Monday, March 31, 2014


       They say, ". . .breaking up is hard to do.". I say it's a matter of timing and perspective - in which decade was it said and what kind of 'breaking' was had.  In 2014, it's a cinch.  At least two of the most common breaking ups in my life.  I invariably miss the juiciest part of gossip being relayed via cell phone because that's when all those devilish little signals in cyberspace decide to 'go on break'.  And, more germane to our subject matter, while catching up on email today - replete with birthday greetings from those with whom I've walked through life, I cried me an ocean.
       To wit.  "On a silent night when friends are few, I close my eyes and think of you.  A silent night. A silent tear. A silent wish that you were here." - Unknown. This from a gal who has more spit and vinegar than Putin on a good day. (His). Sniveling un-bravely, I forced myself to compose and reflect.  I thought of ALL the crazy, wonderful people with whom I've walked, then the crazy, wonderful things I did for and with them.
       Now the waterfall was of the bubbling sort.  Do tears ever giggle?  (It's not a test.  If you don't know the answer, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay will still be calm on the morrow.) Free associate/stray thought gardener that I am, I put that passage and Putin and a cartoon of "The First Day of Zen Gardening School" together and lingered on one particular wonderful crazy with whom I'd worked in community theater ages ago.
       Actually, I began to tell you this story not long ago and the cyberspace dervish just cut it off.  In mid-sentence, which was cantering to the really good part.  So.  From the top boys and girls.  Five, six, seven, eight. . .
       One day, while we were still living in our starter mansion on "As the World Turns" Street, a good friend from our little actors' group called.  Stan was all excited.  Panicked, really. (He always wore a bandanna around too-long hair.  I could feel the cloth drenching with sweat as he babbled.). He was basking in the honor of hosting a famous Polish acting company as it debuted an original script that would tour the US after leaving Norfolk.  Stan Fedyszyn knew that I was of Polish extraction.  (Stop that 'so that's it' nodding of the head, guys.  Unwarranted and rude.)
       He therefore assumed I spoke the language. (His name: Fedyszyn.  Mine: Leavy. You do the math. And now you can nod.  Briefly.). He told me to 'get to the theater' (we were using Norfolk's transformed-by-Stan historical library to mount our shows at the time) STAT because all the local media were coming to meet the international event-causing Polish director and Stan insisted that I conduct the shot-for-the-six-o'clock-news interview.  Telling him that my comprehensive Polish vocabulary was sketchy and my expressive non-existent was no deterrent.
       We all loved Stan.  He was a wild and brilliant director and true Renaissance Man.  That it was one o'clock, I had a four year-old son in my care was also of no moment.  I'd be expected in fifteen minutes - tops.  I was young.  Larks were looked upon as 'campy' - except by my neighbors who all used the same laundry to stuff their shirts - and Philip was an easy-going-to-the-theater-with-Mommy kid.  Now I was in adventure mode.  I donned a 'Mary Tyler Moore'-type white pants suit, grabbed a shoulder bag, notebook and pen, Philip, box cars and snacks and we were off.
       Turning onto cobble-stoned, Freemason Street, I was struck by the line-up of huge moving van trucks, hastily labeled with the touring company's name, parked curbside in front of the majestic Library.  The remote trucks from our local stations were already filming that scene, shrugging shoulders.  Parking in the makeshift driveway, I collected my son and our gear and marched up the many steps to the huge double doored entrance. Frantic Stan was just inside, grabbing my arm and placing Philip in the capable hands of his oldest daughter.
       As we trundled up to the green room, he went on about how charming the Polish talented visitor was, the importance, therefore, of a sterling performance on my part and the obvious boon to The Actors' Theatre if this caper went well.  I made no promises,  checked to see if my 'Mary' look was in place, and entered.  (They say, "One minute you're standing in the wings and the next, you're wearing them." I feared this fate.  Truly.)
       And then the imposing, effusive Man stood before me, grinning approvingly.  Unfortunately, he interrupted his grin with speech.  Concerned that whatever he was saying might require a response, I busied myself digging around in my purse for my prop (note pad), eventually fixing my gaze in something of an arranged 'awe' expression in an effort to buy more time.  I then understood enough to know he was talking about the play, its playwright and the all important "set".
       Lucky for me, he preferred show to tell and he placed a meaty hand on my elbow to guide me into the theater.  Our stage was designed by Stan to be 'theater-in-the-square' and it wasn't there.  Rather, the stage area was a square of dark brown dirt.  Recovering somewhat, I looked questioningly at the director as the news guys tip-toed in dragging equipment and lights.  The director's affect transformed into one of reverence as he explained with words and gestures that the "set" had been shipped to the states, loaded onto the vans and carted into the library.  I was about to 'experience' Polish soil.
       With the speed and grace of ocelot, he jumped down onto the 'soil', lithely lifting me, white heels and suit plus props, down with him.  And there we stood.  (Brain to Lorane: Think before just saying 'yes' to a Stan caper.). I could hear the cameras rolling, feel the mikes pointed at us.  I went with the bowed-head-lids-half-mast posture for as long as I could, then another gaze - this time at the soil which felt safe because I'd never known dirt to speak.  Suddenly, he knelt on one knee, grabbed a handful of this Polish gold, rose and ceremoniously took one of my hands, placed his prize into it and dramatically folded my fingers closed over what was now my special 'gift'.
       Emily Post having passed without addressing the proper decorum under these special circumstances (No elbows on the table, Em.  How about Polish gift of revered dirt in hand.  Huh, Em?). Now he had tears in his beautiful blue eyes preventing him from appreciating the consternation and budding ire in mine.  Well, I slowly opened my purse (and with a note pad and pen in my other hand, this move was accomplished with the grace of a hippo emerging from a three inch drain pipe) and very carefully placed my treasure into an un-zipped (God is good) side pouch, being sure to not leave any morsels behind in hand, as it were.
       Stifling chuckles with great difficulty and not so great success, the news crew got it all.  He climbed out of the'dig' deftly, lifting me with him, all the while muttering words of gratitude and delight.  I was introduced to the seven actors who would emerge at strategic points in the performance.  The last thespian had the starring role (I guess) as he would slowly, first hand, then arm, then body become completely erect and speak the only line in the script: "Ja", which translates to "I".  Unfortunately, the star reviewer got that wrong, reporting instead that the climactic one word was a heart-felt "eye", the symbolism of which he implied was obvious.
       As for me, the director re-escorted and deposited me into the waiting, grinning Stan's hands as, now even more energized, he had to get back to final dress rehearsal.  After a few too many rounds of double-cheek kissing topped by a hand kissing, I whispered "Merde" - totally inappropriate but I'd never had to say "break a leg" in Polish so I decided 'universal continental' was the way to roll.  And he was gone.  Stan was beaming.  The news crews were packing up, laughing at some private joke.  On cue, Philip came bounding into the green room, his face still smeared with chocolate icing.  Given my situation, cleaning up seemed a bit much.  Getting out and home and figuring out what to say in response to the conversation that would ensue following, "Honey, I'm home!" was the way to go.
       What price friendship? International camaraderie?  Or asparagus , for that matter.  When you love someone, it must be demonstrated.
Later, Lorane. . . .

Sunday, March 30, 2014


       Far be it for me to EVER brag, as in 'in-your-face-so-there' commentary.  (Probably not very, truth be known. Or not.). But I just WISH I could share (What's up with the overuse of 'share', bye the bye?  When I was raising my offspring, it was a paramount issue.  Currently, offspring having reached acceptable if not admirable heights, I don't care to share.  I've reverted to "Mine!".  You can get your own, as I did.). Rather, I'd LOVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT my last seven days on our planet.  Ready?
       Scotch the rumors.  There really is a sub-set in our meagre society who enjoy views of this ilk -        
- blurs be damned - from the polished wood decks of the magnificent sailing vessel upon which they stand, playing off any semblance of imbalance - as it relates to standing - waving gaily to their imagined counterparts, also standing rail side, eager to begin their salty sojourn.  I know this because I took this photo a week ago with my handy-dandy cell phone camera.
       Then it was same old-same old.  A day "at sea" followed by exotic ports of call.  For me, it certainly was NOT all 'fun-and-games'.  Hardly.  My husband/traveling/generally unhappy companion and I attended daily intense lectures given by speakers of note and followed by invigorating 'Q&A' sessions geared toward solving the 'BIG' ones - world hunger, the Ukraine, missing large planes, the Ukraine, joblessness in the US, Food Stamps and the Ukraine.
Companion looking for lost plane
       We did, however, find SOME time to explore the geography of the Caribbean.  And found it to be not only still there but possessed of generosity and largess that would be seen as a shocking breach of taste were the offerings turned down.  And so it came to pass that, like armies of luxury lovers who have preceded us, we lounged - lizard-like - in its lap.  We were also fortunate to have a captain who went out of the itinerary's way to ensure a most COMPLETE experience.
       One evening he doubled back, fighting the gusts and grumps, to provide us the vision of the most unusual pair of volcanic Pitons reaching for the heavens.
Yours truly indicating proof positive of the spectacular pair's existence.  (Where is makeup when one truly NEEDS them, I ask you.). Forced to rise early - what with such a jammed dance card - we'd down our Eggs Benedict, tropical smoothies and croissants  in a two hour flash and race into the busiest of days.
       We celebrated my birthday on the briny with the generosity and skill of our chef extraordinaire.  (What that man could do with a rack of lamb was nothing short of obscene.)  But that, dear readers was the penultimate highlight of our wet trek.  Serendipity presented us with the International Sailing Regatta off St. Barth's on Saturday.  Braving the swells - and the water, too - in our tiny tenders, we saluted these brave, happy crews en route to the shoppes.
Don't know where the crew from the Red Bull hailed, but they cavalierly took time out to wave a jolly good "Ahoy" to us.
       I could go on but that's already been done.  And so to bed, perchance to dream or at least not roll over onto one of those giant chocolate-dipped strawberries that Steward Didi insists on artfully placing on the satin sheets.
Later, Lorane. . . .

Monday, March 3, 2014

What Was That Part II

       A little review yesterday's multicolored might be in order just to get started.  Yesterday's colorful post ended with three questions or statements.  Life poses questions, the answers can sometimes be found in the past and  people are not always what they seem to be.  I had reached a point (in addition to frustration) where I was about to discuss times when things did not go quite so smoothly.
       For example, shortly before my husband was to be discharged from the navy, (and this is NOT  the "not quite so smoothly" part) he injured his leg and had to have a cast put on and worn for at least three months. His gait, therefore, was quite uneven in that he had to keep the injured leg stiff while the uninjured leg bent as usual when he walked.  Such was the adoration  of the son for the father, that Philip was able to perfectly mimic this gate for the entire three months.
       It was fascinating to watch.  Whether or not he knew he was being observed, the child never flexed his stiff right leg.  As you can well imagine, this made ordinary things like climbing stairs and bath time especially fun for Mommy and son.  Daddy, on the other hand, did not seem to want to play.  In fact, during a whispered after bedtime conference, daddy was very strong in suggesting that mommy make an appointment with the clinic pediatric psychologist who would observe Philip's behavior.
       Embarrassed though I was, I dutifully made the appointment.  Following brief greetings and introductions, doctor and child ambled away to a huge playroom, one wall of which was glass and actually a one-way mirror.  Our nervous noses glued to the cool service, Phil and I watched as the doctor led the boy to a table on which he had placed a colorful play telephone.  While the child  investigated his new table toys, the doctor quietly crossed the huge room and sat at a desk on which a real telephone sat.
       Within minutes the play telephone rang.  After scanning the room and noticing that the doctor was obviously busy with a call, Philip answered his play phone.  Very much to his surprise, he heard aloud and through the ear piece, "Hello, this is doctor Ex. Is Philip there?" We stared incredulously at each other.  Our son did the same at the doctor who responded with a questioning smile targeted at the boy-patient.
       Within seconds, the father flash-limped to the door banging loudly.  Very few hushed words were exchanged, our child was summoned and we made a brisk family exit.  On the ride home, we chattered on about what a funny and odd little fellow the doctor was.  We stopped for ice cream and when we got home, Philip shared his with Max while I asked my husband whose jacket he thought was straighter now.  We had no knowledge of this psychologist's technique and of course I thought we also had no reason to find out.
But.  People are not always what. . .
       This can also be said of animals.  You may recall the harrowing tale of the mix-up between Max and Fritz.  If you don't, please look back through last year's posts. Fritz was one of our Lemon-Haired ladies.
       Because of our profession, is this aberrant behavior phenomenon shines brightly in my memory through members of our coworkers and treaters.  A few years after starting our life in Norfolk (although these may not be cause and effect) I developed several gastric ulcers.  After several treatment modalities were tried and failed we were very excited to find out that the navy was the first Medical System to use what is known as endoscopy.  YES, the first long, wide, black tube through which the doctor can look down and see the inside of the patient's stomach, was presented for testing to Portsmouth Naval Hospital.
       Nervous for many reasons, I was absolutely panicked when I was wheeled in to the treatment room where the procedure would be performed.  Standing there too greet me was a tall, gangly, lab coat-clad Ichabod Crane-looking grinning physician.  He looked like a kid on Christmas morning.  Basking in the admiration of 20 or so interns and residents, he merrily explained every aspect of the scope's performance.  I had been given one 5 milligram tablet of Valium.  I was shivering but I listened as he prattled on for about 20 minutes about what we were all going to see.
This image is of a real lining of the inside of the gastro-intestinal tract.  (For the 'knock-out' savvy among you, I can feel you nodding your heads, smug in the knowledge of its being of an area rather distal to the stomach.  Whatever.  It's not likely to be found in one's average family album.   "Oh look!  Aunt Tillie.  She always was a tad twisted.")
       Finally, he unveiled what should have been some plumber's tool of torture and said, "Just open wide and before you know it you will have swallowed this scope and it will be inside of your stomach." I leave the next 5 minutes to anyone's gruesome imagination.  After much twisting and turning and grunts and giggles we hear, "Why look at that. I can see my own I eyeball!" Nobody looked and we can leave it at that.  Because.  People are not always what. . .
       Lest you depart from this exercise (Not soon enough, I'm sure.) with the notion that our experience with the unexpected is confined to things medical, I simply must serve up a soupcon of theatrical falderal.  While still in the 'Dutch colonial' period, I received a call from a director-friend whose normal modus operandum was borderline hysteria/idiosyncrasy.  On this day, the envelope was perilously perched at the proverbial edge.
       Stan, of Polish extraction and out-of-the-ordinary inclination, had worked himself into a lather over his perceived honor extraordinaire of hosting an international touring acting troupe from Poland. At the time, his "Actors' Theater" was calling an historical Southern library in the downtown historical Norfolk area 'home base'.  A credit to his ingenuity, the lecture hall had been transformed, the original speakers' podia now flanked by Greek-infused papier mache proscenia. For this unusual 'set', Stan had the crew (following the advance instructions of the guest director) tear out the flooring, leaving an excavation on/into which a 'stage' would be poured.
       Stan knew my Dad was Polish.  Therefore, in Stan's world, would have command of the language.  NOT.  Ignoring my protests/feeble attempts at sharing the fact that I may have retained a meagre comprehensive vocabulary and NO expressive ability, he had moved on from the embarrassing plight of having to produce an advance interview with this unusual visitor to confirming my arrival at the 'theater' in twenty minutes, prepared to conduct said interview while the local evening news cameras rolled.
       Frantically dashing around, muttering incoherently in English, I assembled a 'Mary-Tyler-Moore-ish' white pant suit and heels, stuffed a notepad and pen into a shoulder bag, and, with a shining pale face one can only elicit with Ivory soap, headed for the door.  Of course mental software picked up a child's query of OUR destination, so I reflexively shoved several box cars, an emergency baggie of cheerios and juice into the bag, this time taking my son along.
       Turning onto the ancient cobblestoned street, I noted it was lined with enormous parked moving vans, motors running, drivers smoking while waiting.  The ubiquitous caravan of local remote broadcast vehicles, occupants testing equipment, completed the impromptu "Cirque de Solei". Out of breath from bounding up the library steps, out of practice in wearing heels and out of balance and patience from the first two misadventures, I crashed right into Stan and 'Himself", attempting conversation in animated, broken Polish/English.

       Several grips grabbed my child and with lots of tickling and giggling, he was gone.  Feigning interest in his ultimate whereabouts, I regained composure while attempting a hair smoothing to better observe his exit.  Our Polish guest, feigning NOTHING, moved in deftly so that our arms were brushing when I turned back.  A beaming Stan was suddenly a memory and, alone with the stranger, I had no choice but to follow as he physically guided me into the 'stage' area, all the while delivering some annoyingly ebullient Polish rap.  Note to Self:  "Oozing grace from every pore, he oiled his way across the floor;. . .  Never leaving us alone, never have I ever known a rud-der pest." - My Fair Lady
       In a flash, I was perilously close to sliding into what I can only describe as loamy-smelling, dark, moist red earth - an entire filled-in excavation of it.  Beaming, the director hoisted himself down, demonstrating a three to four feet depth of this treasure while, with a gentle but firm tug, he lowered me to his side.  "Poland.  You stand now IN Poland."  (And this suit must burned, after I murder Stan, find my son and flee.)