, heralded by the shrieks of discovery and tales of history that went along with their slimy, muddy treasures.  Only THEN would "Cap'n Sandy" share the tales of the found water creatures as well!

       Blue eyes twinkling behind sun or regular glasses, Sandy was sure to cause laughter, inculcate life-lasting habits of kindness and comfort among all ages of listening ears, staring eyes and willing learners regardless of subject matter.  One learned how best to handle a Hawaiian sling to spear a lobster, when to time the shifting of body weight on a surf board to "catch the really big" waves on your board and I can only resort to the trite phrase of "mean game of poker" when talking about playing cards with our boy.

       Hard-working, harder-loving, Chandler McGaw was a true "GO TO" GUY. Of course, our first encounters were theater-centered with Sandy and our son, Philip, lending many a technical hand and tool.  But the relationship evolved into some small business endeavors during the Gulf War that were aimed at inspiring those who wait and those for whom they are waiting.  (A favorite was a white pillow case with an 11 by 17-inch photo of the military man or lady's family permanently painted on it.)

  Back at the theater 'ranch', he supported and encouraged his older brother, Parland (Parrr) and Honey and younger sister, Morgan ("born by the sea") in their acting careers.  His was a very natural, "Chevy Chase"-type sense of humor - an integral part of his personality which cannot be taught but certainly buoys the spirits of those in need when that need arises.  And he was extremely generous with his gift of pran ks and one-liners.

       "The McGaw House for Those in Need" - carved roughly on a rough-hewn sign over the front door, was a well-known neighborhood fact and many a passerby stayed a while, leaving feeling renewed.  While filming a movie in town, the Sheen brothers (who did stunts for Dad) wanted very much tom see the "Rock Church".  Marty and Jerry found it and off we all went.  On another occasion, we were doing a dinner theater show with Ray Walston.  He was dating a young lady who truly believed ina diet consisting solely of mayonnaise.  It was poker night and the young lady did not gamble.  Sandy and Philip kept her in four different kinds of mayonnaise - creating recipes ad lib - which had her amused all evening. (It seemed her IQ was rather close to the total fat in one tsp. of mayonnaise.)  For their efforts, "My Favorite Martian" gave each of them autographed martian head gear.  Made for great stories in later years.

       It was an unusual house.  Fitting.  The dining room table had been decoupaged with favorite Playbill covers painted by Marty.  She panicked when her own mother announced a Thanksgiving dinner visit.  Sandy had the table looking 'normal' with hours of sceraping, buffing and staining.  Marty's Mom was SO proud of her Vassser-grad daughter.  There was a huge poker tab,le in the game room with a marvelous view of the river.  It was also dubbed "THE EGO ROOM" as favorite scenes of Marty and Jerry from "The Lion in Winter" and "Dylan" adorned the walls.  Mysteriously, during the famous Thanksgiving dinner event, the door was locked and the key 'misplaced', later found in Sandy's boat.  All was well.

       Though our hearts will always swell with his largesse, the WORLD is a smaller, poorer place today as Chandler McGaw sped off its circumference in a motorcycle accident yesterday.  But we, Sandy's wife, kids and family will ALWAYS have him and the greatest of the lessons he taught - the Art of Living Well.
Later, Lorane. . . .