Sunday, June 24, 2012

Have You Seen. . .

If ‘people-watching’ is something you enjoy -  in 'the activities you enjoy' column of any survey, my box would be checked and highly rated - and a week at the beach is one of the best of humanscapes.  The ambiance, variety, ability to indulge un-noticed and the compliance of the watch-ees rule in this sport.  The obvious, well- grounded counter to this bestowing of 'the best' is duly recognized/ acknowledged by inserting a codicil addressing preferences.  Climate, purpose, time constraints -  all come to mind as potential reasons to defrock my choice.

        (By way of example - and a congested rte 64 West - last  Father’s Day at the races in Virginia definitely places - or shows even.  Colonial Downs dedicated this day of thoroughbred turf racing to our Armed Forces and a long shot, GENERAL Barbara, returned the favor.  The people ran - make that slowly inched - the gamut of types from regular lout to dad and granddad-party celebrants to the usual air-conditioned Jockey Club whine and diners and box seat diehards risking rent money.)

        The beach crowd offers a similar variety but far less nattily-clad - if at all - of society’s resolute, raunchy respite takers.  They hail from as far North as Canada and West as Ohio.  There is something about the Outer Banks of North Carolina that lures the pallid, tired masses to the sand and vitamin D and, yes, an odd olio of wild Mustangs who called the environs home for centuries.  The picture of a stocky steed, grazing, with a white gull - also grazing, insects - on its back makes for a special visual for that “What I did this summer” essay.

        (What Colonial Downs did was make history.  Indeed, for the first time in Mr. Jefferson’s Virginia, Virginians were treated to a spectacle of shorter duration but similar singularity as growing asparagus.  These specimens, however, were fully grown and eager to run.  The first ‘full-of-fun’ provision was a camel race.  The riders, awkwardly seated and clinging to barely reachable pommels, forced frozen smiles in the direction of the stands as the five feral beasts grinned at their own largess and took their graceless parade in stride looking like hippos emerging from a 3 inch drainpipe.  The winner, Joe Camel, left his fellow ‘ships of the desert’ in the dust from the starting gate.  “Shocking breach of gait”, might well have described his erstwhile competitors.)

        The humans, no question, steal the show in the beach scene.  Ensconced in ‘Willy Wanka-esque’,  8 to 12 bedroom mini spas -  we used to call them cottages - they first nibble, then gobble and chug every new-found amenity – God or contractor/designer devised.

        The “family vacation” category – those with babysitters and those with schlepping mommies and daddies, squeal in the water, castle-build in the sand and vie for the the newest water/shore toy to be had. Airborne, motored along the briny’s  surface, negotiated - or not - by balance, grace and poise, the goal is to skim the rolling white caps or glide choreographically along the shallow pools at the shoreline.  Shiny, oiled bodies – Balance, Grace and Poise possibly among them - bob, twirl, forge ahead on wings of the sea gods and goddesses, racing to a hair-blown, splashing dismount.  Neptune be pleased.

        (The big crowd pleaser at the races, wings down, were the ostriches.  Sleek, proud, black-feathered, they pranced for their eleven-field parade, then did a slow gallop to the gate.  This was to give their riders a taste of the white-knuckle ride ahead.  Pointed, orange beaks, angled down in pure determination, they increased the gait, length and speed simultaneously.  The combination achieved dizzying speed.  And then, the plumed rascal in the worst post position - far outside, one being close to the rail - seemed to be thinking, “ Flightless indeed!” as its feathers spread, revealing a fluffy, white, petticoat that strained to help its wearer leave the ground.  So intense was this failed attempt, the poor rider flew instead.  It’s a gravity thing.)

        The family members frolic.  Dad paid big bucks  to drive all the way to Corolla and he would smile, his hand out for another Corona.  Mom sliced dozens of limes, dragged dozens of gallons of ocean in colorful pails in time for dripping, molding, and drenching enough wet sand into bathing suit linings to ensure rashes from hell.  And all this while, she was glancing longingly, enviously, at shapely, comfy, teen girls and shady, lady, comfy, moms cum Au peres or zero children needing any attention – lounging.  “Some day.  Right, god?  Some day. . .”

        Young turks, cunning little shavers just last year, flex, volley, brandish La Crosse  sticks, kayak out to mermaid waters and throw balls -  of all categories.  Bathing-beauty youth, scantily-clad, oiled, and sporting twinkling tatts, playfully run/briskly walk/gossip and tone with hand-held weights along the shoreline.  And “The Readers” occasionally remove sunglasses to acknowledge the ocean wind with a grateful kiss.

        (Of course, there were winners and losers at the track.  I don’t have time to discuss the animals.  I’d say the winners were those who ‘came out even’ – didn’t lose the rent, enjoyed the company of good friends and food at the Jockey Club, were glad the family had an occasion to gather – in some cases as many as four generations.  The losers – the ones connected/controlled by cell phones and computers, conducting business or fabricating alibis – missed the point.)

        The beach scene has been changing over the past decade.  People ‘types’ are the same.  It’s called humanity.  But the losers lose bigger somehow.  Invaded by the fax, the cell phone, the computer, the cable with high definition – it’s a slaughter.  And poorly defined, too.  “High Definition”?  Is that the kind of definition that lets you see ‘nothing’ more clearly?  Or the kind that best keeps your attention away from the big picture?  I take my cues from the animals.  Bridie, our beagle, loves the beach.  She chases “Mr. crab”, skulks around in the dunes trying to look the huntress, goes along with the stick-fetching routine – for a while.

        But left alone, she just ‘beaches’.  Sits in the sand or by a dune; gazes at the geese flying in formation; watches the sandpipers do their double-time run against the approaching tide or just stares straight ahead, wind blowing ears and whiskers, smelling, being, doing the beach.  Try it.  Do some people-watching.  Prelude, really.  Then BE beach. The beautiful, unspoiled creation of which we are part is “Beach”.  It’s a part of the whole SELF of creation.  Spend some time in SELF.  There IS no higher definition and beach is one with it.  And when someone asks, “Have you seen. . .”  You’ll delight in saying, “Yup.”

Later, Lorane

Thursday, June 14, 2012


       Thank you, Lovie, to the NTH degree!  I, too, no longer watch TV save for the news.  As a wife, mother & citizen of this confounded species, I feel an urge, nay, responsibility to do so. I keep it on with the volume at the minimum, tuned to a news station all day.
       I felt passionately about the potentially lethal medication ads I wrote of in "Context". (BTW, I used the word 'context' as a subtext which I'm sure only I understand.  You see, right up there with phrases like, "to tell you the truth" (What? Usually you're lying?) and "It was, like, exciting, you know?" (A, was it exciting or rather simply something akin to that emotion and B, in the dark regarding your first proclamation, how could I POSSIBLY 'know' ANY thing about said 'it' or what in Hell you're talking about!) lives the ever popular, exhausted-from-overuse "his/her remarks were taken 'out of context'." (A, if you know, my wise/kind friend, would you please tell me where this nebulous place - "Context" - is.  I do want to GO there so that I, too, will recognize when a statement either was/is there or has been trundled away by some fiends-in-the-night who find it amusing to remove key elements of a composition such that the hapless one experiencing same is, in truth, in the grips of something entirely alien to what the unmolested 'original' product had been/is. 
      And B, absent familiarity with "context" - and thereby cut off from my friends, potential acquaintances, family and ALL other fortunate frequenters of this, apparently, "IT" place - I am forever handicapped as to comprehension of, judgment upon or interest in the - as common parlance would have it - the "SPOKEN WORD", save my obviously 'Turret-like' compulsion to end phrases/sentences with prepositions at. To be sure, drenched as I am in this "leper" mindset, I can only experience total exclusion from  - again, what the species has termed - REALITY.  Fine then, I say.  And finally, C, fully aware that I've just defined "psychosis", so be it.  Surely, it beats "neurosis",  - usually defined by definers of mental states - as an exquisitely painful state of awareness-cum-suffering-at-the-hands-of this REALITY.)
      The obvious stimulus of my passion is the synergistic effect of delivering demonically-masked 'helpful hints that can/most likely will kill you' messages to a population that craves immortality and is on a feeding frenzy.  (I hear melodic strains in the background - don't you? - of "Take good care of yourself, you belong to me". And as you so rightly intimate, 'TV', not religion, is the "opiate of the people".  Therefore, the odds of impacting the mesmerized masses are a bookie's dream.  In fact, whether or not he's paying attention - and Lord knows I truly hope he is not, my husband cannot be without it.  Also, but for the news, he's a first class 'surfer', spawned by his ADD affliction.  (This is presumptive, on my part.  I refuse to accept that I've been married to a man whose hereditary prowess is the perfection of the 'dumbass gene'!)
      Rendering this passion even more rabid is the variety of potentially harmful 'seeds' that are planted in this 'I-never-promised-you-a-rose garden'.  Health and its diminishment/loss is but one pathology-inducing avenue down which the Tommy Gun-armed 'hit' parade drives.  This because the formula demands a segue into appearance-enhancement.  After all, if we're going to live forever, it's imperative that we 'roll' pretty in the process.  Enter singer/probably-octogenarian Miss Boone, daughter of the legendary daddy-in-white-bucks.  Her performance - possibly technologically enhanced - focuses on the uber-plastic-surgery procedure guaranteed to whisk away decades, dropping them in the surgeon's sterile stainless steel bucket like wind-driven hail pellets, such is the mass/volume combo of this acquired detritus.
      One hears, "Can you believe I'm seventy years old?" (To which my husband and I reflexively chorus, "YES"!)  Next up we have the mousy brunette-morphed-into-smooth, plumped 'mousiness' admonishing the 'wanna be' viewer, "The first thing people see when they meet you is your face", delivered with an engaging, albeit, affect-less grin. Then, our buddy, Mr.Voice Over  oils his way around the series of pictures - before/after genre - delivering complimentary platitudes and forced frugality-accommodating facts which - in no time - lobbed away the sagging turtles from several necks and the under eye exaggerated sand bags from erstwhile great-granny faces now transformed into the nubile, fetching models of modernity after which we all lust.  Thankfully, we are spared any re-molding of physique below the 'raveled sleeve of care'.  Tucked tummies 'play' like plucked dummies, I guess.  And, to be sure, 'the play's the thing'.
      Morbid curiosity craves at least a peek at one of these sterile-soiree-drive-throughs but, dash it all, we are deprived of an "Abra- Kadabra" magic minute.  That, dear friend, is of no moment because the real trick here is the successful seepage of yet another ingenuous and 'sacred cow' pearl for the populace: BEAUTY IS SKIN DEEP. This, in fact , is the very maxim which keeps the charade marching right into 'skinni-ness' and the desirability thereof.  White, bikini-clad rockettes, with the precision and dexterity of the best of our military's drones, stage a beach production number - ice cream cone and salt shaker in-hands - singing the blessings of "shake-it" slimming with Fosse-esque speed and angularity. 
      Again, we must shake ourselves back to "fat frame-up-land" and figure out that this, too, will pass for "good-for-you" propaganda which permeates the ethos of the species.  Said 'ethos' has now been reduced to the deification of materialism, superficiality and a 'fear-no-risk' mentality.  The timing is perfect for the panoramic, prosaic picture of old 'what's-his-name' perched on his trusty Trojan steed, tumbling into view as do the weeds to tell us about the prudence of buying GOLD.  "Don't you love the way gold feels?' goes his query.  Then the clincher:  "And you can't print gold."  The 'midas touch'.  Trite is as trite does, friend.  Now that you have your priorities straight, think I'll share.  "Context: Part II", came atcha! 
Later, Lorane. . . .

Monday, June 11, 2012


Context: circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place. There you have it - a tidy little definition of a word frequently used - and abused - in communication - verbal and non - as well as writing and informal discourse. I hate to be pesky (OK, I lied.  As you know, friends and readers, fatigue, illness, temperament, certain people and most content that seems to stream into my consciousness directly from the television, elicit peskiness of unwarranted and lofty proportions.  And you know this because I am also insensitive enough to ‘share’ my unattractive emotions at the drop of a hackneyed expression)

      Now before you lower that boom of a pointer on your upper right corner “x”, deserting this tab as though you’d seen a warning prompt: “Continue reading at the risk of erasing your hard drive”, know that I’ve not embarked on an instructive stroll down “Composition I” lane - and we all know there’s no strolling ‘up’ that rocky road - but simply wanted to orient everyone to this evening’s pithy, playful ruminations.  Lord knows, I stand first in the ‘orientation line’.  The past five or six days have been inordinately disorienting causing a fit of seeking-in-extremis for peace, order, direction and pleasant experience. Lest I fall prey to a full-blown case of pesky.

      Fortunately for all, persistence conquered pesky and I found my treasure trove – which, per Virginia law, I may keep if a ‘rightful owner’ has not left a claim.  Last-minute changes had us dining at b-day grandpeep’s fave watering hole to commemorate her eighth year among the VERY quick.  Molly is currently taking tennis lessons - and showing signs of greatness - but along with a tennis bracelet, we gave her a small, crystal catcher’s mitt and baseball which she literally ‘visits’ to admire every time she’s at our home.  It’s a paper weight, actually, and I’d always found her tender fascination endearing.  Especially in that the child shows no interest in the sport - save her Mets ball cap.  Thus we presented Molly with the coveted trinket cum framed poem.

      (Framing seems rampant in those heinous TV emissions of late.  Watching the evening news brings a spate of commercial interruptions clearly aimed at robbing the unsuspecting, average watcher of his old friends – peace-order-direction-pleasant experience – with whom news is normally endured.  They (we know of whom we speak) have some beastly attention-grabbers out there.  Who’s NOT going to listen up when the subject concerns health – in the context of its continuity.

        In that as a genre there seems to be no discernible distinction, we’ll have a gander at a common bladder issue, unpleasant but not life-threatening.  At least the lure is cast in that manner.  The captive audience takes the bait – and the Vesicare.  The scene begins in our mythical land of “Context” with bronze-hued PVC-pipe figures marching this way and that, singing with hearty voices reminiscent of the era of protesting. (Which will re-enter in present tense context when the nightly news resumes.)

        The message our marchers are conveying is that they’ve worked hard to get where they are (presumably ‘success-land’) and will not tolerate interruptions by ‘leaky-pipe-induced’ frequent trips to the ladies room.  Enter Vesicare.  By now you’ve gathered this is a pharmaceutical frame-up. The abject ‘bete-noire’ of over-active bladder syndrome, Vesicare renders this unsuspecting malady a thing of the past, a has been in the long line of similar would-be impede-rs of “so-if-you-go-to-Somewhere-on-your-way-from- Nowhere,-and-you-meet-anyone-you’ll-know-it’s-Me” bronzed marchers.)

        Molly sat rapt, caressing her crystal treasure while proudly reading her poem:

INSTRUCTIONS for safe use of Molly’s enclosed:

Catch a falling star

and put it in your pocket.

Never let it fade away.                                               

                                                      Catch a falling star

            and put it in your pocket   

save it for a rany day.

For love might come and tap you on the shoulder

some starless night.

And just to show you’ve grown a little bolder,

you’ll have a pocketful of starlight.

Pocketful of starlight.. . ..

Catch a falling star.

You’ve got your glove, just DO it.

(Others think that it’s ‘Their’ day.)                      

                                                     Catch a falling star,

 you’re faster getting to it.

No one gets in Molly’s Way.

Your glove and ball –

the day that you got older -

came for catching  light. Starlight’s best,

wants Molly’s glove to hold her.

Star-matching-Star made MAGIC all night,

Magic starlight all night.

Molly’s ball and glove

came when she reached her eighth year,

lighting up her sky with stars.

Molly’s ball and glove told all who came,

Now see here:

Stars’re hers now, they’re not ours.

Stars will never fade away. . .

Won’t be any rainy days. . .

Molly’s starlight’s here to stay. . .

Glove and ball are Molly’s way.

Love and Stars mark Eighth Birthday.

Candles out, but Starlight stays.

Pockets full, colorful

light from Stars all Molly’s days.

Light from stars that’s hers not ours.

But sharing, loving, bright Birthdays!

Balls in gloves

Showered loves. On her way -

EIGHT today.

Never, ever fade away. . .

All her starlit bright Birthdays

Always Starlit, bright Birthdays.

And a star she shall be, wherever her talents take her.

      (Would that the same could be said of our marchers.  Seconds after their song of determination and praise loses its volume, Mr. Friendly Voiceover, totally aberrant contextually, booms in to remind us in tutorial tones that, as with all modern miracle drugs, there MAY be side effects – of which he is all too eager to warn us.  The litany – ranging from inconvenient to lethal – is prefaced by the what-has-become-typical advice, “Therefore, consult your doctor if you have any known conditions like heart arrhythmias, psychiatric disorders, respiratory ailments, glaucoma, G-I Tract Disorders or a significant history of allergies.)

        We had plans to see “The Swingtime Salute” Saturday evening.  This engaging musical production was rendered even more spectacular Saturday as it was “Op Sail” weekend, when those magnificent historic “Tall Ships” from eras long gone by sail majestically into Norfolk’s harbor and drop anchor adjacent to the retired USS Wisconsin – a resident attractiion of the city on which the musical was staged.

      A tribue to the generous and talented performers who entertained our troops in 1945 when the Wisconsin was commissioned, “Salute” was energetically put on with the backdrop of the setting sun on a glorious harbor evening - topped off with a pyrotechnical display to memorialize all things nautical and beautiful.  The entire evening gave new meaning to “gala” in its particularly festive context.

      (One would think, in the doctor-patient context, that had ANY of those successful marchers suffered from ANY of the aforementioned conditions, the ‘doctor’ would soon become ‘successive’ had he not been aware of them when he prescribed the Vesicare.  Really, folks, is ‘average patient’ now responsible for diagnostics and test result interpretation such that findings are to be shared with ‘average patient’s’ treating doctor so he doesn’t screw up and prescribe Vesicare to the hapless hyper-allergenic marcher whose dumb luck it was to now develop an overactive bladder which, as yet, she hadn’t had time to work up?)

        Sunday - warm and sunny - was just perfect for grandpeep Charlie’s second b-day.  He was just a bubble of dimples, giggles, and hugs and kisses all around.  The kids seemed to fly all over the swing set and jungle gym; tumble in the grass waiting a turn at driving the Jeep and beeping the horn; laugh and peak through their blindfolds when pinning the butterfly on Curious George’s tree. And after gallons of cold juice, Charlie’s Curious George cake was the perfect pause before tearing open presents with renewed life!

      (I watch and listen to this potentially lethal scenario, gleaned from this potentially award-winning sixty second ‘spot’:  successful bronze pipe’s march becomes a walk, then a fall, groping forward in a desperate, last lurch toward an unreachable phone that will never follow a “911-order”.  Marcher had ignored the heartburn, fiber-blasted the constipation, artificially teared her dry eyes, watered her dry mouth, squinted through her blurry vision.  The wheezing – well successful pipes can’t just STOP for a cold.  Of course she never forgot to take her anti-depressant but the confusion caused her to take two Vesicare that day.  And when her lips and face and throat started to swell – what was it she was supposed to do?

        She stopped marching and walked to think this through.  Tired, she sat, groped for her cell phone to call her buddy, Pattipipe, but decided to nap first.  But then she thought the grass must be getting to her because she was wheezing, call doc. . . ‘Reach out and touch some bo dy. . .’  Reaching, her crooning stopped, as did she.  At the service, doctor, in the context of both sympathy and helpfulness, explained to her grieving, successful friends, that “Nothing should ever get in the way of taking care of yourself.”  He left an ample pile of his cards next to the Guest Registry.  Ambling down the carpeted marble steps, he was heard singing softly, “I’ve worked very hard to get where I am; I’ll never allow a leaky pipe to get in my way. . .”

        In the context of ruminations, I think I’ll run with ‘playful’ tonight.  There’s something about TV commercials – in the context of ‘pith’ - that makes me feel pesky.  And we certainly don’t want to go THERE.

Later, Lorane. . . .

Friday, June 1, 2012


      Gal walks into a story.  Sees a good friend.  "Emcee!", she shouts.
"Got no rose 't pin on YOUR nose.", spits the reply.
"Well, what up?"
(Emcee and gal go back some.  And go back deep.  Fact is, Gal knew Emcee, a pet name for 'Main Character', known to only a few (thousand) buds, when Gal was just a literary parvenu named, 'Hey, You!'.) 
"What up's been ME.  All night.  Waitin'."
"What?  Somebody didn't show?"
"Yeah. Somebody-didn't-show, y' ole fool."
"Emcee.  It's me.  And it's early.  My missin' somethin'?'
Emcee perches pertly on a handy stool, crosses her still-quite-shapely-gams, like she does when things have her in a 'way'.  Then, hand on hip, chin up and off to the side (her bad side), she mimics accusingly,
" . . . what WAS that thing in that bay window?  Hmmm?"
      (Lordy, time flies and if you don't catch up with it, it'll run circles around your sorry arse and wind up biting you - JUST when you were thinking you had a 'grip', as they say.  Truth be told, "they" chuckled all night, watching Emcee pace around muttering denouement, crap-for-brains.  Denouement!"
      But did 'they' say anything to Gal?  That's clearly rhetorical and sooo like 'them'.  You see, back in the day - that would be "yes-ter-day", Gal was all lathered up, doin' Charlestons, hootin' out "you're a grand old flag. . .", and stopping just long enough to swig some Geritol from her garter-secured, silver flask - ALWAYS at the ready in her silk stockings - that she forgot THE most important and beautiful thing that Emcee treasures in her home-for-the-lovely-and-longed-for.
      Emcee's had the most prized period bird cage that a master craftsman's hand has ever tenderly assembled.  Mahogany - with some copper wire, shaping the domes - it rests regally on a matching table, ever vigilant, lest the world forget from whence she came.  This highly-polished, intricately-carved, wood skeleton of a magnificent cathedral was once home to the softest, trembling, feathered creatures who sang with an unforgettable lilt of joy.  Feathered, kaleidoscopically-colored angels, crooning of a time when people were high on creativity, low on the blues and telling about it - with strokes and faces and shapes.
      It is Emcee's paean to 'her' time, representing, reassuring, all who pass that she holds fast to abstract thinking; she believes in human freedom.  And when she's moved to 'treat' a passerby with herself and her art, she sings out, "Long live painting!"  And the 'treated' one comes marchin' in.  Think Satchmo.  And don't forget.)
Later, Lorane. . . .