Wednesday, June 26, 2013


       Several years ago, the small cottage - not unlike ours - next door disappeared and an enormous, stone gray and white rental extravaganza was regally erected on the lot.  In fact, the structure seemed to 'hang over' the surveyor's plot line, much like an imposing pot belly does over a tired, stretched belt forced around the bulging circumference of the body-outgrown-its-pant-size.
       The seasonal occupants seemed to mirror the structure (which, boasting all the amenities of over-priced, oceanfront properties like a swimming pool, numerous barely occupy able terraces-cum-view of the ocean or the cottage across the street and the two by four foot office-away-from-home-cum modem looms large in weekly rental rates as well as numbers of occupants per week) in that they, too, laugh louder and longer - breaking the 'could be' still beauty of the Summer night - than most and routinely force their vacuous ebullience on the surrounding environs presumptively.
       Apparently, the premises were - unusually - rented this past March for a week.  A local, year-round couple recalled that a boisterous group suddenly appeared off-season.  But before the week was over, and following an official-looking, investigative visit by non-guests, the revelers, now unusually quiet and somber, placed a hand-made, crude wood cross and surrounding bouquets of artificial flowers at the base of the steps leading to the beach and departed.
       Noticing the cross - into which "Michael Lee, 1994 - 2013, RIP" had been carved - upon my annual arrival, it has become a tragic reminder of human frailty and non-consolable desperation.  The accompanying comments, written in "Sharpie" ink, have long-since been incorporated into the salty, turbulence of 'tears' stretching to Brittany.  His family and loved ones put James Gandolfini to rest today.  I sincerely hope he finds, cheers, can be what the young man who left with harsh March winds - Michael Lee - sought by the sea.

It was Spring,
school, parents, "her".
Need a break,
Can't think, thinking, thoughtless,
More is better than,
Less noise, distraction,
Direction.  We're here.
"Section E".

"Son of a Beach", "Carpe Manana",
"Dances With Waves", "Sedation",
"Suits Us", and for me?
Next to "Phil's Litter Box"
Is where I'll be.  Michael Lee.

Allison, John, Wayne -
They leave.
Marci, Chuck, Lorane,
Return, go, stay, grieve.
They feel;  need not see
He'll remain.  No high dudgeon
But quiet, soft wind on
Michael Lee.  R.I.P.

Later, Lorane. . . .

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stepping on THE Corner

       It's a Friday here(presumably elsewhere as well) and the significance of this datum in this summer 'cottage vacation spot' on the Outer Banks of North Carolina  (OBX, for you car decal decoders who have trailed vehicles across states beyond your destination, lured by the slim hope of getting the driver's attention long enough to inquire as to where he has been lately) is that for many sun/sand/surf-worshippers, it is the last day.  At the crack of ETD, wives, who've been packing at Mach speed - in the dark - will be lining all manner of bags/containers/luggage, neatly, efficiently, adjacent to the soon-to-be home bound car.
       And the driver - car packer, payor, padre - will be utilizing everything he can recall of plane geometry in a stunning example of perseverance, occasional pain and paternal pluck (Did I forget grace under pressure?  No.  There'll not be any.) in this 'no-way-to-start-any-day' enterprise of 'loading her up'.  He'll be muttering, reduced to a babbling idiot, but one who is aware of one fact certain: there were maybe half the number of 'to-be-packeds' when last he was charged with this task.  Moreover, their arrangement/containment was requiring nothing short of 'Rubrics' exactitude.
       Ultimately successful, he will be pale, perspiring, but immersed in an odd expression of art appreciation.  Then he will de-trance, responding to a directive from his significantly and demonstrably patient co-captain to, ". . .pu-leez, seat/secure the (three to six) kids", who stand at attention (co-cap's) awaiting seat assignments and the last merry brawl of the vacation, focused on their placement/comfort during the upcoming seven to ten-hour trek home.
       This is (due to lack) no time for petty arguments between the adults concerning, "Where did all these bags/kids come from?"  Nope.  Last bathroom check; first of what will be many head-count checks and then the vehicle pulls away, a dazed but victorious driver at the helm, seeing only his Nirvana - their own driveway and the frosted glass and its good buddy, cold bottle of beer, carefully positioned during the last pre-departure check.
       So today, Friday (It's still Friday here.) is pull-out-all-the-stops day.  Cameras have been clicking since sunrise.  The posed, freshly-clad family shots done and already "shared" with everyone they know.  The cottage, dunes, surf, one last sand-sculpted masterpiece - even if created by the kids next door - the frolicking (and crab-hunting, please see above) pets, the first-time-at-the-ocean toddler.  The cast on this 'master'-designed set.
       The Northeast wind is brisk and the tide strong - has caused the raising of the red flags by the vigilant life guards.  Sooo, surfing - body and board - is out.  But the surf anglers are in their glory - and well beyond the marked areas of beach where sane, thoughtful humans would heave and yank shards of barbed/honed steel hooks suspended on threads of nylon into such a frenetic ocean.  (Over the years, my husband, 'doc', has removed such menacing 'equipment' from the pierced-through toes of unsuspecting strollers.)
       This unabated, barely supervised ". . .one more for the Gipper" frolic will continue, undisturbed by weather/warnings until the last illegal cherry bomb is fired, the last limbo leaned, the final slam of a cottage door behind the last sand-encrusted, bare feet - feet that for the past week have been 'tripping the life fantastic' on this little corner of Heaven. Dancing with waves.  Life is good.  Life is even better by the sea.
Later, Lorane. . . .


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where DOES the Time (Life) Go?

       So this Grams (moi) walks over to her favorite sofa - an old 'crate-designed' piece, made by a company (This End Up) long-since defunct and re-covered once.  She had selected the material years before her own children were married but were in the 'grown-up' genre.  It depicts an abstract, friendly collage of jungle animals, done in a variety of primary shades, looking out at the human body parts that impress, relax with them.
       The initial family reviews were mixed to silent.  One bravely voiced thought just wondered why she had selected  such a, well, uh, child-like pictorial.  By way of response, she had asked the asker to name the members of the feral array.  "Mom, I know from tigers and zebras and elephants.  But, thanks for the science experience."  Chuckles all around.  She had just mused to no one in particular - well, maybe the zebra - "Some day, some one will want to 'call roll', as it were."
       There had really been no abstruse, connived rationale behind her choice at the time.  She liked it.  And today, in the same desultory fashion, she had begun this blog by selecting a photo from those taken by her or sent to her "Sky Drive" collection.  The selection had been stored in something called "The Family Room", a label that held NO meaning for her.  Moreover, she had no idea who had created the work and/or posted it to her collection.
       Roll call:  Of our three remaining children's families, only one consists of two parents, one big sister, one little brother and a dog.  That it appears to be drawn on a chalk board is meaningless, such is the power/variety of the endless collection of 'play things' found in and around our offspring homes.  So, I guess this is an 'all skate', as you know as much as I about our 'star visual'.  I'm going with a close-knit (hand-holding) happy (smiling faces) active (even dog is barking plus there appears to be an object of play at the end of the line) bunch that - as a group - is sending a message (Daddy holds the written evidence).
       Well, back atcha, Guys! (I promise, when I've discovered the entire story - senders, reason, content, etc, I'll share.  For now, I'm thrilled with the innocuity (is that a word?) of it.  The drawing, that is.  It conjures up nothing threatening, unhappy, mysterious or costly.  It IS.  And that works for me.  It's been a somewhat reflective twenty-four hours for me.  I'm alone - well, Bridie beagle is here - at our modest and, for this time of year, rather quiet cottage.  We are enjoying a brisk, Northeast wind on a sunny day.  The surf, as is its wont in late afternoon, is shiny white but rushing about a tad more frenetically than usual.
       I have been in sad-ish reverie since learning last evening that James Gandolfini has taken his last cruise on the Jersey Turnpike.  You may recall, I was raised in Brooklyn.  My mother's family is Italian.  Our 'extended' Italian family, although not extensive, was a vivid part of my childhood, a major player, perhaps in why I became a member of the diaspora of 'former New Yorkers' (former Brooklynites, more accurately)  I was not a 'Soprano' but knew them very well. 
       It is a credit to the talent and serious approach to his art that Mr. Gandolfini was able to bring so much material - people, ways of life, backgrounds, motives, values, tastes, smells, colors, places, clothing, "types" - so vividly to the consciousness of someone who had lived in tandem with the characters in the scripts from which Tony Soprano emerged.  Most importantly, along with the writers/creators, he is to be congratulated for not only including, but placing 'center stage' the private weaknesses, insecurities and fears of this giant in a world where giants ruled by force, bludgeoning the weak, the needless, the no-longer-useful.  If asked 'Why?', you might have heard, "Whatever."
       Early this morning, I passed a couple wheeling a young toddler
whose attention was riveted on our beagle.  I stopped.  We chatted as the boy rubbed compliant, silky, droopy ears.  Absent preliminaries and never having met, we began talking about Mr. Gandolfini.  They were from New York - not a typical find on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  In fact he hailed from Queens;  she from the Bronx.  They were Italian.  They, too, knew the Sopranos - in their own frame of reference.  We fell very easily, however, into OUR family backgrounds. 
       They, too, had been embroiled in their respective pasts since last night's evening news.  His family - from Sicily - came here in the early seventies.  Late arrivals, compared to me and his wife.  She and I were both second generation New Yorkers and had so many more stories, characters, experiences - as Americans and, from the previous generation, the determined 'will-bes' - than he.  Indeed, to some extent Papa still showed signs of the 'inchoate patriot' of this adopted, wonderful nation.  
       The forty-five minutes of shared (very willingly) history, accomplishment and dreams for the future for us and ours flew by but left an indelibly common, shared and nostalgic aftermath.  It surrounds me as I sit here, among my animals,  (all quiet, trying to peer at the developing story on the screen - except for Bridie,  napping, having 'been there, been that') trying to share this happening with you.
       It may have been very trying, indeed.  You may come away thinking nothing, or worse, "say what?".  Well, you needn't.  Say anything, that is. And recollection is certainly not a requisite, either.  Perhaps, just being in the present, doing 'your thing', wondering nothing is your best course.  DO remember with fondness and respect, Mr. Gandolfini.  He is a part of ALL of us.  He, in portraying a non-all-American, is firmly ingrained in the fabric of our American artistic culture.
       Like great artists who precede him - the author F. Scott Fitzgerald comes to mind - he was able to authentically convey, to re-create,  to capture, through the portrayal in a string of stories stitched together  - another time and place; to shed light on its participants.  Because remember, all the material differences of some things - between THEIR time and yours, between YOURS and that of your offspring - are timeless. 
       And if, in fact, there is a reason for everything we do/experience, then perhaps, I decided to insert a picture at the beginning of this outing, indeed, that particular picture - shrouded in mystery at the time - because I needed a tool, a means of communicating feelings meant to be shared.  Perhaps, I've simply reproduced what is written on the piece of paper 'the Daddy' is holding.  (A bit too "Kumbaya", you say?)  Maybe. 
       Maybe not.  But definitely, "Thank you, James Gandolfini.  Thanks for giving us your talent, for being a part of our dramatic culture."  As to providing the stimulus for recollection, reverie, re-living that/those precedent and hoping for those subsequent,  who's to say.  If you asked Tony Soprano "why?", you'd get, "Whatever."
Later, Lorane. . . .