Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Going to Be A Meeting. . .

       The other day, we had just embarked on our 'walk-Bridie-our-dog' morning jaunt when we encountered a lady, paused on her bike, about to put something in our mailbox.  We saved her the trouble, inquiring about its nature.  She said it was a Civic League memo and pedaled off.  Seems our neighbors are all a-whisper about some potential City Council business.

       Reading the memo, we were reminded of a very old Kingston Trio song about a railroad train - "Number 97":

    "Buddy better get on down the line;  Buddy better get on down
    the line.  Here comes ninety-seven makin' up some time.
   Buddy this is Ninety-Seven at your back; Got a ton of
    coal poured down her back.  Here comes Ninety- 
    Seven roarin' down the track."

       In our version of the song, "Ninety-Seven" would be our area's new light rail system - the TIDE.  Rumor has it that among the citizenry - landed gentry and peanut farmer alike - the 'Fathers' (city fathers) are planning, spelled, p-l-o-t-t-i-n-g.  They are going to venture over the rim.  (Thus far, the TIDE hasn't been the subject of particularly favorable ink.  I mean any fool knows that "mixin' electricity and water can bring nothin' but trouble.") Indeed, this area is known as the 'Tidewater Region".  It is also a fact that New York City has been 'coasting  along' on the East and Hudson Rivers and flirting with the Atlantic Ocean all the while being connected by a rail system - built by Indians and immigrants - that prides itself on the technical reliance on a very 'hot', live third rail for power.  Imagine my surprise when  this phenomenon escaped an entire population that just didn't 'get' the TIDE.

     The advance PR allowed as how the TIDE would bring the cities closer - unite Hampton Roads by making it oh-so-easy and affordable to "Park and Ride" from Norfolk to Virginia Beach faster than you could say in-te-gra-tion.  They built it and people came - to and fro, saving gas on our very own 'speeding bullet'.  In fact, the Big Picture brings our brothers and sisters from as far as Suffolk and Portsmouth into the Loop.

       They can drive to the Portsmouth Harbor and 'Park and Ride' or float on the ferry to Norfolk where they can see baseball and hockey games, attend the opera as well as several live theater venues, visit internationally-known museums and top of the line restaurants.

        Then they can head on East to the land of surf and sand.  (I see a billboard:  "They say the world is a book but if you don't travel, you've only read one page.")  Well, our TIDE is a tome of monumental proportions.  In fact, as to monuments in particular, once in Downtown Norfolk, the traveler can avail himself of the "MacArthur Memorial" as well as the eponymous 'Side-scapes' in its environs.  Similarly, Virginia Beach sports a magnificent "King Neptune" and is studded with artistically-rendered mermaids throughout the city.  Portsmouth - at its own, nationally recognized Children's Museum, now honors the Ayers Family in a stunning bronze sculpture of children reading. (The element of common denomination here - if you've not already guessed - is the accessibility of these treasures via our TIDE.)

       I say, "Here, here" to all of this movement.  Brooklyn-raised, I was never one for driving anywhere - regardless of how economical it is made to sound.  But it seems our Fathers, who art in Virginia Beach (hallowed be ITS name) agree and now want to give us even more of our daily bread of transport via the TIDE.  They want to add a slice or two of variety into the kneading.  (Some may say that insodoing, they want to lead us into temptation!)  Hmmmm. . .
       Now the rumor is in its inchoate, 'we-had-a-dream' stage.  (Pssst. A dream is just a dream.  A goal is a dream with purpose and a deadline.)  It - the rumor - purports a plan to divert these straight and narrow tracks at strategic points such that some TIDE pellets will pop out, plopping down in some of the better-known, recherch√© shopping centres so that ALL of Hampton Roads will have access to, shall we say, "Marquettes for All Seasons" or "Rides for all Reasons."  Or not.
       So, folks, the citizens of Virginia Beach are going to a meeting - just to make sure since we seem to be the projected pellet targets - that the philosophical as well as the gustatorial and sartorial questions are asked and responses are provided lest we find ourselves on the far side of the rim with no going back.
       The philosophical question for our neighborhood is:  "Who's to say if this is good or bad for Virginia Beach?"  The first order of business, then, would be a look at the subject. It has become a city steeped in tradition and marinated in its cultures.  During that marinating process, a new native culture with its own population identity evolved.
       It has become a bustling, well-earned hive of tourism, hosted by its natives.  They, in turn, are a many and varied group unified by their diversity. This same quality permeates its co-existent civilian/military components.  The majority of the civilian population has its roots in the older, more conservative city of Norfolk.  The heritage of the military population: the world.  Visually, it is a climatically warm, appealing coastal town.  The community is a tangle of sprawling neighborhoods and copses that seems to embrace that 'uneven pavement' essence of cohabitation of the landscaped 'swells' with the 'average-Joe-DIY-ers' sharing the same piece of God's little acre with impunity.
       Of course there's more to this.  My thumbnail sketch seems (and is) reductive.  But it does function as a filter that would equip a meeting attendee/potential question poser - YOU - who have what it takes to GO TO A MEETING, ponder AND comment on the likely effects of the TIDE further infiltrating the easternmost borders of the city.
       Ultimately, however, what you plus our neighborhood and any other potentially affected areas, can do is comment.  You see, the city Fathers meet as well - and all are invited to attend.  Should we feel trespassed upon, we can always forgive.  If the feeling is deliverance from the evil of exclusion, we can revel in the glory that accompanies such good fortune. You have 'happened in' to a win-win participatory adventure.  You may go to the meeting and profer an opinion as to whether the Fathers' plan is good or bad for the kingdom.  For thine is the kingdom and, if you've become a 'TIDE-ie', yours is the glory.
       Oh.  Guess that leaves just one more thing.  It wasn't in the memo, but if memory serves, (Lord knows, no one else seems to) the Fathers have the POWER.  Still want to play?
Later, Lorane. . . .



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This Has Been A Test. . . .

       There certainly has been a 'break-in-the-action' experience of late.  What with storms, adjustments to new 'technical toys', keeping up with the family, friends, gravity - ever at my psychic and physical doors, and like a siren, luring me to anything but  an upright demeanor/posture - and what I've always thought of as the February 'accounting'.  I was taught and recall telling my offspring that when you really want to know 'how you're doing', pose the question on a gloomy day in  February.  The premise is painfully simple (often simply painful): Anyone can convince himself that life is good on a sunny day in June.  It's the 'This-Just-In. . .' on a gray February morn that can bring your curtain down.  (I've been 'hooked' off the stage sans curtain when I was dangerously off course.  Mon Dieu!)
       It was with considerable relief, then, that the 'day - in truth several weeks - of reckoning', although not a kick-up-your-heels (as if I could) day, did pass without negative aftermath.  The ordeal, however, had that very old feeling I'd get during my brief stint as a DJ - way back in the day when we'd just completed one of those un-announced "Tests of the Emergency Broadcasting System".  All manner of hushed/rushed protocols would get hustled into effect; buttons pushed; checklists checked; piercing frequency waves all the while permeating the studio to where one could hardly think.  Then some "All Clear" buzzer would catapult us back into the humdrum of playing the audience faves such that they were soothed/felt safe.  (As this soothing message was broadcast to the general listening public, yours truly would be thinking, "Really, pal?  Trust me. Had this been a true emergency, I'm outta here!"
       So it has been with my February accounting.  Far too much 'pense, pense/wonder, wonder, what if-dya think??s for moi.  I'm exhausted.  Next year I'm taking the 'oral'.  Luckily, on the sidelines - of life. Don't do sports - I'm constantly entertained by the 'doings' of our little ones as they raise theirs. Of course you get to play.
       It's just so typical Americana-ville, I think ylu'll be able to relate with this one.  You've met the main characters before - tney brought you the little slice of 'holiday life' when the Elf arrived the month before Christmas.  This month, like so many young families nationwide, they were dealing with snow.  (Not that they don't care about the deficit, sequestration, joblessness and slaughter in North Africa.  It's just a matter of forum.  I just do life.  I leave 'world peace' and such to Miss America contestants.
       Not surprisingly, this episode focused mainly on Dad but necessarily is/was brought to us by the children.  Their oldest, E, played a key role in the flow - seen above in a grotesquely over-sized, very old photo (when she was admonishing 'Mr. Producer' as a Broadway Baby) that I cannot get my spanking new Surface to downsize and properly place - certainly helped to move things along but 'Hats Off' to her Mom, our daughter, J, in this one.
       Earlier in the week, she kept calling to tell me how much she was dreading the weekend.  Saturday morning was the birthday party for their best friends' and around-the-corner neighbors' twins.  Naturally, family was coming in from out-of-town/staying the night.  J was looking forward to helping D with preparations as D is a perfectionist nightmare about these landmark events.  (R or Daddy to E and  C plus hubby to J was all about helping as well but kept hissingly reminding J at every opportunity about how important the 'black tie' deal that night was to his job and we can't be late and you did get the sitter and you know the limo is picking us up at the bank and the guy said he'd wait but only fifteen minutes, yada, yada YADA!!)
       Did I mention it had snowed the day before (accumulating four or so inches which is incapacitating to this area) and that Jenna, the sitter had recently passed her driver's test? Well, those were the facts, 'Ma'am' and Mister.  Sooo, the birthday party was a huge success; smiles/presents all around; in-laws settling in and twins wound nicely like springs.
       J got her little crew home in plenty of time and delivered "the speech".  "Now kids, the sitter is coming soon so  I want to know that even though you're excited from that great party - (R now standing behind her, tapping foot, pointing to watch) - we are going to be polite, remember our words, do what Jenna asks, say our prayers - "We're good, Mom.", from interrupting E.
       E then proceeded into her room where she repeated J's speech verbatum to ALL of her dolls, perched attentively on her bed; C was in his room trying to put Daddy's tux tie on his favorite bear;  J thankfully got knot the hot shower, lathered up her hair and smiled because it was only 4:30 and they didn't have to leave until 6:30. "YES!"  And the lights went out. "NO!"
       J darted into the hall, towel-clad, crashing into R - ashen in the dark, but managing a glare.  After calling the power company and hearing, "We don't know, Ma'am.  Seems to have been a vehicular accident but we're working on it. . .", J called our son who lives very close by with his wife and 3 children.  "Philip.  Would you mind keeping our kids overnight?  And we'll be there in ten because my hair is still shampooed and R is freaking out."  Then she called the sitter who had already left but her parents were great.  Said they'd reach her and turn her around.
        Then, dashing/dripping into E's room, she interrupted the lecture with, "E, pack an overnight bag.  You guys will be spending the night at Uncle Phil's."  "Oh! Are we ALL going?, gleefully indicating her dolls.  "No. E. Just you and C.  Now move it!"  C was already gathering up a collection of planes and Lightning McQueen cars and shoveling them into a diaper bag when J found him for, "Patrick will let you play with his cars.  I'll get your things together."
       Somehow they still arrived with two bags and were greeted by Robyn's, "You need TWO bags for ONE night?"  J flew past her, freezing/still wet, with R in tow muttering about the limo and only fifteen minutes.  Philip, loving the show, offered to go down and  chat up the driver, buying his sister ten or so extra minutes.  R, not amused, was now pleading for a tux tie as his was missing.  Five VERY happy/snug cousins were selecting a movie and making pop corn.  Robyn was searching her dressing table for makeup.
       Meanwhile, back in the 'hood', D and extended family were wandering around with candles, tripping over wrapping paper and presents.  Jenna was crying, standing on the cruel, cold street waiting for triple A to come and tow her parents' SUV which she had totaled when her novice snow-handling had sent the vehicle careening into a skid that was stopped by a major utility pole. The child was unharmed but terrified and terminally humiliated.
       At 6:15, J and R reached their waiting limo and had just enough time for a champagne toast before departure to a charmed/charming evening of dinner, dancing and properly greeting the guests in their finery.  The lights glittering on the dance floor seemed to be dancing snow flakes.  J thought - "It turned out to be a GREAT weekend.  I worry too much, Old Sport, . . ."
Later, Lorane. . . .