Friday, January 31, 2014

Here's to the Red, White and NEVER get the 'Blues'

       This is going to be one of those posts wherein your writer is going to have difficulty with organization.  Generally speaking, I tend to be a rather organized person. However this past week - in terms of weather, work, and some wailing from children and grandchildren - has been somewhat out of the ordinary. We actually had snow in Virginia.  To be more accurate, we had several spates of snowstorms.
       To be sure, those hardy folks who live in Kansas and Wisconsin -  truly salt of the earth - would not have even blinked were they to have had the same experience.  (Indeed, I was speaking with a lady who lives in Kansas yesterday.  (She lives in Kansas every day but was sharing the events of recent days.). She arrived at work at her usual time, driving her four-wheel drive Jeep Wrangler with the ambient air temperature of 4°Fahrenheit.  She allowed as how the day before the temperature was also 4°but just to make things a bit merrier and more challenging, that Great Weatherman in the sky added 50 mph winds.
       She and her husband have a darling little Chihuahua.  Usually they share the walks and runs and other play rituals with the feisty, furry outlaw.  Naturally, on 50 mph day, "Daddy" got the call.  As she was speaking I could imagine this propelled little pet jetting its way to Oklahoma.  I guess you could say we had history repeating itself.  Move over Toto.
       Back here in ole Virginny, both the people and the pets had difficulty greeting this white powder with the same je ne sais quoi as did those in Kansas.  I think I'll recount the events of the week as accurately as I can although they may not be in the order best suited for the telling.  (That's never stopped me before and the results have been acceptable, if not at times entertaining.)
       Saturday morning came far too early for this sexagenarian to fully participate in the round of 'star grand children' basketball games.  Please understand that by that I don't mean my own game was not at its best.  Rather, I was simply conveying the fact that the hour was such that I did not even attend the sports events.
       Further punctuating the bad taste of my absence, our nine year-old Molly had crafted a beautiful multicolored bracelet for me which was delivered by Poppy, the grandfather for whom no hour is to early to prevent his attendance at the important moments in the lives of his offspring.  Apparently this bracelet comes in a kit and that kit is accompanied by what the company seems to feel are very complete directions as to the assemblage of the bracelet.
       I know of at least 10 mothers and daughters who expended hours of thoughtful energy and compliance with these directions - all to no avail.  Nine of these people through the towel in.  Molly, on the other hand, saw the experience as a wonderful opportunity to learn, to teach and to manufacture (for appropriate compensation) as many bracelets as she could fit into her already busy schedule.  Hence the sign hastily tacked to her door and keenly observed by her godmother," Knock before entering. Work in progress."
       These were the events of Saturday morning.  At this point we had no way of knowing that it was but the beginning of a string of days hallmarked by canceled school days, frigid temperatures, bored children and mothers who could only hope that their behavior was noticed by those with the authority to admit them to a psychiatric facility for treatment, rest and absolutely no visitors.
       It put me in mind of the article I once read written by Erma Bombeck - that lady with incomparable wit who would share everyday experiences with her public.  She once wrote of a rainy spell - seven consecutive days of  downpour - during which she and her three children, all under the ages of six, were held captive (but not captivated) in their home. 
       At one point,  bleary-eyed and lacking focus, she noticed that one of the children was coloring her marriage license.  The child looked up expectantly, as if for approval.  Erma smiled and in a soft, approving voice simply said, "Just remember to stay inside the lines, dear." Such was the mental state of our son and daughter and their friends in Portsmouth Virginia this past week.
       Our daughter was the dedicated care provider as the other moms had to get to work.  Of course the streets were not cleared and it was impossible to tell just where that patch of black ice might be, lurking, waiting for the perfect moment to not grab the boot on its surface, sending the wearer into an acrobatic somersault.  Undaunted, our girl took her troop -  her six year-old girl, four and a half year-old boy, best friends' six year-old twins and the family dog - a huge and quite harmless mutt who absolutely adores romping in the snow - on a 'nature walk'.  At some point each  of them hit the deck with the exception of the little boy twin.  He trundled along ahead of the rest  constantly calling to them to keep up.
       The following day, after retrieving some appropriate gloves for our grandson from our son's camp of storm prisoners, the little group was determined to build a snowman.  The final product was quite colorful and well done.  Its creators flanked it looking absolutely immovable.  Cherry red skin frozen into plastic smiles, they appeared in a picture that was texted to me to be able to be transported into the house like true stick figures.
       Today is Friday and it began hopefully with the thought of rising temperatures.  Having had our ritualistic argument that starts every day and centers on "Where is our dog?", I proceeded to prepare breakfast and call my daughter in Boston. Her husband is to have surgery and I sent a text inquiring as to his well being.  Not receiving a response, I decided I must have had the wrong daughter or son-in-law or surgery or city. In any case, I was not troubled enough to interrupt my morning regimen.
       About to dive into steaming oatmeal, quill poised over a crossword puzzle, my cellphone beckoned.  It was our dedicated care provider just wanting really to speak with an adult (boy, did she have the wrong number) and go over the events of the week that would be a etched in their hearts with icicles.  Or not.  In the midst of multi tasking orders and plans with the children,  she stopped - just for a nanosecond - before shrieking, "My God! It's a mouse!". "Where?", I inquired, calmly, looking around my own kitchen.
       "It's outside, in our yard, just sitting on the path!"
"Is it sitting in the sun?"
"Yes it is.  I must show Emma."
"No.  She won't sleep for weeks."
"I'll present it as a science project."
"Why don't you just create a path of cheese chunks leading to the fence and out to the street?"
"I must get a picture first. Ross never believes me when I tell him I see these things."
"Get a picture for your exterminator as well."
"Do you think it's going to die?"
(Emma) "Is what going to die Momma?"
"Get rid of the mouse, call the exterminator, then fix breakfast for the children and plan an exciting indoor project. Then call me back."
       I asked my husband to listen for my cell and went to get a shower.  Dressed and beginning chores, I asked whether my cell phone had wrung.  "I never heard your cell phone."  I checked and there was a text message.  To wit, "Left a message on your cell. Mouse hung out in same spot for about 2 hours and left.  I called the exterminator and they are closed so we'll just hang out inside.  Em and I did our T25 cardio workout and are now having a game board marathon."
       That's how we roll around here.  There is really nothing that can dampen the spirit, camaraderie, curiosity and energy of a young American family - even during an un- expected Virginian blizzard. 
Later, Lorane. . . .

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Just CAN'T STOP Listening

       Well now.  I was going to be writing about clothing today but something keeps getting in my way.  And because I didn't want to type, I turned on speech recognition.  Unfortunately, a while ago I got an e-mail and because I was not interested in it I deleted it.  Well, I thought I deleted it.
       Instead, the person who was speaking on the e-mail video continues to speak.  He has identified himself as Anthony Tryster.  He claims to be the president or owner of a company called the "Coffee Shop Millionaire Education, Incorporated".  Even as these words are falling on the page, old Anthony is in the background chattering away about how you and I and anyone else can make millions of dollars by opening a coffee shop.
       I wasn't able to turn off my e-mail so I turned off my computer.  After I restarted it, I was able to get to my blog page and eventually even got my speech recognition friend to work.  So fortunately I don't have to type. I can just tell you about Anthony and the problems that he has caused me.  After all, if Anthony was able to get to me, he probably can pop into your living room as well.
       It seems that Anthony Tryster and all the members of the coffee shop millionaire education incorporated organization have figured out a way of making millions of dollars with very little effort.  There seems to be a time element as well.  As I listen to Anthony in the background, I keep hearing that if we don't act now, we are going to miss our big opportunity.  (And trust me, from the way he describes his car and last winter's skiing jaunt in Gstaad or wherever, we certainly don't want to do that.)
       I think there may be a money element involved as well.  Anthony has decided to make  what he calls a "one time stupid decision" to offer this opportunity on what he calls his "very own dime".  All we have to do is watch and listen to his tutorials and we will have all the information we need to start our very own millionaire coffee shop.
       Unfortunately, I don't have any visuals or pictures that I can share with you as Anthony has done with me.  I've seen folks loitering around, sipping lattes and eating doughnuts, reading newspapers and figuring out crossword puzzles - all the while lounging in comfort like your average warm and cozy a lizard..  Actually they are sipping your potential $1,000,000 coffee.
       According to Anthony, the "really cool part" is that you really don't need anything to get started.  "You can live on your own terms." Those terms seem to be defined as absolute "autopilot income".  He has explained that the real average daily income is anywhere from 1 to 3 thousand dollars.
       It's difficult because he speaks very rapidly but from what I understand the ability to become a $1,000,000 coffee shop owner is tied very closely to what Anthony's told us was his stupid decision to give that autopilot start up income to the new member.  There's nothing immoral or illegal about his system.  In fact, Anthony chuckles that your friends will think you've won the lottery.  What a kidder.  The guy slays me.  NOT, RIGHT?
       According to Anthony, the Internet is literally a "river of money".  And winning the 'swim' game online has nothing to do with luck or timing but has everything to do with knowledge.  And Anthony is planning to literally download that knowledge right into your brain.  Of course none of this can happen unless you act right away.  If you don't act fast and download this special knowledge, it may not be there when you return.
       Oh. There is one other element that seems to be very important. There will be a limited number of people who will be able to access or download this knowledge.  Anthony says, and rightly so, if he were to give his system or knowledge to everyone - why it would be like shooting himself in the foot.
        Therefore, for a very limited time, Anthony is going to "stupidly" give you the information and start up knowledge that you need for only $37.00.  Failure is simply not in Anthony's vocabulary.  Apparently neither is longevity.  I say this because Anthony has shared with me - and with you - the fact that he may have to close this page in a short period of time.
        In that the noise or rather background sound of Anthony's babbling has ceased, it just may be that that time has arrived.  More's the pity, I say.  Just as I was warming up to becoming a coffee shop millionairess, that "closed" sign seems to have been placed on the door.
       Well, I may have lost a great opportunity, but I think I'll check to be certain that our Security System is on and the "Open" sign is not executed on our front porch anon. Or even later. Lorane. . . .

Friday, January 17, 2014

Oye, NOW What?

       If you seem to be having difficulty discerning the words in this saying, you must be frustrated.  Frustration is a feeling that we all like to avoid.  Imagine, then, how fervently I prayed for this avoidance over the past few days.  The cause was seemingly simple.  I had inquired about employment and apparently the prospective employer misunderstood the type of work I was seeking.
       I had asked if there were opportunities to write blogs or feature articles.  For some reason, which remains a mystery, this respected employer thought I had inquired about employment as an editor.  Consequently, I have been deluged with a spate of emails from people all over the country who seem to be in dire need of editing.
       In that I had used his blog to announce my intention of seeking employment and the response was positive and sent in a timely manner, I decided to once again use this forum.  Mr. Scott, I have no desire whatsoever to be an editor.  Indeed, it is my hope that in a short while I will have a need for one.  Therefore, if you have occasion to see and read this missive, kindly change the category of employment that I had sent to you.
       I have emailed this same information to you.  But in that my e-mail experience of late has been frustrating to the point of ulcer formation, I felt there was no harm and perhaps actually benefit in posting the same message.  I trust this was an honest misunderstanding and I certainly feel no animus toward you or your organization.  I'm also quite certain that you feel your job was done in an efficient manner and are pleased with the army of clients that are responding.
       In other words, you must be quite comfortable.  Doubtless there are no ulcers in your future.  In fact, there are many people like yourself who avoid his malady but are in fact carriers.  I doubt you are even aware of this curious and potentially damaging ability.  It might be in your best interest therefore, to heighten your awareness of the effect you may be having on coworkers, friends and loved ones.
       Although it has been said by the well known sage Oscar Wilde, "It is wiser to remain silent and be thought ignorant than to speak and remove all doubt", in this instance, silence on my part would have led to mounting frustration, an enormous waste of time and energy on the part of people who would rather be having their work edited, and an unnecessary overload in my inbox.
       Although it was said by the bard, "Sleep, that knits up the raveled sleeve of care", I have endured several sleepless nights in an effort to find a way of correcting this problem.  It is hoped that in several days I will be rested and can say ringingly, another of the bard's prophetic phrases, "All's well that ends well".
Later, Lorane. . . .

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Earl Affair

       So this guy walks into a funeral setting.  Maybe some background would be in order.  Earl, the guy, lived with a lady artist who was very gifted.  The lady also had a very large family.  Although divorced, she had daughters with her first husband.  Mother and daughters lived in California although not in the same cities.  Ultimately, the younger of the two moved to New York City to pursue a career in stand up comedy.  The older daughter married and remained in California not far from mother.
       In addition to her many genres in the field of art, Minnie, the mother, shared a job with the guy, Earl.  They were co-curators for a rather prestigious art museum on the coast.  When not working at the museum, each would be hard at work in their combination apartment studio.  Although Minnie had worked in watercolor and oils for many years, her canvases tended to be very dark and gloomy.  (Whether this fact was at all related to her relationship with Earl, we shall never know.)
       For his part, Earl dabbled in painting, sculpture, and dabbling.  One could say the relationship was marked by its longevity and relative lack of change.  When change did come, it was in the form of Minnie's reception of a one year, all expenses paid, time of work and study in Italy.  Wasting no time, she was packed and off to Rome, knowing that Earl would assume the full responsibilities which they had shared at the museum.  It was her dream come true and she glowed with the happiness of her good fortune.
       Earl, on the other hand, seemed not to share in her ebullience.  Rather, he sulked and assisted with her packing and transport to the airport with the visage of the punished puppy.  With the air of a happy afterthought,  Minnie assured Earl that she looked forward to his visiting her while she was abroad.  He, in turn, smiled weakly and told her he would try his best to make some arrangements to do so.
       With a humble half wave, he seemed to turn and drag himself slowly to the parking garage.  Once out of Minnie's site he arrived at his car, and leaped with a gleeful yawl, kicking up his heels and returning to the ground grinning broadly.  On his way back to the apartment, he called several friends, sharing with them the woeful tale of Minnie's depression at having to spend a month, let alone one year, away from him. Would  they consider spelling him at the museum from time to time?  He was a friend in need (And a man of greed).
       It came to pass that at least three times within the next six months Earl crossed the pond, providing quiet company for Minnie; raucous company for Earl when he was out on errands.  So generous in nature, he managed to find yet another attractive, wealthy, and in need of company woman in Rome.  Her gratitude knew no bounds and included a luscious,  navy blue, cashmere winter coat.  After all, Earl had to return regularly to what he told her was the frigid climes of San Francisco.
       At some point during the second half of Minnie's productive Roman holiday, she sadly lost her mother back in the United States.  Of course Earl was at the ready with his consolation and transportation to Pittsburgh, handily enough now owning proper, warm clothing for the event.  Rather a large affair (the funeral) in that Minnie's aunt had died within a day of her mother's passing, there was much confusion and many in attendance.
       After the burial there was a reception at the funeral home.  Despite the exhaustion of the many weary travelers, several hours were spent in fond remembrance of the two very close sisters -  aunts, mothers, cousins, and friends to these visitors.  Finally, farewells were bid and the crowd dispersed to several local hotels.  Not long after, everyone was receiving frantic calls from the funeral director.  It seems that no one could locate Earl's coat.
       Just about everyone returned to the funeral home for assistance.  After all, imported, navy blue, cashmere wool coats were not plentiful, even in the frosty climes of Pittsburgh.  Half of the group scurried about engaged in the frenetic activity of location.  Others sat comforting the now inconsolable Earl.  Ultimately, this situation was officially declared a mystery by the funeral director and the grievers were dismissed.
       One of the nieces had flown in from school at Georgetown, accompanied by her best friend who lived in Boston.  They retired early as they had an early flight the next morning.  Once back in the dorm, the best friend commented, "I was just so glad I had my new blue coat.  It was colder in Pittsburgh than it is in Boston."
       For her part, Minnie was curious as to how Earl came to own such a luxurious coat.  Once back in Rome, she received several messages that calls had been coming from woman inquiring about her 'brother', Earl.  Thinking quickly, she responded that he was fine but had to return to the States to take care of an irregularity at the museum.  She then called Earl inquiring about his coat and any other irregularities he might have in the closet.
       Earl returned post haste to Rome.  Minnie was hard at work.  Earl was hard pressed to explain a rather surprise visit from his 'sister's' new friend.  Things ended as these things usually do.  Springtime in Boston found best friend taking her winter clothes to be cleaned only to discover that her blue coat was - Earl's!  At the completion of her hysterical confession, her roommate reassured her that her own coat would be replaced and that she would pay for the mailing of the now famous, "Earl Coat" to the roommate's home.
       Minnie completed her wonderful stay in Rome.  Upon her return, she had two very successful shows and is now painting great, happy, uplifting and upbeat stills, in bright, expensive oils.  Unfettered by Earl, she has moved farther south end is enjoying the life of a successful and extremely talented painter.
   The "Earl Coat" continues to reside at the Georgetown camp.  Recently, it was told it will be traveling again.  Friends of the family who live much farther north, will be needing the "Earl Coat" this season.  It is such a warm and fuzzy feeling - the "Earl Coat" and the experience.
Later, Lorane. . . .

Thursday, January 9, 2014


="">WRITING AND LORANE. . . .      
       "Please start listening", is all I had to say and, bingo! The speech recognition GUY started to listen and type for me.  And really, at my age, this is the best Christmas present one can get.
       I think I'll start by explaining that rather unusual first paragraph. You see, I happen to be in the market for writing and editing and proofreading and doing it all from my home locally.  One day, during my pursuit, I came across a company called THUMBTACK.  It seemed that they were aware of just the kind of activity I was interested in and asked that I fill out some forms, send them back to them, and wait for my very first client.
       I guess you could say that I'm rather in the middle of the process.  This middle part involves telling the world about myself, my abilities, my limitations, and my strong desire to work for and with them ('it', whichever).  THUMBTACK had already prepared a variety of such announcements.  However, they felt it would be in my best interest - and perhaps a more personal, accurate sharing of these qualities - if I do it myself.
       So, color me doing it myself. (Bye the bye, that first unusual-looking paragraph was the profile address assigned to me by THUMBTACK which they wanted posted on my web page.  It serves no other purpose than to alert THUMBTACK that I had indeed elected to write my own story rather than using one of theirs.)
       As a THUMBTACK parvenu, I have no track record with the organization.  This means that I am not able to tell you a wonderful tale about the many successes I've had using their connections and the armies of clients that I have accumulated by doing such stellar work for them (armies and THUMBTACK) .
       Rather, I must begin at ground zero (oddly, I do not feel lonely or uncomfortable here) and share with you some of the daliences I've had during quite a long life of writing.  Somehow using the very word 'writing' doesn't ring true.  This because, you see, I don't believe I write but rather simply tell stories.  And by telling stories I don't mean to mislead you into thinking of the word 'fiction'.  Nay, my 'stories' are the spate of observations regarding the activity in the world as it was spinning around me.
       Professionally speaking, I am a wife and mother (Employer: GOD) have written for quite a few local magazines and our newspaper, The Virginian Pilot, written book reviews for Amazon, contributed a short story to a collection of short stories for children, and dabbled in poetry.  Perhaps 'scribbled' might have been a better word when it comes to poetry.  I care very little for rhyming, detest symmetry, and the best way to describe my thoughts is with the word 'stray'.
       I believe inspiration and wit come from above whereas drama comes from below.  (And drama is the totally unnecessary, sordid, self-absorbed activity of dwelling on the negative.) I refuse to be a drama queen at an event given in my honor, even if it is my wake.  In forty-five years or so of marriage - to the same person - we have experienced incomparable bliss as well as the depths of disintegrating sorrow.
       This last refers to the death of our seventeen month-old son.  The gold star of bliss refers to the successful raising of his three marvelous siblings.  It is grossly unnatural for the child to predecease the parent.  Our three children have conquered and learned from this incongruity.  It shines through every day in the lives of their own beautiful and happy children.
       As the saying goes, of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most.  That being the ruling stray thought of the moment, I must confess I've already forgotten the reason for which I am committing this life history to paper.  Ah, yes, THUMBTACK.  Clearly, they do a sterling job of putting potential clients in touch with potential employees.
       As a child, sibling, wife, mother, nurse, and medical malpractice litigation attorney, I have seen much in many places. If, therefore, you are in the market for a somewhat neurotic - but happily so - author, editor, proofreader, or participant in any creative genre, I guess I'm your gal.
Later, Lorane. . . .

Saturday, January 4, 2014


       Just picked up a magazine.  Tuscan Style: live in relaxed elegance.  The cover features an elegantly relaxed family room.  Four pale ecru rattan woven chairs, pillowed in a powdery cyan, are grouped around as if to venerate a rather Spartan, square marble-topped table supported by black, round, wrought iron legs.  The table hosts a rather prosaic ceramic bowl of five chubby baby blue hydrangea and two Moroccan leather, gold embossed tomes.  They are slightly angled one to the other in an otherwise tidy pile on which one  of a set of carved wood, blocky candle holders  holding an off-white, round, fitted candle sits.
       (One imagines that perhaps the occupant, returning from taking a breath of fresh air on dewy wet toes in the contiguous EL fresco emporium late last evening, having used a candle to enhance the mood and prevent an uncharacteristic spill transitioning from grass to brown-shaded woven tile flooring, had placed the impromptu walking light on the books adjacent to its partner, while still basking in the refreshment of the cool, stone exterior border wall, exuding its perfumery from its brim of greenery and buds. Nary a thought was given to its proper marble resting place.)
       The tan interior adobe walls were broken by a surprised expression to hold a small fireplace.  Three artfully arranged clay pots cradled infant blooms to one side of the opening.  The entire  expanse spoke of youth - indoors and out. This combination of age and decoration brought to mind that canvas we painted in our first apartment.  He was finishing medical school and I was working and there was precious little of anything else.  We did, however, inherit a lovely suite of furniture from his family.  It was all of the furnishings from his father's first medical practice in 1934.  Extremely well made and Deco in style, it nevertheless presented a challenge when it came to function and arrangement.
       The handsome scale, waste basket, and desk - truly seaworthy - with its four matching chairs, provided both comfort and a feeling of playful "op art".  Our own purchase, a hexagonal Formica dining table, was placed opposite a spacious and attractive sideboard.  This last had been transformed from his Dad's roomy, attractive examining table.  With its many different-sized drawers and interesting knobs, it was always a focus of lively (if not unusual) conversation.  Its one ungainly drawback, functional as they may be, were the matching stirrups.  I daresay they had more costume changes than Helen Hayes during their 'dinner at eight'- role.  Imagine, if you will, Japanese flower arrangements or strobe-lit, Lego-engineered figurines painted steel gray and you'll have a legitimate appetizer if not a full five-course meal of their morphings.  (Did I mention the fact that the table was carved from one piece and the stirrups were soldered on?)
       The favorite AFTER dinner game, however, was "Let's take our guests' EKG's".  Perhaps that's one reason our parties were so popular.  It certainly wasn't the cuisine.  AND, each guest got to leave with a personalized souvenir.  Have you guessed?  They each took home a rhythm strip of their very own heart rate.  Of course we'd tell them it was normal.  An if it was 'funny-looking'?  Well, stuff happens.  (Medical Style: living in feigned hardiness.)
Later, Lorane. . . .    


       Just picked up a magazine - TUSCAN STYLE: Live in relaxed elegance.  The cover features an elegantly relaxed family room.  Four pale ecru woven rattan chairs, pillowed in a powdery cyan, and grouped around as if to venerate a rather Spartan square, low marble-topped table supported by black, wrought iron legs. The table hosts a prosaic ceramic bowl of five chubby baby blue hydrangea and two Moroccan leather, gold embossed tomes.  They are slightly angled one to the other in the otherwise tidy pile on which one of a set of carved wood blocky candle holders holding ecru, round, fitted candles sit.
       (One imagines that perhaps the occupant, returning from taking a breath of fresh air on dewy wet toes in the contiguous EL fresco emporium late last evening, having used a candle to enhance the mood and prevent an uncharacteristic spill transitioning from grass to brown-shaded woven tile flooring, had placed the impromptu walking light on the books adjacent to its partner, still basking in the refreshment of the cool, stone exterior border wall exuding its perfumery from its brim of greenery and buds.  Nary a thought was given to its proper marble resting place.) 
       The tan interior adobe walls broke in a surprised expression to hold a small fireplace.  Three artfully arranged clay pots cradled infant blooms to one side of the opening.  The entire expanse spoke of youth -  indoors and out.  This combination of age and decoration brought to mind the canvas we painted in our first apartment.  He was finishing medical school and I was working and there was precious little of anything else.  We did, however, inherit a lovely suite of furniture from his family.  It was all of the furnishings from his father's first medical practice in 1934.  Extremely well made and Deco in style, it nevertheless presented a challenge when it came two function and arrangement.
       The handsome scale, waste basket, and desk - truly seaworthy - with its four matching chairs, provided both comfort and a feeling of playful "op art".  Our own purchase, a hexagonal Formica dining table, was placed opposite a spacious and attractive sideboard.  This last had been transformed from his dad's roomy, attractive examining table.  With its many different sized drawers  and decorative knobs, it was always a focus of lively conversation.  Its one ungainly drawback, functional as they were, were the matching stirrups.  I daresay they had more costume changes than Helen Hayes over the years.  Imagine if you will Japanese flower arrangements or strobe-lit, Lego-engineered figurines painted steel gray and you'll have a legitimate appetizer if not a five full course of their morphing. (Did I mention the fact that the table was carved from one piece of wood and that the stirrups were soldered on?}
       After dinner however, we always played "take our guests'  EKG".  Perhaps that's one reason our parties were so popular.  It certainly was not the cuisine.  And each guest would leave with a souvenir.  Have you guessed?  They each took home a rhythm strip of their very own heart rate.  Of course we'd tell them it was normal.  And if it was 'funny looking'?  Stuff happens.
Later, Lorane. . . .